Mary Patricia Ryan, SNJM
The road to my vocation sometimes became bumpy, and had a few detours along the way but the summer of 1960 found me on the Holy Names novitiate doorstep. It was the fulfillment of a choice I made as a third grader, when I decided I wanted to become a sister.
Leaving my loving Irish parents, six brothers and an older sister was not easy, but we had good companions, lots of laughter (and a few tears) to carry us along the way. My ministry as a sister has been entirely devoted to education in some form. With a bachelor of education from Marylhurst, and a master’s in education from Portland State University, I have taught, mainly first grade, at St. Mary’s in Eugene, and St. Thomas More, and taught and served as principal at the Assumption and Holy Cross Catholic schools, in Portland.
The more involved I became, not only in the schools, but in the communities surrounding them, the more challenged I was. There were some great moments.
At Holy Cross we formed an alliance with the University of Portland working with their education majors. The NCEA (National Catholic Education Association) chose me as the Region 12 (Oregon, Idaho, Washington, Montana, Alaska) principal of the year. My high school, St. Mary’s Academy honored me twice, once for excellence in teaching, and again as keynote speaker for the Academy Awards.
Although I was honored, I realized that my school’s financial base needed help that had to come from other sources besides tuition and parish funds, which led to my next and present job: Development director for Holy Cross Catholic School. That did not mean that I worked only with money, grants and contributors. I needed to be with the children, so I ran the before school program where working parents could drop off their little ones, and the after school play and study program. This was my delight. Raising money to educate these special children is my privilege and yes, sometimes difficult, task. So I run a golf tournament, sponsor a fundraising drive and dinner, publish newsletters, etc. I am grateful for the support of my family, friends and community, and especially to God for this privilege.