Sr. Mary McGreevy, SSND, the former principal of Bourgade Catholic High School who dramatically expanded the school and oversaw extensive construction and renovation during her 14-year tenure, passed away Feb. 20. She was 76.
Sr. Mary’s teaching and school administration career spanned five states as both a layperson and a vowed religious. The Washington State University graduate taught in her home state where she was born on the family farm and grew up with three brothers and three sisters.
She entered the School Sisters of Notre Dame in Mankato in 1964 and professed her first vows two years later. Ultimately, she would spend 44 years in Catholic schools as a student, educator and administrator.
Sr. Mary came to Bourgade Catholic in the summer of 1997 amid campus renovations that meant she had to work from an office in a recreational vehicle in the parking lot. Despite the chaos, she embraced her role as principal, never forgetting a face.
“The young people whose lives she touched are going to remember her as a woman of faith and a woman of love–someone who was really interested in who they were and what they were doing,” Sr. Kathleen Janiak said. The Religious Sister of Mary served as her assistant principal and retired a year after the late principal.
Sr. Kathleen formally introduced Sr. Mary when she was inducted into the Bourgade Hall of Fame last fall. She recalled how students and teachers often first thought of her as strict, but quickly appreciated her wit and charisma.
They got to know each other during chance encounters and school lunches. Sr. Mary was known for her ability to keep the lunch line moving along. She also turned that into a time to learn about each student and their interests.
A woman of vision, Sr. Mary attracted aspiring teachers and leaders to campus through the Alliance for Catholic Education program. She saw to it that many disadvantaged students could receive a strong education at Bourgade through the Boys Hope Girls Hope program.
At the Hall of Fame induction, Sr. Kathleen revealed what those who knew Sr. Mary may have already suspected. “She enjoys being around young adults, and secretly, I think she enjoys the rebels even more than those who always toe the line,” Sr. Kathleen said.
Several alumni spoke after a Feb. 23 rosary at St. Jerome Parish. One, who recalled Sr. Mary forcing him to sign an academic contract, said the former principal was later proud of his transformation and thankful she had accepted him into the school.
Micah Pappas, a 2001 graduate who’s still assisting the varsity football team, saw Sr. Mary as a dedicated leader who routinely put in long workdays ensuring that she also attended team practices, games and plays.
“You always knew she was there and always supporting,” Pappas said, “She has sideline passes and she’s going to keep those sideline passes in heaven.”
Bourgade Catholic has established a memorial scholarship fund in her memory.
Sr. Mary is survived by a sister, a brother, a sister-in-law, nieces, nephews and her sisters in community. Her parents, two brothers and two sisters, preceded her in death.