Sister Mary Ellen McGlynn, CSC
(Sister M. Grace Alma)
January 31, 1937 – March 2, 2020
Word has been received of the death of Sister Mary Ellen McGlynn, CSC, who died at 9:36 p.m. on March 2, 2020, in Saint Mary’s Convent, Notre Dame, Indiana. Sister Mary Ellen entered the Congregation from Washington, D.C., on September 7, 1955. Her initial profession of vows took place on August 15, 1959. Please join us in prayer for Sister as we renew our faith in the resurrected Jesus and strengthen our hope that all the departed will be raised to eternal life.
According to the sage of Proverbs 22:1, “A good name is better than riches.” A good name speaks to a woman’s integrity, reputation and character. Mary Ellen McGlynn cherished the name she was given by her parents Edward F. McGlynn and Grace O’Dea McGlynn at baptism in her parish, Holy Name Church in Washington, D.C. She was baptized on February 14, 1937, two weeks after her birth. Eighty-three years later in Notre Dame, Indiana, in Saint Mary’s Convent, in the last hours of March 2, 2020, she awoke from sleep to hear herself called by name to meet the Risen Jesus face to face. She had lived faithfully in community as a vowed Sister of the Holy Cross for 60 years.
Mary Ellen McGlynn was a Washingtonian. The District of Columbia was a company town that grew immensely during the Second World War. She grew up in the district with her siblings Grace, Edward and Patricia. In high school she was drawn to the Sisters of the Holy Cross who taught her at St. Patrick’s Academy. She would have entered the convent soon after graduation in 1954 but was advised to wait, being only 17 years old. No doubt her Conway cousins in Holy Cross, Sister M. Loretto (died 2004) and Sister M. Mauricita (died 1994) would have encouraged her to work a while and gain more life experience. Mary Ellen worked for over a year in the U.S. Department of Justice, Immigration and Naturalization Service as a stenographer. By the time she entered the Sisters of the Holy Cross in September 1955 at Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame, her father had died, and her mother was married to Andrew Bronson, who was also a government worker.
Upon reception of the holy habit in August 1956, she received a new name in religion, Sister Mary Grace Alma. The name would have been in honor of the Blessed Mother. Years later, on the night she died, a dear friend Sister Amalia Marie (Rios), CSC, and other sisters and companions who cared for her, gathered to pray. They ended by singing the “Hail Mary” which calls upon “Mary, full of grace … [to] pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.” In 1967, Sister returned to her baptismal name without hesitation, not only to reassert her identity with her family as a McGlynn, but to celebrate her vows being rooted in baptismal faith and renewal generated by the Second Vatican Council.
Sister Mary Ellen McGlynn spent all her years in elementary education in the Washington, D.C., metro area, serving in Catholic schools as a teacher or as a principal, from 1958 to 2003 in Alexandria, Virginia, and in Greenbelt, Kensington, Garrett Park and Silver Spring, Maryland. The only exception were her years in New York City at St. Paul the Apostle School, 1964-1972.
In 1973 she considered leaving teaching, yet never did. Her 1973 bachelor’s degree in history from Dunbarton College of the Holy Cross, Washington, D.C., only strengthened her excellence as a teacher. Her social studies classes were alive because of her enthusiasm. She had good rapport with students in her religion classes, which were very meaningful for them. She was known to show care and concern for youth as individuals.
Later Sister Mary Ellen was elected to serve as an Eastern Area councilor from 1998 to 2004, followed by continued ministry to the Congregation in various capacities until retirement in 2009 due to health. Sister transitioned in 2011 to the motherhouse.
Sister Joan Carusillo, CSC, the Eastern regional superior, forwarded a letter in April 1982 to Sister Mary Ellen, which was a tribute to her from the lay principal at Holy Cross Grade School, Garrett Park, Maryland. Sister Joan wrote to Sister Mary Ellen, “I think you should frame the letter. We are proud of you and all that you are doing for the Church and Holy Cross.” Whether Sister framed the letter will be left to an archivist to research.
Sister Mary Ellen McGlynn leaves behind a good name, more precious than silver or gold. Whatever honor or inner healing she experienced, was due to the Holy Name of Jesus Christ and its power in her life. She is now whole and enjoys God’s peace.
We invite you to donate to the Ministry With the Poor Fund in Sister’s name.
—Written by Sister Catherine Osimo, CSC