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 Notable Ursulines

Selected Profiles


By Sister Martha Counihan, OSU, College Archivist

Sister Clement Eggers: A “lay sister” in the Maintenance Department. Sr. Clement was a convert who met Mother Irene Gill on the Lower East Side. Her family refused to see her for many years. Considered the “Maintenance Department ,” of the College  “Clemmie” was a beloved presence, cleaning classrooms and residence “cottages,” praying for and cheering up the students. She was greatly esteemed by Mother Irene (who would darn Clemmie’s stockings), the Ursulines, and the students.

Mother Cephas McLoughlin: Anna McLoughlin was a graduate of the first class of 1908 who entered the Ursulines soon after graduation (the first CNR graduate who became an Ursuline), went to Columbia as a postulant and received her M.A. She taught math and was elected prioress in the 1930’s. She died young, but was a beloved teacher and friend.

Mother Xavier Fitzgerald: “Xave” had entered the Ursulines after studying at the Henry Street Normal School. Born in Ireland, she emigrated and worked for years as a waitress and nanny until she could complete her education. After receiving a M.A. from Columbia, she taught economics and sociology while working as registrar. She was the brains behind the development of CNR — studying college catalogs, hiring the best faculty, advocating for the best education for the students.

Mother Gertrude Farmer: Elizabeth Farmer was an Ursuline Academy boarder at 93rd Street and came to CNR, graduating in 1916. After teaching and receiving a M.A.in history from Fordham, she entered the Ursulines. After teaching history at CNR for several years, Mother Gertrude began to organize the College Archives. CNR is one of the first women’s colleges to have an Archives organized by a professional archivist. It is thanks to Mother Gertrude’s foresight and attention to detail that the College can trace its history. Faculty, staff, and students recall her kind smile and helpful service in the Library.

Mother Thomas Aquinas: She was a beloved member of the English Department, who instilled into her generations of students a love of writing and of Shakespeare. She was advisor to Tatler, Annales, and Quarterly at various times. “Quinie” became Dean in the 1940’s. She was a staunch supporter of students and a very able administrator, clear and decisive. She had an eye for talent of identifying the gifts of faculty members and encouraging them to further their interests.

Mother Grace: She was known for her unforgettable classes on Dante. She was a founder of the Catholic Renascence Society and instrumental in bringing many intellectuals to campus for lectures open to students and to the public.

Mother Celeste: Known as Mary Shaughnessey, she was an active alumna for many years while teaching Latin in public schools. She founded Alumnae College in 1939 and shortly afterwards entered the Ursulines. In 1940 she returned to campus to teach in the Classics Department. Celeste was a Catholic and renaissance woman, skilled at integrating her deep knowledge of the classic Greek & Roman authors and myths with theology. She is one of many Ursuline legends at CNR and alumnae remember at sunrise would recite the glories of the “rosy-fingered dawn” from the Iliad.

Mother Dorothea: She taught in the Psychology Department before she was named Dean and then became the first Ursuline President in 1949. As President, she strengthened the curriculum and oversaw the celebration of CNR’s Semi-centennial. She was a reluctant President and did not feel suited for the presidency which held from 1949-1957.

Mother Margaret: Agnes Crowley ’22 taught in the English Department and established the Speech-English department in the 1930’s and trained actresses and speech therapists. A long-time moderator of ‘Props & Paint” and the Mission Club, Mother Margaret in 1935 wrote and directed a pageant to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the foundation of the Ursulines. The cast for this production included over 200 students and required the closing of the streets around the College. During World War II and in the years immediately following the war, Mother Margaret oversaw the CNR students’ collection and sending of tons of packages of food and clothing to war-ravaged Europe.

Mother Therese: Anne Charles ’24 taught theology and was a spiritual guide to several generations of students who belonged to the College Sodality. She was one of the founders of the College Theology Society and was instrumental in bringing academically-prepared teachers of theology into Catholic colleges to conform with state and national mandates that religion courses in colleges be of equal academic rigor as other courses.

Mother Berenice: Mary Rice’24 PhD in Psychology and founder in 1942 of the innovative Child Study Center, a nursery school program in which psychology students observed and participated. Like other Ursulines, Mother “B” was instrumental in inviting key speakers to campus and was very active in the Catholic Family Movement. In addition to teaching and supervising the Child Study Center, Mother “B” served in College Relations, participating in fund-raising for CNR.

Mother Clotilde Sheridan: Mother Clotilde was an accomplished pianist and organist who taught at CNR for 39 years. In its early years, CNR offered an extensive music program and Mother Clotilde taught music and voice, played for many events, directed the Glee Club, and gave concerts. She brought numerous famous musicians and singers to campus, contributing much to the cultural life of students and the public of New Rochelle.

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College Archivist, Sister Martha Counihan, OSU has deep roots here at CNR. Her grandmother and great-aunt were graduates of CNR in 1911. Her mother, several aunts and cousins, are also alumnae. Sr. Martha herself is a graduate of CNR, Class of 1967; she has a master’s degree in Art History from the University of Delaware and did her thesis on the architectural history of Leland Castle, which led her back to CNR as Archivist in 1976. Several years after receiving her M.S. in Library Service from Columbia University, Sr. Martha went to Latin America and engaged in pastoral ministry there. She returned to the United States in 1993 and served as a chaplain in the NYC area. In 2001, Sr. Martha returned to CNR as Archivist and Special Collections Librarian.

 


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