To Be, Rather Than to Seem

Leaving a Legacy of Love: Sister Mary Glavin Retires

'I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.' — Maya Angelou 

As we conclude another school year in the Academy’s history and enter a new season, Sister Mary Elise Glavin, SNJM announces her retirement from her current role as high school theology teacher. Sister Mary is an integral part of the Academy family, serving students and families with dedication and love through various roles for over 46 years.

Discover Her Story

Born in Albany, New York, in 1940, Sister Mary was one of six children and part of a long legacy of family who attended the Academy of the Holy Names Albany from 1st through 12th grade. After graduating in 1957, Sister Mary left home for the novitiate in Rome, New York. She professed her first vows in 1959 as a Sister of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary.

“My mother and father used to pray that one of us would enter religious life. I would go into my room and pray it wouldn’t be me because I already had plans… My fourth grade teacher said to us, ‘Make sure that you pray every day, that you do what God wants you to do, and what you’re on Earth for.’ And I did just that. When I was a senior in high school, I realized that this call was bigger than my dreams. I decided that I had to go through with what I thought God wanted me to do.”

Sister Mary finished her first degree in education at Medaille University in Buffalo. Later she earned two master's degrees — her first in administration at Barry University and her second in counseling at USF. Sister Mary has given 64 years of her life to the ministry of education in the faith and the full development of human persons. 

Uncover Her Legacy

She began her vocation in education as a teacher from 1959 to 1968 at St. Michael’s Catholic School in Silver Spring, Maryland. “I think a piece of me always knew that I would be a teacher because that’s part of my whole family on both sides. And I think I always knew that I would be a part of the Sister of the Holy Names, whether I embraced that plan or not. I have never looked back and I would never change a thing.”

In 1968, she joined the Academy of the Holy Names family in Tampa as the first principal of the girl’s Academy elementary school, where she served in the role for ten years. “It was a tremendous leap of faith, both on the part of the community and I guess on my part, too. It was an amazing time of my life where I was able to feel like God was very present in and through everybody and everything we did here.”

After getting her master’s in counseling, Sister Mary left the Academy between 1978 and 1986 to serve as a teacher and guidance counselor at Espíritu Santo, Corpus Christi, and Holy Family Catholic Schools. She returned to Academy of the Holy Names Tampa in 1986 as a high school guidance counselor. Between 1987 and 1997, Sister Mary served as assistant principal and guidance counselor for the high school, working alongside Assistant Principal Sister Mary Patricia Plumb and Principal Sister Anne Celine Turner.

From 1998-2023 she continued ministering at AHN as a theology teacher and personal counselor, working as the director of the guidance department for many of those years. In 2019, she transitioned out of counseling and continued teaching as a theology teacher through 2023.

For over two decades, Sister Mary taught Christian Lifestyles to Academy seniors, building on lessons from previous theology classes and preparing them for their journey after high school. When asked about her time teaching the class, Sister Mary said, “The course is for these young women to learn to be young adults who are not necessarily successful, but significant. They’re not working to be the best in the world, but the best for the world. And how you make your life significant in God. It’s not about racing with one another to win. It’s about holding hands and getting together to the Kingdom.”

Celebrate Her Service and Impact

Sister Mary Glavin has left an indelible mark on our school and the AHN community over the years. From her time as an educator to her retirement, her impact on the school and its students was felt firsthand with every interaction. We have planned a series of events to celebrate Sister Mary’s retirement. Please see information for the events below:

AHN Seniors: Sister Mary plans to attend all of the culminating end-of-year events for the graduating Class of 2023. Special recognition will be included at the Senior Mother-Daughter Mass and Luncheon on May 18.
AHN Faculty and Staff: A retirement celebration and tribute to Sister Mary will take place on June 7 between the closing of the school year Mass and Faculty and Staff Luncheon. More details will be shared with faculty and staff as we get closer to the event. 
AHN Alumni: All alumni are invited to celebrate Sister Mary during Reunion Weekend in June. Special recognition will be added to the Alumni Reunion Weekend Brunch program on June 11. Please RSVP here.
Family, SNJM Sisters, and Associates: An evening reception and program will take place over the summer. Invitations will be forthcoming.

Wider AHN Community: We invite everyone from the AHN community to contribute to a special keepsake for Sister Mary. To send a note, please see details below and fill out this form.


Contribute to Her Keepsake Gift

Please consider contributing a personal story, favorite memory, or note of encouragement to the keepsake book we are creating for Sister Mary to enjoy for years to come. We will collect these well wishes in a variety of ways from our AHN community. The deadline to submit is May 17. See submission opportunities below:

1) Electronically: Leave a message for Sister Mary via this form to be included in the keepsake book.

Leave A Message for Sister Mary

2) By Mail: We will collect private letters on Sister’s behalf. Should you choose to mail Sister Mary a letter, please address to the below, care of the Academy.

Sister Mary Glavin
c/o Academy of the Holy Names Advancement
3319 Bayshore Boulevard
Tampa, FL 33629
If you have any questions about how you can contribute to Sister Mary’s retirement gift, please contact Erin Fogle ( or by phone at 813-839-5371 ext. 227.

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