Dear Academy Community,
Every now and then an announcement is made that causes people to stop in their tracks, and ask, “Wait! What was that you said?” This is one of those announcements. Sister Mary Patricia Plumb is retiring. I’ll wait for a moment to allow that to sink in. It is hard to imagine the Academy without Sister Patsy, as she is affectionately known.
Sister entered the SNJM community after graduating from the Academy in 1955. Since then, she has spent the vast majority of her career at the Academy as a teacher at the Academy and Boys Academy, and as the much-revered moderator of the speech and debate team, where she and her students received many awards and accolades throughout the years. More recently, she has been the director of campus ministry, overseeing the Academy’s sacramental and prayer life, retreats and the service program, which includes the mission trips. She has also served as an important member of the administrative team.
It has been my distinct honor and pleasure to work closely with Sister Mary Patricia during my tenure as president. She is my “go-to” person when it comes to questions about the Academy’s history and traditions, or if I need an update on Notre Dame athletics. Since she lives close to my home, my wife, Maureen, and I often drive her to events or athletic games. Over the years, we have travelled across the state with her for playoff basketball, volleyball, softball and soccer games. Sister has been the Academy’s number-one fan for a long time. She no longer drives, but she knows the Tampa Bay area as well or better than anyone else I know. It pays to be a lifelong Tampa resident!
For the past nine years, I have sat next to Sister at every all-school Mass. I can hear her admonishing the high school students to quiet down while waiting for Mass to begin. “Girls, there is no reason for anyone to be talking,” is her usual refrain, but it is said out of love and respect for the liturgy that is about to begin. Her remarks at the end of Mass always include praise for the singers, altar servers, and eucharistic ministers who contribute to making the Mass so beautiful. She takes great pride in our school-wide liturgies and is insistent they include everyone from pre-K to 12th grade.
Sister Mary Patricia is moving to Concordia Village, a retirement community about a half-hour north of the Academy. She is joining Sisters Ann Regan and Mariellen Blaser and several other Sisters who live there already. While Sister will no longer work full time, she has volunteered to come in occasionally to help as needed. I know she will be a welcome sight whenever she appears on campus. We will plan a formal farewell celebration for her after the start of the school year, so be on the lookout for additional information.
The Academy and the SNJMs are thought of as one. That’s the way it has been since the school first opened its doors in 1881. The Academy is lucky to have had Sisters on staff since the beginning, and that great tradition will be carried on by Sisters Mary Glavin, Ann Regan and Mariellen Blaser, along with IHM Sister Lisa Perkowski, who will continue to serve on the staff. Sister Mary Patricia’s retirement leaves a big hole in the Academy’s heart, but fortunately we have many fond memories and will see her from time to time whenever she volunteers.
One thing I have learned during my years working with Sister is that she will always tell you exactly what she thinks. There is no pretense about her. Esse Quam Videri, “To be rather than to seem,” is the Academy’s motto. I cannot think of anyone who embodies those words better than Sister Mary Patricia Plumb. God bless you, Sister, and thank you on behalf of the thousands of students and adults you have touched during your time at Academy. You will be sorely missed.