Making the Grade: Sister Enters Incarnate Word Academy Hall of Fame
By Mary Frances Monckton Hendrix
Several months ago, Sr. Margaret Patrice Slattery, CCVI, received a letter
from the Incarnate Word Academy in St. Louis, Mo., where she attended high
school. The correspondence said she had been nominated for the Academy's
inaugural Hall of Fame in the athletics category.
"No, no, no," was her reaction, she said. She wrote the Academy to say that, although she appreciated the nomination, the athletics distinction must be an error.
"I thought that if I sent them my golf handicap that they would understand I wasn't qualified," she said. "I enjoy athletics, but that's not my area of achievement."
The Academy replied that the nomination was actually for spiritual leadership, an area of achievement that the UIW president emerita does know something about.
Sr. Margaret Patrice accepted her rightful place in the Academy's first Hall of Fame at a dinner ceremony in January. Fifteen women and a team of athletes were inducted in recognition of the outstanding achievements of alumnae who use their gifts to live out the Mission of Incarnate Word Academy.
"I was very honored for several reasons," Sr. Margaret Patrice said. "I respect the school. It's a very fine school. My whole family has been associated with it. I followed my sister there; cousins were there, and nieces and now even a grand niece. So it's very much a family association with the Academy."
In fact, she learned at the awards dinner that one of her nieces, Pat Dolan, of Houston, nominated her.
"It seemed so obvious to me that she should be in the first class of the Hall of Fame," Dolan said. "Even if she hadn't been related to me.
"She's always appeared to me to be a leader of women. She's really been someone who has lived her faith, somewhat by a quiet example."
Growing up in St. Louis, Sr. Margaret Patrice attended Most Blessed Sacrament Elementary School, where she was taught by the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word. When it came time to select a high school, the Academy was a natural choice.
"When I went to school there, it was very small. There were only about 25 students in my class, about 100 in the whole school, so you remember things that made it like a family," Sr. Margaret Patrice said.
"As I look back on it, I feel that my being a student at the Academy, and the contact with the Sisters, nurtured my vocation. When it came time to graduate, it just seemed the right thing to do was to enter the vocation," she said.
Dolan, Sr. Margaret Patrice's first niece to attend the Academy, recalled a comment from the awards dinner that has stayed with her. "Someone said there weren't that many opportunities for women when she graduated other than becoming a secretary or a teacher or getting married and raising a family. Entering the convent was a career choice," Dolan said, "but for her, it was a faith choice."
In 2007, Sr. Margaret Patrice celebrated her Diamond Jubilee, 60 years as a Sister of Charity of the Incarnate Word.
During those years, she earned a bachelor's degree in English from what was then Incarnate Word College, a master's degree from Marquette University and a doctorate from the Catholic University of America.
While at UIW, she served as a professor of English, chair of the English department, academic dean, president and chancellor.
In recognition for her work in higher education, she received the Ford Salute to Higher Education for distinguished service and the Mirabeau B. Lamar Medal for Leadership in Learning by the Association of Colleges and Universities in Texas. She was honored by the San Antonio Express-News for leadership in education. Recognized as one of San Antonio's Brightest and Best, Sr. Margaret Patrice is also in the city's Women's Hall of Fame. She is also a published author; Promises to Keep is a two-volume history of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word.
Sr. Margaret Patrice's list of achievements made the spiritual leadership nomination a given in her niece's mind.
"One of the professors said if Aunt Patsy hadn't been a nun, she would have been president of General Motors," Dolan said. "She has those leadership abilities."
Abilities, she said, that have always
been grounded in faith.
Incarnate Word Academy is a Catholic, private, secondary school for young women in St. Louis, Mo., sponsored by the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word. Visit the website at www.iwacademy.org.