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Sister Marian Catherine McGrann

1913 - 1995


Mildred McGrann was the second born child to Margaret Helen Maloney of Henderson, Minnesota and John Joseph McGrann of Green Isle Minnesota.  Both parents were of Irish descent.  Mildred had two brothers, Rafael J, Hugh C., and a sister Francis.  Her extended family included two nephew priests: The Reverend John McGrann and Reverend Peter Grady and a cousin, Sister Peter Eymard, S.S.J.  Both parents were of Catholic background and the McGrann home reflected their faith through family prayer together frequent reception of the Sacraments.  As they lived some distance from the church and could not attend Catholic schools, the McGrann children were taught their Catechism and Bible History by their mother

 Mildred’s first experience in a Catholic educational setting was at Marylhurst College at Marylhurst, Oregon.  Just before her senior year at college Mildred requested and was accepted at the Novitiate of the Sisters of the Holy Names, Marylhurst, Oregon. 

With beguiling candor, and a forthrightness that was never abrasive, Sister interacted with her peers.  She accepted her students at their immediate point of entry into the wondrous journey of the discipline of research and the adventures of discovery.  A discovery through meticulous observation, precise measurement toward a cautious conclusion to be tested, re-shaped, and once again shared.  Biology of creation, of man, of nature, is not for the faint-hearted–but what a joy when the scientific process approaches an understanding of oneness with the Creator of all.

A half century of calendar years marked Sister's classroom days.  She was called teacher by the roster of her students and looked upon by her colleagues as a gift of inspiration and leadership.  Her exemplary respect and reverence for the capabilities and individual strengths of her pupils and associates of the professional world.  Ever a model of insight and motivation her contributions were manifold to her profession.  As associate, board member, team worker, and visionary, she was open to suggestions, supportive of ideas and a master at achieving consensus.  Letters affirming her gifts, her expertise, and her leadership are on record in support of her successful nomination as an honorary member of the prestigious National Association of Biology Teachers.

 Sister Marian Catherine knew the light and dark of service.  With youthful zeal and strength she powered the technical machine of the historic pageants at Portland's old St. Mary's, produced by that extraordinary entrepreneur, Sister Mary Ina.  She knew the joy of an Annual wrapped up and printed for another year's distribution.  The dark of later career change was a fearful time as she walked the uncharted paths of new relationships, responsibilities, and place.  Health signals of the new vision to come followed closely on her career focus.  Through all the days, she loved and gently pierced the unknown with a grace-filled confidence. She moved from the Voyager I Jupiter encounter, witnessed with other scientists at the Pasadena NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (1979), to the now-seeing, 14 years later–the Galileo spacecraft as it successfully probed for the first time the inner world of the great gas planet, Jupiter, December 1995.

All is now open to Sister Marian Catherine in her resurrection in Christ.  Hers is the encompassing view of the totality of creation, a beautiful vindication of the "fire she cast upon the earth."  Sister lived to her fullest the role of teacher, mentor, and scientific leader within the Community of the Sisters of the Holy Names.  Her mission was "knowledge to become this generation's greatest heritage to succeeding generations."

         Quoted from her writings on the impact of scientific discoveries,

        The American Biology Teacher, Volume 41, No. 5, May 1979.

          Like the power-signaling of the jet contrail across the heavens,

ordered plumes reflecting the sun's light

as they dissipate and join the clouds of space,

so the genius of Sister Marian Catherine empowered all of us.

Her energy was the eternal questing of the intellect.  

Sister Marian Catherine McGrann (Mildred McGrann) departed this life on Saturday, November 18, 1995, at the Convent of the Holy Names, Spokane, Washington, in the 82nd year of her life and 60th year of her religious profession.  The vigil was held Tuesday, November 21, 1995, in the Convent Chapel.  Funeral service was Wednesday, November 22, 1995 in the Convent Chapel, and interment followed at Holy Cross Cemetery, Spokane, Washington.

Added information:

Education: Marylhurst College,  Marylhurst, Oregon - B.S. Degree (Botany/Zoology) 1938

                         Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI - M.S. Degree (Botany/Zoology) 1951

 Sister Marian Catherine taught at many catholic high schools in the Northwest and at Marylhurst College, before her mission at Mater Cleri Seminary, Colbert, Washington  from 1966-1970. She then taught at high schools in Spokane, Washington, San Pedro and Santa Monica, California. During 1971 - 1972 Sister took time and wrote science publications and retired 1981 in Spokane, Washington.

Sister Mary E. Dunton,  Sister of the Holy Names,  Washington Province, Archivist,  Oct. 13, 2004

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