Sister Mary Jean Leacy, 92, longtime educator

February 13, 1997|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Sister Mary Jean Leacy, R.S.M., who retired as head of the biology and medical technical departments at the old Mount St. Agnes College, died of congestive heart failure Feb. 5 at Mercy Villa Convent in Rodgers Forge. She was 92.

Sister Jean, a member of the Religious Sisters of Mercy, began teaching biology in the late 1920s at Mount St. Agnes High School in Mount Washington. She later joined the college faculty and retired in 1971, the year that the institution -- founded in 1890 -- was merged with Loyola College.

After retiring, she assisted at the sacristy at Mercy Medical Center until 1985.

Elizabeth Leacy was born in Baltimore and attended St. Peter's School on Poppleton Street. In 1922, she graduated from Western High School.

She was awarded an academic scholarship to Western Maryland College but, instead, decided to enter the Sisters of Mercy in 1925. She professed her vows in 1931.

She earned a bachelor's degree from the College of St. Elizabeth in Convent Station, N.J., and a master's degree from the Catholic University in Washington.

"Oh, she enjoyed everything in the 1920s. She was very worldly and enjoyed the latest fashions, was a great dancer and enjoyed jazz music," said Sister Kateri Sullivan, who grew up with Sister Jean in Southwest Baltimore. "I remembered how she was in high school and used to tease her about those things."

Sister Jean was remembered as vivacious, with a keen sense of humor and an easy laugh.

She was an avid theater-goer and acted in plays and variety shows at St. Peter's School. Sometimes the shows were performed for inmates at the Maryland Penitentiary.

The Rev. Michael J. Roach, former pastor of St. Peter the Apostle Roman Catholic Church in Southwest Baltimore, recalled a visit to another penal facility when Sister Jean led a variety show to the City Jail.

"As the curtain was rolled up, pulled by a Johns Hopkins University graduate who was doing time for forgery, she was greeted by the shaved heads of 500 inmates," laughingly recalled Father Roach, pastor of St. Bartholomew Roman Catholic Church in Manchester. "In those days they used to shave the heads of all the inmates."

"And she never forgot her Southwest Baltimore roots, often returning for events that were held at St. Peter's," Father Roach said.

In her retirement, Sister Jean enjoyed groups that entertained at Mercy Villa and kept abreast of papal teachings.

"She was deeply religious, and the church meant everything to her," Sister Kateri said. "She was a great influence on my life."

A Mass of Christian burial was offered Saturday. She had no immediate survivors.

Pub Date: 2/13/97

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