Sister Mary Gray, 84

Teacher, school founder

November 15, 2007

Sister Mary Gray, a founder of St. Elizabeth School in Northeast Baltimore and a former superior general of the Franciscan Sisters of Baltimore, died of cancer Saturday at the Clare Court Convent near the school. She was 84.

Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, she entered what became the Franciscan Sisters of Baltimore when she was 22. She received the name Sister Mary Alexander and later used the name Mary.

She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the old Mount St. Agnes College in Mount Washington. She later earned a master's degree and a doctorate from the Catholic University of America.

Early in her career, she was an elementary school teacher, and in 1962 she was elected provincial of the Franciscan Sisters of Baltimore. A biography prepared by her order said she was "instrumental in establishing St. Elizabeth School for students with developmental disabilities." The school is on Argonne Drive and remains in operation.

"She was a forward-looking spiritual leader who gracefully guided her Franciscan sisters through the many changes resulting from the renewal of religious life following the Second Vatican Council," wrote three of her colleagues, Sisters Eileen Quinn, Cecilia Reilly and Mary Therese White, in a statement.

Sister Mary was superior general of her order from 1965 to 1977. She later worked at the Franciscan Center on Maryland Avenue and was director of Francis House, a lay volunteer program, from 1981 to 1991. She assisted her congregation in its merger with the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi in 2001. She was an archivist for her order, worked in fundraising and drove for fellow sisters and their guests.

She received a papal medal in 1990 for her years of work.

Sister Mary donated her body to the Maryland Anatomy Board.

A memorial Mass will be offered at 10:30 a.m. Dec. 1 at Clare Court Convent, 3725 Ellerslie Ave.

Survivors include a brother, Alexander Gray of Berkeley Springs, W.Va.; a sister, Rita Kilby of Millsboro, Del.; and nieces and nephews.

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