Sister Mary Montgomery, who broke new ground as co-superintendent of Catholic schools for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, died Oct. 29 in Wisconsin. A member of the Sinsinawa Dominicans for 62 years, she was 82.
Sister Mary came to the archdiocese in 1971, when she was appointed co-principal and then principal of St. Rose of Lima School in Brooklyn, where she was also coordinator of adult education for the parish. In 1975, she was named director of elementary education for the archdiocese, and in 1980 co-superintendent.
For three years, Sister Mary shared the superintendent’s duties with Larry Callahan, now the president of Our Lady of Mount Carmel School in Essex.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever met a better educator,” Callahan told the Review. “Sister Mary was very intelligent, but also had street smarts. She could have been anything she wanted to, an accountant, a business leader or the president of an institution.”
According to an Aug. 1, 1980, article in the Review, their division of labor had Sister Mary overseeing curriculum and service programs for teachers; put into effect plans and objectives of the schools division; evaluate school programs; work with the Archdiocesan Pastoral Education Committee; and “relate to the public and non-public sector throughout the state.”
“I really enjoyed working with Sister Mary, we had a great working relationship,” Callahan said, of the collaborative nature of their jobs. “We worked so closely together; whatever was done, was done together.”
Many, Callahan said, saw only the demanding side of Sister Mary.
“She had a caring, personal side, and people didn’t always see that,” he said. “She cared about everyone.”
Callahan said strangers often confused Sister Mary with Barbara Milkuski, who at the time represented Maryland’s 3rd Congressional District in the House of Representatives.
“We would be at lunch, and people would want to talk politics,” Callahan said.
In 1983, Sister Mary left Baltimore to become superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Madison, Wis. She later served as director of planning for the Archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa.
A native of Chicago, Sister Mary served in Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis; in the Archdiocese of Washington, at St. Mary School in Piscataway, in Prince George’s County, 1964-69; and the Diocese of Rockford, Ill., before coming to Baltimore.
She served on the executive board of the Maryland Association of Elementary School Administrators, and on the Board of Trustees of Mercy High School.
Sister Mary earned her bachelor’s degree from Edgewood College of Sacred Heart in Madison, Wis.; and her master’s degree from Loyola University of Chicago.
A funeral Mass will be offered Nov. 6, at 11:30 a.m. Eastern time, at her order’s motherhouse in Sinsinawa, Wis. It will be webcast live at https://portal.stretchinternet.com/sinsinawa/portal.htm?eventId=563284&streamType=video
Email Paul McMullen at pmcmullen@CatholicReview.org