Sister Mary George O’Reilly, SHCJ, PhD
7th President of Rosemont College 1962 - 1971
Mother Mary George O’Reilly (Agnes O’Reilly) was born in Toronto, Canada; eventually,
moving to the family’s ancestral home in Scotland. When she was ten years old, her
family came to the United States, settling in Yonkers, New York.
Agnes, aged sixteen, came to Rosemont College in 1934, following her sister, Moya
who was already a sophomore. As a freshman, she shared the same dorm room with Moya
in Connelly Hall, Room 304, as she recalled. Throughout her years as a student, Agnes
threw herself into all of Rosemont’s activities and traditions until she graduated
in 1938 with an BA in Chemistry and a minor in Mathematics.
Immediately following her graduation from Rosemont in 1938, Agnes O’Reilly entered
the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, taking her final vows in 1946. Now as Mother
Mary George, she furthered her education through 1959, attending Villanova College,
the University of Pennsylvania, and Fordham University. M. M. George earned her MS
in Chemistry and Mathematics from Catholic University and a PhD in organic chemistry
Mother Mary George’s teaching experience started as a chemistry and mathematics teacher
at the Holy Child Academy in Sharon Hill, PA. She returned to Rosemont in 1947 to
teach chemistry, leaving in 1954 to pursue her doctorate at Fordham. She returned
to the college in 1956 as Dean, remaining in that position until 1962 when she was
appointed President. Mother Mary George has said that some of her happiest times were
when she was close to the students’ daily activities.
In 1968, Sister Mary George, as President, began to oversee the construction of new
buildings on campus – Alumnae Hall (1961) which replaced the old gym; a residence hall for male employees
called White Hall (1962); Heffernan Hall (1964) for resident students; Lawrence Hall
(1968) for offices, classrooms, and art studios. Sister Mary George’s tenure as President
came to a close in 1971. Her administrative abilities were then focused on S.H.C.J.
endeavors. She also served as an Executive Assistant in the Administrative Offices
of the Archdiocese of Newark, N.J.
Rosemont College is part and parcel of Sister Mary George’s being – Rose and Gray all the way. In 1982, when President Dorothy M. Brown asked Sister if
she would come back to Rosemont to chair the first capital campaign at the college,
she came and raised $8.3 million by 1992 – the goal had been $6 million. Sister Mary George O’Reilly then served Rosemont as
Executive Assistant to the President until 2003 when she retired from the college.
Her memory is legendary; alumnae see her with joy at any function. It has been a life
of continued association with Rosemont since 1934.
Sister Mary George took a different career track in 2009, as a member of a team implementing a “Thresholds” prison ministry program, a guide to decision making and problem solving for inmates. All this at the age of 90.
At the age of 95, Sister Mary George O'Reilly, S.H.C.J. died Monday, March 10, 2014.