In the course of my life, I wrote several tributes to S. Mary Maier, It was always an easy job because she was such a special person.
Mary Maier had distinguished academic credentials. When she joined the faculty of St. Joseph’s College in 1972, she had just completed her Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry from the University of Michigan. In addition to teaching the freshman General Chem course and advanced courses for majors, she created courses for non-majors, to help them appreciate scientific thinking and the wonders of chemistry. Her Ascent of Man course became one of the most popular courses at the College.
Always a forward-looking thinker, as Chairperson of the Physical Sciences Department she developed a business track for Chemistry majors, which led many students to careers, and a Biochemistry sequence, allowing students to develop depth in an area of increasing importance. Her majors have gone on to graduate and medical school, and to careers in teaching and various health professions as well as research and business.
Mary Maier saw her students as persons and tried to help them to achieve their potential. Many students blossomed under her encouragement and guidance. She took pride in her students’ accomplishments and followed their careers, their marriages, and families. Many kept in touch with her long after graduation. After the Alumni Office announced her death on social media, we understand that many alumni have posted recollections of her in Facebook.
As Chairperson of the Health Professions Committee, she guided students through the process of admission to medical school. She moderated the Science Club, one of whose projects is the semi-annual Blood Drive, for which S. Mary was somehow able to mount a creative advertising campaign every single time! The renovation of the Chemistry labs, which she helped to design, brought her great joy.
One of Sister Mary’s special projects was developing interest in science among pre-college students. She created Experiences in Scientific Research, a series of Saturday programs for high school students. She conducted summer research programs for young people, gave presentations to young students all over the city, and worked with teachers. The Admissions Office and I often said we would like to clone her because she was such a valuable part of our recruitment effort.
Mary was an NSF Fellow, wrote a college textbook, published articles, and earned several grants. In her professional life, Mary was active in the American Chemical Society, where she was Chairperson of the Educational Activities Board. In 2000, the National ACS honored her for her contributions to the field by bestowing on her their ChemLuminary Award.
Mary loved people. She loved visiting her sister Millie and her nieces and nephews. She enjoyed annual get-togethers with all her sisters, and was devoted to her Dad. Mary loved the Sisters of St. Joseph and was a lively member of the College convent. She loved her students and her colleagues at the College. I’m sure she loved the people at Maria Regina who cared for her.
However, Mary also loved people that many would consider hard to love. One of these was a former student with mental illness who called Mary every week and talked for an hour. Mary listened and never lost patience. Another was a young man with a drug problem and troubles with the law. She never lost her faith in him. Mary practiced inclusive love before we began to use the term to describe our charism.
In the years she has lived in Maria Regina, Mary was always smiling happy, and uncomplaining. May she now be happy forever with God, who surely knows her as one of God’s special people.
Margaret Buckley. CSJ
Sister Mary Louise Maier, CSJ died on December 28, 2018 in the 72nd year of her religious life.