Mary Cahoon McGinnity '77
Like many Holy Cross graduates before and after her, Mary entered the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. So began a three-decades long career devoted to the service of faith and the promotion of justice, and to setting new standards for lay leadership in the Catholic Church.
The young philosophy major stayed on after her JVC assignment in Newark, New Jersey, teaching at Essex Catholic High School and St. Vincent's Academy. Then followed her work as a mental health clinician for underserved populations, and a master's degree in pastoral counseling from Iona College. She continued her vocation by developing social service nonprofits, and providing leadership in furthering the social justice outreach of the Catholic Church in faith formation, Catholic social teaching, direct service and legislative advocacy.
As director of the Department for Service and Justice for the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., Mary developed and oversaw the Leadership Institute for Applied Catholic Social Teaching, a collaboration between the Archdiocese and the Washington Theological Union. She forged a diocese-to-diocese partnership with the Jeremie Diocese of Haiti; was responsible for diocesan advocacy on social policy issues; and directed activities related to Catholic Relief Services and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.
Today, she has returned to where her commitment to social justice began, and is leading the Ignatian Volunteer Corps, a national organization headquartered in Baltimore with 16 regional chapters across the United States. As executive director, she helps provide women and men over the age of 50 with opportunities to serve the needs of people who are poor, to work for a more just society, and to grow deeper in Christian faith by reflecting and praying in the Ignatian tradition. She has said that her work allows her to "bring all that I have learned since JVC and to give back so that others might experience the blessings that come from faith in action and in service to people in need."
Mary is also co-founder of Rosaria Communities, Inc., providing housing to people with intellectual disabilities, and co-founder and president of Prison Outreach Ministry Inc. We join her husband Peter and their two children in thanking God for Mary's gifts, and for allowing all of us to benefit from her exceptional leadership and extraordinary faith life.
For patterning her life to that of Ignatius Loyola, for proceeding in both a pilgrimage and a labor in Christ, for her ceaseless desire to bring men and women to God's reconciliation and the Spirit's love, and for her committed care for the poor, the marginalized, and the abandoned, the College of the Holy Cross presents to Mary Cahoon McGinnity the Sanctae Crucis Award.