Sister Mary Foley, SSND, and SSND Associate Kathleen Sylvester Retire from AHA

The month of June brought several changes to the Academy of the Holy Angels, including the retirements of several key staff members. Those who are leaving their posts include School Social Worker Sister Mary Foley, SSND, and campus ministry director and SSND Associate Kathleen Sylvester.

Sister Mary will retain her responsibilities as head of operations in the newly-renovated auditorium. She began her ministry as a physical education teacher and coach in Rochester, New York, and later taught girls in Liberia. Her career also included service as an administrator and teacher, and a counselor for Catholic Family Services. In 2002, S. Mary joined Holy Angels, where her ministry has involved work with PowerBack, a group that helps girls advocate against peer dating abuse.

Together with her beloved therapy dog, Luke, Sister Mary visited numerous schools, especially in Newtown, Connecticut. As a volunteer mental health worker for the American Red Cross, she has assisted people in New Jersey and Texas. S. Mary has also been involved with the Lead Response Team for the Traumatic Loss Coalition in Bergen County and was a Disaster Response Crisis Counselor for New Jersey.

In March 2018, she was a Bergen County’s Women’s History Month honoree. On May 9, 2018, as she celebrated 50 years as an SSND, New Jersey, Bergen County, and the Borough of Demarest all declared that date “Sister Mary Foley Day” in honor of her service around the globe.

After earning her undergraduate degree in Spanish and physical education from SUNY Brockport, S. Mary received her MDiv from Immaculate Conception Seminary at Seton Hall and a master’s in social work from Fordham. She is a New Jersey licensed clinical social worker, and has completed three marathons. She enjoys spending time with her border collies, Zac and Pax, and crafting greeting cards, including the ones presented to her fellow retirees. Art teacher Christine Wraga DeGennaro created the card given to S. Mary – a watercolor representing of a bouquet of flowers.

SSND Associate Kathleen Sylvester

Another retiree, SSND Associate Kathleen Sylvester, holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from Saint Peter’s University, a master’s in pastoral ministry from Seton Hall, and a certificate in liturgical studies from Felician University. Before she joined the staff at AHA in 2005, Kathleen served as a pastoral associate at Saint Mary’s Church in Dumont, a post she retained on a part time basis. She has invested thousands of hours organizing retreats, prayer services, liturgies, fundraisers for Haiti and Puerto Rico, Feast Day and Foundation Day observances, Service Day, and more. She has also chaperoned countless service trips. She was honored for her superior logistical skills, and for bringing Bridges, a club for inclusion, to AHA.
“Each person has given more than their job required,” President Hanlon said. Each retiree will receive a personalized paver to be added to the walkway outside the gym. The circle on the campus drive will be renamed Robert Shanney Circle. Hanlon noted the 143-year continuum from S. Nonna Dunphy, the School Sister of Notre Dame who signed the contract for AHA’s first campus in Fort Lee, to S. Mary. Hanlon also announced that the Kelleher Hall chapel will be dedicated in the School Sisters’ honor.
Sister Mary Foley, second from right, has retired as Academy of Holy Angels social worker, but will stay on as director of operations in the new auditorium. SSND Associate Kathleen Sylvester, left, has also retired.
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