Sister Mary: Heart of Ursuline, Champion of Serviam

Sister Mary Troy ’51 is somewhat of an Ursuline legend.

     As a former Ursuline student, a member of the Ursuline sister community, former President of Ursuline, and member of the St. Joseph’s team since 1994, Sr. Mary continues to make a positive impact on her community and carry on the Serviam spirit.

     I spoke to Sr. Mary, who shared her incredible story, reflecting on her time at Ursuline and offering advice to current and future Ursuline students.

     In 1939, she began her time at Ursuline as a first grader, back when Ursuline had a grade school, which closed in 1976 as high school enrollment grew.

     She attended all three Ursuline campuses—the old campus on Live Oak, Merici High School on Walnut Hill Lane and the current Ursuline campus as we know today.

     Throughout her time at Ursuline, she was very involved. According to Ursuline’s alumnae webpage, “she was the editor of the yearbook, Junior Class President, Student Body President, and was voted May queen by her peers.”

     She graduated Ursuline in 1951, which she claims is one of her favorite Ursuline memories.

     “It was a great memory to graduate from Ursuline Academy,” Sr. Mary said. “At that time we graduated from what was the Ursuline chapel. Back then, there were two days of graduation: one day was class day (where you wore the white dresses) and the second day you wore a cap and gown. It was the best of both.”

     She first considered becoming a sister around her Ursuline graduation.

     “I looked at the Ursuline sisters who mentored me over the years and the thought came to me: ‘Maybe I can do that,’” she said.

     She also reflects on the impact one of her biggest inspirations had on her decision to enter the sisterhood.

     “A memory of a person I think of is the sister who was Principal at the time, Sister Dolores Marie. I have a very fond memory of her. She is one of the biggest reasons why I became an Ursuline sister,” Sr. Mary said.

     She built a foundation of Serviam during her time as an Ursuline student, which she carried on throughout her life.

     She has served as a sister all over the world—including New Orleans, Rome, and Oxford. Sr. Mary is an example of an inspirational and dedicated leader who has worked not only locally, but also globally.

     Furthermore, throughout her 83 years at Ursuline, Sr. Mary has watched Ursuline undergo massive change and evolution.

     She has seen buildings come and go, witnessed the number of total Ursuline students grow from 100 to around 900 and marveled at Ursuline’s advancements in STEM education.

     She admires Ursuline’s evolvement, while also staying true to tradition. However, with change, comes loss.

     St. Joseph’s, a two-story white house bought by Ursuline in 1963 that presided on a five- acre piece of land, was the location where Sr. Mary previously worked alongside the President, Alumnae, and other volunteers.

     St. Joseph’s was demolished in 2020 to make way for the new building, known as East Campus.

     “Yes, that [St. Joseph’s] was a beloved building and beloved campus, but that’s evolution… in its best sense. Even though you missed what has gone before, you can’t miss in it the sense of hanging onto it because life goes on and evolves,” Sr. Mary said.

     As I listened to Sr. Mary’s insights, I realized that no matter how much Ursuline changes, the Ursuline experience is timeless.

     When she was an Ursuline student, Sr. Mary remembers how easy it was to complain and focus on the negative, which is an experience most Ursuline students can relate to today.

     However, she insists to stay in the present and be involved as much as possible.

     “Be open. Don’t shut out reality—in persons, events, and history itself. Be open to all that you are immersed today in Ursuline,” she said.

     She added, “We all complain when we are in something, but be open to opportunities that are there in your path and don’t pass them up.”

     Sr. Mary reminds us to take advantage of every opportunity and soak in everything Ursuline has to offer. We need to cherish traditions that bond all Ursuline students past and present—especially Intramurals and graduation.

     If you are considering trying something new, remember to be more like Sr. Mary and say to yourself, “Maybe I can do that.”

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