Sister Mary of Lourdes McDevitt: Obituary


Sister Mary of Lourdes McDevitt, IHM, 90, former president of Immaculata University from 1955 to 1972, passed away of natural causes on Wednesday, February 9, at Camilla Hall.
Sister Mary of Lourdes, a native of Philadelphia who attended St. Elizabeth School in Philadelphia, graduated from John W. Hallahan High School. After attending Immaculata for one year, she entered the Congregation of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. After receiving her bachelor´s degree in chemistry at Immaculata, Sister taught mathematics and chemistry at Shenandoah Catholic High School for seven years. Sister studied at the Institutum Divi Thomae in Cincinnati, where she received an M.S. degree in 1945. In 1950, she received her Ph.D. in bio-chemistry from the Institutum.
In 1945, Sister joined the chemistry department at Immaculata. While teaching at Immaculata, Sister engaged in cancer research. Many of her articles on cancer research have appeared in scholarly journals. In 1955, Sister Mary of Lourdes, Sister Maria Socorro, Sister M. St. Agatha, and Sister Eleanor Marie were instrumental in receiving the fifth of five major grants in nine years for cancer research.
The appointment of Sister to the presidency signaled the return of IHM leadership to the top position at the College. A flurry of building expansion occurred during her tenure: Marian Hall, Gillet Hall, Good Counsel Hall (1954); Faculty Center (1962); Loyola Hall (1963); De Chantal Hall (1966); Alumnae Hall (1970). In 1972, Sister, a sportswoman and athlete in her own college days and an avid fan, saw the Mighty Macs gain national prominence with their first national basketball championship title. After Sister´s tenure at Immaculata, she served as principal of Archbishop Carroll High School for Girls, the first woman principal in the Philadelphia Archdiocese.
Sister´s list of achievements is endless. She was a member of many committees and Middle States teams as well as the recipient of numerous awards and honorary degrees. In 1961, the Alumnae Association presented Sister with its "Woman of the Year" award. She was awarded an honorary doctorate in pedagogy from LaSalle University for outstanding achievements and contributions to Catholic higher education. In 1977 at commencement exercises, Sister was presented with The Immaculata Medal of Immaculata University for her creative leadership and sound scholarship. In 1991, Sister also received the "Distinguished Catholic School Graduate Award" established by the Archdiocesan Office of Catholic Education of Philadelphia.
Sister served on the Executive Committee of the Foundation for Independent Colleges of Pennsylvania and was its vice-chairman for one term. Sister served on the Board of Trustees of Cabrini College and as consultant to the president of Cabrini. She was also a member of the Upper Main Line Branch, Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter, American Red Cross; the Chester County Council of Higher Education; the Advisory Board of the American College Admissions Center; and the Executive Board of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Education Conference, of which she served as chairman for one term. Sister also coordinated the educational work of the teachers and administrators in thirty-two of the schools which are staffed by members of her Congregation.
According to Sister R. Patricia Fadden, I.H.M., president of Immaculata University, "The loss of Sister Mary of Lourdes will be felt deeply by the faculty and alumnae of Immaculata. She put her energy and expertise behind Immaculata during a growth time in its history. Sister will always be remembered for her extraordinary ability to relate to people. One of her distinctive characteristics, accessibility, prompted a special name for the Terrace Lounge of Alumnae Hall: The Open Door. She will be missed."
Sister Mary of Lourdes is survived by numerous nieces, nephews, grandnieces and (more)
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, February 16, at Camilla Hall. Viewing will be held on Tuesday, February 15, after 2:00 p.m. with a Prayer Service at 7:00 p.m. at Camilla Hall, Immaculata, Pennsylvania. Contributions may be made Camilla Hall Nursing Home, Immaculata, PA 19345.
Funeral arrangements are being made through DellaVecchia, Reilly, and Smith Funeral Home of West Chester.
Immaculata University, a Catholic, coeducational institution, is located 20 miles west of Philadelphia, south of the intersection of routes 30 and 352, between Paoli and Exton.

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