Sister Marilyn (Maureen) Smith

While in high school, Marilyn firmly declared to friends that under no circumstances would she ever enter the convent, but a series of events helped her remember a thought from her 3rd grade teacher — “To be happy, just follow God’s will.” This became a lifelong theme for her.

From her first assignment at Notre Dame Elementary in San Francisco, Sister Maureen, as she was then known, fell in love with teaching children. Later assignments took her to Lynnwood, Washinton, and to Millbrae, Santa Barbara, and Folsom in California. Her assignment to St. Thomas More parish in Lynnwood held special meaning for her. She remembers that “It was like going home. The parish was so welcoming.”

At St. John Notre Dame School in Folsom, Calif. one of Sister Marilyn’s concerns was the lack of a library. As principal, she kept voicing her concern until a contingent of dads told her they would build her a library on their weekends. The project became such a popular community effort that the idea of rotating teams was dropped. Who knows whether it was the camaraderie, the beers or the Sisters’ homemade chocolate chip cookies that made it happen, but St. John’s School now boasts a first-class, technologically equipped library!

Sr. Marilyn Smith at the House of Prayer in Carmel in 1986.

In 1981, Sister Marilyn went from a busy schedule as an elementary school administrator to becoming one of the  staff at the SNDdeN House of Prayer in Carmel, Calif. As a community member, she helped create an environment of prayer and reflection and also participated in local peace and justice organizations. She started the Sophia Center for Peace and Social Justice during that time and was an initial member of the group that started Public Sanctuary in Monterey County. She also made a trip to El Salvador on behalf of the refugees.

Sister Marilyn’s last teaching assignment was as a reading specialist at John Gill Elementary School in Redwood City, Calif. Pam Thornburg, a co-worker, describes what impressed her most about Sister Marilyn: “She had incredible knowledge of many unique and innovative ways of helping students to learn, and such a passion for learning. That same passion inspired her students to learn. Her eyes shone with love for her students.”

Sister Marilyn Smith, SNDdeN, with her sisters in 2010.

In recent years, Sister Marilyn has become increasingly interested in physical and spiritual healing, due in part to a childhood accident which left her with certain lifelong vulnerabilities. Her healing ministry has intensified her concern for children’s mental and physical health. It has also taken her to Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Germany, and several other states within the U.S.

In 2020, on the occasion of her 60th Jubilee as an SNDdeN, she said: “I am grateful for having St. Julie’s words, ‘How good is the good God’ as the mantra for my life. I am filled with gratitude that I have lived my life entering into the process of becoming that mantra in order to bring it to others in so many different settings. When I entered the convent, I never imagined that I would celebrate this Jubilee “sheltering in place”; however, the time has brought together significant threads in my life. I know that God is good. I know that the soul journey is a priority. I know from scripture, especially the book of Job, that in times of turmoil and turbulence the meeting place with God is that still quiet place within. And from this place anything is possible. These realizations truly are a gift for this Jubilee celebration. They will help me continue serving God’s people, humanity, and mother earth much more fully.”

Sister Marilyn's Ministries


1964 Notre Dame Elementary School, San Francisco, Calif.
1964-66 St. Dunstan Elementary School, Millbrae, Calif.
1966-68 St Thomas More Elementary School, Lynwood, Wash.
1968 Guadalupe School, Santa Barbara, Calif.
1968-73 St. Thomas More Elementary School, Lynwood, Wash.
1973-81 St. John Notre Dame Elementary School, Folsom, Calif. (Principal)
1987-96 St Elizabeth Seton School, Palo Alto, Calif.
1996-97 Green Oaks Academy, East Palo Alto, Calif.
1997- John Gill Elementary School, Redwood City, Calif.

Service to the Sisters

1981-87 Staff, Notre Dame House of Prayer, Carmel, CA

Spiritual Services

Current: Teacher, Master Sha Tao Healing Center


  1. Wishing you the joy and happiness of all these dedicated years of service and mentoring to so many who were fortunate to have been on your journey's path.

  2. Our family has fond memories of you, Sister Marilyn, from your years at St. John's Notre Dame School in Folsom, where my mom still worships with the St. John's parish community. (My dad died 9 years ago, but you may remember he was among the weekend warriors for the Betty Dolan Library, and served as the construction foreman when Notre Dame was built in the early 60's.) I also have memories of meeting you again in now not-so-recent years after I became a Catholic school teacher within the San Jose Diocese. (I am still teaching in the diocese.) Your dedication to Catholic education is inspiring. My best to you as you celebrate your Jubilee of 60 dedicated year. xo, Barbara Zanetta Lang

  3. I have so many wonderful memories of being welcomed to the House of Prayer by you, including much laughter. You were certainly there for this Protestant who needed help. Love, Glenda Hope

  4. I met Sister Marilyn nearly 19 years ago and she has helped me further my soul journey and taught me that god is a good god. I am very grateful she is in my life. Happy 60th Jubilee!

  5. Sister Marilyn you continue the legacy of the sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in education serving those in need with compassion and God's love. Your bio is so impressive and a reflection of your years of devotion and hard work. Giselle Anna Parry, Ed.D.

  6. Congratulations, Sr. Marilyn, on this happy occasion. I clearly remember you from elementary school days at Moreland in Watsonville. Thank you for your dedication and service to so many students and families.

  7. Congratulations. Thanks for helping so many , in so many ways and in so many places.
    Keep it up.
    Pray for us.
    God bless.
    Sue Digre

  8. I am so happy to know you are celebrating your 60 year anniversary- doing good and doing well. You have done so much good for so many years.
    Are these not the strangest of times? Let's hope for electoral redemption in November.
    Irene and I are raising our 16 year old grandson who is a sophomore at Riordan HS. Our daughter, Melinda, teaches third grade in Fremont.

  9. My family met Sister Marilyn in Monterey at the house of Prayer maybe 38 years ago. We became friends and we continue to contact with Christmas letters. Going to the house of Prayer was the highlight of our military tour in Monterey

    1. Thank you for sharing your memories, Charlene! I will make sure that Sister Marilyn sees your note.

      (for the Sisters)

    1. Dear Gerry,

      Thank you for your good wishes. I will forward your message to Sister Marilyn.

      (for the Sisters)

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