Sister Mary Pat (Mary Patricia) McCarron

When Mary Pat was in elementary school she often thought of becoming a Sister. She was taught by the Holy Cross Sisters at St. Matthew School in San Mateo, Calif., and felt loved  and cared for by them. She then attended Notre Dame High School in Belmont, Calif., and continued to consider religious life. Her Latin teacher, Sister Madeline Spencer, was a great support to her during those years. Mary Pat entered the Sisters of Notre Dame in 1960.

Sister Mary Pat began teaching at Guadalupe Elementary School in Santa Barbara, Calif. where she loved her 52 seventh graders. She was then assigned to teach at Notre Dame High School in Alameda, Blanchet High School in Seattle, and Notre Dame High School in Belmont.

After studying for her MA and PhD degrees at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, she joined the faculty of College of Notre Dame (now NDNU) in Belmont. While teaching religious studies classes, Sister Mary Pat was known for challenging her students to find what is important in their hearts and to be true to those beliefs.

Sisters Kathleen (Gerard Marie) Murray and Mary Pat McCarron at Notre Dame de Namur University.

Dr. Miriam Zimmerman, NDNU Professor Emerita recalls, “She was a blessing to me for her ability to listen to students without judging. My ‘spiritual IQ’ ratcheted up a few notches each day as I entered my office next to hers.” Through the paper-thin walls between offices, Dr. Zimmerman heard the relief in students’ voices as they came to Sister Mary Pat for advice, academic help or emotional support.

Retired from NDNU now, but still a teacher, Sister Mary Pat has learned Spanish and teaches it at Fair Oaks Senior Center in Redwood City, Calif. She also teaches at the Catholic Worker English Language School in Redwood City. Sister Mary Jane Floyd, the former director of the language school, said, “Sister Mary Pat came to teach English but she has done much more than that. For months she was “auntie” to a homeless little girl and guided her into a new school while she helped the girl’s family find a home. Another time, after she sent requests to neighboring parishes for volunteer teachers, the phone was soon ringing off the hook!”

Sister Mary Pat also works with Notre Dame Associates in California. She describes her involvement with them as “a source of new life within me.”

Sister Mary Pat’s heart has opened to the diverse world of women and their struggle for justice. On the occasion of her 60th anniversary as an SNDdeN, she said, “Jubilee is a time to celebrate who we are as Sisters and how far we have come on our journey. It is also a time to recognize that for women in the world today there is still a long journey ahead in our search for justice.”

Sr. Mary Pat McCarron with students at the Catholic Worker English Language School in Redwood City, CA.

Faced with the current realities of climate crisis, immigration injustice, economic inequality, and more, Sister admits that there are times that she can feel depressed, anxious, angry and fearful. “But deep within me,” she says, “I experience a universal goodness that is able to confront all threats. Where did I learn of this goodness? I learned of it from the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, past and present, who support me in my struggles to confront my daily challenges with resilience.”

Sister Mary Pat's Ministries


1964-67  Guadalupe Elementary School, Santa Barbara, CA
1965-67  Notre Dame High School, Alameda, CA
1968-70  Blanchet High School, Seattle, WA
1970-71  Notre Dame High School, Belmont, CA
1987-2003  Notre Dame de Namur University, Professor of Religious Studies and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies
2003-Present  Catholic Worker English Language School, Redwood City, CA



  1. I love seeing stories of nuns that I knew of. I believe my sister, Cecilia Smith (Sr Sheila) was in Sr McCarron’s class.

  2. Congratulations Sr., on your marvelous ministries. You are a light to all who meet you. Associate Marie Felix

  3. Mary Pat, I am not exactly sure where we crossed paths on the mission trail, but I think it was when I was at St. Thomas More in Lynnwood, WN. I also lived with your sister Nancy in Saratoga, and was in the novitiate with your other sister. I’ve been outside the sisterhood for a lot of years now, but I have fond memories of you and the McCarron Family. I doubt any of you remember me—it’s been so long. However, this voice from the distant past salutes you on this jubilee celebration. Best regards, and cheers on your celebration!
    Jeanne Haller Condren (formerly Sister Ann Walter/Sister Jeanne)

  4. Yes, you are one remarkable woman!!! It has been my privilege to know you through several different avenues, Mary Pat. I hope our friendship continues to shine through Notre Dame!

  5. Dear Mary Pat,
    Congratulations On 60 years as a SND!
    I am not at all surprised by your many accomplishments .
    Since those good old days at ND Belmont you had this determination to do good with a seriousness and compassion that was beyond your years!
    How easily I remember those fun days in the NDB gym and all the games we played in that small space.
    I wish many more years of service.
    Your Friend,
    Barbara Snowgrass Earnest

  6. Congratulations, Sr. Mary Pat! You have been an inspiration to me and I look forward to getting to know you more.

  7. Dear Sister Mary Pat,
    In your retirement, you continue to inspire me. Without missing a beat, you started your volunteer teaching and community work. Now that I am also retired, I hope to emulate your model. Be well and safe! I look forward to when we can resume our lattes and be together again. Sending much love.

  8. Dear Sister Mary Pat,
    I recall you being my teacher for human experience back in 2001-2002 along with Judith. You had left during winter semester to take care of your mother who was in her mid or late 90s if I recall correctly. I remember you telling me you would ride with me as we drove to Pacifica to see the play of Shakespeare of King Lear which I got a parking ticket and you even you were like "OMG you passed by less than inch of the parking line"

    You and Judith made me feel smart for the first time of life. I went as far as dropping off a letter to you in person about 10 or more years ago. Hopefully you remember. Sister Mary Pat I see that your stilll helping people when it comes to reading annd writing. I would like to ask for you assistance as I recently applied for MSW program. as well as I learned i had a learning disability in 2017 6 months after obtaining my BA. DOctor asked me"how did you pull it off"

    I really dont know how I pulled it off as my memory is the worse. What i do know is the faith you and Judith had in me and that is enough for me to try to make it through. please reach out to me if you have time

    1. Thank you for the nice message to Sister Mary Pat, Cathy! I have forwarded it to her. I removed your phone number from the public message, but did include it in what was sent to her.

      Happy New Year!

      (for the Sisters)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.