WHILE THE LEGACY OF SISTER JOHN RAYMOND MCGANN LIVES ON IN THE hundreds of students she helped train to become teachers and principals in New York City schools during her 50 years at St. Joseph’s College, it also thrives in the minds of millions of youngsters taught by her mentees.
“S. John Raymond will be remembered as a remarkable educator in the truest sense of the word,” said S. Nancy Gilchriest ’83, SSND, Ed.D., associate professor and chair of SJC’s Department of Education. “S. John was tireless in enabling people to be the best they could be.”
S. John, C.S.J., Ph.D., who began her career at St. Joseph’s College in 1956 as president of the school’s Department of Secondary Education, passed away Jan. 6, 2016, at St. Joseph’s Convent, the Motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Brentwood. She was 91.
“She challenged me in every class I had with her,” former SJC student Robert Van Brunt, a program administrator at Eastern Suffolk BOCES, wrote in a Facebook post. “I continue to strive to meet her expectations as an administrator every day.”
The twin sister of the late Bishop John R. McGann of Rockville Centre, S. John was honored posthumously in May with an honorary Doctor of Letters during SJC commencement ceremonies.
“I will always remember her lessons on what truly makes a great teacher and the little tidbits of advice she provided her students with,” former SJC education student, Maureen Hamilton Pugliese, wrote on the school’s Facebook page, “such as having great penmanship and presenting ourselves professionally.”
In addition to mentoring so many future educators, she helped hundreds of other students discern their interests and abilities during her time as director of counseling and special assistant to former President S. George Aquin O’Connor, C.S.J.
“She was completely dedicated to the Church, the College, her sisters and her students, and she gave herself in generous service to everyone she met,” said S. Elizabeth A. Hill ’64, C.S.J., J.D., another former president of the College.
In 1956, S. John became chair of SJC’s Department of Secondary Education and director of the counseling office. From 1956 until 1978, she prepared many students for high school teaching, recognizing and encouraging students’ leadership qualities and special talents.
She was elected in 1968 to the Chapter of Renewal, followed by her election as general councilor, re-election as councilor in 1974 and her election as general superior in 1978.
She was completely dedicated to the Church, the College, her sisters and her students, and she gave herself in generous service to everyone she met.”
In 1986, at the conclusion of S. John’s second term as general superior, SJC welcomed her back as special assistant to then President S. George Aquin O’Connor, C.S.J., where her strong support strengthened the rapid growth occurring at SJC Long Island. S. John’s congregational work continued after she left office, with membership on a number of boards of trustees, including St. Joseph’s College from 1973 until 2014, 11 C.S.J. high schools, the Cleary School for the Deaf, St. Francis School for the Deaf, Catholic Medical Center in Brooklyn and Maria Regina Residence in Brentwood.
This article originally appeared in the Centennial Edition of St. Joseph’s College Magazine, fall 2016.