Sister Shawn Marie Maguire, SNDdeN

Sister Shawn Marie Maguire, SNDdeN

Shawn Marie Maguire, SNDdeN
September 8, 1939 - September 17, 2020

“I was born in Philadelphia – the oldest of five children,” Shawn wrote in 2007, the year of her golden jubilee, “I met the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur at West Catholic High School.  Sisters William Marie (Pat Murray) and Mary Augusta exhibited a simplicity, joy, and commitment to their students that I had not experienced before.”  Later, she remembered being struck by their dedication “to their mission of making God’s goodness known,” and knowing that she “wanted to minister with them.”  So it was that God planted St. Julie’s charism in Shawn’s heart. 

The seed broke open, put down deep roots, sprouted, and grew strong as she journeyed from high school through her postulate, novitiate, and first profession.  Next came a full-time study as a Junior Sister, to complete her bachelor’s degree at Trinity College (now Trinity Washington University).   When the time came for Shawn to step into the classroom, she was more than ready to share the wealth!

“I loved teaching,” she wrote in her 29th year at Maryvale, “and found wonderful people and life-changing experiences in my ministries.”  Her elaboration is insightful:

My past is rich in memories . . . of all those people with whom I have had the opportunity of sharing Julie’s Mission of preparing young people for life and forming leaders who will make a difference in our world.  My present is challenging and adventurous because I have the privilege of spending each day with the future—the young women with whom I work.”

Her impact on those young “ladies-s-s,” as she called them, is evident from the testimonies so many of them posted on Maryvale’s web site at the time of Shawn’s death.  A few examples speak volumes:

  • She . . .  taught us to be strong, outspoken, confident women. I owe a lot of who I am to her.  . . . 
  • She was our constant at school. Our North Star.  She was fair and fun. firm yet loving. She set the example for us and it gave me purpose to make her proud.
  • Growing up, school was very difficult for me socially. Yet, on my very first day of high school, Sr. Shawn knew me immediately by name and shook my hand in welcome. I was in complete disbelief. Not only did this woman know my name, at first sight, she said it with such genuine kindness.  From that day forward, Sr. Shawn and Maryvale played an important role in my healing process.  Even in kindness, she still always had a passionate, firm expectation that we would grow to become strong, independent, free-thinking young women. It was such an incredibly pivotal time in my life, and I credit Sr. Shawn with who I have become today, both as an individual and a teacher, helping me find a voice I always had inside of me.
  • Attending Maryvale shaped [my daughter] into a smart, confident, driven young lady who is soon to enter Physician Assistant School. . . .  . She will soon be caring for the sick as a P.A. and in honor of Sister Shawn …
  • She made it a point to know every student and their story. I remember to this day receiving a handwritten card from her when I graduated from the University of Delaware. [Later,] she asked me how my career as a physical therapist was going.. . .  She was always there for us.
  • . . . When I went on mission trips and again in college while I studied to be a nurse, Sister sent me letters telling me that she was praying for me and that she and all the Maryvale community loved me. It meant so much, knowing that she took the time to put pen to paper . . . . She always asked about my family . . . .
  • She went out of her way to make a genuine connection with each of us and she truly made the world a better place. 
  • Whenever I see a sunflower it reminds me of her,  her warm presence, and the impact she had on my life in a crucial time like high school. 
  • No one made you feel better than Sister!

An SND friend, Sr. Barbara English, remembers how Shawn’s commitment to social justice “spilled out to the students and teachers at Maryvale”: 

When I was director of the Julie Community Center, we always tried to be attentive to the families and individuals in the large southeast-east sector of Baltimore where we served, especially at the time of the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.  All of them were living in poverty and most of them had no support circle.  Shawn ran a huge food drive at Maryvale for our folks.  It got so big that oftentimes after taking care of our families, we were able to help other non-profits reach out to their families.  We always made sure the diversity of our community was well represented in the giving and sharing of gifts -- African American, Latin American, Native American, and European American.  Shawn simply loved people, and her heart was open to anyone in need. A beautiful legacy!

Our SND Constitutions assert the totality of our call to be in mission:  “Each sister, through her entire life, participates in our corporate mission by prayer, compassion, suffering and action” (Article 28).  During the final year and nine months of Shawn’s life, as she endured the aftermath of a massive stroke., she still shared in our Notre Dame mission—by her prayer and the powerful witness of her faith   Now unable to enter into conversation, she had to rely on a tilt of her head, the raising of an eyebrow, the squeeze of a hand, a yes or no nod, a smile or a tear.  Now it was her turn to receive cards from countless Maryvale students, alumnae, and friends; to be visited by a family who in the words of her brother Patrick, had “always looked to Marie . . .  to make things better for everyone”; to be comforted by friends and Sisters whose “rock” she had been.

But her life was never without meaning or value for all of us.  Shawn taught us to her last breath, and our memory of her teaches us still.  One particular dimension of her  legacy to us Sisters of Notre Dame—we who are so often  “burdened with much serving” and “anxious about many things”--is her brave witness to the “one thing” St. Julie insisted must ground all we do –"to sit at the Lord’s feet and listen.”  (Luke 10: 38-42)

We took the second reading at Shawn’s funeral Mass from the fourth and fifth chapters of Hebrews with good reason. We firmly believe that Jesus, Shawn’s “great High Priest,” who “understands our weaknesses” and experienced “the same temptations we do,” was present to her, speaking to her listening heart, through  her long months at Stella Maris – first in rehab, then in long-term care.  Like Jesus in Gethsemane, Shawn no doubt “pleaded with God, praying with tears and agony of soul.”  With Jesus,  she  learned “what it was like to obey, when obeying meant suffering.”  Now, though, with and in Christ Risen, she lives in glory:  

“He touched her, and instantly she could stand straight.
How she praised and thanked God!  (Luke 13; 10-13)

And we imagine Shawn, her tongue free at last, singing:

“He touched me, O, he touched me,
And O, the joy that floods my soul.
Something happened, and now I know
He touched me and made me whole!”

William J. Gaither, He Touched Me, ©1963, William J. Gaither, Inc.



  • September 8, 1939 – September 17, 2020
  • Born Marie Teresa Maguire at Philadelphia, PA


  • John Clark Maguire (b. Philadelphia, PA) and Marie Agnes Quinn (b. Philadelphia, PA)


  •  J. Patrick Maguire and  Michael Shawn Maguire
  • Predeceased by Daniel Joseph Maguire and Ann Marie (Nancy) Maguire Rhoads
  • Entered Notre Dame: August 11, 1957 (Ilchester, MD)
  • First Profession: January 26, 1960
  • Perpetual Vows: July 31, 1965


  • West Catholic Girls High School, Philadelphia, PA, 1957
  • B.S. - Trinity College (Trinity Washington University), Washington DC (Education) - 1962
  • M.S. - Temple University (Language Arts) - 1972
  • M.Ed. - Loyola College (Loyola University Maryland) -  1978



Teaching - Elementary and Middle Levels

  • St. Martin, T Street, Washington, DC, Grade 5 (1959-1960)
  • Our Lady of Victory, Baltimore, MD, Grade 6 (1962-1963)
  • Trinity Lower School, Ilchester, MD, Grade 4 (1963-1965)
  • St. Bernadette, Philadelphia, PA, Grade 7 (1965-1968)
  • St. Martin, Gaithersburg, MD, Grade 8 (1968-1969)
  • Trinity Lower School, Ilchester, MD, Grade 8 & Language Arts Grades 5-8 (1969-1978)

Educational Administration – Maryvale Preparatory School, Lutherville, MD

  • Assistant Principal and Teacher (1978-1981)
  • Principal/Headmistress/President (1981-2012)

Community Service (2013-2018)

  • Member, Boards of Trinity School (Ellicott City, MD) and Notre Dame Academy (Villanova, PA)
  • Volunteer service for  Sisters at Villa Julie (Stevenson, MD)
  • Participation in gatherings of Associates of Notre Dame at Villa Julie
  • Co-Editor of Endeavor magazine, Tri-Province Development Office (Stevenson, MD)


  • Ministry of Prayer, Stella Maris Long-Term Care, Timonium, MD (2018-2020)


Prepared by Sr.  Mary Ann Cook, SNDswN, with the assistance of Sr. Kim Dalgarn, SNDdeN