St. Mary's Academy photo by Ed Langlois
Blaire Sellers, left, escorted Sr. Kathleen Walsh at St. Mary's Academy's Founders' Day on Oct. 19.
St. Mary's Academy photo by Ed Langlois
Blaire Sellers, left, escorted Sr. Kathleen Walsh at St. Mary's Academy's Founders' Day on Oct. 19.
Alice Barbagelata and Holy Names Sister Kathleen Walsh have been friends for more than 80 years, beginning in the first grade at St. John the Baptist School in Milwaukie and continuing throughout their time at St. Mary’s Academy and beyond.

Barbagelata and Sister Kathleen attended St. Mary’s 1938-1942. Back then, the school looked different than it does today. It was located across Fifth Avenue from the present-day structure. There were uniforms for school and physical education classes. There was no gym or auditorium.

There were, however, dedicated teachers, challenging academics and lasting friendships. When Barbagelata and Sister Kathleen returned to St. Mary’s on Oct. 19 to celebrate this year’s Founders’ Day, they were pleased to find that those things haven’t changed.

Each year St. Mary’s pays tribute to alumnae who graduated 50 or more years ago. This year, St. Mary’s welcomed 43 alumnae from the classes of 1942, 1952 and, celebrating their jubilee, 1962. St. Mary’s also was honored to welcome as its Founders’ Day Mass celebrant Archbishop John Vlazny.

“It is always delightful to have our jubilarians back in the building," said Holy Names Sister Linda Patrick, assistant principal of student life and St. Mary’s alumna. "Their joy at being together, the sharing of their stories and the peals of laughter that go with them, and the celebration of their lives heightens the energy that pulses through the school.
This year the presence of Archbishop Vlazny made the celebration even greater. His genuine care for people and his ease with the students added warmth to the special feel of the day.”
In addition to alumnae, Founders’ Day honors the 12 Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary who founded St. Mary’s Academy in 1859, as well as Blessed Mother Marie-Rose Durocher, who founded the order in 1843.

Current students escorted alumnae to the Founders’ Day Mass and luncheon, a highlight for both groups.

Barbagelata and Sister Kathleen were accompanied by St. Mary’s seniors Olivia Hinerfeld, Emma Paustian and Blaire Sellers. They enjoyed swapping stories about life at St. Mary’s.
“It was very nice. We enjoyed ourselves immensely,” Barbagelata said, noting that one of her favorite high-school memories is playing intramural basketball.

Sister Kathleen, who served as registrar at St. Mary’s from 1960-1973, was struck by how bright and kind the students are.

“It was really just a wonderful day. There’s such a spirit of life and energy with all the students. They were so welcoming to us. It was very special.”

It was a meaningful day for the students escorting the alumnae, as well.

“To see these alumnae and how they developed from their St. Mary’s education into such powerful women and the lives they created was really impressive to me,” Paustian said. “It gave me hope for my future endeavors, and I’m excited to see what I can do with my education.”