Mary Breslin McLaughlin has never been an onlooker in the world around her. During her college years at Saint Elizabeth's, she was President of Student Council, Class President and a member of the varsity basketball team. She graduated with honor in 1963. With a major in French and minors in both English and mathematics, it was no surprise that Mary was offered an assignment in the Peace Corps. However, her decision to accept a teaching position at Wayne Valley High School, centered the focus of her life in Bergen County. In 1964, Mary married Donald McLaughlin.
Throughout the following two decades, Mary and Don were busy raising their seven children. They assumed leadership in the usual activities participated in by the parents of young children. However, their busy lives always had room for extending their care and concern for children other than their own. For twenty years, Mary and Don were teachers in their parish CCD program and from 1968 through 1972 they opened their home to their local high school CCD Discussion Groups. Mary continues an active involvement in Saint Paul's Social Concerns and Lazarus Ministry to families at the death of a family member.
From 1969 through 1973, Mary served as Town Chairman for Ramsey's "Operation Vacation" program for children from the neighboring inner city of Paterson. She was a Brownie Leader, assumed responsibilities for Girl Scout Activities and moderated the Ramsey 4H group. Her interest and participation in sporting activities included coaching girls' basketball and softball, as well as director of cheerleaders for Ramsey's Football Association. Mary's generosity and service reached international proportions through her involvement with American Field Service and Project Children when Mary organized the placement of some 20 children from Northern Ireland for summer respite in the USA.
As her children began leaving home for college and finally to establish their own homes, Mary's interests widened to other activities. She has been a volunteer in Ramsey's Soup Kitchen since 1983 when she initiated soup kitchen cooking teams for more than 200 volunteers. Mary continues to oversee this ministry that now serves not only Bergen County but also extends to various kitchens throughout New Jersey with particular concern for Mother Teresa's Newark Kitchen and Eva's Village in Paterson. This ministry has now expanded its outreach to include inner city schools and programs.
For several years Mary, at her own expense, has participated in the worldwide Operation Smile Program. Her role as a pre and postoperative counselor and high school sponsor has gained extraordinary praise from the leaders of that movement. In 1998, Mary received the Pro-Meritis Medal from the Archdiocese of Newark for her outstanding parish and civic volunteer contributions.
Her many years of active concern for others, especially the poor and homeless, have engendered in her seven children a deep recognition of the plight of those born to poverty. They, in turn, following her example, have been involved in working with her. As they have moved to other areas, they have become active participants in the effort to alleviate the ravages of poverty and homelessness wherever they meet it. Certainly, by her life and by her achievements, Mary has reflected, and continues to reflect, the highest ideals of this College. It is, therefore, with great satisfaction and deep appreciation, that the College of Saint Elizabeth is proud to present the 2003 Mother Xavier Award to Mary Breslin McLaughlin '63.