By Marnie McAllister, Record Editor
Sister of Charity of Nazareth Mary Angela Shaughnessy loves school.
Her affection for learning is apparent in her chosen disciplines: She holds two doctoral degrees — one in law and the other in education. And she has combined the two fields to become an authority on education law around the United States.
On Oct. 2 she will receive her fifth honor from the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA). The NCEA’s Seton President’s Award will be presented in Washington, D.C.
The award honors “outstanding individuals whose professional dedication to Catholic education has
enhanced the well-being of our nation’s youth and U.S. Catholic schools in particular,” according to the association’s website.
This is the second year straight Sister Shaughnessy has been honored by the NCEA. Last year, she received the organization’s C. Albert Koob Merit Award, presented to someone who has made and continues to make significant contributions to Catholic education at the national level.
Sister Shaughnessy, known widely as Sister Angie, spends her time educating adults and traditional students in the areas of education and the law’s application in the field.
In the Archdiocese of Louisville, she has served at Spalding University as legal counsel, vice president of mission and as founding director of the doctoral program in leadership education.
At St. Catharine College, which closed last year, she served as chair of the education department, dean of the graduate school and as legal counsel.
Most students at both schools, though, have known her as a professor of education.
As St. Catharine College prepared to close last summer, one student, Mary Ezaizat said she would always treasure her time with Sister Shaughnessy.
“Sister Angela Shaughnessy was always willing to help me with anything I needed,” she said during an interview at the time. “We talk on Facebook all the time. I only had her for one semester, but I feel like I made a lifelong friend.”
Sister Shaughnessy currently serves as part-time director of mission at Catholic Central School in Springfield, Ohio, and as Senior Distinguished Fellow of Catholic Education at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
Shane P. Martin, dean of the Loyola Marymount University School of Education, said in a statement about the award, “Sister Mary Angela Shaughnessy is the definitive national expert on the law as it affects Catholic schools and church ministry. I’m so pleased that the National Catholic Educational Association is recognizing her for her career of leadership and dedication in service to the common good of society.”
Sister Shaughnessy said in an interview last week that Catholic education prepares children to be good members of society.
“You cannot make a better investment in your child’s future than Catholic education,” she said. “There is nothing that will pay dividends that education will. … You develop a real sense of responsibility for other people. You grow in maturity” in Catholic schools.
She also said Catholic education has been fulfilling for her.
“I can’t imagine any other ministry that would’ve given me so much joy,” she said. “People look me up and I taught them 40 years ago. You never know where your influence ends.”
Sister Susan Gatz, president of the SCNs noted in a statement that Sister Shaughnessy carries on the congregation’s legacy of education.
“Since our earliest days, the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth have served as educators,” she said. “Our Community is so proud of Sister Angie. She has devoted her life to education and education law ministries. Sister Angie is well known and appreciated for her work and we are happy that she will be honored for it.”
Sister Shaughnessy said she is pleased to see Catholic education becoming more accessible to students in the Archdiocese of Louisville through the efforts of the archdiocese and the Catholic Education Foundation (CEF).
A quarter of a century or so ago, the late Archbishop Thomas C. Kelly corrected her once when she said that Catholic schools were open to all. He pointed out that the schools were only open to those who could afford them, she said.
At the 2016 Salute to Catholic School Alumni, she noted, Rich Lechleiter, CEF president, and Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz announced that through tuition assistance anyone who wants a Catholic education in the Archdiocese of Louisville can now have one.
“I sat there and wept,” she said. “I waited 26 years to hear that. It takes everybody from the archbishop down.”
She said the next challenge for Catholic education is to provide a better welcome to people with disabilities.