the board of trustees of st joseph college alumnae association welcome you to the alumnae association website. our 2,400 living alumnae continue to live out the educational values and skills learned in the valley and to share their faith, nurtured as students, in communities worldwide.
st. joseph college, emmitsburg, maryland graduated its last class in may, 1973. the alumnae of the college have enthusiastically retained their memories and friendship’s links. in the spring of each year at reunion, the spirit, laughter and joy of being re-connected infuse any atmosphere in which the alumnae are gathered.
st. joseph college alumnae have impacted every walk of life: teaching, nursing, dietetics, social work, business, law, government service and the religious life. we have volunteered in numerous community, church and school organizations – nationally and internationally. multiple generations of children have been nurtured and raised by us.
we continue to celebrate both the experience we shared at sjc and the women we have become.
elizabeth ann bayley seton, a widowed mother of five children, came from a prominent family in new york city. in the early 1800s, she was ostracized from her family and friends after converting to catholicism.
elizabeth moved to baltimore, and under the protection of the sulpician fathers of st. mary’s seminary, she opened a school for the education of girls, a concept relatively unheard of at the time.
shortly thereafter, with bishop john carroll’s approval, she and her small group of women took vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. in 1809 bishop carroll, who had designated her “mother” seton of the little community of sisters, encouraged her to expand their efforts and to devote themselves to educating young girls in the arts, sciences and christian living.
with a generous gift from samuel cooper, property was purchased in emmitsburg, maryland in 1809. that same year elizabeth and her band of sisters moved to emmitsburg and opened saint joseph’s academy and free school, which evolved into saint joseph college.
elizabeth ann seton died on january 4, 1821. her legacy included laying the foundation for catholic school education in the united states; establishing a community of religious women, the sisters of charity of st. joseph; and in 1975, being canonized as the first native-born saint for the united states.
as registration increased at the academy, the curriculum expanded to meet the needs of the changing world. professors from nearby mount st. mary’s and visiting instructors from baltimore were added to the sister faculty. in the prospectus of 1879-80, there is an announcement of a postgraduate department, especially designed for the graduates of the academy or other institutions. it consisted of a thorough course in reading, belles’ letters or time devoted to the attainment of a greater skill and proficiency in art or music.
an amendment of the original charter was sought and obtained in 1902. this enabled “the sisters of charity, the faculty and teachers of said corporation, st. joseph’s, to confer degrees, collegiate and academic.” the program offered by the school at this time was equivalent to that of a junior college. the catalog issued in 1902-03 lists primary, preparatory, academic and postgraduate courses, noting that those who completed postgraduate work were entitled to a baccalaureate degree in arts or sciences. it was not until 1907-08 that a distinction was made between the collegiate and academic departments. in the collegiate course, two electives were required. choices were latin, greek, spanish or german. at the end of the third or junior year, a gold medal and certificate of graduation were offered to women who did not intend to take a degree, but those hardy students who persevered to complete the fourth year received a baccalaureate degree an uncommon and extraordinary event for a woman in the early part of the twentieth century.
should the recipient of the degree wish to return to saint joseph’s for a fifth year of college work, she might do so, thus becoming eligible for a master’s degree in the arts. the certificate and gold medal, which culminated the three-year course, were discontinued in 1912, and the first class to complete a four-year program together and graduate as full-fledged “bachelors” was the class of 1914.
credit for the development of saint joseph’s from academy to college belongs to sister francis lawler. she had come to saint joseph’s in 1898 as “senior teacher” and was made directress of the academy in 1906. keenly aware of the renaissance of education in the early twentieth century, sister francis worked tirelessly to develop the curriculum and to meet the requirements necessary to make saint joseph’s a first-class liberal arts college. when the separation of the collegiate and academic departments was completed in 1907, sister francis became “dean of the college” as well as directress of the academy and principle of the elementary school. she retired as dean in 1929.
for the first 90 years after the founding, many women associated with st. joseph’s returned to the valley to renew their friendships and visit their former home.
sister augustine park, the fifth successor to mother seton as directress of the academy, thought it was time to form an association of graduates and students of the academy to link them together in friendship for each other and for the school.
this all started the afternoon of june 16, 1897, when sr. augustine initiated the organization of the alumnae association with mary wade kalbach, class of 1871, elizabeth keenan white, class of 1865 and m. stella mcbride, class of 1897. acting as co-founders, the three alumnae received the graduates of 1897 as charter members of the new alumnae association. a simple constitution was drawn up along with objectives of the association. it was placed under the patronage of mary immaculate “to keep graduates and former students in close touch with their school and with each other.”
during the association’s meeting on june 12, 1912, a suggestion was made by clara douglas sheeran, class of 1894, to form “sewing guilds” in various cities and localities where many alumnae lived. the object of the “guilds” was to keep members in touch with each other and current on news from the academy. the guild would contribute articles made by alumnae to the sisters for use in their hospitals, asylums and homes for the poor. these guilds became chapters and a chairperson became the “regents” for the chapter. the original eight “sewing guilds begun in 1912-13, grew to 23 clubs spanning the united states.
today, more than 46 years after the closing of st. joseph college, its alumnae association, comprised of approximately 2,400 living alumnae, is a strong, vibrant, philanthropic organization financially supported by 660 active members who contribute annually to the association and its philanthropies.
1907 – 1908 kate thecla conley
1908 – 1909 nellie o’brien seemen
1909 – 1913 mary wade kalbach
1913 – 1915 mary reilley
1916 – 1919 clare i. cogan
1920 – 1925 nary brennan gable
1925 – 1928 mary doyle morrison
1929 – 1935 may o’brien hassell
1935 – 1939 louise sebold
1939 – 1941 ann fesenmeir distler
1941 – 1946 theo brown herrle
1946 – 1949 m. carmel mckiever
1949 – 1952 grace gloninger hogan
1952 – 1956 josephine doyle ‘ 31
1956 – 1959 mary louise manning ‘34
1959 – 1962 ruth startt ‘33
1962 – 1965 cecilia mcintyre ratke ‘37
1965 – 1968 barbara ann duffy ‘49
1968 – 1970 peggy fitzgerald arcidiacono ‘45
1970 – 1974 barbara ann duffy ‘49
1974 – 1977 eileen rodgers seaker ‘45
1977 – 1979 margaret m troxell ‘32
1979 – 1981 marie h. anderson ‘37
1981 – 1983 frances hewes sedney ‘48
1983 – 1985 jane strum geipe ‘47
1985 – 1989 patricia grant chamberlain ‘73
1989 – 1993 sally callahan sullivan ‘65
1993 – 1997 susan flanigan conrad ‘65
1997 – 1999 patricia grant chamberlain ‘73
1999 – 2001 chrystie damico goles ‘64
2002 – 2004 mary anne kelly ‘68
2005 – 2007 ann wyllie mulroy ‘67
2008 - 2010 jacquie nemetz van meter ‘68
2010 – 2014 maureen mcpartland smith ‘65
2014 – 2017 karen mattscheck ‘72
2017 – 2020 trudie
the origin of the alma mater is described below:
“any student who had a voice and could carry a note and had ‘an ear for music’ was encouraged to take vocal. the musically ‘challenged’, who the muse had passed by, were corralled into the study hall once a week, and sister francis lawler would attempt to teach them singing. she used saint basil’s hymnal and a nameless old songbook from which she played and sang for their entertainment, her favorite, ‘all together’, encouraging the class … to join in the chorus. the result would have driven saint cecilia to suicide. this little cultural séance was the origin of the school song for which dorothy graham, class of 1926 wrote the lyrics and set them to music learned in the ‘cultural’ singing class.”
the words of our alma mater never fail to remind us of the unbreakable bonds that were formed in our college years. in the fall of 2008, sister anne higgins, d.c. ’70 arranged for a chorale at mount st. mary’s university to record our alma mater.
the valley echo is a publication of st. joseph college alumnae association, inc. its mission is to inform the alumnae of the association’s activities, programs and plans, and to provide class news.
an electronic version of current and past issues is available on this web site. a print version is mailed to all dues-paying alumnae.
"for those who have been faithful, o lord, life is not ended, but merely changed...."
we mourn the passing of those with whom we shared so many memories. please report the death of any alumna through the sjcaa office, providing us with information from a published source, when possible.