|Alumna of the Year|
|Thursday, 09 February 2012 00:00|
Sr. Mary Ellen Wheelahan has exemplified the qualities of service, leadership, and excellence throughout her life, beginning when she was very young and helped her Dad raise her four not-so-much younger siblings after the unexpected death of their mother. She always found the time to cook, clean, and keep everyone moving in the right direction, including herself. Sr. Mary Ellen’s path as one destined to serve others was established.
Mary Ellen graduated from Cabrini in 1972, received her Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from UNO in 1976, and that same year entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Mount Carmel as a postulant. In July of 1984, she made her Perpetual Vows and in 2004, celebrated her Silver Jubilee.
Sr. Mary Ellen earned a Masters Degree in Adult Education and Christian Community Development from Regis University. As a Sister of Mt. Carmel, Sr. Mary Ellen has served the Louisiana community and congregation in many ways. She was a teacher and religious coordinator at Mt. Carmel in New Iberia, was the founder and administrator of the Cub Corner Preschool at Mt. Carmel in New Orleans, and while working in the Office of Religious Education of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, served as Associate Director for Elementary School Catechesis and established the Safe Environment Office.
She developed an extensive program of education and screening for a safe environment for the parishes and schools of the Archdiocese of New Orleans and advises schools and parishes regarding the implementation of the policies. She has developed the Safe Environment Website and serves as the go-to resource for church parishes, schools, and support organizations regarding issues related to the protection of children and the prevention of child abuse. Besides training adults, she also developed a program that teaches children and young people to embrace their special identities and recognize their value as they are all created in the image of God. The program provides the children with personal safety skills, teaches them to recognize potential abusive relationships, and encourages them to identify and confide in trustworthy adults.
Sr. Mary Ellen is also Associate Director of Religious Education of Catholic Elementary School Catechesis, working with principals and teachers of Religion to oversee the religion curriculum and instruction in all 62 Catholic Elementary Schools. She also helped initiate the Archdiocesan program “Calling All Fifth Graders” which helps awaken a call to religious vocations in the younger members of the Archdiocese.
In 2012 she was awarded the Warren Hogun Crimestoppers Safe School Hotline Award. She was instrumental in the creation of the “Stay Informed, Stay Involved” multimedia campaign effort of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.
And with all these activities Sr. Mary Ellen still makes time to come back to her Alma Mater and to stay close to the friends she made here. Sr. Mary Ellen is a wonderful sister, a very special aunt to her ten nieces and nephews, a loyal friend and like Mother Cabrini, she is a protector of the children of New Orleans.
It is with great pride that the Cabrini High Alumnae Association has selected Sr. Mary Ellen Wheelahan, O. Carm. as 2013 Alumna of the year!