As the 2017-2018 school year comes to a close, Blessed Sacrament School in Westminster will bid farewell to their beloved principal of 28 years, Miss Roisin McAree.
One of seven siblings, McAree spent her childhood in Dublin, Ireland. Sadly, her mother died giving birth to twins when McAree was only 8 years of age. The twins survived and her father proceeded to raise the family on his own.
“He referred to God often as ‘the Man above’ and every other phrase ended with D.V. (which stands for ‘Deo Volente’ and translates to ‘God willing’),” she said. “He taught us the meaning of family and the importance of being there for one another. We all learned right from wrong and the importance of honesty.”
McAree knew she wanted to become a teacher from a very early age, having plenty of practice at home helping her siblings with homework. Educated by the Dominican Sisters throughout her youth, she joined the Religious Sisters of Charity (then known as the Irish Sisters of Charity) shortly after high school and came to the United States in 1964, where she received a B.A. and California Clear Credential at Mount St. Mary’s College and Loyola University, followed by a Masters in Education and Administrative Credential from the University of San Francisco.
After completing her higher education, she was finally able to pursue her passion and taught many grade levels during her time at the following schools (the sisters in her order were often rotated every several years): St. Bridget of Sweden in Van Nuys, St. Columban in Garden Grove, St. Hedwig in Los Alamitos, and St. Cornelius in Long Beach. Eventually, she became principal at Our Lady of Fatima in San Clemente, followed by the same role at St. Cornelius in Long Beach.
In 1986, she felt God was calling her to ministry as a layperson and applied for a position at Blessed Sacrament as the sixth-grade teacher. As fate would have it, she was hired! In 1990, she became the school’s principal and has greatly enjoyed her “home away from home.”
Reflecting on her 32 years at the school, McAree admits: “I’ve been very fortunate since I’ve always been surrounded by a wide variety of people who believed in and supported me. Those people include bishops, superintendents, associate superintendents, pastors, parishioners, teachers, staff, parents, board members, PTA members, and, of course, our wonderful students.”
All in all, she has been an influential participant in the field of Catholic education for more than 50 years. Among her many professional highlights, she notes the opportunity to shake hands with and receive a Miraculous Medal from (then) Mother Teresa of Calcutta as well as the close relationship she cultivated with Fr. Tony McGowan, who was the pastor during her first principalship at Our Lady of Fatima and whom she continues to visit regularly in his 103rd year on this Earth.
At the age of 75 and energetic as ever, McAree is often asked about what keeps her going. For the benefit of our readers, she has agreed to share her secret recipe, which can be summed up in four words: faith, family, friends and forgiveness. Smiling, she then adds: “And try to enjoy at least one Scotchmallow per day!”
After all these years, she believes the time is right to simply refocus, relax, and rejoice. She is very much looking forward to an extended vacation in Ireland, where she will spend leisurely time with family and friends, before returning back to her home in Southern California.
“To all those who have helped me on my journey, I say: ‘Thank you. I love you and couldn’t have done it without you!’ To anyone who feels I did not treat you with respect or with dignity at any time, I apologize and ask your forgiveness. You will always be in my heart.”