Dr. Erika Dawkins

Sr. Mary Vandergeest

Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia

Sister Mary Vandergeest, a Sister of St. Francis of Philadelphia, was born, raised, and received her early education in Philadelphia. After graduating from high school she entered the Sisters of St. Francis and earned a bachelor’s degree from Neumann University and a master’s degree from Villanova University. Later, she pursued a master’s degree in Theology from Xavier University, New Orleans, Louisiana. This program was new to the university and specifically geared to individuals in ministry with African Americans.

Sister Mary taught elementary school for fifteen years before becoming principal for twenty-three years. Her educational experiences took her to Wilmington, DE., Baltimore, MD., and Washington, D.C..

After leaving the school scene sister served as the Executive Director of the Sisters of St. Francis Foundation for sixteen years. In this role she was responsible for raising funds to support the retired sisters as well as seeking funding to support their ministries with the poor.

Putting the challenges of development aside now sister was responding to women struggling with addictions and the task of putting the pieces of their lives back together. Clare of Assisi House was a residential home for women released from prison.

Presently, sister is responding to the needs of senior, retired sisters. Additionally, she is free to volunteer and does so at CCC and DNA both located in Chester, PA.

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