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RIP: Sister Mary Garvin

Mary Garvin, Holy Names sister and Gonzaga University religious studies professor, died Saturday.

When I worked on my master's degree in pastoral ministry in the early 2000s, Mary was my advisor and mentor. I loved her style of firm-but-kind. When I would wring my hands over a scheduling issue for school, and go on wringing them too long, she would basically say: Quit whining and get going. Except she didn't say it that bluntly, but the message was clear. Just get it done and skip the drama.

I visited her in September, during her cancer struggle, and she was fine-tuning her popular presentation on the very few women allowed to attend Vatican II in the 1960s. An advocate for women, and their role and their voice, especially in the church, she encouraged her students to find and better understand the voices and stories of women in Scripture.

She was angry about her cancer, though she didn't want to talk about her cancer much. She respected her own privacy on it, and others took their lead from her.

Instead, she talked about the projects she was focusing on, despite her dire prognosis. And she asked me a ton of questions.

I loved that she was a kind but firm person to the end. Thanks, Mary Garvin, for all your mentoring.

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Writer Catherine Johnston of Olympia, Wash., addresses issues facing aging baby boomers and seniors as well as issues of serious illness, death and dying, grief and loss.

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