Gwynedd Valley, PA -- (ReleaseWire) -- 09/25/2020 -- September 24, 2020, Each year, on September 24, the Gwynedd Mercy Academy High School community joins with the global Mercy community to commemorate the day in 1827 when Venerable Catherine McAuley, foundress of the Sisters of Mercy, opened the first House of Mercy in Dublin, Ireland.
On this Mercy Day, Gwynedd also celebrates a historic $375,000 gift—the largest ever from an individual in the Academy's 159-year history—from the estate of alumna Joan McDermott Bellwoar '51. Joan's extraordinary generosity will further Gwynedd's strategic plan, "She is the Future," by ensuring student access through an endowed scholarship for families with financial need and by providing all students with a more innovative, 21st-century learning environment through facility enhancement support. Her commitment also demonstrates unwavering confidence in the Academy's future.
A scholarship student at the Academy, Joan served as editor of The Magnet—the School newspaper, vice president of the School, and left-wing of the hockey team. She attended Chestnut Hill College and became an educator, teaching at Archbishop Prendergast High School and Merion Mercy Academy. She also was a teacher of her seven children with her beloved husband of 62 years, Harry J.J. Bellwoar.
Following a Mass in celebration of Mercy Day, students and guests will hear more about Joan from fellow Gwynedd Mercy alumna, Chair of the School's Board of Trustees, and beloved daughter-in-law, Kathleen Kirk Bellwoar '81, including a story of how, when attending a conference as the editor of the school newspaper, she met the renowned entertainer Ed Sullivan. Joan told him all about her school and the Sisters of Mercy, of which Mr. Sullivan indicated he was a fan. Subsequently, Mr. Sullivan made a guest appearance at the Academy that same year, much to everyone's delight.
Academy President, Denise Corkery Marbach '72 offers, "Today marks a historic occasion for a ministry ignited by the faith and will of one woman to serve and empower those in need and her determination to ensure Mercy endured for generations to come. It is our great privilege and duty to honor, preserve, and advance the legacy and mission of Mercy that Catherine has bestowed upon us. With Catherine's inspiration and Joan's generosity, the future of Gwynedd Mercy Academy High School is very bright.
On this Mercy Day 2020, our hearts are particularly filled with joy and gratitude for our incredible family of Gwynedd Mercy Academy High School. We acknowledge all we have accomplished as a family in the past 159 years and recognize the continued need for Mercy in our world today and tomorrow. It is incumbent upon each of us to show and share Mercy. Together, we will continue to do great works of Mercy to honor our legacy."
About Gwynedd Mercy
Gwynedd Mercy Academy High School is an independent college-preparatory school set on 47 beautiful acres and located in Gwynedd Valley, Montgomery County, PA. Rooted in the Catholic faith and tradition of Mercy, Gwynedd educates, inspires, and empowers young women to be merciful in spirit, innovative in thought, and courageous in leadership. Gwynedd alumnae are women of action who have gone forth to become prominent business leaders, diplomats in developing nations, leading scientists and researchers, respected physicians, inspiring educators, award-winning athletes, authors, journalists and technologists, accomplishes musicians and artists, women of purpose who serve both the local and global communities, and much more. At Gwynedd Mercy, She is the Future. www.gmahs.org
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