Sister Mary Rose leaves powerful legacy

TORONTO, ON, Sept. 19, 2012 – Sr. Mary Rose McGeady, former Covenant House International president, will be remembered for her inspirational leadership and passionate commitment to homeless youth. The 84-year-old Roman Catholic nun who headed the agency for 13 years until 2003, passed away recently.

“She leaves us a powerful legacy of compassion and caring,” says Carol Howes, Covenant House Toronto program services director, who worked with Sister for many years. “Sister would remind us to always do more for the kids. It was her motto and she lived by it.”

Carol recalls Sister’s commanding presence, determination and her love for the kids she served. “For her, every kid was special and she inspired us as staff.”

When she retired, Sister said that one of the “greatest blessings God has given me on this earth was watching children survive, prosper and grow.”

Carol also remembers Sister’s exceptional ability to connect with youth and her straight-talking, no-nonsense approach that gained their respect. “She always had stories of kids who had taken her advice and later came back to tell her that they were successful.”

Assuming the top post of an organization that spans six countries at an age when most people are retiring, Sister oversaw the expansion and enhancement of the agency’s sites and services in Canada, the U.S. and Latin America.

During her tenure, Covenant House expanded its reach dramatically, with new crisis shelters, street outreach and long-term residential programs for homeless youth in Canada, the U.S. and Nicaragua to double the number of youth served. Today, Covenant House reaches more than 57,000 young in 21 sites that span from Alaska to Guatemala.

In Toronto, her most significant contributions were her support for the purchase of our 21 McGill St. building that allowed for the expansion of services and launch of our longer-term transitional housing program. She was also instrumental in establishing a Covenant House site in Vancouver after personally touring the city’s toughest areas.

A staunch advocate for homeless youth, she was a strong voice for their interests. As a recognized authority on youth homelessness, Sister made presentations to a U.N. Summit, a U.S. Senate Committee and was appointed to the American National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.

Her work earned Covenant House international honours, including the Conrad Hilton Humanitarian Prize – the largest such award in the world for its battle against the oppression of street youth in Latin American.

Throughout her term, Sister was awarded 29 honorary doctorates from universities and colleges, including one from the University of Toronto for her work with homeless youth in Canada and internationally.

Contact: Rose Cino
Manager, Communications
(416) 204-7081

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