the 2018 Outstanding Alumnae of the Year

Sister Helen Marie Glaser, O.P. '76 posthumously and Ellen Butler Fernández '67

Sister Helen Marie Glaser, O.P. '76
Sister Helen Marie was born and raised in Nashville, where she and her three sisters-Leigh, Christy, and Edie-were taught both in elementary and high school by the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia. Their mother and grandmother had graduated from St. Cecilia Academy, and so it was no surprise that all the Glaser girls would also attend St. Cecilia. Sister Helen Marie's own bond with her school's patron saint, the Sisters, and her classmates, as well as her love for her faith and her family, was at the heart of who she was. After graduating as the 1976 St. Cecilia Girl and moving on to Vanderbilt University to study history, Sister Helen Marie entered the convent and professed her religious vows in 1985. During her religious life she served for almost 30 years as both classroom teacher and administrator in schools all over the country staffed by the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, meanwhile completing studies in school administration and theology. On several different occasions, she was assigned to St. Cecilia and the Dominican Campus, and each time she immediately became known to everyone for her generous spirit and her fierce love for her alma mater. Sister Helen Marie had a marked ability to go out of herself to other people, a gift through which God was able to reach countless students, adults and even strangers. Her instinctive sense of humor and her ability to assess the humorous in the most commonplace situations were legend, a talent equal to that of the best stand-up comedians. In addition to her teaching responsibilities over the years, Sister Helen Marie was known to put her energy to work in the planning and organization of school projects, events, and celebrations, as well as those of the community. The entire St. Cecilia community mourned her loss in 2016 and continues to be grateful to God for the gift of her life and her friendship.

Ellen Butler Fernández '67
Ellen Fernández is an understated example of the power of hard work, fidelity, and perseverance in overcoming obstacles and making a difference for good in the world. As a shy St. Cecilia student, Ellen remembers her love for music being sparked by the many piano lessons she took in the SCA music rooms under the guidance and example of the Dominican Sisters. Ellen's family connection with St. Cecilia dates back to her great-great aunt. The strong academics and faith formation provided by the Dominican Sisters at St. Cecilia, as well as the confidence she discovered in an all-girls environment, was an invaluable experience that Ellen wanted to share with her own daughters Sonia Fernández LeBlanc '95, and Clare Fernández '04, both St. Cecilia graduates. Over the past 27 years, Ellen has given of her talents to St. Cecilia Academy, Overbrook School, and the Dominican Sisters, dedicating untold hours through her work on the campus. As Director of Admissions at Overbrook School for many years, Ellen was instrumental in connecting Overbrook School girls with St. Cecilia Academy. Over the last 4 years as Overbrook School's Director of the Non-Athletic After School and SCA Music Lessons Programs, she has used her gift for organization and promotion to create an incredibly successful and popular after-school program. In addition to juggling a busy work schedule, behind-the-scenes assistance to the St. Cecilia Academy fine arts productions, and caring for granddaughters Elena, 6, and Fern, 4, Ellen regularly mobilizes her SCA peers for class reunions and St. Cecilia alumnae functions, always mindful and grateful of the many blessings she has received from her alma mater.

Sister Helen Marie and Ellen will be honored at the 113th Annual Alumnae Luncheon on Saturday, April 7, 2018. To RSVP, please go to stcecilia/edu/2018reunions.

Previous recipients of the Outstanding Alumna Award

2017 Nancy Sanders Peterson Hearn '51
Heather Yopp Honeycutt '02
2016 Jeri Alessio Carver '56
Katie Wells '00
2015 Debbie Wallace Craig '65

Jill Bader '01
2014 Dale Baird Mitchell '76
2013 Veronica Strobel Seigenthaler '57 and
Sister Mary Louis Baltz, O.P. '57
2012 Claudia Volz Kornmeyer '71
2011 Paulette Clark Whitworth '48 and Mildred Sharp Coode '42
2010 Sister Mary Christopher Weiland O.P. '73 and Peggy Hunt '77
2009 Peggy Lampley Robeson '60
2008 Frances Anne Varallo '63
2007 Jean Drennan Dortch '51 and Julie Dortch Cragon '78
2006 Agnes Eckhardt Nixon '40
2005 Mary Catherine Bradley Hannon '48
2004 Sister Mary Justin Haltom, O.P. '74
2003 Alice Byrne Burns '53
2002 Sister Mary George Barrett O.P. '47
2001 Sister Janet Marie Geist, O.P. '56
2000 Katie Haltom '70
1999 Sister Andrea Vaughn D.C.'39
1998 Frances Petrucelli Varallo '31
1997 Sister Dominica Gobel, O.P. '27
1996 Sue Ann Mannion Simpson '46
1995 Sister Assumpta Long, O.P. '50
1994 Rose Dalton Dortch '14

Requirements for nomination

  • Alumna service and commitment includes, but is not limited to, involvement with the school as an advocate, volunteer, benefactor, alumnae association officer, faculty or staff member or coach.
  • Leadership and outstanding service in her family, faith, community, vocation, or profession, and in doing so is an inspiration for others.

Nominating an alumna

  • Alumna may be nominated by any fellow alumna, or anyone who knows the nominee (family or friend).
  • Deadline is October 20, 2017
  • Nominations should be sent in one of three ways:
  • Selection committee is comprised of St. Cecilia Alumnae Association Board and SCA Administration. The committee meets in October to select the award recipient. The selection of award recipient is by consensus of the committee.
St. Cecilia Academy    |    4210 Harding Pike    |    Nashville, TN 37205    |    (615) 298-4525    |
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