Sister Maureen Christopher, who taught at Bishop O’Connell High School for 30 years, died on Wednesday, Jan. 21 at Camilla Hall in Immaculata, Pa. She was known as “Sister Mo” to O’Connell students and colleagues and taught, among other subjects, AP Government and Principles of Economics.
Christopher, a long-time chairperson of the social studies department, broadened the school’s curriculum, mentored generations of teachers and thousands of students during her time at the North Arlington school. She joined the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary after graduating high school and earned a bachelor’s degree from Immaculata College before receiving her Master of Arts in History from Villanova University. She professed her vows in 1955.
Before she began teaching at O’Connell in 1985, Christopher taught at schools in Pennsylvania and Virginia. The following entry from the 1986 O’Connell yearbook documents her immediate impact on the school: “This year the O’Connell family was blessed with Sister Maureen Christopher, a tremendous asset to the faculty. Her blazing trumpet and acute wit have truly added to this year.”
“Sister Maureen Christopher loved learning herself, and she loved the learners she taught,” said Joseph Vorbach, head of school at O’Connell in a post on O’Connell’s website . Greg Haas, O’Connell’s current social studies department chair, said that Christopher was an “icon.”
““Sister Mo was that teacher every student remembers. She stood out for her passion, a no-nonsense attitude, and a brilliant sense of humor. More than anything else, she cared. She cared about Catholic education, about Bishop O’Connell, about her colleagues. She cared about her students,” Haas said. “And it showed. She marched through pep rallies to standing ovations as she led the students in ‘Seniors Rule’ chants before taking her place with the rest of the faculty.”
O’Connell student life director Frank Roque explained in a recent blog post about Christopher that, because she prided herself so much on using the latest gadgets in her classroom, she named herself the “techno-nun.” Sister Catherine Hill of the Immaculate Heart of Mary said she was what sisters in her religious institution would call a “school woman.”
“She was someone who loved to teach and was totally energized by being with high school kids and with her colleagues,” Hill said. “It is easy to picture her being on the receiving end of ‘Well done, good and faithful servant,’ when she passed away.”
There will be viewing next Monday, Jan. 26, from 8:30 – 10:15 a.m. at Camilla Hall in Immaculata, Pa. The funeral mass will follow at 10:30 a.m. O’Connell is planning a mass and reception at the school in memory of Christopher. For more information about the O’Connell mass and reception, visit bishopoconnell.org.