The Woods celebrates 170th commencement

April 25th, 2011 | SMWC

Sister Patricia Crowley, O.S.B

Sister Patricia Crowley, O.S.B

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) will celebrate its 170th commencement on Saturday, May 7, 2011. Graduation activities begin at 10:30 a.m. with the traditional baccalaureate mass in the Church of the Immaculate Conception. The commencement ceremony begins at 2 p.m. in the Cecilian Auditorium of the Conservatory of Music.

This year’s commencement speaker is Sister Patricia Crowley, O.S.B., heralded as a high-energy to advocate for systemic change in the areas of homelessness and housing. She will also receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters from the College.

“We are honored to welcome Sister Crowley to our campus in celebration of the outstanding achievements of the class of 2011,” said Dottie King, Ph.D., president of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College.  “Sister Crowley represents an example to us all of compassion, perseverance and leadership. She serves as a natural complement to the College’s dedication to positively effect change in our communities.” 

A native of Chicago with 35 years of experience in education and social service administration,

Crowley has taken active leadership roles in many professional and service organizations.

She first began making an impact in Chicago, Ill., through the Howard Area Community Center, whose services expanded to include neighborhood daycare and health-related services during her 10-year tenure.

For 13 years, she served as executive director of Deborah’s Place, an organization that provides shelter, housing and services to homeless women in Chicago. Under her leadership, Deborah’s Place became the largest provider of housing and shelter for women in Chicago. Today, the agency is recognized as one of the best-run social service operations in Chicago. The Sara Lee Corporation honored Deborah’s Place with its prestigious Chicago Spirit Award in 2000.  The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Affairs (HUD) also acknowledged Deborah’s Place with a Best-Practices Award.

Crowley diligently worked for the Chicago Continuum of Care – a public/private partnership that oversees Chicago’s ten-year plan to end homelessness and the HUD funding that supports work around homelessness in the city of Chicago.  She was instrumental in consolidating that organization with the Partnership to End Homelessness into the new Chicago Alliance to End Homelessness.

Elected to leadership within her religious community in 2007, she currently serves as the Prioress of the Benedictine Sisters of Chicago at St. Scholastica Monastery. 

She serves on numerous boards and organizations dedicated to improving the lives of the homeless the Chicago area including the Leadership Conference for Women Religious, St. Scholastica Academy and the Chicago Religious Leaders Network.  She currently serves on the advisory groups for Deborah’s Place and Housing Opportunities and Maintenance for the Elderly. In addition, she was a founding board member of Dehon House, Housing Opportunities for Women and the Partnership to End Homelessness.

In 1964, Crowley earned her bachelor’s of arts in English literature at Mundelein College (Loyola University) and master’s of arts in catechetical theology at Manhattan College in 1971. She taught English, French and theology at St. Scholastica Academy, where she also served as Theology Department Chair. She received honorary degrees from Elmhurst College and Chicago Theological Seminary.

For her contributions toward improving the quality of life for many without hope, she has received the following recognitions:  

2010 – Chicago Foundation for Women’s Impact Award

2008 – League of Women Voters of Chicago

2007 – Emergency Fund

2006 – Chicago Coalition for the Homeless

2004 – State Treasurer’s Woman to Woman Award, induction in the City of Chicago’s Senior Citizen Hall of Fame,  Jose de Jesus Marquez Lifetime Achievement Award from Featherfist The St. Anthony Claret Award from the Claretian Missionaries

2003 – Named as one of 25 Chicago women social justice pioneers

2002 – St. Josaphat Parish Unity Award, Alumnae of the Year Award from St. Scholastica Academy,

2001 – Benedictine Sisters of Chicago Award

2000 – Unsung Heroine Award from Mitsubishi Motors U.S.A Foundation, Women of Excellence Award from Connexions

1998 – The Amate House Cardinal Bernardin Award, Women with Vision Award from the Women’s Bar Association, Paluch Foundation Award

1997 – Shield of St. Xavier Award from St. Xavier University

1995 – YWCA’s Outstanding Achievement Award for Community Leadership

1993 – Distinguished Alumnae Award from Loyola University

1988 – Daniel A. Lord Award from Loyola Academy

1986 – Chicago Volunteer Legal Services Foundation’s Distinguished Services Award

1985 – Tobey S. Prinz Award, Citizens Award from 24th Police District

1984 – Lerner Newspaper’s Citizen of the Month Award

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