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Golden Years

This past Sunday, a woman who devoted 25 years of her life to LMU was honored when the Campus Ministry suite in the basement of Sacred Heart Chapel was dedicated. The suite has been named for Agnes Marie Schon, C.S.J., who was the first female campus minister at the university.

Schon came to Westchester in 1971, after years as an elementary and secondary school teacher and director of formation for her order, and retired in 1996.

“As campus minister, Agnes Marie was a totally giving human being,” said Renee Harrangue, professor emerita of psychology who was provost at the time. “She inspired me.”

Schon lived in the McKay Residence Hall as the third floor advisor. A story was told that described the respect her students held of her. When the noise level in dormitories rose a bit too high, other residence advisors would step into the hallway and speak to the offending parties. Schon, it was said, had only to crack her door slightly to make her point. And on at least one occasion, she confiscated cans of beer from male students who failed to hide them effectively under their jackets. The beer never was seen again.

“I don’t think the students saw me as firm,” Schon recalled, “but they knew I meant business. I got along well with the students.” A student scholarship is named for her.

“Her rapport with the students was remarkable,” said Randy Roche, S.J., director of the Center for Ignatian Spirituality and former director of Campus Ministry. “Nothing about the modern culture flapped her. … She was a mentor to me.”

Schon entered the convent at the age of 14. Today, at the age of 96, Schon says her years of work with LMU students was her greatest joy. “They were the golden years of my life. I loved the students, and I loved the spirit of the university. … I just loved the university.”

Photo: James Erps, S.J., director of Campus Ministry (right), and Charles Cownie, associate director of Campus Ministry, gave a tour this past fall to Agnes Marie Schon, C.S.J., of the renovated offices in the Campus Ministry suite below Sacred Heart Chapel. Erps here points out the location of a cross made by Martha Schwertner, C.S.J., that hangs between two works of art by artist and LMU alumnus John August Swanson. The cross, called a Resurrection cross because the body of Jesus is not found on it, is based on the cross worn by all Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange.

(Photo by James J. Scholl.)