In September, Mary Elizabeth (Andrew) Galt, BVM received the Evangelii Gaudium Award from St. John’s Seminary during its annual gala in Los Angeles for her impact on the formation and continuing education of priests. Mary Elizabeth has ministered in the archdiocese since 1964 as a teacher, principal, district coordinator, elementary supervisor, and associate superintendent. She is currently serving as chancellor and senior director of pastoral services for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
The following is what appeared in the program for the gala:
“What is called for . . . is inspiring essential values,” wrote Pope Francis in Evangelii Gaudium (Joy of the Gospel).
Tonight, we at St. John’s Seminary will present our award named after the Holy Father’s apostolic ehoration to someone who does exactly that, as she speaks with a gentle voice and firm convictions about values, about joy, about coming together as a spiritual community.
. . . every kid is going to leave my classroom reading—and loving it. That’s a value we can all share—the love of reading.
Sister Mary Elizabeth Galt, BVM, our honoree, served the young people of our Archdiocese as teacher, principal, regional supervisor for elementary schools, and both associate superintendent and superintendent of Catholic elementary schools.
Hers is a long-standing commitment. After taking her vows with the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1961, she was determined to bring joy to young people in her first assignment. As a young teacher at the Our Lady of Lourdes School in Tujunga, she vowed that “every kid is going to leave my classroom reading—and loving it. That’s a value we can all share—the love of reading.”
Think about it,” she says. “A child goes into first grade and learns that a little squiggle on a paper actually means something—it’s a letter; that’s like magic.
“Think about it,” she says. “A child goes into first grade and learns that a little squiggle on a paper actually means something—it’s a letter; that’s like magic.” It was a joy she wanted to share. “When I was a little girl, I enjoyed reading about the lives of the saints. I had books on the saints, and I remember reading and re-reading them. I thought I was going to be a saint when I grew up,” she says with a smile.
As Sister Mary Elizabeth progressed to school principal, the importance of values and Catholic identity in our Archdiocesan schools “was extremely important to me,” as she enjoyed working with parents, teachers, and the parish.
“Values-based education means we develop children with good habits. It is important because it is so connected in my mind—the values and the discipline in life. We would pray together as a community; pray together, being together within a community in a value.”
She sees similar values in St. John’s Seminary.
“From everything you feel when you go there, you know it is a spiritual place,” she says. “When you visit St. John’s, you see there is a purpose, there is a stability, there is a tradition.
“The Archdiocese has many jewels. On of the jewels are the missions. We have some magnificent churches—St. Brendan Church, where I grew up; Msgr. Francis Weber and I were together. I think the Seminary is another of our jewels.”
Like the young people who were blessed by her dedication, those in need are an important part of her work today. The department of Restorative Justice, Family Life, Worship, Mission Office, Health Affairs, Safegaurding the Chidren, Victims, Assistance, Ethnic Ministry and Cardinal McIntrye Fund all full under her care as Archdiocese Director of Pastoral Services, in addition to her work as Chancellor.
“I have been lucky in my life. I have been happy in all my positions,” she says from her office, where she and assistant Geri Spray have worked together for 16 years.
Ever the educator, Sister Mary Elizabeth’s advice to our seminarians is to “take time for your spiritual life, especially after being ordained. Parish life can be so busy. You need to have very good priest friends you can enjoy. The priestly brotherhood is important—you need someone who understands your life.”
Joy and enjoyment—these words flow through Sister Mary Elizabeth’s life of service to others. In Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis called for “people who wish to share their joy.” We thank you, Sister Mary Elizabeth, for sharing your joy with so many in your career and with us tonight.
To learn more, visit: stjohnsem.edu/meet-our-honorees/.