For those who knew her, Eileen’s name was synonymous with Catholicity and Catholic education. Throughout her a 36-year teaching career in Niagara, Eileen’s priority was serving the students at Notre Dame College School, but her influence spread far beyond that. In fact, her influence has had provincial, national and international impact.
Eileen embraced the principles established by the Holy Cross Fathers when they founded Notre Dame College, and believed passionately in education in the faith, academic excellence and a commitment to social justice.
Eileen believed that faith must be a tangible aspect of a Catholic school, and that Catholic educators must play a role in ensuring that Catholic schools offer students something public schools cannot. She recognized that a teacher’s personal faith journey had a powerful impact on students, and directed her attention to teacher faith formation throughout Niagara Catholic. As an extension of that, she created courses on Catholic education and social justice for the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association’s Religious Education program. Countless Catholic teachers across Ontario have benefitted from Eileen’s passion and influence.
Eileen instilled in students the importance of striving for their academic best, but knew that future success was about more than achieving a spot on the Honour Roll. In her role as a guidance counsellor, Eileen relied heavily on faith, encouraging students to look beyond just having a lucrative career. Rather, she encouraged students to look inward at what they felt they were being called to be, because the true measure of a person’s success extends beyond the size of their paycheque.
Eileen was also passionate about social justice. She led a group of teachers to sponsor a family of refugees from South Asia, and travelled extensively to developing nations. Notably, Eileen visited with new teachers in Antigua, witnessed the impact of student fundraising through the Annual Pilgrimage had on a community in Peru, learned more about the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP) in Kenya and lived in Tanzania for two years, working with the Bishop of Rulenge. She served on the National Board for CCODP for eight years, including two as President, and oversaw the creation of Journey of Solidarity, a book chronicling the (then) 25-year history of Development and Peace in Canada. She served as a resource person and contributor on the Social Affairs Commission of the Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops, Chair of the Social Justice Committee for St. Kevin’s Parish and on the Board of Directors for the Hope Centre in Welland. Eileen died in December 2011, but her legacy lives on through the endowments she created. The Eileen McCarthy Scholarship for Social Justice was established in 2014 to recognize a graduating student from Notre Dame College School who exhibits an appreciation for Catholic education and who embodies Catholic Social Teachings. She also left funds to establish a rescue house for girls and women in Kitali, Kenya.
Inducted April 20, 2018