Maeve Mc Mahon O.P. says, with a wry’ smile, that she was washed home by Hurricane Katrina! It also washed away much of the physical evidence of her almost thirty years as an educator in New Orleans, USA. That’s if her presence there were to be judged solely by the school buildings associated with her American mission.
Maeve co-founded Marian Central Catholic Middle School and was President from 1995 to 2004. She opened Anchor Primary School, in a deprived area of New Orleans, on 15th August, 2005, exactly two weeks before a ten foot tidal surge breached the levees and submerged 80% of the city, including these two schools. Even St. Leo the Great Elementary School, the first school staffed by Irish Dominicans in New Orleans where she was Principal from 1986 to 1994, did not re-open its doors until nearly a year after the hurricane. It was staffed by out of town teachers and its diminished student body had not been on rolls before the disaster. There was no one there to re-tell the story about how this wonderful African American School had been chosen in 1990 as an exemplary school in the nation and the Principal, an Irish Dominican from the Falls Road in Belfast, had been honoured in the White House, by President George W. Bush, Senior.
Hurricane Katrina left Maeve searching for meaning in the detritus of her life. That search led her to JUST in Ballymun, in April, 2007. There she was invited to join a team of Jesuits and like-minded Christians, volunteers helping to improve the lives of young people, and those not so young, by assisting them to gain access to Third Level education.