Mother Germaine to Sister Agnes Clare, St. Mary-of-the-Woods

Thursday, August 8, 1918

Explains in detail why she cannot accommodate a request to change the college's name to something other than Marywood; relates story of how she devised the name.



                                                    Marywood College

                                                             Mount St Mary

                                                                         Scranton, Pennsylvania

Sister Agnes Clare

            Saint Mary-of-the-Woods


Dear Sister Agnes Clare,

                                    I was very much pleased to hear from you once more. I have often wondered, during the past few years, as to where you were stationed, and what it was that prevented letters passing between us. Your letter recalled many pleasant memories, and notwithstanding the painful position in which it places me, afforded me great pleasure.

                                   Though I regret having to refuse your request, I can see no possible way in which I could accommodate you. I had thought the name “Marywood” to be of my own invention. I well remember the occasion on which I decided on the title. I sat at my desk for several hours, pondering over different combinations in which the name “Mary” could be used. We have on our grounds a beautiful little woods, which is considered one of the great attractions of the place. The idea came to me like an inspiration to use it as the basis of the new name: — and thus “Marywood” was conceived. About a year after we had been using the name, I came across a mention of your school, under this title. I was distinctly surprised, and surmised that you must have become acquainted with our College. I had not the slightest idea that the name was, or ever had been, in use, and considered that I had coined it. But “nothing is new under the sun”.

                                    We have been using the title “Marywood College” for nearly four years now, and our Seminary also is known as “Marywood Seminary”. You may recall that the Sisters of Mercy, in opening their school in Plainfield, New Jersey, adopted the name “Mount Saint Mary’s College and Academy”, making it no longer feasible for us to use the name. The College has been chartered by the Legislature of the State of Pennsylvania, and is now about to enter on its fourth

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year. It is in a flourishing condition, and the enrollment of students is increasing by leaps and bounds. It has already issued a number of certificates for special courses, and will confer degrees on its first class this coming school year. We have well advertised the institution since its opening, and “Marywood College” is a familiar name not only in Pennsylvania, but also in New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, and other States,— and even in the West, where we have several houses, the title is well known. The name having thus become inseparably linked with our work, it would seriously jeopardize our efforts in the cause of higher education if we should change it at this late date. It would also work an injustice to our students. Graduates of Marywood College will have a high standing and receive distinct recognition, while graduates of an institution with a name but little known would meet with much less ready success.

                                    I thank you for the suggestions you make as to another name, but the drawbacks and difficulties involved are too great for me to even consider a change. If our plan of founding a College were still in its inception, there would be but little trouble and I should be glad to oblige you,—but, under the circumstances, I am sure you will agree with me that it would not be feasible to alter a name with which both we and our schools are so intimately associated.

                                    I hope that my decision will not be a very great disappointment to you and your Community. Please assure your Reverend Mother that it is with reluctance I find myself forced to deny your request. I trust this will have no effect on our friendship.

                                    With best wishes, and praying our Lord and the Blessed Mother to prosper you in your work, I am, in the Immaculate Heart of Mary,

                                                                     Yours sincerely,


                                           [new hand] (Mother M. Germaine O'Neil, IHM)


August 8, 1918