Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Hoyas Honor Lifelong Georgetown Fan Sr. Mary Louise Wessell

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For most of her adult life, Sr. Mary Louise Wessell has followed season after season of Georgetown University Men’s Basketball in the same way: by tuning in on the radio to legendary broadcaster Rich Chvotkin.
Sr. Wessell gives Coach John Thompson III
a hug before the game.

Sr. Wessell, a sister of the Congregation of St. Joseph, tuned in to the games on the radio because, “Rich really knew what he was talking about.” Over more than three decades, she’s heard some of Rich’s most classic “Hoyas Win!” calls.

In the early 1980s, during her work researching her doctoral degree in philosophy with a focus on medical ethics at Georgetown, she welcomed a young Patrick Ewing, already a superstar, to the campus when they crossed paths in the parking lot. Sr. Wessell stands about 5’3. Even as a freshman, Patrick Ewing towered at 7’0.

Sr. Wessell’s ministry as a nun and a nurse led her to Catholic Charities, where she was tasked with running newly formed Archdiocesan Health Care Network in 1984 as a way to coordinate specialized medical care on a pro bono basis for those without insurance or the means to pay for their care. The program is still going, last year serving more than 1,600 patients.

Sr. Wessell with legendary Hoyas
Broadcaster Rich Chvotkin
Later she helped open our Tenant’s Empowerment Network (TENProgram) to help homeless families in southeast DC, a program she leads to this day. The TEN Program provides a family with their own apartment and highly-focused support from staff. Most of our families are coming to the TEN Program from a shelter and the TEN team aims to transition families to stable living over the course of two years. Last year, the program helped 52 parents and 77 children.

[Donate to the TEN Program to celebrate the work of Sr. Mary Louise Wessell!]

This brings us to Saturday, February 20, when Georgetown University honored Sr. Mary Louise Wessell before tip-off at the men’s basketball game against nationally ranked Xavier. Before the game, Sr. Wessell had the chance to meet Coach John Thompson III and was interviewed by Rich Chvotkin for the halftime show broadcast. She even got a chance to pet Jack the Bulldog, who cruises across the court on a skateboard each game.

Washington Wizards star Otto Porter, who
played at Georgetown, signs
an autograph for Sr. Wessell
Just before tip-off, Senior Associate Athletics Director for External Affairs Dan O’Neil presented Sr. Mary Louise Wessell with a game ball autographed by Coach Thompson III at center court while her work helping the homeless families of Washington, DC was shared with the thousands in attendance.

Sr. Mary Louise said later she loved the day and the opportunity to see the team up close, but admitted she was uncomfortable being the center of attention. “But I know this kind of spotlight helps keep all of our families who are living at TEN or elsewhere in the front of people’s minds, so I don’t mind helping to do that,” she said. “And while the Hoyas lost this game, I always enjoy the chance to watch these young men play in-person.”

Are you proud of Sr. Mary Louise and her work? Make a donation right now to the TEN program!