Sister Mary Drexler, SSJ, was born and raised in Erie, Pennsylvania and has been part of the Catholic education community for more than 45 years. Sister Mary is one of seven children. She obtained her degree from Villa Maria College, and her sister and her five brothers all earned degrees from Gannon University. She attended Sacred Heart Elementary School, Villa Maria Academy and entered the convent upon graduating from high school in 1963.
Sister Mary graduated from Villa Maria College in 1971 with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. She received her master’s in education administration from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. Almost all of her fifty-four years as a Sister of St. Joseph have been spent enhancing the lives of countless students, an experience she describes as “a journey of blessings.” She taught in various elementary schools throughout the Diocese of Erie, including Our Lady of Peace, Our Lady’s Christian, Villa Maria Elementary, Saint Bernard School in Bradford and Notre Dame in Hermitage.
Sister Mary also worked in campus ministry at Penn State Behrend, both full and part-time, for approximately seven years. She spent 25 years at Villa Maria Academy as a teacher, assistant principal, and principal, serving as principal during the Villa Maria Academy and Cathedral Prep merger. Her guidance was vital to a smooth transition and she is considered to be a key factor in Villa Maria Academy’s success since the collaboration began.
In 2016 Sister Mary retired from Villa and went on to spend one year as principal at Our Lady’s Christian School (now St. Jude School).
She considers this role as a bonus gift that has capped her career. She has since turned in her keys to the new principal at St. Jude School, although she still helps out as a mentor.
The past few years have been full of excitement and celebration for Sister Mary. Her Golden Jubilee was held in 2013 in recognition of her 50 years of service with the Sisters of Saint Joseph. She was inducted into the Villa Maria Academy President’s Hall of Fame in 2014. In 2016 the Mercy Center for Women named her as one of their “Women Making History” in recognition of her dedication to Catholic education. Drexler also received Gannon University’s Monsignor Wilfrid Nash Principles of Christian Conduct Distinguished Alumni Award in 2017.
Now officially retired, Sister Mary is taking at least six months to enjoy her retirement before taking on any big responsibilities. However, she is continuing in her roles as a member of the Gannon University Board of Trustees and the Board of Directors of the Erie Catholic School System.