GERVAIS — The National Catholic Educational Association recently named St. Mary of Oregon Sister Ina Marie Nosack, who attended Sacred Heart here, as the school’s 2019-20 NCEA Catholic Elementary School Distinguished Graduate. 

Sister Ina Marie died Jan. 24, prior to the announcement, and the award was accepted on her behalf by St. Mary of Oregon Sister Delores Adelman, herself a distinguished alumna of Sacred Heart.

The Gervais school has been educating students for 137 years. Since the 2005-06 academic year, the school has selected a distinguished graduate from Sacred Heart for the NCEA award. The national organization established the award to recognize the significant accomplishments of Catholic elementary school alumni. The announcement was made by Mariana Hill, principal of Sacred Heart, at a Mass during Catholic Schools Week in January.

Sister Ina Marie, a 1940 graduate, joins hundreds of Catholic school alumni across the country. The award highlights “people who as adults put into practice the values and ideals they learned in their Catholic elementary schools,” according to the NCEA.

Sister Ina Marie was raised in the Gervais area and attended Sacred Heart with her siblings. The Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon taught in the school and Sister Ina Marie remembers them being happy and kind. 

During fifth grade she first felt the call to work for God and his people. She attended Gervais High School for three years then transferred to St. Mary of the Valley for her senior year, when one of her favorite teachers invited her to visit the convent. She entered the convent of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon in 1944 and hoped one day to be a missionary.

Sister Ina Marie was a teacher from 1948 to 1966, then fulfilled her dream and was sent with three other sisters to teach at a high school in Tamshiyacu, Peru. 

Upon her return to Oregon, she served as principal of St. Mary School in Stayton. Later she worked at St. Alexander Parish in Cornelius, where she aided migrants who lived in work camps. She also was director of religious education. 

“She truly put into practice the values and ideals she learned at Sacred Heart Catholic School and we are very honored to add Sister Ina Marie Nosack to the list of distinguished graduates,” read a press release from the school. “She was a great role model, not only for her family and community but to our students today.”