Sister Mary Christopher Bourke
Sister Mary Christopher Bourke (Jason Jin Kyung Lee / HANDOUT)

Sister Mary Christopher Bourke, a former principal of the old Mount St. Agnes High School in Mount Washington, died of heart disease Saturday at University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center.

She died the day after she turned 99.

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Born Elizabeth Patricia Bourke in Washington, D.C., she was the daughter of John Joseph Bourke and Susan McQuade. She was a 1935 graduate of Holy Trinity High School in Georgetown, where she later returned as principal, and attended Misericordia University. She entered the Roman Catholic religious order of the Sisters of Mercy in 1937 and later received the name Mary Christopher.

She earned a chemistry degree at what is now Notre Dame of Maryland University and a master's degree from Catholic University of America.

"Her ministry can be summed up in one word: education," said Sister Patricia Smith, a fellow order member. "While she was always a teacher, her administrative gifts were recognized early. She was appointed principal of Mount Saint Agnes High School at age 30."

She also taught at the Convent of Mercy in Mobile, Ala., and the old Mount Washington Country School for Boys.

"She was a good listener and she was forever young. She was interested in the world around her and the people she knew, especially her former students," said Sister Patricia Smith. "When Mount St. Agnes High School closed in 1963, she made it a point to shepherd its alumnae."

Sister Mary Christopher helped plan the 1960 opening of Mercy High School in Northeast Baltimore. She also also served on the Provincial Council of the Sisters of Mercy.

She taught at the old Mount Saint Agnes College from 1965 to 1970 and was later an assistant professor of education at what is now Loyola University Maryland.

From 1975 to 1978, Sister Mary Christopher ran the religious community associated with her order's national office in Potomac and then was director of staff development at Stella Maris Hospice in Timonium.

She retired in 1990 and volunteered at Mercy Villa, her community's retirement home, at the House of Mercy and at Mount Saint Agnes Theological Center for Women.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 11 a.m. Thursday at Mercy Villa, 6806 Bellona Avenue.

Survivors include a nephew and niece.

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