Sister Mary Kelleher entered the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in 1954. She grew up in Dorchester, Mass., the oldest of four children. Her mother was born in Boston and her father hailed from Leitrim, Ireland. She recalls that her family gatherings were replete with talk of Irish politics, music, and culture.
She attended St. Mark's Elementary School and, for high school, Notre Dame Academy in Roxbury. Both of these schools were staffed by Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. Sister Mary recalls that "it was my interaction with and admiration for these women that led me to enter the Sisters of Notre Dame."
Upon entering, she taught elementary school in St. Mary's, Cambridge, and Our Lady Star of the Sea in Marblehead, Mass. She also taught high school, at St. Joseph's, Somerville, Academy of Notre Dame in Tyngsboro, and Cardinal Cushing High School in South Boston. After studying catechetics at Lumen Vitae in Brussels, Belgium, for a year, she was missioned to Emmanuel College in Boston where she proceeded to minister for 40 years. She served in many positions there , first in the catechetical program, then as Assistant Director of residence, Dean of Students and finally as Academic Advisor. As Sister Mary shares, "I loved all my missions, but I felt most at home at Emmanuel College. I found working with the college students there gave me great hope for our future. Their enthusiasm and commitment to social justice and concern for the other was admirable. I have truly had a blessed life, for which I am extremely grateful."