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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Judith Cagney, RSCJ, Former President of Barat College Died Today

Sister Judy Cagney, RSCJ   (July 26, 1938 - November 3, 2013)
photo taken July 2012

Judith Cagney, RSCJ, died early this morning at Mt. Sinai Palliative Care Center in New York,  surrounded by members of her immediate and Sacred Heart families.  A Mass of Resurrection will be held at the Convent of the Sacred Heart, 91st Street Chapel on Wednesday, November 6, 2013.  Burial will be at the Kenwood Cemetery in Albany, NY. For further information, contact

Born on July 26, 1938 in Chicago, Sister Cagney was predeceased by her parents, Mary Cecilia Lynch (1985) and Richard Cagney (1986); and her sister Toni (1994). She is survived by her sister Joan Meyer, BC'63 and brother Richard (Meg Wehmer, BC'73), as well as many nieces and nephews. 

Judy Cagney was a 1956 alumna of Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart. Following graduation, she attended Newton College of the Sacred Heart in Boston and in 1958 transferred to Barat College.  After a semester at Barat, Judy entered the Society of the Sacred Heart and made her first vows in 1961 and final profession on July 20, 1966.  

Sister Cagney received her Masters Degree in Philosophy at Fordham University and went on to earn her PhD. She later returned to Barat College where she taught Freshman Philosophy and lived on campus in the Merrill Residence Dormitory. 

In 1974 Sister Margaret Burke, RSCJ retired as President of Barat College after serving in that capacity for twenty-one years.  "In June 1974, Judith Cagney, RSCJ, became Acting President; in July 1975, after the Board of Trustees conducted a year's search, they appointed Sister Cagney Barat's third President" (p209). The next eight years the college faced increasing financial strain and after 124 years of educating women had decide to admit men.  That same year (1982) Sister Cagney's resignation was announced.  She was the last religious president of Barat College in Lake Forest, Illinois. 
"More than two decades later, when Sister Cagney looked back on her years as president... she praised the students, who are grateful for the education they received and were 'incredibly loyal' to the college... Sister Cagney also remembered the majority of faculty members as excellent teachers and exceptional members of their own academic disciplines, providing the students with a strong academic program. She, however, considered Barat's financial situation to be the major challenge during her years as president." 
In 1982, she became Provincial Treasurer a position she held until 2001 and also serve on the U.S. Provincial team. Sister Cagney moved to New York where she served as Chief Financial Officer of Little Sisters of the Assumption Family Health Service, East Harlem, 2001-2010.  Most recently she devoted her time to social work in the New York area. 

I had an opportunity to attend the 2012 Provincial Assembly hosted in St. Louis last summer as a collaborator and was pleasantly surprised to see Judy Cagney.  She greeted me with a warm smile and hug. Later that evening after dinner, we spent time reminiscing about our days at Barat.  I told her how much I appreciated all that she did in those turbulent and precarious years.  

On behalf of all Barat alums, I extend my heartfelt condolences to her family and friends. I am sure I am not alone in recognizing all of her contributions to the Society of the Sacred Heart and know she will be missed by all.

Note: quotes are taken from pages 209 and 210, Barat College: A Legacy, A Spirit and A Name by Martha Curry, RSCJ

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