Sister John Maureen Backenstos was an extraordinary human being who positively influenced so many alumni through her teaching of literature and religious studies, her appreciation of nature and her enthusiasm for international travel. She was a beacon of open thinking, tolerance and personal exploration for students over four decades of instruction. She was a singular personality.
After retiring from teaching in 1979, Sister John relocated to the McKenzie Bridge community in Oregon where she played a profound role in caring for others, including the homeless and destitute. A clerk at the Mckenzie Bridge General Store once said, “Around here people think of Sister John as kind of a saint.” He then reached in the drawer behind the counter and pulled out a piece of paper with her name and phone number on it, to be used if anyone ever came to the store in need of help or assistance of any kind. That was Sister John.
In 2019 the Sister John Maureen Backenstos Angel Fund was established at Marist Catholic High School. This fund is not a scholarship. Rather, it is an emergency account to be used at the discretion of the high school administration for Marist students/families who require financial assistance in times of financial hardship.
Sister John was known for her personal outreach to those in need. This fund aligns perfectly with the lessons she taught about caring for one another. We think she would give her heavenly stamp of approval for this important effort to help families keep their children at Marist.
In honor of Sister John, we invite you to join our community in bolstering the Sister John Maureen Backenstos Angel Fund. Help keep students on their educational path at Marist and make a real difference in their lives.
Read more about Sister John as published in the Fall Issue of Marist Magazine, Volume 10, No.1.
“Thinking back on the lessons taught by Sister John, many of which went unappreciated at the time, there is no better way to demonstrate love and care for others than providing assistance when it is required.”
— John Teller ’74
“It wasn’t easy but it was worth it. Before our oldest child, Erica ’86, entered high school, we had started our own business and money was tight. Thanks to tuition assistance, we were able to enroll Erica as a freshman at Marist. Thankfully, that was the only year that we needed tuition assistance but we are grateful that it was there when we needed it. Since then, we have had six children and two grandchildren graduate from Marist ."
— Mike & Kay Whitney
Whitney Family (l to r): Branden ’98, Jim ’96, Mike ’91, Mike, Kay, Erica ’86, LeighAnn ’89 and Erin ’01.