Sister Marilyn McMillin, formerly Sister Jacqueline, entered religious life from St. Sylvester Parish in Brentwood, Pa. Her vocation was influenced by several women religious. Sister Immaculate Strauss, a Sister of Divine Providence, was her piano teacher for many years. She exemplified everything Sister Marilyn admired in someone who served God. Another influence, Sister Raphael Gallagher, CSA, a cousin, would visit from Ohio and is remembered as “delightful and full of life.” To Sister Marilyn, both women possessed a spirit that could not be contained.
Another profound influence was Fr. James Keller of Maryknoll, who had a Sunday morning television show called To Light a Candle. He always focused on a missionary who helped people in some small way and made a profound difference in their lives. He would sign off by saying, “It is better to light just one little candle than to curse the darkness.” A candle would be lit and a simple song with those words would be sung. He had a tremendous impact on Sister Marilyn’s life. After entering religious life, she cites Sister Genevieve Brandstetter as a steady and evolving presence in her life, a beautiful example of womanhood and trust in the Providence of God.
Sister Marilyn earned a master’s degree in teaching from Duquesne University and a bachelor’s degree in history from La Roche College. She ministered in various schools in the Pittsburgh diocese as teacher and principal, including St. Mary’s in Glenshaw (1970–75), St. Basil’s in Carrick (1990–2000), and Nativity in South Park (1977–85). Since 2011, she has been teaching at St. Thomas More School in Bethel Park.
Her parents and grandparents presented life as a wonderful blend of the sacred and secular; one aspect of life did not preclude the other. Religion was part of every breath they took. Whether in church or at Kennywood (Amusement) Park, God was with them, through good times and sad times. “The older I get, the more I realize the need to be thankful to God for the love that these people showed me,” says Sister Marilyn. “Without knowing it, they introduced me to the unconditional love God has for us. It is my aim to reflect that love to those I meet.”
Sister Marilyn describes herself as “happy, compassionate, and loyal,” and her interests include history, music, gardening, reading, technology, and being a sports fan.