Marie Bliss will retire after 46 years of teaching at HGP
Marie Bliss’ incredible 46-year tenure as a Holy Ghost Prep science teacher ironically began with her turning down the job.
At the time, she was still a college student at what was then-Holy Family College. It was December and HGP's Father Hanley was in a bind. The school needed a biology teacher as soon as possible, but Bliss’ initial answer was “no.”
“I just had too much on my plate …. I was the editor of the newspaper, I was studying for my comprehensives, teaching Sunday school, doing research for du Pont, and carrying a full load of classes,” Bliss recalls. “So I said no.
“But Sister Florence, my academic dean at Holy Family, just kept asking and asking. I’ll never forget her words: ‘I want you to do me a favor and just take this on as a life experience.’”
Bliss begrudgingly took the job. She thought she’d do it for the rest of the school year, take her MCATs, and then head off to medical school.
But her life plan took an unexpected U-turn as she realized that education, not medicine was her life’s true calling.
“I realized two or three years into my time here that this was my vocation and that Holy Ghost Prep was the place that I was meant to be,” Bliss said. “And it’s been a fabulous experience. Each and every student I’ve had during my years at Holy Ghost has had an impact on my life; they’ve taught me so much.”
And Bliss has certainly made her mark on Holy Ghost Prep.
Her terrific career at Holy Ghost Prep will come to a close at the end of the 2016-17 academic year as Bliss has decided to retire.
“Over the course of her remarkable 46 years at Holy Ghost, countless future doctors, researchers, and science teachers were welcomed into Marie’s ‘habitat’ in Cornwells Hall and their passion for science was ignited. I had the pleasure of being taught by Marie, as did Father Jeff Duaime and many members of our faculty and our Board of Trustees,” says Holy Ghost Prep president Gregory J. Geruson’79.
“In addition to her impact on her students, Marie was a trailblazer here at Holy Ghost Prep as the school’s first full-time female lay teacher. Holy Ghost Prep became her second home, a place where she helped an endless sea of high school students learn to navigate not only through biology, chemistry, anatomy/physiology, and forensics science, but through life.”
Stephen Stunder ’98, an alum who returned as the school’s director of counseling, isn’t sure that Bliss even realizes the impact she has had at Holy Ghost Prep.
“There are no real words that can describe what Marie Bliss has meant to the students of Holy Ghost Prep for nearly half a century,” says Stunder. “She is a pillar of this institution, and to me personally, someone who always believed in me—as a student, as a colleague, and most importantly, as a person. I do not know a Holy Ghost Prep that exists without Marie.”
Tony Rocco ’95, like Stunder, is one of thousands of HGP students positively impacted by Bliss.
“Mrs. Bliss’ classes helped me build a foundation for science studies. I also fondly recall ‘life’ conversations with Mrs. Bliss, both as a teenage freshman as well as a young man preparing to enter college. It was not just Mrs. Bliss’ passion for science, but her interest in imparting knowledge, that was special,” says Rocco. “Mrs. Bliss knew how to challenge her students while having a reasonable approach with them. Through discussions with her, I learned that beyond the classroom Mrs. Bliss really valued family and cherished the time with them.
“As a person who sought to have a profession for which to be passionate, achieving the goal of working in the field of Environmental Health and Safety as an industrial hygienist was (and is) something that I value greatly. It is the joy, though, that I receive everyday through my wonderful wife and children that I value most. I feel Mrs. Bliss not only had an influence on me for a science-based profession, but also had a hand in me developing a reasonable personality and a balanced approach towards life.”
After she retires, Bliss will spend more time with her husband Greg and her sons James and Thomas McGoldrick, both HGP alums. She will also continue to help hundreds of animals get adopted in the Bensalem, Yardley and Philadelphia area through her “Four the Paws” organization. In addition, she will pursue her goal of becoming involved with the Red Paw Emergency Relief team, an arm of the Red Cross that cares for animals displaced in disasters and tries to reinite them with their families or find new homes for them.