Author Bio

Click for larger viewDr. Mary Hilaire (aka "Sally) Tavenner has led a most interesting life these past 62 years. She was born Sally Lynne Tavenner, fourth of seven children, in Lorain, Ohio. At the age of 17, she went to Syracuse, New York to become a Franciscan Sister, believing she had "a calling" to convent life. After almost twenty years, she found herself re-assessing life and choosing greater financial poverty and complete insecurity--over her continued commitment to religious life in the Catholic Church. "At the age of 35, after 18 years in the convent, I left the order with three black dresses, a guitar, a broken typewriter two suitcases, and a trunk of letters and school books. After almost twenty years, the Mother General begrudgingly sent me off with a check for $1,000. This was given in payment for room and board with friends for ten months."

"It took about five years to become financially stable again. After teaching in Catholic Schools for 15 years, it was a real eye-opener to find myself teaching in a Black, desperately poor, inner-city school of Tampa, Florida. The elementary school was so violent we had a full-time police officer wearing a gun. I was told, in 1985, it was the only elementary school in Florida requiring this kind of protection."

After three-plus years in Sulfur Springs Elementary, Dr. Tavenner spent two years teaching in the highest socio-economic schools of Hillsborough County. This was a neighborhood where George Steinbrenner and Wade Boggs lived. Old money, new money. Lots of money and "much of the arrogance which may, at times, come with having lots of money".

During this time, Sally, deciding to keep her religious name of Hilaire, drove a small motorcycle, lived in a studio apartment, and went back to school at the University of South Florida. After eight years of long, hard effort, she earned her doctorate in Reading/Language Arts. She taught future teachers as an associate for the University, but returned to live in Lorain, Ohio in 1993 after her mother's doctor suggested Mrs. Tavenner's poor health would best be served by moving her into a nursing home. Hilaire had no reason not to and every desire to return to the home of her childhood to assist her mother in every and any way possible. Hilaire had lived in Florida for ten years.

Dr. Tavenner's mother had been diagnosed with emphysema 15 years prior, but now it was chronic. Her lung specialist told Hilaire he believed her mother "had six months to live". Moving home was an answer to both of their prayers. Her mother needed help to remain in the family home and Hilaire had always dreamed of writing. During THE SIX YEARS her mother continued to live, Hilaire produced four books: Nun of This and Nun of That, a lengthy realistic fiction of convent life in the 1960's, and the sequel, Nun of This and Nun of That, Book Two, she also wrote France, 1996: Memoirs of a writer in France, the adventures recorded from two weeks in France during the summer of 1996, and A Portrait of Helen Steiner Rice: A Lorain Version, which is a brief yet most informative biography of Helen Steiner Rice. 

Her mother, and uncontestedly her dearest source of unconditional love and support died February 21, 1999. "I stayed home for a year because I knew I needed at least that much time to grieve this most profound of losses. Some believed I should not embrace my solitude, but I felt it absolutely essential for my emotional pain to process." After Mother died Dr. Tavenner produced four more books: Peru 2002: Memoirs of a writer in Peru, Memories of Mom: They called her Dutch, Friendship with St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, and Puerto Rico 2006.

Dr. Tavenner has befriended movie stars, famous families, and "characters" of every sort! Her mother would say, "I don't know anyone who has more of an assortment of friends than you have!" One of these friends, Becky Whittington, once quipped, "Hilaire, you are the only person I know who lives under the illusion that you have 300 intimate friends."

Presently, Dr. Tavenner lives in the family homestead of four generations. After serving for 3 years as education director at The  Sylvan Learning Center of Sheffield, Ohio, "Doc" left Sylvan to establish her own business of DUTCH INK whereby she is self-employed as a free lance public speaker, educator, and writer, among her other responsibilities. In addition to this, Dr. T taught adult education, GED and ESOL classes for 15 years part time for Lorain City Schools and Lorain County Community College (ABLE program).  

Dr. Tavenner retired in 2015 and continues her many interests---especially fighting for the rights of the unborn children; supporting our American President, Donald J. Trump; serving in her St. Anthony Church Parish and from November 1, 2018 until April 25, 2019, Dr. Tavenner was producing her own radio broadcast program: “Dr. T., Ph.D.” with the help of Bold Brave Media.  All of her 24 weekly programs are accessible on the home page of this website: .   To make a copy and e-mail a specific program to anyone, simply click on the radio topic of interest, click on on top, then left click: hit copy, then paste this information to where you would like to send it---to anyone having an e-mail address.

And a little more about Dr. Tavenner:


  • Ph.D. Reading/Language Arts, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL 1993
  • M.A. Religious Studies, St. Charles Seminary, Philadelphia, PA 1982
  • B.A. Education, Catholic University, Washington, DC 1974
  • A.A. Liberal Arts, Maria Regina College, Syracuse, NY 1970
  • High School Diploma, Lorain High School, Lorain, OH 1966


  • Private education in New York, Ohio and Florida 15 years, grades 6-8.
  • Public education in Tampa, Florida 6 years, grades 2-6.
  • Taught most junior high aged students science and English; also taught English in Puerto Rico. Have taught special education, TOEFL, ESOL, SAT, PSAT, ACT, CLAST, GED courses.
  • Associate Professor at the University of South Florida, teaching future educators the skills of teaching children to read.

The following assignments were all in Ohio.

·         Adjunct for Lorain County Community College, teaching students survival skills in college, writing/English classes, literature enrichment.

  • Adjunct for Cleveland State University, teaching foreign students the basics of business communication.
  • Adjunct for Ashland University, teaching master level students behavioral management.
  • Adjunct for Tiffin University, adult psychology and communications.
  • Education Director for Sylvan Learning Center, Sheffield, OH, 3 years.
  • Part time Reading/Writing GED/ESOL Adult Education instructor for Lorain City Schools for three years.
  • Co-authored Understanding, Implementing, and Managing Virtual Work with Michael Dziak of e-Works in Atlanta, GA for Lorain County Community College at the request of Dr. Roy Church, LCCC President.
  • "Mystery of Christ's Presence in the Eucharist Inspires Daily Life for Many" by Dennis Sadowski of the Catholic News Service, Arlington Catholic Herald, Arlington VA. Link:  July 15, 2021.
  • CURRENTLY freelance writer and public speaker for DUTCH INK PUBLISHING.

The Media is raving about

Dr. Mary Hilaire (Sally) Tavenner


· Stories in bold are particularly informative.

· (Photo) at the end of an entry means that there is a photograph which includes Mary Hilaire (Sally) Tavenner.


“Prayers for Grace, Divine Intervention” by Jordana Joy. The Lorain Morning Journal, April 5, 2020; page one.  (Photo)

“Gathering in Prayer” by Lyric Aquino. The Lorain Morning Journal, June 9, 2020; page 5. (Photo of some of the group).


 “7th Annual Northeast Ohio Christian Writers Conference New Location: LCCC @ City Center, Lorain”, The Lorain County Office on Aging The Senior Years, Lorain County, OH.  April, 2019; Vol. 45, No. 4, pg. 3.


“Letter to the Editor”, Chronicle-Telegram, Elyria, OH, March 31, 2019; pg. A-4.

“Letter to the Editor”, Lorain Morning Journal, Lorain, OH, March 30, 2019; pg. F-2.

“Years in the Making” by Cariswsa Woytach, Chronicle-Telegram, Lorain, OH, March 24, 2019; pg.1.  (Photo, pg.4)


“Vermillion man lauded for his essays to patients” Morning Journal, Editorial Page; November 29, 2018, pg. A-4.  Bouquet, not a Brickbat.

“Senior Years holiday subscription drive and raffle”, Lorain County Senior Years, Front Page, letter to the editor, December 2018/January 2019. Vol. 44/45; No.12/1. Additional “blurbs” from Dr. Tavenner on page 8 & 9. 

“Resident honored as lifetime writers association member” by Jordana Joy, The Morning Journal, Lorain, OH. November 26, 2018.  Front page and pg. 6. (Photo)

“Library brings local authors together” by Linda Gandee, Sun Sentinel SUN NEWS, November 19, 2018. Front page and pg. A9.


“Dr. T., Ph.D.” Radio Guest Speakers and Topics; published courtesy of Jung Jing, (owner), Ohio Chinese American News &Ohio Taiwanese American News, November 7, 2018, pg. 7. Issue #420.

“Writer, former nun hosting radio show” by Carissa Woytach, The Chronicle-Telegram, Elyria, OH. November 3, 2018, pg. B7. (Photo)

“Turning 70” , Lorain County Senior Years, October, 2018, Vol. 43, pg. 37 & 39. 

“Lorain native to host Bold Brave Media radio show” by Jordana Joy, The Morning Journal, Lorain, OH. October 31, 2018, pg. 3.  (Photo)

“Group travelling to mass for Rhoda Wise” by Briana Contreras, “The Morning Journal”, Lorain, OH.  July 3, 2018, pg. A-3.


Play spotlights black 19th-century writer” by Christina Jolliffe, Elyria Chronicle, Elyria, OH. March 26, 2018, pg. A1.

“Christian writers to meet April 7” by Christina Jolliffe, Elyria Chronicle, Elyria, OH. March 26, 2018, pg. B1 & B2.

“New play to make local debut” by Richard Payerchin, Lorain Morning Journal, Lorain, OH. March 26, 2018, pg. 3. 

“Remembering poet Helen Steiner Rice” by Keith Reynolds, Lorain Morning Journal, Lorain, OH. June 2, 2017, pg. 3A. (Photo)


"Lorain-area writers honor poet Helen Steiner Rice" by Richard Payerchin,    Lorain Morning Journal, May 18, 2015, Page One.


"Helen Steiner Rice fete May 17" by Christina Joliffe; Chronicle-Telegram,    May 2, 2015 in "Your Town Lorain, Sheffield & Sheffield Lake"


“Creativity flows to Cascade of Authors event” by Krista Gibson, The Collegian, Lorain County Community College Newspaper, November 3, 2010, Vol. 47, Issue No. 6, p. 2. (Photo).


“Former nun, author returns to central New York for book-signing event” by Erin Place, Pallidum-Times, Oswego, NY.  March 8, 2010.  (Photo).


"Former nun, author returns to central New York for book-signing event" by Erin Place, The Pallidum Times, Everyday Women; Oswego, NY, March 8, 2010, pg. 6. (Photo)


"Spotlight: The Mighty Lorain Pen" by Ron Vidika, The Morning Journal, Lorain, OH, LIGHT ON LORAIN, Winter, 2010, Volume 2,Issue 1.  Page 3-7.


  “One Lorain woman traveled to Puerto Rico and Peru: She Continues to help the Latino community through her books and teachings” by Ingrid Marie Rivera.  La Prensa, Ohio’s oldest and largest Latino weekly, Toledo, OH. January 15, 2010. Pg. 9.  Vol. 46, No. 19. (Photo, front page.)


“Next week in La Prensa: Memoirs of a Writer traveling to Puerto Rico” by Ingrid Marie Rivera.  La Prensa, Ohio’s oldest and largest Latino weekly, Toledo, OH. January 8, 2010, front page. Vol. 46, No. 18. (Photos)


"Student takes assignment to a new level" by Micaiah Wise Bilger. The Sentinel, Lewistown, PA. January 10-11, 2009, pg. D1 and D7. (Photos)


"An Interview with Dr. Tavenner" at Lorain County Community College, on January 7, 2009.Learning_in_Lorain.htm


"Un Sueno Hecho Reliadad: Nativa de Lorain tiene la vida que siempre queria como autora, educatora, y oradora" by Ron Vidika. Traduccion por Barbara R. Cochran.  El Latino Expreso. 12-18 de Diciembre, 2008. pg. 8 & 13. (Photo).


"A Dream Come True: Lorain native living the life she always wanted serving as author, educator, public speaker" by Ron Vidika.  El Latino Expreso, a free publication of the Morning Journal, Lorain, OH. December 12-1`8, 2008. Pg. 9. (Photo)


"5 Questions With: Dr. Mary Hilaire Tavenner" by Katy Widrick,

 executive editor of <click to view  

Posted November 24, 2008, 10:16 am in Books." (Photo)


"A Dream Come True: Lorain native living the life she always wanted serving as author, educator, public speaker" by Ron Vidika.  Lorain Morning Journal <click to view, Lorain, OH. November 23, 2008,  pg. F1. (Photo)


"Expectations high for new Lorain superintendent" by Kate GiammariseMorning Journal, Lorain, OH.  February 7, 2007. Front page. 

“Profesora de classes de ingles como secunda idioma pone venta nuevo libro” by Stacey Caswell.  El Latino Expreso, Lorain, OH. December 19-25, 2006, pgs. 8-9.  (Photo)

“Writers Reading”, Morning Journal, Lorain, OH. September 24, 2006,         pg. B-4.  (Photo)  


“Group celebrates work of Lorain poet” by Stephen Szucs.  The Chronicle-Telegram, Elyria, OH.  March 11, 2006, pg. B3. (Photo)


“Local author explores Peru and its culture in new book” by Stephanie Czekalinski.  El Latino Expreso, Lorain, OH. December 23-29, 2005,       pg. 5.  


“Autora local examina la cultura peruana en neuevo libro” by Stephanie Czekalinksi.   El Latino Expreso, Lorain, OH. December 23-29, 2005,          pg. 2.  (Photo)  


“Adult Literacy, Remedial Education, and GED Teachers”, The Chronicle-Telegram, Elyria, OH. December 6, 2005, pg. B6.  (Photo)


“Pot luck supper” Avon Lake Press, Avon Lake, OH. February 11, 2004. 


“It’s in the writing” by Kevin Kelley.  Catholic Universe Bulletin,     June 6, 2003, pg. 9. (Photo)  


“Poetic Reminder” by Paul Walsh.  Lorain Journal, November 7, 2002,       pg. B1. (Photo) 


“City to get marker in honor of late writer” by Andrea Might. Lorain Journal, May 31, 2002, pg. D1.  


“Great Saints and more celebrated in new book by local author”. Cleveland Catholic Universe Bulletin, September 28, 2001.


"Sylvan Learning Centers earn Top Honors" by Jane Shealy.  Success Magazine, October, 2000.  Pg. 58-60.  (Photo, pg. 60.)


“Library News”, Dimensions, publication of Lorain Public Library. Fall, 1999.  Vol. II, No. 3, pg. 6.  (Photo)  


“Prayers for a beloved poet laureate”.  The Plain Dealer, November 24, 1999, pg. B1.  (Photo)  


“Profile: Mary Hilaire Tavenner; Receiving more by letting go…Ex-nun finds joy in caring for mother” by Thomas J. Quinn. Cleveland Plain Dealer, December 3, 1997, pg. 6B. (Photo)      


“Helen Steiner Rice lecture planned” in Local Briefs, Lorain Journal,    October 25, 1996.  


“You’re Invited” Marion Guild at St. Anthony’s announces in the Lorain Journal that Dr. Hilaire Tavenner will speak on “Pilgrimages to the Shrines of France” at St. Anthony Church. September 10, 1996, pg. C3.


“Religious Relic” Morning Journal, Lorain, OH. November 15, 1995.  (Photo)  


“Rice Remembered” Morning Journal, Lorain, OH.  May 20, 1994.  (Photo)  


“Special Party” Morning Journal, Lorain, OH. September 2, 1993.  


“Academic Notes” Morning Journal, Lorain, OH. December 11, 1993.  (Photo)


“Academic journey near end” by Doug Stanley.  Tampa Tribune, Tampa, FL. December 9, 1993, pgs. 1&3. 


Happy 100th “Local sister’s centennial celebrated by Willard Scott on TODAY SHOW” by Larry Rubama, Syracuse Catholic Sun, July, 1992. (Party was arranged by Mary Hilaire Tavenner). 


“Ex-nun relies on miracles” by Carolyn Koperdak.  Lorain Journal, August 26, 1990, pg. 21-22. (Photo)  


“Talent show at Springs Elementary” Pennysaver, February 23, 1989.


“Sulphur Springs Elementary students “act up” in class” by Jeffrey Huggins. Temple Terrace Beacon, February 23, 1989.  (Project manager: Hilaire Tavenner)  


“Voices crack against strain” by Susan H. Thompson.  Tampa Tribune, October 30, 1988, pg. 1H. (Photo)  


“Cards being sent to hostage” by Penny M. Carnathan. Tampa Tribune, December 9, 1988. (Photo)  


“Carter faults Regan’s ‘war of words’ by Patrice Flinchbaugh.  Tampa Tribune, January 16, 1986, pg.1B. (Photo)  


“Former president receives a warm reception at USF” by John Dunn.  Tampa Tribune Mail, January 16 and January 22, 1986, pg. B11. (Photo)  


“Students go to kitchen for lessons” by David Szymanski.  Northside Tampa Tribune, February 25, 1986.  


“What life had in store, 20 years of ups, downs for class of ‘66”.  Lorain Journal. September 28, 1986, pg. 1 (6-7) (Photo)  


“Mythology marathon opens Pandora’s box of fun”. Florida Catholic, April 13, 1984, pg. 4.  


“Mere mortals step aside at Incarnation” by Kim MacCormack Class Notes. Tampa Tribune, April, 1984.  


“Judo nun Sister Mary Hilaire ‘gives ‘em heaven’ by Tom Ford. The Tampa Tribune, September 30, 1983, pg. 10C sports section. (Photo)  


“Shodokan Judo Club”.  Lorain Journal. February 26, 1983. 


“What price education?” by Wendy Langerderfer.  Lorain Journal, March 6, 1983, pg. 11. (Photo)  


“A word of praise” by Mr. & Mrs. John Skarupa. Lorain Journal, April 4, 1983. 


“Leaving Lorain” by Lou Kepler.  Lorain Journal, May 3, 1983.


“Y Judo”.  Lorain Journal, May 19, 1983.


“Same Order, Different Habits” by Lou Kepler.  Lorain Journal, June 26, 1983, pg. 29-31.  (Photo)  


“St. Anthony Students Head for World’s Fair” by Rosemary Schuler.  Metropolitan, February 3, 1982, pg. 18. (Photo)  


“At the 1982 World’s Fair” Catholic Universe Bulletin, Cleveland, OH Diocese, June 25, 1982, pg. 27.  (Photo)  


“Lorain nun: colorful, inspired” by Bob Cotleur.  Lorain Journal, June 20, 1982.  


“Authority on Elizabeth Seton will speak at St. Peter’s” Loudonville Shopper, Loudonville, OH. October 11, 1982. (Photo) 


“Pilgrimage to American saint’s shrine Oct. 9-11” Lorain Journal, Lorain, OH. September, 1981.  (Photo)  


“The best of friends” by Dennis Sadowski.  Lorain Journal, September 19, 1981.  


“A Pilgrimage to the Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton”, Chronicle-Telegram, Elyria, OH. August 8, 1981.  (Photo)  


“Pilgrimage to American saint’s shrine”, Lorain, Journal, Lorain, OH.  August 8, 1981. 


“A Time for Miracles” tells of first native-born saint” by James Ewinger.  Cleveland Plain Dealer, Cleveland, OH.  December 21, 1980. 


“A Time for Miracles is flawed, but worthwhile” by James Breig.  Catholic Universe Bulletin, Cleveland, OH Diocese.  December 19, 1980, pg. 27.  (Photo)  


“Things I Hear” by Lou Kepler.  Lorain Journal, Lorain, OH. May 6, 1980, pg. 14. 


“Sister Hilaire writes a musical for her class” by Daniel Ho.  Lorain Journal, Lorain, OH.  May 3, 1980. 


“Lorain nun lauds film about Mother Seton: She served as technical consultant” by Robert Loomis. Chronicle-Telegram, Elyria, OH. April 19, 1980, pg. A-5. (Photo)


“Local nun is TV consultant” The Fulton Patriot, April 8, 1980.  (Photo) 


“Seton story being filmed” by Stephenie Overman of NC News Services.  Baltimore, Maryland.  March, 1980.


“Good Skates take to the Ice” by Tom Whittington.  Lorain Journal, February 28, 1980. (Photo)  


“Mother Seton’s Loving Lorainite” by Larry Ramey.  Lorain Journal, February 16, 1980. 


“Volunteers saluted for special service”.  Catholic Universe Bulletin, May 23, 1980, pg. 12. (Photo)  


“Things I Hear/The Warm Fuzzies” by Lou Kepler.  Lorain Journal, May 6, 1980, pg. 14. 


“Lorain nun anxiously awaits movie on life of Mother Seton” by Robert Loomis.  Chronicle-Telegram, Elyria, OH.  1980.  (Photo) 


“Saint’s “Miracle Girl” Attends Columbia Dedication” by Larry Ramey.  Lorain Journal, September 15, 1979, pg. 6.  (Photo)  


“Pilgrimage” Cleveland Universe Bulletin, Cleveland, OH Diocese.  September 14, 1979.  (Photo)  


“Seton miracle girl visits Lorain area” by Joseph F. McKenna.  Catholic Universe Bulletin, Cleveland, OH Diocese.  September 21, 1979, pg. 1.  (Photo)  


“Young Scientists at Work”, Syracuse Herald-Journal, March 8, 1977.  (Photo)


“Young Goblins pool their Artistic Talents” by Steve Woiler.  Syracuse Herald-Journal, Syracuse, NY. October, 1977 (Photo)  


“Real paper tigers”, Catholic Sun, Syracuse, NY. May 19, 1977.  (Photo)  


“Pupils see legislature in action” by Dan Padovano.  Syracuse Herald-Journal, Syracuse, NY. May 1, 1977, pg. 60. (Photo)  


“And spooks that go bump in the night” Syracuse Herald-Journal, Syracuse, NY.  October, 1976.  (Photo)  


“Pope Paul Birthday”, The Catholic Sun, September 22, 1976, pg. 3. (Photo)  


“There is love…”.  Catholic Sun, Syracuse, NY.  May 26, 1976.  (Photo)  


“Lorain nun lauds film about Mother Seton” by Robert Loomis.  Chronicle-Telegram, April 19, 1976. (Photo)  


“Confirmation pilgrimage” Catholic Sun, Syracuse, NY. 1976. 


“Nun in Lorain tells about newest Saint”, Catholic Universe Bulletin, January 2, 1976, pg. 10. (Photo)  


“Catholic Education Week” Syracuse Herald-Journal. January, 1976. (Photo)


 “Catholic Education Week” Catholic Universe Bulletin, Syracuse, NY, January, 1976.  (Photo)  


“From the Vatican, a canonization report” by Oscar Barker.  The Catholic Sun, 1975.  (Photo)  


“Ex-Lorainite Becomes Nun in Syracuse” The Lorain Journal, Lorain, OH, June, 1974.  


“Pupils Demonstrate Poetic Ability in Local Contest” Oswego Valley News, Fulton, NY.  April 10, 1974.  (Photo)  


“Award-winning class”, Oswego Valley News, Fulton, NY.  February 20, 1974.  (Photo)


“Donate to Cancer Fund” Oswego Valley News, Fulton, NY.  1974. (Photo)  


“Christmas Party for Local Nuns” Oswego Valley News, Fulton, NY.  December 26, 1973.  (Photo)  


“Up to Halloween Mischief?” Oswego Valley News, Fulton, NY. October 31, 1973.  (Photo)  


“Sisters Recognized at Dinner”, Oswego Valley News, Fulton, NY. September 19, 1973.  (Photo)  


“Tops for T.O.P.S.” Oswego Valley News, Fulton, NY. October 10, 1973. (Photo)  


“Franciscan nuns take final vows” Syracuse Herald-Journal, Syracuse, NY, June, 1973.  (Photo) 


“Poetry Winners”, Oswego Valley News, Fulton, NY. May 2, 1973. (Photo)  


120 entries to date: revised July 1, 2020.




Updated July 19 2021