Dr. 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, sh also wroteFrance, 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 three 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.
And a little more about Dr. Tavenner:
The following assignments were all in Ohio.
· Adjunct for Lorain County Community College, teaching students survival skills in college, writing/English classes, literature enrichment.
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.
"Lorain-area writers honor poet Helen Steiner Rice" by Richard Payerchin, Lorain Morning Journal, May 18, 2015, Page One.
“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.)
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 GrowingBolder.com <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 Giammarise. Morning 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)
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)
author explores Peru and its culture in new book” by Stephanie Czekalinski.
El Latino Expreso, Lorain, OH. December 23-29, 2005,
local examina la cultura peruana en neuevo libro” by Stephanie Czekalinksi.
El Latino Expreso, Lorain, OH. December
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)
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.)
News”, Dimensions, publication of Lorain Public Library. Fall, 1999.
Vol. II, No. 3, pg. 6. (Photo)
for a beloved poet laureate”. The
Plain Dealer, November 24, 1999, pg. B1.
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)
Steiner Rice lecture planned” in Local Briefs, Lorain Journal, October
“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.
Relic” Morning Journal, Lorain, OH. November 15, 1995.
Remembered” Morning Journal, Lorain, OH.
May 20, 1994. (Photo)
Party” Morning Journal, Lorain, OH. September 2, 1993.
Notes” Morning Journal, Lorain, OH. December 11, 1993.
“Academic journey near end” by Doug Stanley. Tampa Tribune, Tampa, FL. December 9, 1993, pgs. 1&3.
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.
Springs Elementary students “act up” in class” by Jeffrey Huggins. Temple
Terrace Beacon, February 23, 1989. (Project
manager: Hilaire Tavenner)
crack against strain” by Susan H. Thompson.
30, 1988, pg. 1H.
being sent to hostage” by Penny M. Carnathan. Tampa Tribune, December
9, 1988. (Photo)
faults Regan’s ‘war of words’ by Patrice Flinchbaugh.
Tampa Tribune, January 16, 1986, pg.1B. (Photo)
president receives a warm reception at USF” by John Dunn.
Tampa Tribune Mail, January 16 and January 22, 1986, pg. B11.
go to kitchen for lessons” by David Szymanski.
Northside Tampa Tribune, February 25, 1986.
life had in store, 20 years of ups, downs for class of ‘66”.
Lorain Journal. September 28, 1986, pg. 1 (6-7) (Photo)
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.
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.
Different Habits” by Lou Kepler. Lorain
Journal, June 26, 1983, pg. 29-31. (Photo)
Anthony Students Head for World’s Fair” by Rosemary Schuler.
Metropolitan, February 3, 1982, pg. 18. (Photo)
the 1982 World’s Fair” Catholic Universe Bulletin, Cleveland, OH
Diocese, June 25, 1982, pg. 27. (Photo)
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)
to American saint’s shrine Oct. 9-11” Lorain Journal, Lorain, OH.
September, 1981. (Photo)
best of friends” by Dennis Sadowski. Lorain
Journal, September 19, 1981.
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.
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.
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.
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)
“Miracle Girl” Attends Columbia Dedication” by Larry Ramey.
Lorain Journal, September 15, 1979, pg. 6.
Cleveland Universe Bulletin, Cleveland, OH Diocese.
September 14, 1979. (Photo)
miracle girl visits Lorain area” by Joseph F. McKenna.
Catholic Universe Bulletin, Cleveland, OH Diocese.
September 21, 1979, pg. 1. (Photo)
Scientists at Work”, Syracuse Herald-Journal, March 8, 1977.
Goblins pool their Artistic Talents” by Steve Woiler.
Syracuse Herald-Journal, Syracuse, NY. October, 1977 (Photo)
paper tigers”, Catholic Sun, Syracuse, NY. May 19, 1977.
see legislature in action” by Dan Padovano.
Syracuse Herald-Journal, Syracuse, NY. May 1, 1977, pg. 60.
spooks that go bump in the night” Syracuse Herald-Journal, Syracuse,
NY. October, 1976.
Paul Birthday”, The Catholic Sun, September 22, 1976, pg. 3. (Photo)
is love…”. Catholic Sun,
Syracuse, NY. May 26, 1976.
nun lauds film about Mother Seton” by Robert Loomis.
Chronicle-Telegram, April 19, 1976. (Photo)
“Confirmation pilgrimage” Catholic Sun, Syracuse, NY. 1976.
in Lorain tells about newest Saint”, Catholic Universe Bulletin,
January 2, 1976, pg. 10. (Photo)
Education Week” Syracuse Herald-Journal. January, 1976. (Photo)
Education Week” Catholic Universe Bulletin, Syracuse, NY, January,
the Vatican, a canonization report” by Oscar Barker.
The Catholic Sun, 1975. (Photo)
Becomes Nun in Syracuse” The Lorain Journal, Lorain, OH, June, 1974.
Demonstrate Poetic Ability in Local Contest” Oswego Valley News,
Fulton, NY. April 10, 1974.
“Award-winning class”, Oswego Valley News, Fulton, NY. February 20, 1974. (Photo)
to Cancer Fund” Oswego Valley News, Fulton, NY.
Party for Local Nuns” Oswego Valley News, Fulton, NY.
December 26, 1973. (Photo)
to Halloween Mischief?” Oswego Valley News, Fulton, NY. October 31,
Recognized at Dinner”, Oswego Valley News, Fulton, NY. September 19,
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)
Winners”, Oswego Valley News, Fulton, NY. May 2, 1973. (Photo)
99 entries to date: revised September 6, 2010.
Updated June 20, 2015