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In Memoriam: Mary Virginia McEnhill McInerney (1926 – 2017)

Posted: December 4, 2017

A longtime, dear, and faithful friend of Thomas Aquinas College, Mary Virginia McEnhill McInerney passed away on November 30.

The oldest of the six children of Elizabeth and Jack McEnhill, Mrs. McInerney was raised in Oakland, California. She and her late husband, Bill, first started dating when the two were attending separate Bay Area Catholic colleges in the late 1940s. She was delighted when he was elected as his college’s student body president, in no small part because, as a perk of office, he was invited to social events at neighboring Catholic campuses — and so was she, as his date. There were Saturday-night dances followed by late-night hamburgers and milkshakes, after which they would meet up again the next morning for Sunday Mass.

“They were Catholic colleges, we were Catholic kids, and our family and friends were Catholic. It was wonderful,” Mrs. McInerney recalled in a 2010 interview. “The faith that our parents had handed on to us was also given to us in the colleges. It was still there.”

The couple wed in 1949 while Mr. McInerney was in his last year at the University of California, Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law. They remained happily married for more than 64 years, welcoming 4 children and 15 grandchildren, until Mr. McInerney’ s death in 2013. 

Throughout her life, Mrs. McInerney was involved in numerous volunteer and charitable endeavors, including terms as the president of the San Miguel Board of Providence Hospital and the Piedmont Area Republican Women. She and Mr. McInerney were also highly involved with Mercy Retirement and Care Center, where they volunteered monthly for decades, and the Order of Malta. On behalf of the Order, they led the effort to establish a free medical clinic for the poor at Oakland’s Christ the Light Cathedral. The couple brought malades on 23 pilgrimages to Lourdes, and Mrs. McInerney made her 24th and final pilgrimage, joined by her daughter, in 2014. 

The McInerneys were introduced to the College in its early days by an old friend who was a member of the original Board of Governors, John Schaeffer, and his wife, Jane. They became faithful benefactors of right away, finding in the school the sort of faithful Catholic education and culture that they had enjoyed during their own college days. Saddened that their alma maters had become largely secularized, they adopted the College as their own, and for nearly 50 years were members of the President’s Council, the backbone of the College’s Annual Fund.

For many years, Mr. and Mrs. McInerney were also regular attendees at the College’s Summer Seminars, and in 2009 they attended the dedication of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel. At the time, Mrs. McInerney remarked about how she enjoyed seeing “all the alumni — fathers and mothers of four, and five, and six children, little babies — don’t tell me that doesn’t absolutely impress a grandmother! To see all these wonderful families, you know there’s hope for our church; there’s hope for our country.”

In her published obituary, Mrs. McInerney’s family notes that “Mary said the Rosary almost every day and wishes that all will honor the Blessed Mother.” In lieu of flowers, they ask that friends consider a memorial donation to the College or to the Oakland Clinic of the Order of Malta. 

A Rosary will be prayed for the repose of Mrs. McInerney’s soul at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, December 7, at St. Theresa Church in Oakland. A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 11 a.m. on Friday, December 8 — the Feast of the Immaculate Conception — also at St. Theresa’s, with a private interment to follow.

Eternal rest, grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May her soul and all the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen.

McInerneys with Caption (2010)

Mary and Bill McInerney in 2010

Caleb Skvaril (’19)

“Learning from the great books, you can see the questions that history’s greatest thinkers have asked and all the ways that they have tried to answer them. You’re able to see what’s right about what they’re saying, but also what’s wrong. The more your opinion is challenged, the more you have to refine it in order to get closer to the truth.”

– Caleb Skvaril (’19)

Asan, Guam

“Thomas Aquinas College is one of the premiere liberal arts colleges in the country and the pride and joy of the Santa Barbara Pastoral Region.”

– Most Rev. Robert E. Barron

Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles