This article can be found in the Alumni Magazine.
April 12, 2022
Sister Lenore Schwartz, OSF (BS ’75, MS ’81), expected the usual spiritual connection when she walked into Mass at St. Boniface School in Lafayette, Indiana, on May 27. The Mass was indeed beautiful, she said. But the day became even more special as it continued.
Sister Lenore recognized several familiar faces from the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration, as well as Indiana State Sen. Ron Alting and Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski. Sen. Alting’s children attended St. Boniface, where Sr. Lenore served as principal for the past 21 years.
Sen. Alting brought along a special award—the Sagamore of the Wabash, the highest honor bestowed by Indiana’s governor—and presented it to Sister Lenore.
“It was a big surprise,” Sister Lenore said. “I’ve learned since then just how big an honor it is.”
The honor recognizes Hoosiers who have made significant contributions to Indiana, and Sister Lenore, 75, certainly fills the bill. She has devoted her adult life to education, first as a teacher and for 40 years as a principal. She has encouraged, guided and mentored too many children to count.
Sister Lenore’s resume includes Indiana schools in Hammond, Fowler, Fort Wayne, Griffith, Mishawaka, St. John and Lafayette, along with schools in Illinois and Louisiana. Her longest stretch in one place was her final stop, as St. Boniface principal. She retired after the 2020-21 school year.
“Age 75 seemed like a good time to give it up,” she said. “Once you enjoy teaching and being around children, it’s a passion that always stays with you. I would like to continue to help out in the Lafayette Catholic School System.”
Sister Lenore earned her bachelor’s in secondary education with an emphasis on biology and followed that six years later with a master’s degree in secondary education, both at Saint Francis College. She earned a master’s degree in educational administration from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. Her career began as a science and religion teacher at St. Casimir School in Hammond in 1968, and she took her first principal position at St. Casimir in 1980.
“The children are still good,” she said. “What’s changed over the years is technology. Every child has their own iPad, which we provide, and many of the lessons are digital. During COVID-19, we never lost a day of school because of that. That was a real test of technology, and something that had to be developed by teachers and staff quickly.”
As principal of St. Boniface, she directed several lasting projects. St. Boniface renovated the inside and outside of its building, installed computer labs, initiated a spiritual art enrichment program, introduced an accelerated reading program and transitioned the library to a computer system, among other advances.
“We wanted to make sure the environment was warm, loving and Catholic,” Sister Lenore said. “It’s important to introduce programs that make children become fully human. We introduced art enrichment so they can learn more about their faith through beautiful art works, through stained glass windows and paintings. We teach them how to enjoy their faith through history and science, and to integrate their faith. As principal, that’s what I have enjoyed most—making sure their faith is fully alive and fully human, not just something you put on a shelf.”
Her students appreciated her dedication. One former student spearheaded an effort with current teachers and students to have a star named after Sister Lenore. “You can see it in the Southern Triangle,” she said.
Sister Lenore’s connection with USF remains strong. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, she made regular trips to Fort Wayne to see other Sisters. “I have a lot of fond memories of my time there as a young Sister,” she said. “When we were young, we all had to attend summer school to finish our bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and we would have baseball games and tennis matches and just enjoy the summer, too.”
Sister Lenore continues to serve as a member of the USF Board of Trustees.
“I have always enjoyed the people on the board,” she said. “I’m so impressed by the dedication of those on the board. Many of them are long-term people who have sacrificed a lot.”
Sister Lenore wouldn’t consider her service to education a sacrifice, but she embraced a dedicated calling. And she made a difference worthy of the state’s highest honor.