Elizabeth Seton High School
Hall of Fame Induction
October 16, 2009
5715 Emerson Street, Bladensburg MD 20710
Elizabeth Seton High School
2009 Hall of Fame Inductees
Sister Marguerite Butler
Candy Cage ‘81
Maureen ‘Johnny’ Johnson ‘72
Clara Kircher ‘63
Dear Friends and Guests,
Today we have the happiness of honoring four valiant women as we induct them into
Elizabeth Seton High School’s Hall of Fame. These four women mirror many aspects of the
holiness of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton herself by the way they live their lives and by their service
Sr. Marguerite Butler is a woman of principle who has deep convictions about life, right from
wrong, and integrity. Hers is a spirit that is constant, sincere, and strong. Those who know her
well know also her compassion. If she knows that you are suffering, she is right there, tears
and all. She echoes the words of Elizabeth Seton, “to think justly on human life and to see
things as they are, should be our main object.”
Candy Cage is a woman of truth. In our times, we might say, “What you see is what you get.”
She has no guile, no duplicity, and no insincerity. Coupled with her honesty is her humility.
She does not seek her own praise or adulation. Rather, she strives to uplift and affirm others.
Elizabeth Seton’s words, “Devotion must carry the torch and open the door to all our actions,”
aptly apply to Candy.
Maureen Johnson is a woman of strength. Her independence, her sense of adventure, and
her diverse talents are hallmarks of her courage and confidence. Maureen has never known
an enemy because she has always been too magnanimous to let the faults of others diminish
her spirit. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton’s words, “Eternity: think of it when you are hard pushed.
Pray and praise; bless and adore forever,” are now Maureen’s words to all of us.
Clara Kircher is a woman of faith whose trust in God far surpassed the adversity she encountered
in the trials of life. Her response to suffering is perseverance. Her response to disappointment
is hope. Her response to pain is love. With the grace of God, she has always lived
a life of sacrifice and service, generosity and goodness, virtue and victory. She reflects
Elizabeth Seton’s words, “Faith lifts the staggering soul on one side. Hope supports it on the
other; Experience says it must be – love says let it be.”
The lives of these four women can be woven into a daily prayer for us, “Lord, make me a
woman of principle, a woman of truth, a woman of strength, a woman of faith. Mold my life
into that of a valiant woman. Keep from it anything that would be small when viewed in the
light of eternity.
Thank you, Sr. Marguerite, Candy, Maureen, and Clara for imaging St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in
the vocations you live. Through your example and hers, may we learn to express our love for
you in our love for others.
Sister Ellen Marie
Sister Mary Marguerite Butler
Sister Mary Marguerite Butler is a native New
Yorker. She realizes that is not a popular admission
She spent the first twelve years in a school
taught then and now by the School Sisters of
Notre Dame. She thought that they were
GREAT teachers, but realized early on that
she did NOT want to be a teacher. She was interested in child care work.
After high school her parents thought that she was too young to become
a Sister. Her mother “begged” her way into the College of Mount Saint
Vincent. Her mother had gone to school with the Sister who was the Dean
of the College. At the end of her freshman year her parents, thought she
was still too young to join the convent so she returned for a second year.
After her sophomore year, they felt that she was old enough to make the
decision to become a Sister. She was still convinced that she did not want
to become a teacher.
At the conclusion of her introductory years, she was sent on mission - TO
TEACH- and she did that for the greater part of her life. In 1975, after
having taught Mathematics in New York, Pennsylvania and South Carolina
she came to Elizabeth Seton.
On her first day she asked Sister Regina, the Assistant Principal, for
something to do. It was August and classes hadn’t started. Sister Regina
gave her student schedules to type. On her last day here, she was still
working on schedules. It had become her extra-curricular activity for the
19 years she was here teaching Math.
In 1994 the Daughters had a need for people to work in hospital finance,
and she went to work in the billing office of a hospital. It was different
and interesting but didn’t offer the “personnel” contact that had existed
in a school. Sister’s next assignment was working in the gift shop at the
Shrine in Emmitsburg. One of her great joys is how many Seton graduates
and their parents she has met there.
Candy Cage ‘81
Candy grew up in New Carrollton and attended
elementary school at St. Matthias. While attending
Elizabeth Seton, Candy was an active
member of the Student Council and participated
for four years on the soccer, softball and
basketball teams. Candy was also sports editor
of the yearbook. After graduation, she received
a basketball scholarship to Winthrop University
in South Carolina. While she was at Winthrop,
they had 4 winning seasons and played in the NIT. She was among their
top 10 all time assist leaders, a record that has stood. Due to the influence
of the outstanding teachers and coaches that she had at Seton,
including Sister Marguerite and Nancy Rhodes Hernick, Candy chose the
same career path. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree and a Master’s Degree
in Secondary Education. She taught social studies and coached basketball
at Northern High School in Owings, Maryland. She was inducted into
their Hall of Fame in 1997. She has also coached basketball on the college
level at Mt. St. Mary’s, Georgia Tech and Loyola University in Maryland.
During her time at Loyola, she recruited Ebony Tolliver ’03 to play for
Candy returned to Seton in 2005 and currently serves as Athletic Director
and Basketball Coach. Her influence has been felt throughout the school.
Candy worked hand in hand with the architects and Sister Virginia Ann
Brooks in designing the athletic space in the Brooks Center. She is dedicated
to Seton and to its students. Our sports program has reached new
heights under her leadership. It is hard to resist her enthusiasm. She has
started a book scholarship fund for our athletes and has been instrumental
in securing a $50,000 grant from the State of Maryland to repair and
upgrade our track and field. The work will begin late this fall.
Elizabeth Seton has always been a great influence in Candy’s life. The
teachers she has had, the spirit of the school and the friends that she has
made have all shaped the woman that she has become. She considers it
a privilege to be able to give back to the school that has given her so much.
Maureen “Johnny” Johnson ‘72
Maureen “Johnny” Johnson was born on January 29,
1954 in Riverdale, Maryland. She was the third of four
children born to Ralph and Alice Johnson. Sadly, she died
in September of 2006 at the age of 52. Maureen was
always special. At age three, she would survive kidney
cancer. The next five years would be anxious ones for her
family until she eventually received a “clean bill of health.”
In 1963, at age nine, she made her first journey to Europe,
including Ireland, her mother’s birthplace. Her love for
travel began with this trip. In the course of her lifetime,
Maureen traveled extensively throughout the U.S., Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean
Islands, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. From age 14, she began visiting Ireland at
least once a year. Maureen had a phenomenal memory and no road traveled was ever
forgotten. She became a great navigator and tour guide for family and friends.
In grade school, high school , college and CYO Maureen excelled at such sports as
basketball, softball, volleyball and field hockey. She received numerous medals and
trophies and frequently helped lead her teams to the championship.
In 1964 at age 10, Maureen and her sister Colleen began Irish dance lessons. This would
be the beginning of Maureen’s career as an entertainer. At age 16, she founded The
Maryland Gaelic Dancers, but handed the troop over to Colleen as she discovered her
true love was music. At a young age, she took accordion lessons briefly, but frustrated
the teacher who said that she was a “gifted ear musician.” She would go on to teach
herself guitar, mandolin, dulcimer, banjo, piano, harmonica and tin whistle. Besides
playing, she also composed lyrics and music, and recorded an album of Irish folk songs.
During her mid teens, she began playing the guitar and singing at church, concerts, on
television, in numerous pubs and restaurants, and in so many other venues. At age 17,
she became a star performer at E.J. O’Riley’s Pub and launched her professional career
there. She would go on to play at such local pubs as Matt Kane’s, The Dubliner, The Irish
Times and the Irish Inn. During her trips back to Ireland, she won a number of plaques
and medals in Irish dance and singing competitions. She played guitar and sang with
well known groups such as the Wolfe Tones and The Clancy Brothers.
Maureen attended Prince George’s Community College where she gained her AA
degree in Nursing at age 20. She passed state boards, became a registered nurse, and
began nursing at Prince George’s Hospital Center where she would work until her
death. Later in her career, she earned her BSN from the University of Maryland. During
many of her years in nursing, she worked in cardiac care, a field she found challenging
and rewarding. She became a much respected mentor of new grads. Maureen touched
many lives throughout her healing career and never forgot a patient.
This beautiful young woman will always be fondly remembered for her great smile, her
humor, her intelligence, her many talents, her faithfulness to family and friends, and
her love for Ireland and all things Irish. Maureen exemplified the Elizabeth Seton HS
motto, “Light to know, grace to do.”
Clara Smiley Kircher ‘63
Clara Smiley Kircher was born on May 3, 1945, in Washington,
D.C., the daughter of Ann and Golden Smiley.
She grew up in Mt. Rainier, MD, and attended Saint
James Elementary School. She was accepted into the
first freshman class at Elizabeth Seton High School in
1959 and graduated from Seton in June 1963. At Seton,
she was a member of the Glee Club, Masque and Gavel,
basketball team, Future Nurses Club, Student Council,
Louise de Marilacs and Honor Society. She attended
Saint Joseph’s College in Emmitsburg, Maryland, where
she majored in business, from 1963-1965. She married
Walter Kircher from Riverdale, Maryland, at Saint James
Church in April 1965. Her Maid of Honor was Monica Kircher Brady, her best friend at
Seton since their sophomore year. Clara and Walter had five children – Anne, Walter,
Eric, Anthony and Aaron. Their marriage ended in 1978, and Clara had to raise their
five children as a single parent.
Clara went to work in the office of U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) in October 1981.
She served as the assistant to the Chief of Staff and the Press Secretary. After twentysix
years in the Senate, she retired in October 2007 as Deputy Chief of Staff to Senator
Leahy. While working for Senator Leahy, she returned to college to complete her
degree. In May 1996, she graduated summa cum laude from Bowie State University
with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Public Administration.
As Deputy Chief of Staff to Senator Leahy, Clara helped establish the Leahy Women’s
Economic Opportunity Conference which is now in its 13 th year. The Leahy Women’s
Conference focuses on the career and business development of Vermont women and
is open to all women free of charge. Women learn the skills of running their own
business, writing a financial plan, and sharpening their computer and personal skills for
a new job or career change. She was the intern coordinator for the Leahy College
Internship Program, which offers young women and men the opportunity for a closeup
view of their government and the workings of a Senator’s office. Clara also served
as the Chief Financial Clerk for the Senate Judiciary Committee where she helped with
the administration of the Committee and prepared committee budgets for Chairman
In November 2008, she temporarily returned to the U.S. Senate to help start up the
office of the newly-elected, Senator Mark Warner (D-VA). In March 2009, she went
back to her retirement life and is now enjoying time with her children and eleven
grandchildren. Two of her granddaughters have followed their Grandmother’s footsteps
in attending Seton. Clara Bannigan graduated in May 2009, and is a freshman at
Christopher Newport University studying music; and Alice Bannigan is a sophomore his
Clara and her family have lived in Bowie, Maryland, since 1971 and are members of St.
Pius X Church. Clara is an active member of the Seton Alumna and is proud to be a
member of the first graduating class of Elizabeth Seton High School, the Class of 1963.
Thank You to the
Class of 1972
The 2009 Hall of Fame Inductees
Mrs. Dorothy Rothgeb
Jennifer Rothgeb ‘69 Joan Rothgeb ‘74
Way to go, girl!
Class of 1963
Clare Kircher ‘63
we are so proud of you
and we love you
Your loving family
Villa St. Michael
Nancy Rhodes Hernick ‘74
Sister Winifred McKay, D.C.
Mary Karen Merkel Wills ‘78