Marian celebrated those who embody the Spirit of Marian as part of the Esprit de Corps Awards Banquet. Over 150 guests attended the annual recognition program, held Sept. 8 at Omaha Country Club, which featured a cocktail hour, dinner and awards ceremony. The Alumna of the Year award was presented to Shannan Neppl Brommer ’81, the Sr. Marcella Leadership Award to Susanne “Susie” Stessman-Blue ’81, the Marian Award to Nancy Kirchofer McCarthy ’69, an Honorary Diploma to Tom and Mary Baker, and the Spirit of Marian Award to John and Mary Hendrix Schuele ’82.
In her opening remarks Marian President Mary Higgins shared the history of “Esprit de Corps,” which when translated means spirit of the body. This phrase was used frequently by Marian’s founding principal, Sr. Marcella, to instill pride, loyalty and fellowship in the students. “We gather tonight to celebrate how some very special alumnae and friends have incorporated into their lives the spirit, the Esprit de Corps, of Marian and the Servants of Mary, ” said Higgins.
Shannan Neppl Brommer ’81 was named Alumna of the Year, the most prestigious honor given by the Marian Alumnae Association. She recently completed her sixth year as the director of stewardship and development for the Archdiocese of Omaha, where she assists schools, parishes and other ministries in implementing advancement programs. Her dedication to Marian spans many years as a student, employee and leader. Shannan served for 13 years as Marian’s advancement director with responsibility for fundraising, marketing, communications, donor relations and enrollment management. She also served as Marian’s alumnae director from 1986-1989.
Susie Stessman-Blue ’81 received the Sister Marcella Leadership Award, named for Marian’s first principal, Sr. Mary Marcella Sitzmann, OSM. Susie is the executive director of Matt Talbot Kitchen & Outreach, a hunger relief and outreach program that serves the working poor and homeless in Lincoln, Nebraska. She has held this position for 18 years, serving as the first director of the organization that was founded by volunteers 25 years ago. Susie earned a master’s degree in social work from the University of Nebraska-Omaha in 2000. She has over 30 years of volunteer and professional experience in hospice care, community organizing, advocacy, crisis support, program planning, program evaluation and grant writing. Her primary focus with these efforts has been the homeless and working poor in both Omaha and Lincoln.
The Marian Award was presented to Nancy Kirchofer McCarthy ’69. Nancy is a past member of the Marian High School board of directors and a current board member of the Florence Home, a senior care facility in north Omaha. Her community involvement includes participation in the United Way, Children’s Scholarship Fund and past Grand Marshall of the River City Roundup. Nancy served as director of religious education and on the parish council at St. Mary’s parish in Avoca, Iowa. She was an active volunteer at St. Pius X/St. Leo School while her children were students and continues to be engaged as her grandchildren are now students there.
Tom and Mary Baker were conferred an honorary Marian diploma. Tom and Mary have given a lifetime of service to Catholic education – both having taught in Catholic schools with the Servants of Mary since 1970. Last year, Tom celebrated 40 years as a Marian teacher. He teaches social studies and American government and, for many years, served as department chair. In his tenure at Marian, Tom has coached basketball, volleyball, track and swimming. He served as moderator for Polar Plunge, an ecosystem group, mock trial and model congress; he also led many school-sponsored trips. Tom’s commitment has not gone unnoticed—he received a Toyota award to study in Japan, a Korea Foundation award to study in South Korea and a Fund for Teacher Award to study in Alaska. Tom was also recognized as a 2003-2004 Archdiocesan Teacher of the Year.
Mary joined Tom at Marian in 1981. She has taught algebra, precalculus and AP calculus. She has also served as chair of the math department and as a cheerleading, prom and class moderator. Mary was recognized as a 1993-1994 Archdiocesan Teacher of the Year.
John and Mary Hendrix Schuele ’82 received the Spirit of Marian Award. John and Mary Schuele have always believed in and supported Catholic education. Mary’s parents Hank and Coby Hendrix made it a priority to send all of their daughters to Marian. They believed it helped to instill a sense of confidence in young women, which was vitally important to their futures. John and Mary continued this belief and sent their daughters, Kathy ’09 and Kara ’11, to Marian as well.
Together they served as chairs of MarianFEST in 2007. Mary served on the Alumnae Board and helped to start the Mpower Mentoring Program. Mary was a Marian Mom while her girls were students, and John served on the Marian Board of Directors. For over 20 years, John and Mary have also been involved in Teammates Mentoring Program, and they helped to initiate it in the Omaha Catholic Schools. Mary’s current mentee is a Marian student as well.