Meet Associate Libby Hagman

Unknowingly I was touched by the spirit of St. Julie at a young age. In elementary school at Mount Carmel, I remember the statue of St. Julie with a student; Julie as a gentle-looking woman. Two years ago as a new ND Associate, reading Sister Roseanne’s story of St. Julie, I realized that she was not only gentle and kind, but spirited and principled, and rebellious as well.

Rebellion landed me at Notre Dame High School, Belmont, after my freshman year at Sequoia High School. While my behavior did not always exemplify my gratitude, over the next three years I gradually realized what a tremendous gift my NDB education was. These were transitional years, more lay teachers, more emphasis on social justice. I was infused with the spirit of teachers who lived by example, standing up for the poor and marginalized.

I was challenged to find God in different places. The example set by the Sisters of Notre Dame helped me value myself as a strong, independent young woman. I grew emotionally, intellectually and spiritually through single-sex education and the guidance of the Sisters. However I had conflicting emotions as well. The dogmas of the church were difficult for a free-spirited young woman. I had personal doubts.

God has always kept me on a “short leash,” and this time was no different. From Sr. Frances Charlton I learned the spirit of forgiveness and the gift of another chance from after my classmates and I got into a little mischief on a ski trip which led to our suspension and the suspension of school-sponsored ski trips for a period of time. I treasure the memory of all the cat and mouse games Sr. Johanne Foster, Dean of Students, played with us as we tried to sneak off campus. Hiding in wait at McDonald’s on El Camino Real. Waiting for us on the other side of the bridge to the college – strictly off limits! Uniform violations. And unladylike behaviors such as chewing gum!

After NDB, I earned my Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of San Francisco, very grateful for all of the critical thinking skills I learned in my years at NDB. Following graduation, I worked in CCU and Cardiac ICU at Stanford Hospital, married, had my oldest daughter Alexandra, divorced, left nursing, and went to work in my Dad’s business.

I was lucky to meet my wonderful husband Roger during this time, remarried and had our daughter Catie Rose (NDB ’06). After 10 years in sales, I went to help with Roger’s architecture business which I have done the last 12 years. Caring for the sick continued as I became a chaplain for the Stanford Spiritual Care Service in 2000.

The Mission Statement of the Sisters of Notre Dame continues to be a guide in my life. “Each of us commits her one and only life to work with others to create peace and justice for all.” What a challenge! This is such a gift – to know exactly what we need to do in our life work. Some of my short-term opportunities working to create peace and justice have included participating in our local Pax Christi group, creating fund-raising awareness dinners with a friend for Catholic Relief Services and helping with the initial start up of Catherine’s Center for women leaving prison.

God always leads me to such interesting ways to accomplish this task! In spring 2007, I felt drawn toward a job in nursing again. I now work three days per week visiting homebound, mostly frail, elderly patients, and I love my job.

I feel blessed at this time to be an Associate, to have a loving husband and two wonderful daughters. When Anne Hannigan originally approached me about becoming an Associate, I was nervous that I was overcommitted at the time. She promised that my life as an Associate would not be a responsibility, but rather a refreshment. And indeed, she was right.