Meet Sister Marie Barbara Buckley

A lifelong, passionate lover of horses and dogs, Sister Marie Barbara Buckley, the youngest of five siblings, was born in Los Angeles.  The family moved to a farm in Coalinga, where her joy in country life, and especially in horseback riding, flourished.

SR-Buckley_Marie_family_WEBSister attributes her call to religious life to the spirituality of her parents, from whom she “learned love.”  Educated in Notre Dame schools in San Francisco she was particularly influenced by Sr. Mary Joseph, her first grade teacher and lifelong friend.  When the “city” girls looked down on this “country” girl, Sr. Mary Joseph understood this “tomboy,” having been raised on a farm herself. Sr. Marie Barbara came to love San Francisco and later taught there for many years.

Sister graduated from San Francisco State University and received her master’s degree from Catholic University. Her teaching career took her to elementary and secondary schools in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Salinas Watsonville, Belmont and Seattle.  She speaks with special affection of the responsive students she taught at Blanchet High School in Seattle. Also the great picnics there!

“Retirement” is a complex word these days, and for Sr. Marie Barbara, it has meant serving on the Counsel for Religious Personnel, a sabbatical doing Elder Hostel programs, assisting with development efforts for several schools and other forms of community service. She also took up painting, telling this story: “On the final day of the class the teacher asked us to select a painting to show.  I chose a painting I liked called ‘The Hills of Coalinga.’  The teacher pulled out another of mine, an abstract painting, with the comment: ‘Now isn’t this a treasure?’ I wasn’t too sure!”

And so Sister Marie Barbara, now age 98, is living peacefully and graciously at Mercy Center in Oakland celebrating her 75 years as a Sister of Notre Dame! She is hoping that when she reaches Heaven her beloved dog Pal will be there to greet her!


  1. Thank you for your generous gift of extra time to two girls with no mother who were 8th grade students at St. Columbkilles. (Doris and Mary Alice Harrington) We often stayed late after school to share our worries. We wrote letters after you left and you found time to answer and advise us. We are both grateful and proud of you for serving others for so many years. God has blessed those who know you. Please remember us in your prayers. We have raised great familes and now are great grandparents. I have a few special requests for your prayers for members of my family. Thank you very very much for being my teacher so long ago. Congratulations on 75 years. Mary Alice

  2. I would love to visit Sister Marie Barbara and others at Mercy center. Ived live in Oakland since 1983 and currently live in Hayward, however I continue wrkng for Oakland Unified School District. I attended Notre Dame High San Francisco from 1969 _1973. Please tell mewhen I can visit. I will do best to attend Mass on Aug 11.

  3. What a nice article about our very beloved “Aunt Kathleen”! She is so sweet – I tell people about her, explaining that she is “all love”. We are very blessed to know her and have her in our family. Thank you for the wonderful write up.

  4. I love Sister Marie Barbara. She was my eighth grade teacher at St. Columbkille School in Los Angeles. I have always been grateful to her or asking me if I was interested in becoming a sister. She set me on the path of my religious vocation. She is a blessing.
    Congratulations, Siste,r from your “old”pupil,

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