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.
Sister 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!