Remembering Sister Paula Butier

paula_butierJust shy of her 84th birthday, Sister Paula (Catherine Dolores) Butier, SND, passed away in Oakland on April 20, 2011. A Sister of Notre Dame de Namur for 63 years, Sr. Paula was warmly regarded as a commanding and loving presence not only within the Sisters of Notre Dame community but in Bay Area Catholic education as well. A natural leader and gifted administrator, Sr. Paula led Notre Dame high schools for 40 years, overseeing four generations of Bay Area students.

She began her career by teaching music at Notre Dame High School, turning to administration when she became principal of Notre Dame High School, San Francisco in 1958. After serving as Assistant Superintendent for the San Francisco Archdiocese until 1973, she spent 17 years as principal of Notre Dame High School in Belmont. Prior to her retirement in 1991, she received the prestigious National Catholic Education Association Secondary Education Award for her “remarkable contributions to Catholic secondary education in the United States.”

paula_butier-habitSr. Paula described her early administrative style as “autocratic….I was the Principal…but that changed over the years….experience is a wonderful teacher.”  Former students have commented on her fondness for order and discipline, adding that Sr. Paula had “a great sense of humor, a big heart, and even when she kept us in line, we knew she really cared about us.”

The daughter of Nicolas and Catherine Butier of Watsonville, she attended Notre Dame Moreland and graduated from Notre Dame High School, Watsonville in 1945. She received her bachelor’s in music from Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles and her master’s in Education Administration from University of San Francisco. She lived the final years of her life at the Notre Dame Province Center in Belmont and the Mercy Retirement Care Center in Oakland.