No Stakes, Only Glory


David Mohrmann, Editor

Mrs. Mary Claire Macdonald, devoted teacher, advisor, and moderator of The Guild, joined Priory in August. Mrs. MacDonald is married to Mr. Joe MacDonald, a 2006 graduate who taught at Priory from 2012-2015, and they have two children. Before joining Priory, Mrs. MacDonald taught all levels of Latin and Byzantine Iconography at nearby Visitation Academy, and she has used her skills to create icons for commissioned work.

Raised in Dallas, Texas, Mrs. MacDonald attended Baylor University, where she received a BA University Scholars degree, as well as University of Edinburgh, where she received an M.S. in Ancient Philosophy. She has also taken master’s level courses at Washington University, where she first met her husband, the person who introduced her to Priory.

“I’ve loved Priory ever since I visited it on a first date with my husband,” she says. “Joe showed me around, and I completely fell in love with the school which I accessed through his experience and perspective. His love for the place really transferred to me.” 

When Mr. MacDonald was the head of summer school at Priory, Mrs. MacDonald ran a Sherlock Holmes program for younger students and became more familiar with Priory. Since then, she has developed a close relationship with the school, which includes the roots of her faith. She has completed RCIA at St. Anselm and also says she has “formed close relationships with many of the monks who are Joe’s friends. Fr. Michael, Fr. Linus, and Fr. Aidan concelebrated our wedding, and our children have been baptized at St. Anselm.” Her friendships also extend to those who were former teachers here. Mrs. Macdonald says even before she officially became a teacher here, “Priory was an important part of my life.” Considering these close relationships with the school, as well as the unique position it offered her, she was eager to seize the opportunity to teach here.

Mrs. MacDonald has a very in-depth understanding of the classics and is grateful to have the opportunity to teach a combination of the subjects she loves. She says, “I couldn’t have conceived of a more perfect job for me than Medieval Arts and Latin… I was astonished to find that a position like this existed.” 

One of her favorite parts of being a teacher is the end of the year when students can look back and see how much they have developed. “I love disciplines that have a cumulative property,” she says, “and thus require consistent work over a long period of time.” She notes that with a language like Latin, this is especially true. Only after many years of dedicated study is one able to “access the deep enjoyment and delight that comes from reading texts in the original or thinking in a different pattern stemming from another language.” She believes that although there is much work that goes into these arts, the beauty one creates at the end makes it worth it.

Mrs. MacDonald also enjoys being part of the community beyond the classroom. She is a member of the thesis committee and moderator of The Guild. “The Medieval Arts is special,” she says, “in that it requires a group working together over time and the work is not done for oneself but for the larger community.” She explains how the students in The Guild have come to school “nearly every weekend to work this year, which has been wonderful.” Mrs. MacDonald is currently guiding students on multiple stained glass projects. “One is the Raven window to place our new mascot in the Priory tradition,” she explains. “Thomas Daniel and Max Herr designed the window, and I really am just supporting them and organizing the rest of our stained glass artists to work on the project efficiently, so that we can realize the vision of our two designers.” This project needs to be completed in a short amount of time, so there is a lot of work, which Mrs. MacDonald says is “invigorating.” The other project is an icon of Mary, Mother of Perpetual Succor, for Xanadu. Mrs. MacDonald says this project is one that “many students are working on together, and we’re very nearly finished.”

These unique programs are part of what makes Priory so special. Mrs. MacDonald says, “There is no place else on earth where I get to do what I am doing here. I feel so, so blessed and grateful.” She adds that Priory students “are very lively and to keep everything going smoothly, I plan a lot of activities that change quickly and often. Students are very motivated and curious.” Priory students are lucky to have a teacher as invested in us as Mrs. MacDonald. 

Mrs. MacDonald could be described as a bit of a Renaissance woman. In addition to her talents as a teacher, she enjoys many hobbies outside of school. As someone who enjoys the life of the mind, she creates art in her free time, and also reads philosophy, poetry, and literary fiction. “This helps me write poetry of my own,” she explains, “which has been a really beautiful way for me to understand, reflect on, and express my own experiences and connect with my friends and loved ones.” 

More than just a scholar, however, she enjoys exploring the natural beauty of the world through travelling, camping, and “anything to do with mountains.” She also enjoys sports and the competitive nature of games. “I love all sports,” she says, “especially, especially soccer. I grew up playing soccer very seriously and feel a little out of sorts if I’m not playing it—even now.” She usually plays indoor soccer on a Vetta team called the Alpacas. Mrs. MacDonald says, “I am way too competitive.” She grew up in a family playing as many sports as possible such as basketball, running, street hockey, frisbee, and even skiing. And now, at an all-boys school, she says, “I especially love playing sports at Priory and, as I’m usually the only female, my motto is ‘No stakes, only glory.’” She also loves crushing people in knockout basketball when she can. 

We are fortunate to have such a talented and fun-loving teacher like Mrs. MacDonald who brings positive energy to our school. As someone who loves learning as much as she loves teaching, she will surely cherish her time at Priory, and her students will no doubt flourish under her expert guidance. We are blessed to have had Mrs. MacDonald join the school this year, and we look forward to getting to know her better.