Editor’s Note – Five longtime classroom and office educators will retire from Cardinal Gibbons at the end of this school year. We thank them for their dedication and the impact they have each made on the lives of our students and on the entire school community. We wish them the best as they start a new journey in their lives. For each of the next five days, we will post a story about one of our retiring educators. Our fourth story is about Director of Outreach Agnes Penny, who is retiring after 24 years of service.
For Director of Outreach Agnes Penny her 24 years working at Cardinal Gibbons have been nothing short of “adventuresome,” she says. Although she retires at the end of this school year, Agnes leaves a loving legacy of service to others.
In 1994 Agnes came to Gibbons as campus minister. But she quickly assumed any role the school needed filled, from theology educator to retreat leader and ultimately outreach director. “In each role, I was given the privilege of designing programs and nurturing students so that they could feel Christ every day,” Agnes says. “I love the job because I have been involved in service my entire life and I could truly make a difference.”
The programs Agnes designed reflect her personality – lively, energetic, and impactful. She recounts story after story of her former students sharing how serving others during their time at Gibbons, “has impacted them and encouraged them to want to do more.” With every story, her heart fills with joy, Agnes says, adding that she has watched students grow into “agents of change.”
She has, however, greatly influenced more than students. “Agnes is someone who once you meet you are changed forever, someone who truly brings the kingdom of heaven here to earth and especially to Gibbons,” says Retreat Director Crista Anders, who has worked with Agnes for nine years. “Agnes does not know any strangers … she always makes you feel like family. Gibbons has been forever shaped by her.”
To Agnes, her time at Gibbons is a highlight of her career, which helps explain the infectious smile that is her hallmark. She says she hopes people will remember her smile as well as her compassion and that she was “always giving out hugs.”
From the moment she arrived on campus, Agnes challenged herself to make a good adventure a great one. She also witnessed changes, big and small, and collected a lifetime’s worth of Gibbons memories. Sitting and chatting with students under the Oak tree on the school’s former Western Blvd. campus is one of her favorites. “I’d listen to them about how they were going to solve the world’s problems,” she says, adding that her challenge to them was always, make it happen!”
Agnes may be retiring but, not surprising, she does not plan to sit still. “I’m a child of God and a believer that he moves you to the next place,” she says, noting that travel plans to Alaska, Peru, and Uganda already are in the works. She also insists she will finish her autobiography, pen a few Sci-Fi stories, socialize with friends, and enjoy life. Though she says she will take a break from education, she promises to return to Gibbons once a week “to give and receive hugs.”
Read the stories about our other retirees