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SLU Alumna and Volunteer Awarded Papal Knighthood

ST. LOUIS — Saint Louis University alumna and former dean of student affairs Mary Bruemmer has been named a Dame Commander of the Order of Saint Sylvester, Pope and Martyr.

Mary Bruemmer receives papal honor.

The Rev. Robert Carlson, Archbishop of St. Louis (far left) joins a large crowd giving SLU alumna and longtime volunteer Mary Bruemmer (seated) a standing ovation. Photo by Michelle Peltier

The honor was presented as a surprise on June 29 during a retirement party for the 96-year-old who has served as a fulltime SLU volunteer for the past 26 years. (Bruemmer first retired in 1990 after nearly 35 years of service as an administrator.)

The Rev. Robert Carlson, Archbishop of St. Louis, was on hand to give the 96-year-old a special commemorative scroll and a cross medallion from Rome that is meant be worn at significant archdiocesan events.

“Mary has been a role model, a guiding light and a moral compass for generations of SLU students and alumni, Carlson said. “She has also served God in so many ways, and this honor from Pope Francis tells the world how she has served Him and her Church.”

Steven Schoenig, S.J., was asked to offer some historical insights into the papal knights. He noted that the Order of St. Sylvester, Pope and Martyr was founded in 1841 to recognize and reward laypeople for their active service to the apostolic works of the Church.

Mary has been a role model, a guiding light and a moral compass for generations of SLU students and alumni."

The Rev. Robert Carlson, Archbishop of St. Louis

“Given all that you have done for SLU, Mary, this recognition is richly deserved,” Schoenig said. “This honor from Pope Francis tells us what we already know: that we are blessed for your many contributions. And so, congratulations, Dame Mary: you are as noble as your title indicates.”

University President Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D., kicked off the celebration welcoming a large crowd of students, faculty and staff — plus a number of SLU retirees — to the St. Louis Room in Busch Student Center, where Bruemmer once worked as an administrator.“

Mary is once again departing from her physical post at the University, but SLU will never be lacking for her presence,” Pestello said. “Her years of dedicated service, love and commitment to Saint Louis University are woven into the tapestry of our nearly 200-year history.”

At the close of the celebration, Bruemmer was asked to say a few words. Still a bit surprised by the unexpected honor and VIP guests, she reflected fondly on her time at SLU and said that she’s looking forward to helping the University celebrate its bicentennial in 2018.

Other Honors for Bruemmer

1985: First SLU Woman of the Year
1990: Fleur de Lis Award from SLU
2000: Honorary degree of humanities from SLU
2006: Peg Fenning Award from Alpha Sigma Nu
2009: Women of Worth Award from the St. Louis chapter of OWL-The Voice of Women 40+
2012: Ageless Remarkable St. Louisans Award from St. Andrew’s Resources for Seniors
2014: Champion of Change Award from Women’s Place2016: Community Support Award from the Center for Women in Transition

To learn more about Mary Bruemmer, check out the story “Extraordinary Mary,” originally published in SLU’s alumni magazine, Universitas.