Alumni searching for answers in support of Sister Marlene

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Calls and emails started flowing into the 22News newsroom early Monday morning.  Alumni, parents and students are looking for answers as to why Sister Marlene Mucha was no longer teaching at Pope Francis High School.

Sister Marlene has taught at Holyoke Catholic High School since 1969.  She was the English Department Chair at the newly merged Pope Francis High School.

A group of alumni and supporters believe that she has lost her job because her standards were too high.  Pope Francis’ Interim Head of School told 22News she resigned.  Sister Marlene told 22News she couldn’t say anything about the situation.

Dr. Thomas McDowell, Interim Head of School at Pope Francis High School said in a statement:

We are aware of the many rumors circulating regarding Sr. Marlene Mucha. Sister has informed us of her intention to resign her position effective immediately. As this is a personnel matter, and out of respect for Sister, we will limit our comments.”

We do want to express our thanks and the thanks of the countless students and families who have benefited from Sister’s academic career and her more than 50 years of work in the classroom. It is clear she has touched the lives of so many. With gratitude, we wish her well as she moves on to the next chapter

22News went to Sister Marlene’s apartment in Chicopee. She answered the door with a smile and politely said that she can’t say anything about the situation.

Statement from the Support Sister Marlene Facebook Group:

We are alumni, parents, students, friends, past faculty, past Board members, current faculty. We are moms and dads, grandparents, lawyers, chefs, business owners, coaches, students, teachers, artists, authors, medical professionals and elected officials. We are alumni of Sr. Marlene Mucha.

We are supporters of the educator who challenged us, who cared when often times, no one else did. She was there with us when we entered college as nervous freshmen. She was there as we handed in our first college term paper, with full knowledge that we knew were exactly what we were doing because of her. We are parents who thanked Sr. Marlene for helping our kids pass, for caring enough to make our kids look good when others didn’t know the difference between too, to and two.

This is what we are. Family.

In the past 12 hours, since the news roared its way online and through phone calls, text messages and emails, there have also been rumors. What happened exactly? Honestly, we don’t have all the facts. At this time, no official statement has been released. We saw Jill Gagne’s original post and we have waited for more information. What we know as fact is Sr. Marlene is no longer with Pope Francis. It has been said that her standards are too high. We KNOW her standards are high. Thank God for that. If you did your work and checked your work, you did well. If you were lazy, well you didn’t pass. Isn’t that the point of school? Isn’t that we chose (or our parents or grandparents) this school? We were also reminded that in the last year, Holyoke Catholic has lost not only its identity but also Mrs. Lettelier (award winning Chairman of the HC Science Dept.) who left for St. Mary’s as their principal (as PF was also searching for a principal), Miss Eva, our Drama Mama who was replaced by Cathedral’s drama teacher and then Sr. Marlene.

We have been INUDATED with the question: What can we do? Can we fight the diocese? Can we send her a letter? Can I send her some money?

Here’s the answer: We do not speak for Sr. Marlene or the diocese. We are just a group of parents and alumni and friends who love this woman who changed our lives. She WAS Holyoke Catholic. Change that. She IS Holyoke Catholic. She is the soul of our school and she was, is and will always be beloved. So, because you asked, here are some suggestions that would channel our energy into things that matter:

  1. PRAY. We are Christians after all. This is what Sr. Marlene would want us to do. Pray for peace in her heart and let our prayers lift her spirits.
  2. If you care about Catholic education and want to support PF, we wish you the best. However, if the merger and the losses of Mrs. Letellier, Mrs. Stockhamer and Sr. Marlene are not what you support, withdraw your support. Email the school and ASK TO BE REMOVED FROM ALL CONTACT (including magazine and solicitation lists.) Kevin White, the Development Director, can be reached at
  3. WRITE a post here about what Sr. Marlene meant to you
  4. Write a LETTER to Sr. Marlene and send it to Jill Gagne who will pass it on to Sr. Marlene. (Mrs. Jill Gagne 5 Hollygrape Circle, Holyoke, MA 01040)
  5. LIKE this page and share it. Check this page often for updates. We’re hearing of some cool ideas that we’re waiting for more information on
  6. Be positive.You are a Gael. Hold your head up. Be kind. Let Sr. Marlene’s mark show itself in you.

Thank you for joining us in our support of our favorite educator. If you have other ideas on how we can best support Sr. Marlene, please feel free to add your ideas here.