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Former director of religious education Mary Lou Miller dies

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Mary Lou Miller, a longtime diocesan director of religious education, died May 24  at age 76 in her Falls Church home following a yearlong battle with advanced lung cancer. She is survived by her husband of 55 years, Clyde, five children and eight grandchildren. 

Miller, known as Honey to her family, was born Feb. 4, 1941, in Mechanicville, N.Y. She was the first in her family to earn a college degree, earning a bachelor’s degree in family life and human development from Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., in 1962, and a master’s in education in 1967 from State University College in Buffalo, N.Y. She married Clyde Miller Aug. 24, 1962.

Mary Lou received a master’s in religious education from Catholic University in Washington in 1984. Following graduation, she began work at Good Shepherd Church in Alexandria. Two years later, she became director of religious education (DRE) at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Falls Church to be closer to home.

According to her daughter Lyn McGee, “the crowning success of Mary Lou's 20-year career at St. Anthony occurred on April 19, 2003, when her husband of 40 years was baptized and confirmed in the Catholic faith. Their youngest daughter, Danine, was his sponsor and is officially his godmother.”

Miller worked for years as lead spiritual reflector for the Northern Virginia chapter of the Ignatian Volunteer Corps, a group of retired men and women who work for charities around the area and meet to reflect spiritually on their experiences. Joanie Coolidge, regional director, noted that one volunteer called Miller an Easter woman. “It's just a beautiful way to characterize her because of her joy, her pastoral care and her commitment to justice,” said Coolidge.

Coolidge recalls how Miller greatly enlivened the faith of others, and was a friend and mentor to many, including herself. “She had deep insights and incredible love. She encouraged people by pointing them back to the Lord.”


Miller made friends with many DREs from around the diocese, who remember her as hard-working and empathetic. Former DRE Pat Durkin said that toward the end of Miller’s life, friends and family were constantly at her bedside. “She had many friends who loved her, and we are going to miss her,” said Durkin. 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017