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Mary Cattan ’60: A Mission to Write

Mary Turner Cattan ’60, a psychotherapist and spiritual director, published her first book, Pilgrimage of Awakening: The Extraordinary Lives of Murray and Mary Rogers, in June. The biography follows the lives of two missionaries and their transformation into proponents of interfaith dialogue. We asked Mary a few questions about her own journey . . .

How did you choose your career path?

Graduating from college in 1964, I was blissfully unliberated, too busy tending to my firstborn to delve into Betty Friedan’s Feminine Mystique (1963) or to consider I might have a career path beyond matrimony. Yet that first calling—raising four children—was challenging and deeply satisfying. By age 40, I had learned that human relationships are much more complicated (and fascinating!) than I had ever imagined. Experiences of loss and failure propelled me to wake up and to learn as much as I could about the intersection of human psychology and spirituality. It led to my second calling—chosen much more consciously—as a spiritual director and psychotherapist. Awareness and life-giving human connection—with oneself, with intimate others, and with the loving, life-giving energy of the universe (that some might call God) became my passion. It was that passion, driven by curiosity, that led to my writing Pilgrimage of Awakening.

Did you have any teachers at Walnut Hill who influenced your passion for writing?

Actually, my passion was for the story that cried out to be told. Writing, which I find incredibly hard work, was the necessary vehicle. Of all my teachers at Walnut Hill, Miss Clark challenged me the most to develop writing skills. She was a very quirky, old-fashioned teacher. She had us reading James Joyce, and her writing assignments were tough. As was her grading! No messing around in Miss Clark’s class!

What advice would you give to someone tackling a major project or writing a book?

What I needed most for my project was structure. For me, the saving grace was a doctoral program that required me to meet deadlines. Through Andover Newton Theological School, I was provided with a loving but strict advisor who said, “Just Velcro your bottom to that chair and WRITE!”

What is your favorite memory from your time at Walnut Hill?

My favorite memories involve relationships with friends. Fifty-six years later, Christie Coon, my roommate for three years at Walnut Hill, is still among my closest friends! Back then, we would gather, with three or four others, in someone’s room, door closed. Some of us were knitters, and we would talk, talk, talk about our lives and gossip. Exploits with boyfriends—actual or wished for—were of great interest. Friday evenings were special for me. At most meals in the Eliot dining room, our every move was scrutinized by a faculty member at the head of the table. But Fridays we were allowed to sit for supper without faculty supervision! There was always ice cream for dessert and no rush to go to evening study halls. Just time to connect. Very occasionally a weekend dinner would be spiced up by some guests—a busload of “boys” from a neighboring prep school. A joint glee club concert and perhaps a dance in the gym would follow. We were to “mix”—just not too much! Spotlights were turned up for the walk between Eliot and the gym to be sure the strict rule of not stepping off the sidewalk into the shadows was enforced. Since the blueberry pie we’d all enjoyed for dessert left our teeth and tongues stained purple, the temptation for stolen kisses was kept in check!

Pilgrimage of Awakening: The Extraordinary Lives of Murray and Mary Rogers is available on Amazon.

Visionary Drake Driscoll '14

Following Walnut Hill's Non Nobis Solum spirit, cellist Drake Driscoll has recently embarked on a new endeavor, using her art to help others. Thank you to Drake for sharing the below information about her musical collective, VISION!


VISION is a musical collective founded by executive director and cellist Drake Driscoll, violinist Timothy Chooi, and violist Sarah Sung. The VISION Collective formed in 2018 at the Juilliard School. Our current project, "Music for Harmony," aims to build meaningful relationships with and among refugees and new Americans by sharing and exchanging music between diverse communities. We aim to create a personal connection with each of our audience members, offering them an outlet to express themselves and celebrate their roots. Our sessions have a "sounds of home" theme. At our workshops, we talk to refugees/immigrants about the music from their home countries. We focus mostly on traditional songs from their cultures, songs that they listened to growing up, and sounds that remind them of their home countries. After the initial meeting, we collaborate with fellow Juilliard composers to research and prepare music that reflects our conversations with each refugee/immigrant. On the second visit, VISION returns to the venue and offers a concert where we share pieces that remind us of home, as well as pieces we have prepared for the refugees and immigrants. Each concert highlights a different group of refugees/immigrants, and we give each of them an opportunity to speak about the music from their home country if they wish. The goal of this project is to create a unique, collaborative workshop where both VISION and the refugees/immigrants are all learning and growing from one another.

On the local level, VISION currently has residencies at Building One Community and YMCA New Americans Initiative (Flushing location). This summer, VISION will be traveling to Germany to visit refugee camps. The tour will be in partnership with Concerts for Compassion: a like-minded enterprise by recent Juilliard graduates, Mariella Haubs and Jocelyn Zhu, who have been fantastic colleagues and mentors. This trip is partially funded by the George J. Jakab Global Enrichment Project Grant awarded to the VISION Collective by the Juilliard School. The rest of our travel costs will be covered by donations received through our GoFundMe campaign.

Future goals include establishing a board and applying for nonprofit status. The hope is that we will eventually have enough funds to travel to refugee camps around the world.