Mary Liz Ivins
Mary Liz Ivins

As an educator for 43 years in the Diocese of Trenton, Mary Liz Ivins, co-chair of the diocesan phase of the 16th Ordinary Synod of Bishops, is uniquely positioned to collaborate, with communication and active listening key to the Synod’s effectiveness.

“I believe as co-chairs our job is to put some structure together through which the Holy Spirit can work,” Ivins reflected. “I really feel like the crux is the invitation by the Church and the Pope to allow the Spirit to speak through all the people of God. It’s a brilliant move for this 21st century – essential and necessary, but daunting.”

Ivins, a lifelong Mercer County resident, grew up attending Incarnation (now part of Incarnation-St. James) Parish, Ewing, and graduated in 1979 from Notre Dame High School, Lawrenceville. After earning a degree in psychology from St. Joseph University, Phila., she accepted a position as religion teacher in St. Anthony High School (now Trenton Catholic Preparatory Academy), Hamilton. She taught there for three years before an opening for a religion teacher became available in her alma mater. Transferring to Notre Dame, Ivins spent the next 23 years as a teacher, religion department chairwoman and assistant principal. Along the way, she earned a master’s degree in educational administration from Rider University, Lawrenceville, and a master’s degree in Christian Education from Princeton Theological Seminary.

In 2002, Ivins became principal of NDHS, serving as its longest term principal for 17 years. She served as interim president for one year in 2018-2019, assisting the school with its search for a permanent replacement of its first president, Barry Edward Breen, who retired in June 2018.

“One of my gifts is creating communication and organizing structures,” Ivins noted of her help organizing the school’s search committee. “I was complimented and honored that Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., asked me” to be a Synod co-chair, she said.

Her term as interim president also saw her working with the school’s Board of Governors to maintain the school’s strategic plan, improve finances through enhanced fundraising and marketing, founding of three merit-based scholarships, and oversight of the renovation of the school’s 1,167-seat auditorium.

Now retired for two and a half years, Ivins currently serves as the Victim Assistance Coordinator for the Diocese of Trenton, also assisting Joe Bianchi in human resources for the Diocese as needed. She is a member of St. James Parish, Pennington.

“My faith is essential to who I am,” she said. “I have been blessed to have it incorporated into my work, and to be raised in family where faith was a part of our lives.

“Saying to people ‘I want to listen to you,’ makes them feel like they matter – that’s the goal of the Synod, for the Church to say, ‘you matter,’” Ivins said of the Synod. “If we can just engage people … they may walk away and not agree but think ‘somebody listened to us.’ Everybody matters, and we want to listen to each other. The Church will be richer for it, no matter what.”