Shifting Perspectives

Jane Murray Marrin

Jane Murray Marrin '64 has been shifting the ideas of what's possible since she stepped on the Saint Ben's campus. Jane was one of 48 women in the first CSB class to take courses on the Saint John's University campus in the fall of 1963. She also spent her entire junior year studying abroad in Mexico City, with no prior experience speaking Spanish, just armed with a desire to embrace a new culture and form new relationships.

This desire to push boundaries did not stop with her time at Saint Ben's. After graduation, Jane moved to Indiana to begin her career in social work, where she aided and worked with young women as a pregnancy and adoption counselor. She then transitioned from her social work career to teaching, and continued to make ripples in the lives she encountered after marrying Jim Marrin (SJU '64). Jim became an officer in the Navy after finishing law school and thus began a life of unique challenges and many, many moves.

One of those moves took them to Georgia and in the late 1960s, where Jane became one of three white teachers in a predominantly black school in Oglethorpe County, Georgia. "I was the integration," Jane remembers. "In order to get federal funding, the county had to integrate the school systems. They put three white teachers in the black school, and three black teachers in the white school, and called that integration." This experience was the beginning of her career changing ideologies and shifting perspectives. While she only worked as a teacher in Georgia for six months, Jane credits this experience with opening her mind and pushing her to continually advocate for social justice.

Years and several U.S. states later, Jane returned to Minnesota with Jim and their four children and worked as a social worker with Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Saint Cloud. In 1997, Jane became the first lay person to direct the Pro Life office (which she later renamed "Respect Life Office") in the St. Cloud Diocese. Jane then moved on to become the director of the Office for Social Concerns, then Director of Parish Pastoral Planning for the diocese and finally to her current role as Chancellor of the Diocese of Saint Cloud.

While her duties are plentiful, Jane continues to views her role as "promoting Catholic social teaching at the parish levels." In other words, it's about developing ministries and most importantly connecting charity and justice. "We do charity well; we feed people because they do not have enough to eat. But the equally important justice question is, why do they not have enough to eat?" Jane works to address these justice questions every day, and works to encourage the Catholic community to also ask these questions through living out Catholic social teachings.

Moving forward, Jane will continue using her role to move the Catholic tradition forward in an ever-changing society. "All of my work is about building relationships. Bottom line is we need to develop relationships in family, in parish, in society. I had a wonderful formation for that at Saint Ben's."