Marge Webb envisioned possibilities. A conversation with her was filled with excitement and anticipation. Her personal journey took her through discernment of religious life as a Dominican sister as she completed her bachelor’s degree at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, and was further developed with the Sisters of the Holy Names of Mary and Jesus in Oakland, earning her MA in Social Work. Her curiosity enabled her to keep pace with her cousin, Fr. Francis L. Markey, in working to raise the visibility of women and the laity in Church, in furtherance of the direction of Vatican II. Upon his death, she was named the executor of Fr. Markey’s estate. Marge turned to Santa Clara University as a partner in ongoing formation of women, as well as the laity. She said “Like her cousin, the Jesuits are dreamers who make a real difference in the world, she says. “They’re not afraid to express their vision.”
Marge began her partnership with Santa Clara’s Graduate Programs in Pastoral Ministries through a Fellowship aimed to support women actively serving in ministry who desired to pursue a Master’s degree in Ministry. The Francis L. Markey Women in Ministry Speaker Series, began in 2018, with Dr. Elizabeth Johnson. Through the voices of these women of special distinction, stories unfold of the sense of vocation through embracing leadership in a variety of ministerial settings. The impact of the first Rev. Francis L. Markey programs provided the motivation to increase the opportunities. In the spring of 2022 The Rev. Francis L. Markey Center for Leadership and Ministry was funded.
As GPPM director Joe Morris states, the center will provide “resources and opportunities to take what is offered and studied in the classroom out into parishes and communities through programs, workshops, internships, and spiritual opportunities that all seek to model and enflesh the servant leadership of Jesus. The inception of this Center provides wide latitude to develop formation opportunities not associated with an advanced degree.”
It is with an enormous sense of loss, and sadness, that as this vision was being realized, in June 2022, Marge died unexpectedly. Marge had the ability to see beyond existing boundaries. Her focus on providing ways for ministers to accompany and lift up others is authentic to the desire of her cousin and consistent with the direction of the larger church under the guidance of Pope Francis. Through the generous gifts, the Graduate Programs in Pastoral Ministries and the Francis L. Markey Center for Leadership and Ministry will continue the legacy of promoting a church that empowers and embraces Vatican II wisdom. The ability to broaden the reach and touch lives is a tremendous gift to Santa Clara University and the greater Church.