Jodi Marlin
May 13, 2019 // Diocese

Catholic Schools Office Superintendent Marsha Jordan dies

Jodi Marlin

A 40-year veteran of Catholic schools of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Marsha Jordan, passed away Thursday, May 9 at the age of 67. Jordan had battled cancer for many years.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Friday, May 17, with calling one hour prior, at St. Vincent de Paul Church, 1502 E. Wallen Rd., Fort Wayne, with Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades and concelebrant Father Zachary Barry officiating. Calling hours will be 3 to 8 p.m. Thursday, May 16, at Divine Mercy Funeral Home, 3500 Lake Ave., Fort Wayne, with a rosary and prayer service at 4 p.m.

A lifetime parishioner of Queen of Angels Parish, Fort Wayne, Jordan attended the parish elementary school and Central Catholic High School. Following graduation in 1969, she enrolled at Indiana University, Bloomington, graduating in 1973 with a bachelor’s degree in education. That year she began her career in education, teaching biology and serving as dean of girls at Wawasee Preparatory School for two years. From 1975 to 1984 she taught seventh- and eighth-grade science at St. Vincent de Paul School, Fort Wayne, meanwhile obtaining a master’s degree in education from IU.

She transferred to nearby Bishop Dwenger High School in 1984, serving as Science Department chairman, dean of girls and a biology teacher for 10 years.

After a family leave during which she also completed a Certification in Elementary and Secondary Administration and Supervision from Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, Jordan returned in 2000 to lead Queen of Angels School, Fort Wayne, as principal. In 2010 she joined the Catholic Schools Office as assistant superintendent. She was named superintendent of Catholic schools in 2014, a capacity in which she was serving at the time of her death.

Jordan’s leadership in the Catholic Schools Office testified to her conviction that the position of superintendent can directly impact students’ academic success by “ensuring that schools are committed to improving student learning on a continual basis.” Writing in 2009, she said: “Schools must be held accountable for providing students with qualified teachers who continually strive to improve teaching practices and methods. The Superintendent must be a leader in ensuring that students are provided with a research-based curriculum that is responsive to their diverse needs. The curriculum must be linked to standards through a purposeful, coherent system that includes both a vision and an action plan. Best practices must be identified, and this, in addition to professional development, must be promoted among teachers to address areas of need. … There must be meaningful accountability to ensure that students have the skills and knowledge necessary for success.”

That said, she added: “We must never lose sight of the individual student. As Catholic schools, we must focus on our students … Each day we must reaffirm our mission, our ministry and our focus.”

Jordan was honored with several awards during the trajectory of her career. The Heritage Registry of Who’s Who included her in the 2006-07 edition, and she was a 2007-08 recipient of the diocesan Light of Learning Award. She was perhaps most touched earlier this year when her fellow principals presented her with the gift of a papal blessing from Pope Francis.

The state of Indiana recognized her contributions to the field of education shortly thereafter, bestowing on her the prestigious Sagamore of the Wabash honor April 5.

Mary Glowaski, special assistant to Bishop Rhoades, was inspired by Jordan’s dedication to students.

“Marsha was inspiring in generosity and devotion in her care for the young people and teachers of our diocese. Her faithfulness, passion, faith and love have touched and changed so many lives including mine. I along with many others will miss her profoundly,” she said.

“Our diocese has been blessed by Marsha’s faithfulness, hard work, and commitment to Catholic schools for over four decades, said Secretary of Education Carl Loesch. “From her early days teaching in Wawasee, to teaching Latin at St. Vincent’s and science at Bishop Dwenger, and to her service as an administrator at Bishop Dwenger, Queen of Angels and several schools as interim principal, Marsha loved Catholic schools.

“She held herself and others to a high standard. She delighted in seeing students develop their talents in the classroom and in the things like the Pueri Cantores choir festival. I am personally grateful for her example of dedication and faithfulness to her vocation as a teacher and administrator. May she rest in peace.” 

Her husband, Denver C. Jordan, passed away in 2013. Marsha is survived by Emily Skylar Jordan of Fort Wayne, along with sisters Dianna Shaffer of Portland, Oregon; Mary (Robert) Lung of Auburn; Carole (Robert) Elder of Fort Wayne; Jeanne (Kenneth) Reighter of Yoder; Maureen (Randy) Gonser of Auburn; Annette (Richard) Leeuw of Avilla; and Michele (Tracy) Lemmon of Columbus, Ohio; as well as 15 nieces and nephews; 21 great-nieces and -nephews; and many cousins. She was also preceded in death by parents Allan and Wilma Shaffer. 

Interment will take place at Catholic Cemetery, Fort Wayne.

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