It’s not every day Trocaire gets to be the setting of a love story–much less one that stretches back half a century. But for Adjunct Professor George Chernowski, now in his 46th year of teaching at Trocaire, and Mary Ann Chernowski, director emeritus of Lifelong Learning at the college, Trocaire has been a major part of their lives for many decades. They’ll celebrate 50 wonderful years of marriage on Thanksgiving Day 2017.
George said his and Mary Ann’s story actually goes back to their childhood, when they were both students at the former St. Bonaventure’s School in West Seneca. Part of the religious experience was the annual May crowning of the Blessed Virgin.
“When I was in second grade and Mary Ann was in first grade, we were the two students from the 500-student school to crown the Blessed Virgin,” he said.
They met officially during their high school years.
“I admired this beautiful young lady from afar at Sunday mass at St. John Vianney, but on July 1, 1962, mutual friends arranged for us to meet at the church carnival, where I had my first date with the one and only woman I have ever gone out with,” George continued. “We were ‘steadies’ from that day forward.”
The pair went to each other’s high school and college formals and other activities together. Mary Ann was a junior at Mercyhurst College when George proposed at Presque Isle State Park in Erie, Pennsylvania in October 1966.
On Thanksgiving Day the next year–Nov. 23, 1967– George and Mary Ann were married at St. John Vianney Church in Orchard Park. They went on to have three children. And all the while, Trocaire College played a central role in the couple’s life together.
In addition to his teaching career at Trocaire, George is also the former director of Liberal Arts and Insurance Studies. Mary Ann first taught nutrition at the college in the early 1980s, then she was named co-director of the Evening and Weekend Division, originating a highly successful weekend format for the school.
When the Registrar’s Office absorbed evenings and weekends, Many Ann founded and built a very popular and successful Lifelong Learning Division. She served as director until retiring in 2012, whereupon she was named Director Emeritus.
Trocaire’s influence didn’t stop with George and Mary Ann– all three kids also had experiences here.
John, their oldest, now a research chemist at Laurence Berkeley Labs in Berkeley, California, took English Composition at Trocaire the summer before he started at Bucknell University.
Middle child Kristin taught at Trocaire for Lifelong Learning’s Kids on Campus program for four summers during the early 2000s. She is a technology teacher and librarian in the Iroquois School District.
And Joe, the youngest, is a faculty member at Trocaire in the theology and religious studies department. He and his wife Kelly have six amazing children, ages 15-3.
Mary Ann and George live in Orchard Park in the home they custom built in 1969, but which Mary Ann has continually remodeled.
“My son John refers to it as ‘the oldest new house in the world,” George said.
Congratulations to George and Mary Ann–we are so happy you are members of the Trocaire family! Happy anniversary!