By Michael Gresham
The Texas Catholic
For years now, Marian Davis has been the face of Holy Trinity Catholic School.
That face changes next fall.
Davis, who has served as principal of the school since 2017, announced this spring she would be retiring in June, wrapping up a 40-year career in education, to focus on family. Kaitlyn Aguilar, who has been principal at St. Mary of Carmel Catholic School in West Dallas, steps in as Holy Trinity’s new principal when the doors open next fall.
Davis said becoming a Catholic school educator was a “natural fit” for her.
“It’s just who I am. I’m Catholic. I went to Catholic schools,” said Davis, who grew up in Cottleville, Missouri, where she attended St. Joseph Catholic School. “The first year I taught I did so at St. Joseph.”
Davis earned a Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Missouri and a Master of Arts in Catholic School Leadership from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio.
Prior to coming to Holy Trinity Catholic School, Davis served as principal at St. Augustine Catholic School from 2011-2015 before being named the inaugural president of St. Philip & St.
Augustine Catholic Academy. She also had served as an assistant principal at All Saints Catholic School in Dallas and as an assistant principal at an Episcopal school in San Antonio.
Her desire to be a part of Catholic education is fueled by the joy she finds in her own faith.
“It is seeing God’s hand during difficult times,” said Davis, recalling how she witnessed firsthand God’s impact while stepping in as the principal at St. Augustine Catholic School, which at the time was struggling with enrollment and finances. Overwhelmed and concerned, a phone call proved to be an answered prayer. “It was Ed Schaffler with The Catholic Foundation, and he said, ‘Marian, I have the money you need for textbooks.’ This wave of grace just came over me, and I realized that I’m not doing this alone. It was tough there, but things got better every year.”
Four years later, Davis became president of St. Philip & St. Augustine Catholic Academy, when the two Catholic schools merged.
“Again, it was tough, but my goal was to get the kids from St. Augustine to go to St. Philip & St. Augustine,” she said. “And we did. We opened SPSA with a bigger enrollment than the two schools combined had the year before.”
At Holy Trinity, Davis said she found a home that captured her heart.
“It’s the community,” she said. “There’s a spirit here that just draws people back. Good things just happen.”
Davis lauded the parish community support the school receives as well.
“When I give tours, one of the things that I can say is that we have everything we need to give these kids the education they deserve,” she explained.
Father Milton Ryan, C.M, pastor of Holy Trinity Catholic Church, praised Davis as an exemplary leader.
“She has the professional ability to bring out the best in our students, teachers, and staff. She has also brought out the best in me,” Father Ryan said. “Our families have benefited greatly from her pastoral approach to leadership. Marian is without a doubt the most effective, brilliant principal with whom I have served. She has transformed our school and served our parish well.”
Davis has overseen the implementation of numerous programs and infrastructure improvements at the Oak Lawn campus in her tenure as principal, including new playgrounds, lockers, bathroom facilities, a kiln in the art room, and creation of a STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) lab. She is most proud of her efforts to increase teacher salaries and tuition assistance for students.
“I have always had good teachers here at Holy Trinity, but now the morale around here is phenomenal,” explained Davis, who said an alumni donor’s annual gift has allowed her to keep competitive with local public school salary schedules. “Our teachers who have devoted their lives to Catholic education are being rewarded.”
Davis credits the ability to assist students in need with tuition benefits greatly from that parish-school relationship. Forty percent of families at Holy Trinity receive tuition assistance, which has led to a shortfall in assistance funds. Davis said Father Ryan stepped up to help, making an ask for donations once a month during Mass.
“People are donating because of him. He has gotten me everything I ask for,” she said. “He believes that Catholic education is the most important evangelization that the church does.”
In retirement, Davis plans a move to Houston to be closer to her adult children, Kevin and Emily. She leaves behind a school community that she said she will always treasure in her heart.
“I’m grateful that I was able to be here,” Davis said. “The is a great place to be able to close out my career.”