Reader's Retrospective: Margaret Fogarty and Joan Nugent

This story appears in the Reader's Retrospective feature series. View the full series.

by Julie Gunter

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Editor's note: Introducing NCRonline's blog series "Reader's Retrospective": A special project that commemorates NCR's 50th anniversary by telling the stories of readers who have been faithfully subscribing to the National Catholic Reporter since its beginning. ​Read about the project's origins here.​​​

College roommates and fellow English majors Joan Nugent and Margaret Fogarty graduated from St. Catherine University (formerly the College of St. Catherine) in St. Paul, Minn., in 1947 but chose different life paths: Margaret entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet in 1949 while Joan married Morris "Mo" Nugent and had seven children. Now, almost 70 years later, they once again share a home, but this time at a retirement residence in Alexandria, Va.

Though Fogarty no longer reads due to failing eyesight, she once subscribed to the Catholic Reporter -- the precursor of NCR, Nugent recalled.

Nugent also had her own connection to NCR: Her husband was good friends with Michael Green, NCR's first publisher. The Nugent family, who owned a small publishing company, volunteered to manage the initial countrywide mailing to publicize NCR's launch; Nugent's five oldest children helped "stuff envelopes with two-page mailings, announcing the arrival of the paper."

During that time, Fogarty worked as a high school teacher at various schools in the Midwest. Becoming increasingly engaged in social and political issues, she led students in demonstrations in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere to advocate for peace and civil rights.

In 1969, she decided to leave religious life. She later married a friend of Joan's husband, Michael Kane, and, over the next two decades, traveled with him to many countries across the globe. Fogarty's and Nugent's families have spent holidays together for many years.

As Fogarty began to lose her sight, she decided to give away her prized books, encouraging friends to visit her library "to see if there's anything [they'd] like." Fogarty can still remember the words of every song she's ever sung, as well as recite "reams of poetry," according to Nugent.

Both Fogarty and Nugent find it remarkable that, in Nugent's words, "after all the twists and turns, we end up in the same place again, just two minutes away by elevator."

A version of this story appeared in the March 27-April 9, 2015 print issue under the headline: NCR a reader's retrospective: Margaret Fogarty and Joan Nugent.

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