Up Front and Personal

A Kearney Girl, Now and Forever

Nineteen autumns ago, I walked through the doors of Bishop Kearney H.S. for the first time and I knew I was home. A few weekends ago, I returned to my alma mater, a place of spiritual, emotional and intellectual nourishment for me, to celebrate its 50th anniversary of providing an exceptional education to women who shape our world.

As an eighth grader trying to figure out where I would spend the next four years of my life, I had narrowed my list down to two all-girls Catholic high schools.  The first had a good reputation and fit my visual ideal of a high school, and the second was small and close-knit. Neither one was Bishop Kearney, which I had already dismissed as being too big, too challenging and too intimidating for me.

But when my best friend asked me to go with her to Kearney’s Open House, I couldn’t say no.

As we stepped through the main doors, somewhat nervous and anxious, students greeted us with broad smiles and lively chatter.  We saw several girls who had graduated from our elementary school. They looked poised and mature in their uniforms.  They exuded confidence as they gave us a tour of the building, never getting lost in what seemed like a maze of doorways, staircases and classrooms. They introduced us to teachers, who engaged us in conversation, asked about our interests and discussed what subjects the school offered. My eyes darted from one amazing project to another in the art room, and I used microscopes in the science lab to examine cells under slides. I didn’t even like science but everything in me wanted to learn more.

We received the warmest greetings from the Sisters of St. Joseph, who not only administered the school, but also served as teachers and guidance counselors. They filled the Catholic Center with love and joy. I couldn’t imagine being elsewhere – even when my best friend decided to go to another school. I was already a Kearney girl.
And when I recently returned to Bishop Kearney, I felt an overwhelming sense of being home again. Certain things have changed. I still can’t get used to the bubblegum pink walls in the general office; my heart breaks knowing that the five-year Latin program is no longer offered; and some of my teachers have moved on or retired. But what remains the same, what impressed me most on that afternoon in October, 1992, is what continues to impress me most today – the heart of Bishop Kearney H.S., its students.

Chatting with some of the young women, who served on the altar, handed out programs, ushered guests to seats, carried banners and provided refreshments at the anniversary Mass and reception, I couldn’t help but smile with pride at my fellow Kearney sisters as they spoke with enthusiasm, poise and confidence about their classes, activities and ambitions for the future. They radiated the joy that comes from the Kearney experience, a joy known well among the school’s 13,000 alumnae, myself proudly included.

“Faithful all your children sing, O Kearney, hail to thee.”

Marie Elena Giossi has been a member of The Tablet’s staff for nine years.