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Mothers and Mentors: RSHM Sisters’ Mark 110 Years in B’klyn

On Saturday, Nov, 28, I attended the Mass and reception celebrating the ministry of the Sisters of the Religious Sacred Heart of Mary (RSHM). A ministry which extended for 110 years in Brooklyn and has now come to an end.

It was a bittersweet time to meet the sisters again, along with some schoolmates and family members we all grew up with at St. Catharine of Alexandria (SCA), Borough Park.

Many memories were shared from throughout the years and about the generations of schoolchildren the Sisters taught. Having the sisters as our educators was an honor we were blessed with, and one I am sorry others will not have the benefit of experiencing.

The very sad part is that they will no longer have a presence in Brooklyn and in our lives. By the end of December the Sisters living in the parish convent will be moving up to their Provincial House in Tarrytown, N.Y. This will mark the end of their long ministry in Brooklyn.

The sisters will no longer be present to be that light upon a hill to guide us as they did for so many generations of children and families that walked through the halls of SCA.

Instilled Values

Rather than write about their leaving, I prefer to comment on who they are and what they accomplished. The education we received was the best a child could have. It wasn’t just reading and writing. The sisters taught us to recognize and apply in our lives the inherent sense of right and wrong.

They instilled in us values, which to this day, I know are the foundation of how I approached issues and situations in my life. They strove to teach us to achieve a spirit of excellence, and how to apply it to all aspects of our lives as we matured.

I am sure many of their students could share whose knuckles were cracked the hardest, but looking back they pushed us hard to bring out the best in all that we do.

A spirit of excellence I remember seeing not just in our studies, but in the competitions we participated in, the school plays and in how we should present ourselves after we graduated to begin the next step in our lives.

Seeing the sisters, members of the parish and schoolmates, was followed by memories and thoughts about times we had growing up at SCA, along with moments of deep reflection that lasted the rest of the day. The sisters were more than just our teachers.

More Than Teachers

During Mass, one of the priests referred to the sisters as our mothers, our guardians and our mentors. That is so very true. There are situations that I learned of in which several sisters helped graduates later in their adult lives. Unfortunately, we don’t understand this as a child, but these values have never left us. Whether we realize it or not, they are actively working deep within to guide us.

In the Second Letter of Timothy, Chapter 2, verse 15, it states, “Be eager to present yourself as acceptable to God, a workman who causes no disgrace, imparting the word of truth without deviation.”

Set a Foundation

The sisters worked to apply this in our lives. They directed us to work hard and be the best we could be no matter what it is we did with our lives. They set a foundation of faith in God, which to this day, has kept me steady in difficult situations in my life.

There is much more others and I can share, but there is one last thing I need to say: “Thank you, Sisters.”

On behalf of all of the children you taught, mentored and cared for, I say with a loud shout, “Thank you, Thank you and Thank you.”

Your presence will be truly missed and felt by many. May God bless you all as you have blessed so many of us, your kids!

3 thoughts on “Mothers and Mentors: RSHM Sisters’ Mark 110 Years in B’klyn

  1. They were a tough but caring group of ladies.When started SCA they were semi cloistered order they wore the habits that all you saw was their nose and we called them Madam . It was quite scary. Then in 4th grade they were younger and more visible with the change of habit came us calling them Sister and they were fun and more real.All and all my 8 years with them I learned and have wonderful memories . Those were the days

  2. I was a student of the RSHM at St. Mary’s, Long Island City, Queens. The sisters were warm, caring women of faith. They taught us well. They inspired generations in their 80 or so years serving the students and families of St. Mary’s School. They were very visible in the neighborhood, walking in pairs after the dinner hour through the streets of the parish. They expected much from us and the working class parents who entrusted their boys and girls to their care were not disappointed. Thank you, Sisters! God Bless you all.

  3. I graduated St Catherine’s of Alexandria in 1964 and have very fond memories of the sisters who taught me. They were always very caring and helped so much with my religious formation as well as my academic education. Of course, I thank them for their discipline, an important element in my successful education. I pray that they enjoyed the wonderful life that they deserved.