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.
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!