Letters to the Editor

Sister Alma Ahead of Her Time

Dear Editor: I would like to honor the late Sister Mary Alma Frary, R.S.M., (1925-92), who served in the Diocese of Brooklyn as teacher in both parish schools and Catherine McAuley H.S., East Flatbush, as principal, Secretary General of the Sisters of Mercy and administrator of the Convent of Mercy, Brooklyn.

In particular, Sister Mary Alma served as my first-grade teacher at St. Patrick’s School, Kent Avenue, Clinton Hill, and I credit her excellence in pedagogy and ministry for laying the foundations of my future intellectual, moral and spiritual development.

Although she hailed from a humble education at St. Brigid’s parish school and All Saints Commercial H.S., she had a superior talent in nurturing her students toward order and perfection in academic pursuits.  Before the psychologist Albert Bandura expounded his social cognitive theory of self-regulation in which students’ educational behaviors and scholastic achievements are influenced by the students’ self-confidence, self-efficacy and outcome expectancies (Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes), Sister Alma facilitated independent directionality of her students’ educational development and conditioned strong study  habits, which have endured for a lifetime. We learned the Baltimore Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the major prayers, which I recite from memory to this very day.

My early education at St. Patrick’s School, during the pre-Vatican II era, was the most significant period in my life. A Sister of Mercy was a symbolic mother as Mary, the Mother of God. When we looked upon our Sister-teacher,  we felt the words of Jesus, “Behold, your mother”– for the Sisters vowed poverty, celibacy and obedience as our Mother Mary. Religious teachers were respected as both teachers and holy persons consecrated to God. We were taught fear of God, parents, teachers and the civil law.

Oremus (Let us pray), fervently, through the intercession of Venerable Catherine McAuley, for a renaissance of ecclesiastical Latin (our Catholic language) in the Mass, and for vocations of religious sisters, brothers and priests in the midst of the agnostic character of American secular society.

Let us sing in our hearts and homes, “O Mary, we crown thee with blossoms today. Queen of the Angels . . .”

This is the poignant legacy of Sister Mary Alma in my life. Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis. Amen.


2 thoughts on “Sister Alma Ahead of Her Time

  1. May we remember all the Sisters of Mercy who taught us at St. Patrick’s, Kent Avenue, who instilled in us our life-long faith and love of God. May they be blessed for their wonderful ministry. To this day, I attend the May Crowning at my parish and teary-eyed sing “O Mary We Crown Thee…”

    Maria Castigliione Trapasso, Class of 1966