Dear Editor: As a lifelong parishioner of St. Matthias in Ridgewood, I was saddened by the news that the School Sisters of Notre Dame are planning to leave the parish at the end of the school year. Since 1910, the Sisters have been the driving force of the mission of our parish school. Anyone who knows of St. Matthias School knows the SSNDs and the tradition of excellence they carry with them.
Of course, as a young adolescent in the 1970s, I would have jumped for joy had I heard the Sisters were leaving. Back then, it was hard to understand why the Sisters seemed to have so many rules – rules that I personally often had a hard time abiding by. By the time I was set to graduate from St. Matthias School, I thought the SSNDs were the toughest, harshest, most ornery ladies on Earth.
As the years went on though, I came to realize the tremendous positive effect they had on me. I started to understand that their rules weren’t arbitrary. There was a point to them. The Sisters really wanted us to learn valuable life lessons, not just the subject matter they were supposed to teach. It was from those ladies that I ultimately learned how to organize my thoughts, schedule my day and most importantly, strive to live up to the real potential of my God-given talents, instead of wasting time as a screw-up. Some of those lessons took longer than others, but without the influence of the women who taught me at St. Matthias they may never have sunk in.
Since those days of my youth, most (though not all) of the ladies I recall from my school days have moved on. As of this year, five Sisters live in the convent, and I’ve had the great privilege to get to know these ladies, both as a parent of students in the school and as a coworker. It’s through these new relationships that I’ve truly come to understand their charism and what a blessing they’ve been for our parish and our school. While I will forever be indebted to those who taught me as a child, I’m equally thankful for the ladies we as a parish have to say farewell to now.
And so, to all the Sisters, past and present, thank you. You will be greatly missed.