Showing posts with label The Wonderful World of Teaching Sisters. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Wonderful World of Teaching Sisters. Show all posts

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Trinity Sunday

When I was a wee kindergartener (over forty years ago!) our family belonged to Holy Trinity parish in Norfolk, Virginia.  It was an old established parish, one of the oldest in the city.  A walk to the beach and a short drive to the Navy base where my Dad was stationed, the air smelled of the sea and flower gardens and history. Stone walls and high hedges cloistered an old convent on the block-long grounds, a magnificent magnolia tree shaded the two-story K-8 school building -- and looking down on everything and everyone carved in bas relief high upon the facade of the church was an enormous crucified Christ.

 In my kindergartener's perspective the stone-carved crucifix was as-big-as-God-must-really-be. It hung over the main doors of the church, dominating the architecture of the entire block.  From my classroom on the first floor across the street, I had to crane my neck clear heavenward to see up into His face.  He looked down and I looked up, and, though the eyes on the crucifix were hard stone, the reality of Him somewhere-up-there was as real as the guardian angel sitting on my shoulder.  And the real  Face I saw was kind and gentle and soft to touch.

 Later on, when I was an eighth grader looking out the second-story windows, Christ's arms were eye-level, outstretched, and welcoming. I couldn't quite catch His eye any more because He looked downward.  But I knew He was thinking of me; He often startled me into remembering Him when my mind and eyes wandered out the window during class time.   Caught again!  I could imagine in my mind's eye the twinkle in His eye as he nudged my attention back to my work with a tilt of His head. And I'd glance over at the flowers on the magnolia tree peeking into the side windows, take a drought of the heady fragrance coming in the open windows and tell Him, "Alright, alright..."  and turn back to square roots -- knowing He was still watching -- and I really had no choice. 

No getting around it.  There was the Son, together with the Father, the Holy Ghost -- the Holy Trinity, the patrons of our school --  all around us like the scent of the magnolias, like the big old tree itself, planted and taking root under us and in us, shading us, looking over us like the giant crucified Christ. It didn't matter where I was, I couldn't hide from Him.   The Holy Trinity, the real Being of God, present in my little baby soul at Baptism, had taken a deep breath and filled my lungs within the walls of my kindergarten classroom at Holy Trinity school.  A half century of dear teaching Sisters fanned the very air with that breath of God, and it swirled through the hallways and out the doors to the rose gardens behind the convent walls, curling through the walls of the convent and the rectory, out even to the seesaws on the playground and back to its beginning, under the giant crucifix, through the doors of the church, and into the door of the tabernacle...

  Where I still find Him today, under the much smaller crucifix at our little parish church.  Like the magnolia, the Blessed Trinity waits there, as always, to fill the corners of my soul and my life and all I have to do is take a deep breath and fill my lungs.


MOST Holy and Adorable Trinity, One God in Three Persons, I praise Thee
and give Thee thanks for all the favors Thou has bestowed upon me. Thy
goodness has preserved me until now, I offer Thee my whole being and
in particular, all my thoughts, words, and deeds, together with all the trials I may
undergo this day. Give them Thy blessing. May Thy divine Love animate them
and may they serve Thy greater glory.

I make this morning offering in union with the Divine intentions of Jesus Christ
Who offers himself daily in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and in union with
Mary, His Virgin Mother and our Mother, who was always the faithful handmaid
of the Lord.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. Amen.

A Blessed Feast of the Holy Trinity to Everyone!

*Repost from 2011

Friday, August 29, 2008

To celebrate the opening season of School Year '08-'09, Laura over at Catholic Teacher Musings has invited us to share our remembrances of our favorite teachers today. This is such a wonderful idea! What a pleasure to reminisce about all the teachers I've known, but, boy, it's hard to narrow down the list. I've had so many favorite teachers, some my own, some who have been my children's...

Can you bear with me while I go through the short list?

First ~ through the mists of time, way back to 1974...

Our family was stationed in Charleston, SC and we had to ride the bus 45 minutes to get from the NWS base to Divine Redeemer School. I was in fifth grade, so I got to be in Mrs. Charlotte Whamond's class. Everyone wanted to be in the fifth grade at DRS ~ partly because that classroom was housed all by itself on top of the hill in the old convent in the trees ~ but mostly, it was because everyone wanted to be in Mrs. Whamond's class.

Mrs. Whamond was famous. She was young and pretty, with big brown eyes and short, dark, curly hair and she always dressed 1970s hip, but modest. We ten year old girls appreciated and learned from that! Most days, instead of playing, our class sat on the steps of the convent during recess to laugh and talk with Mrs. W ~ and pull her grey hairs out for her. Imagine! I can't help but smile at that picture of us. But she would joke with us and tease us and teach us as much by sitting on those porch steps as she did in the classroom.

Mrs. Whamond made everything fun. If she could teach using a game, she'd find a way. We had quizzes and plays, experiments and competitions. She gave us afternoons off and called them "nature study," sometimes just because the weather was nice, sometimes because it was really nature study. But we learned. How we learned! And how we loved her! We made sure we knew all the facts she wanted us to learn, just to please her.

You see, we understood that she loved us. We weren't just students to her. She treated us like people, confided in us when she had troubles, apologized to us when she made a mistake, and made a point to know each of us personally. I'm sure that every one of us who had the fortune to be in Mrs. Whamond's class remembers her today. I hope she knows how much she meant to us. If anyone knows where Charlotte Whamond is today, please tell her!

Now, hang on tight for just another minute, please. I have to zoom forward at light speed through the classrooms of the teaching Sisters I've had the blessing to know. I wrote about them at length a few months ago, but didn't mention any by name, and I feel like I should, so here they are:

+ Sr. Agnese, my first grade teacher at Divine Redeemer ~ who praised me for my smooth reading (Isn't it funny how you remember those things? That was more than 35 years ago!). Sister had the softest grey eyes and sweet smile, and floated around the room, liting over our desks like a dark blue angel... She was my first experience with a nun, and it was a very good start!

+ The library Sister at Holy Trinity, whose name I am ashamed to say I have forgotten because she always remembered my name, and my taste in books. She directed me to Frances Parkinson Keyes when I was in the fourth grade.

+ Sr. Alice at Our Lady of Victory when I was in 10 grade, who taught Catechism through real life stories, made the world's best banana pancakes and who trusted me to glaze the raised doughnuts.

+ Sr. Rita Lawrence at Our Lady of Victory, the smartest, most talented, most interesting woman I think I've ever met; the teacher who taught me how to teach. (God bless her soul; we recently learned that she has passed away.)

+ Sr. Kazamiera, who taught our children at Holy Guardian Angels, whose enthusiasm for teaching, for the Faith and for life in general is wonderfully contagious ~ Sister has a joke for every occasion, and a good bit of wisdom, too. Her influence on our children will be lifelong, and I hope our friendship is lifelong, too.

+ Sr. Alice Marie, our dear friend from Holy Guardian Angels, the true friend of the Little Flower, who taught us all more with her little jokes, her smiling eyes and her simple sweetness than she will ever know.

+ Sr. Mary Agnes, another dear teacher (the former principal) from Holy Guardian Angels, who has touched our lives forever, imprinting on us through her example a tender love for Our Lord ~ and a special appreciation and affection for herself.

Looking back I can see that the key ingredient shared by all these wonderful teachers was love for their students ~ and love for their mission in teaching. Being blessed to have grown up in Catholic schools, I also know that this love was rooted in love for God. None of these teachers showed up to school just to collect a paycheck. I hope that they know how much their hard work and dedication through the years has paid off in souls. God bless every one of them! Our prayers today are for all of our teachers.

Correction: My sister pointed out that I made a mistake up there! Thanks, Nina! She's right; I didn't have Sr. Agnese in Divine Redeemer. We went to St. Pius X between my 1st and 3rd grade years. Oops. Nobody but one of my sibs would know, but I have to set the record straight. There ya go, sis! &;o)

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Wonderful World of Teaching Sisters

I grew up a product of Catholic schools and have many happy memories of all the Sisters I've been blessed to know. When I was a teenager, I would have told you that I considered one of them to be my closest friend. No, not because I didn't get out much, but because she was a delightful fascinating woman, who was just fun to be around. I consider this Sister to have been one of the most influential people in my life.

My children had the opportunity to get to know teaching sisters for the two and a half years we lived on the Western Slope of Colorado, and even in that short a time, their lives were changed forever. I can teach the children Catechism; I can try to make the Church year come alive for them the best I can. But, the Sisters are a direct contact with Heaven. They are the Brides of Christ. One Sister we know and love joyfully and openly refers to Christ as her Husband. Oh, how I love that! I am so grateful my children got to reach for the Hand of God through them.

I'm so grateful for their touch on my life!

It's sad to me that the uninitiated world has such a backward impression of the Sisters. They're expected to be stern and serious ~ and, well, sometimes they are, when it's appropriate. Indeed, their vocations hold them in a higher position than most of us, and their responsibilities may be farther reaching, but they're essentially people just like us. When they don the habit, they don't remove their personalities.
And, in my experience, they're a joyful, happy, God loving, fun loving group!

I remember a tough teaching Sister who surprised her class on a very snowy day many moons ago by improvising sleds to go down the hill at our school. She used several gigantic silver "doughnut trays" (oversized cookie sheets, really) that she swiped from the kitchen! And did they all fly down that hill! Sister and the children! It seems I even remember her using wax paper to slick up the bottoms of the trays. Those Sisters are full of tricks!

One Sister we know teased about having shortwave radio in her veil. The pins were really antenna. But, she finally did admit it was shortwave to the Almighty. (We still think she could read minds, though...)

We've played baseball, tennis, volleyball, and ultimate frisbee with Sisters. They ice skate, they ski, they ride horses, they websurf (very prudently!)... Sisters can do anything. So long as it's pleasing to God.

And, they sing! Here's where you can order some CDs from the Singing Nuns, our favorite singing group outside of our own children's choirs.

And, Oh, you've got to take a look at this wonderful video we happened to chance upon! Click here and scroll down to the photo of the blue sisters skiing. We know two of these sisters personally! We were all just grinning from ear to ear to see them singing and skiing (a few years back) on our Colorado slopes! How blessed we are to have them in our lives! (SisterK and Sister B., if you are reading this, howcome you never told us you were television stars?)

It's always so nice to see the Religious getting good press. On that note, we recently stumbled across a book at the library we would like to recommend. It's called Snow Day, by Moira Fain. It's a children's book about a tough teaching Sister who surprises the children in her class by meeting them on a Snow Day for a sledding race.
Was this ever a book after our own hearts! The main character is from a family with six children and the Sisters are shown as positive role models with fun loving spirits. It got me to reminiscing about the Sister from my childhood sledding on the cookie trays. And it left us all missing our own dear Sisters over the mountains!
(Weather permitting, Sisters, I'm coming up for a visit this coming weekend!)