By Father John Donovan/ SUN contributing writer
“Begin!” “Ammonium four..NH; Barium two.. Ba +2; Copper three…Cu +3…”
Anyone who took chemistry at 70 Seminary Avenue in Binghamton in the seventies would recognize this opening. Althought the sister referred to here is not one of the Jubilarians celebrated in this issue, (although she will celebrate her sixtieth anniversary will be in a few years), this mantra may invoke a bit of fear in some, but also a sense of accomplishment in many. We often do not know how good of a techer we have had until we hit the next level of learning and understand how prepared we truly were by the commitment and persistence of committed educators.
For several generations of Catholics in the United States our experience and perception of Women Religious have been their roles in education and health care, the traditional roles for women in the workforce prior to the cultrual changes of the last forty years and the Second Vatican Council. To percieve women Religious in soley these roles though is erroneous. John J. Fialka in his book entitled: Sisters: Catholic Nuns and the making of America, writes about the etreme measures, gumption and determination that generations fof sisters mustered to establish hospitals and schools and a variety of other ministries, which in turn were the foudnation of mant cities. Still today the most educatioed group of women in the United States are Religious Women. Unfortunately though, when these strengths are highlighted, the fact that they responded in faith and are people of prayer is often questioned. so foten we equate godlieness with wardrobe or even docility. To contradict that image, just refer to Blessed Theresa of Calcutta, whose piety we do not question, but also took on world leaders and demonstreated great strength through her service and conviction.
in these columns I have made it my policy ont to mention people by name, knowing I will forget someone, or misspell, or some other faux pas, and thus I will continue that here. However, to all the Sister Mary’s (safe enough) Jeans’ Eileens’, Maureens’, Anns’, Catherines’, Maris’, just to name a few; you taght me and so many others not just the basics of my academics, but lessons such as compassion, empathy, service, sincerity, and most importantly, love of God and neighbor. for so many of us you reinforced what was taught in our homes and for so many others, you were the main teachers, through your example and leadership in our Church. You serve a plethora of ministries today, but through your service you are teaching still. It is a radical form of life, to put others first. Thank you!
Rev. John P. Donovan