Today I am thinking about how grateful I am for:
Sister James Cecilia, SND, my first grade teacher, who somehow cradled and taught and admonished and loved 53 of us scared little Catholic kids in 1964.
Sister Della William, SND, my second and third grade teacher, who encouraged me to take my first piano lessons. She also taught me that visiting the elderly in nursing homes was the right thing to to: "Boys and girls, what we did today at the Francis Street Nursing Home is what Catholics do."
Sister Julie Maria, SND, my very first piano teacher (75 cents per one-hour lesson), who helped me fall in love with music and showed faith in a growing piano student.
Sister Leo Marie, SND (now Sister Rita Raboin, SND, working for decades now helping the poor in Brazil), my fifth grade teacher, who taught me a prayer that I still pray every day: "Be pleased, O God, to deliver them; look down, O God, to help them. Turn back the evil men and make them ashamed for hurting your people. Your people are poor and cry to you. O God, protect them. Amen."
Sister Helen Donald, SND, who, in sixth grade, chided the rest of the class for bullying a certain boy in her class.
Sister Mary Rose of the Sacred Heart, SND, who, as my seventh grade teacher, let us take breaks from our studies as she took the time to read contemporary novels to us.
Sister Ellen Julie Flanagan, SND, who tried her best to show us how drugs could ruin our young lives by starting the "Smart Teen" program in our school.
Sister Marie Behan, with whom I traveled the challenging journey of CPE at Mercy Hospital in Springfield, Massachusetts; she taught me that I could believe in myself even in the darkest days; Marie died a few years ago and I wept and wept at the loss.
Sister Mary Ellen Plummer, OP, who walked into the first immersion pool built in a Catholic Church in the Diocese of Orlando as the two of us showed people what baptism could really look like.
Sister Alice Michael of the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York, for an unparalled dedication to teaching young and old alike the potential and beauty of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.
Sister Donna Steffen, who taught me so much about what spiritual discernment is.
Sister George Francis Riseling, SNJM, who simply loved her students at so many schools where she was principal.
Sister Elaine Kecer, OP, who, when asked why she had joined the parish liturgy committee, always said "The liturgy is my life."
Sister Mary Fran Fleischacker, OP, who walked with me through my doctoral program and continues to inspire so many through her love of music and liturgy.
Sister Rosa Monique Pena, OP, whose Cuban smile can light up a room and whose expertise in catechesis has formed thousands upon thousand of catechists who teach with vigor and conviction the truths of the Catholic faith.
Sister Ann, my colleague at Saint Mary Magdalen in Altamonte Springs, Florida, who lived with cancer and showed us what courage meant in her last days.
Sister Carleen Maly, OP, who taught me how important clear communication and the setting of achievable goals and objectives can help a parish (and a publishing company!) grow.
Sister Joyce Rohlik, who loved the elderly more than anyone else I have known.
Sister Nancy Swift, my liturgy professor at the seminary, who taught me to love what is at the heart of my Catholic faith.
Sister Joan Thomas, OP, whose friendship has meant so much to me and to so many and whose smile and gentle manner can transform even the hardest of hearts or the toughest of days.
Sister Mary Jean Ryan, former CEO of SSM Healthcare in Saint Louis, whose leadership has inspired me beyond measure; she taught me more about servant leadership than anyone or any book ever could; she embodies it.
Sister Barb Rastatter, PBVM, the pastoral associate at my parish of Saint James, who lights up my life every single time I see her; she not only ministers to the forgotten and cast away; she becomes their friends. And then has to mourn their loss and does it so deeply and so genuinely.
Some living, some gone beyond the grave. Some are still religious sisters, some are not.
Just so grateful to them.
Please take the time to comment yourself; to enter the names of those women religious who come to your mind immediately and name a way that they influenced your life.
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.