Edited by CMM Evelyn Fugazzi, SCN
Let me introduce you to me. (I’m still getting acquainted with “me” also.)
I am a “Buckeye”–although I don’t brag about that since the national elections in November of 2004.
I was a child of immigrants in the coal region of Ohio. The Felician Sisters’ Sunday catechism classes supplemented the religious values absorbed at home. When Mom’s brother went to the seminary, I began writing to him when I was age 11. Meeting jovial Father Robert Brown, pastor at Maynard, gave a good impression of a happy servant of God.
The fact that Mom’s cousin (Sister Rose Clare) was a Sister–in far-away Kentucky–fascinated me. Occasionally, I went to Mass at Maynard with Grandma, Aunt Alice, Uncle Louie, and seeing the Sisters in those black bonnets made me wonder how could they wear those things?! But I noticed how special the choir’s voices were–“high, light, and ringing”—the qualities I’d hear about later in Ward classes.
Let me insert here the fact that I had a younger sister, Regina, and little brother that I (at age eight!) didn’t know was “on the way.” Our Grandmother Satory, influential in my life until her death during my Junior year in high school, taught me songs before I started school. Our family enjoyed music.
After ordination, my uncle was made pastor at his home parish (Maynard). Sisters Margaret Irene, William Maria (Clara Willett), and Mary Clarence taught there. He said to me, “The Sisters want to talk to you.” Next thing I knew, arrangements were made for me to visit Nazareth with them when they made the July retreat. So! September, 1952, I became a postulant helped by those three angels. And here I am in 2005 writing these memoirs as I prepare to celebrate my Golden Jubilee as a Sister of Charity of Nazareth!
My ministries included teaching, community service, medical libraries, archives, “ministry to myself” in a sabbatical in St. Louis that included learning to “loosen up” — S. Camille’s exhortation. Teaching little ones was my favorite ministry. It filled me with joy that my second-grade children were able to learn to sing the round – “White Choral Bells upon a slender stalk…” They were darling. Current “Bright lights” for Irene are her great-nieces and nephews!
It took “forever” to work for a degree while going to college part-time and teaching in elementary school. Anxiety about getting “qualified” haunted me for years. Maria Montessori, however, was my inspiration. Now, learning that being is as important as doing, and availability to self is necessary for availability to others, I am delighting in the life-giving joy of nurturing relationships. Thank God, many helps here–including computers—facilitate this. Editor’s Note: Irene is a sub-committee member of the Celebrating Mission and Ministry Endeavor.