Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Growing Up Catholic #9: Helping After School

At Saint Edward School one of the traditions was, with parental permission, to stay after school and "help Sister." My friends, Frances Donnelly, Johnabeth Kolarik, Kathleen O'Donnell, and I were avid helpers. First we would ask our own teacher if she needed help. If she had no tasks for us, we visited other classrooms to see if another teacher needed our help. The kindergarten and first grade teachers in the "minum" school always appreciated when we showed up. Our tasks were cleaning or washing chalkboards, clapping dusty erasers---outside---and not against the building, aligning the rows of desks, and occasionally correcting papers.

Helping the Sisters like this was a chance to get to know them in a less formal setting. When we finished our "work" we hung around and talked until Sister had to shoo us away. At this age we were curious about the Sisters. What did they do before and after school? What did the convent, where they lived, look like? What were their former names? In those days the Sisters did not keep their given names but changed them. How old were they? Did they have hair under their veils? How did they keep their habits so white? The Dominican Sisters wore all white garb, except for their black veils. Most of the time the Sisters didn't tell us their secrets. Perhaps we were being too nosy.

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