Wednesday, November 23, 2011


I parked in a different lot than I usually do.  I looked at her parking spot and smiled.  She always makes me smile. I came into work, trying to figure out how to get the Maytag man out to my house - AGAIN! - and as soon as I read my second email, it was all forgotten.  We have lost a cornerstone of our school, the rest seems like it means nothing.

In a tragic accident, we lost Sister Virginia.  Sr. Virginia has been with the school since near on the beginning.  She retired from teaching in 2007 and still came in on a daily basis to run the school's writing resource center.  The stories she would tell would make your head spin and your heart full.  Sr. Virginia would often be the one to pull me aside after one of my ranting emails to staff, reminding them of this policy or that, which was being left to the side at that point, and tell me to give them heck.  Remind them of what we should be doing.  And in some points, seeing as I am the head of an all male department, remind me to remind them whose "boss".  She always made you smile.

Somehow, I was missed on the phone chain. I did not receive the tragic news the night before.  Instead, I got it through an email in morning, as I sat at my desk, trying to keep the three stooges quiet.  It took the wind out of my chest.  It was an accident, caused by the dark of night.  And, probably most tragically, the driver was a parent of several of our kids, two of which were in the car.  Their family needs to receive the prayers for healing.  I can't imagine the guilt and pain that they are going through.  Sister's position is assured, I have no concerns for her.  She will be missed, everyday, but my thought was that if Lord needed her, this was the only way he was going to get her.  Sr. Virginia would never leave willingly.

Photo by Matthew Olson of Kenosha News
We had mass in the morning, four priests (which is amazing if you have ever tried to get one on short notice and we had FOUR!) celebrated her life.  The amount of support she received from the community and alumni was amazing.  One of our engineers who was still at school when the accident happened, made a beautiful cross to serve as a memorial.  He was in shock and visibly shaken, even this morning.  I was grateful to see him during mass, when he is usually not with us. We got permission from the homeowners, took a large group of kids down and had another moment to remember her kindness, generosity, compassion and to ask that we might be able to take just a fraction of what she gave to the world and make that our goal.  I was asked to lead prayer, which I am not very good at.  My prayers in class are well-written and well rehearsed.  On-demand public prayer makes my stomach turn. But, I got through it and few of my kids said they got goosebumps, so I didn't fall on my face and embarrass Sister.

Please say a prayer for our larger family.  Sister impacted five generations, as a teacher, as the Mother Superior when we still had nuns, as a friend and her loss will be noticed by all.  I am grateful that I was able to have a chat with her the day before, she was an inspiration. I was blessed to have worked with her.
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