By Sr. Judith Gomila, MSC
Sunday, June 20, 2014: “Not a creature is stirring…” it is almost midnight and I am wide awake. Tonight was my elementary school reunion from St. Mary of the Angels. The total gathering of men and women (some were spouses) was between 75-100 happy-hearted, boisterous, 9th Warders. They came from Texas, Mississippi, and Virginia, Metairie and Chalmette and homes in between. Seems I am the only one close to our old stomping, no-no, jitterbugging grounds!
As years go by I think we begin to realize there are folks we are connected to not necessarily by the bloodline of family but by the blood of Jesus. A precious family spirit permeated Smilie’s in Harahan even though some folks had not seen each other in 50 plus years.
Nostalic discussion starters went something like this:
“Remember we sang the Requiem Mass every morning with out the benefit of a song book. I sometimes miss the old Latin now.”
“Sr. Celestine is legendary. She made sure we knew how to diagram, analyze and parse a sentence. I still do it automatically when composing at the computer.”
“Do you know if SMA still has the novena to St. Anthony? He is still my ‘go to’ saint for lost items.”
“Who could ever forget the colorful Christmas Pageants, May Festival dances, and Carnival Ball Courts that helped raise the money to build the new brick church?”
“Don’t forget skating in the gym on Friday and Saturday nights – then hanging around after to convert the gym into a worship setting for Sunday Mass, sitting on folding chairs.”
“You know it wasn’t until I was in high school that I realized those men in black with the white collars were priests. My image of a priest was dictated by our pastoral, Franciscan Fathers in their brown robes.”
“I heard our principal, Sr. Madeleine, is 102 years old. I still get the urge to march in line, two by two – like we did after the second bell – when I hear Souza’s Stars and Stripes Forever.”
Glad grads from a number of years in the 1950’s were somber in their memorials for classmates who had passed away. Some whispered in tight little corners sharing accounts of divorce trauma, the ravages of cancer, the blessings of AA, financial woes and agonizing depression following Katrina.
Laughter also abounded! Phone cameras flashed. Swollen with pride in their off-springs’ accomplishments, Facebook linked those at the table to pictures of great grand kids at a baptism or dance review, vacations of a lifetime, tales of interesting retirement hobbies, and those who said, “Why retire? I still love what I do and am grateful to Gawd (Our old lingo came right back to us…IF we had ever lost it!) I have the health to do it.”
This was an evening to be brave and afraid, broken and beautiful, and successful and sad. Many of us had been together from K-8 (no pre-K in the olden days), our very lives and values molded and shaped by our Marianite teachers, lay educators and parish priests. Tonight we knew we were cherished for who we are now and for what we had shared many years ago.
What an encouraging evening…too much to transcribe here. But it is clear to me that wherever we SMA graduates are, we’re still together in the ways that matter most. And the God who connected us is with us too. Faith! Dat’s what I’m talkin’ about!
Sr. Judith Gomila, MSC is a Marianite Sister of Holy Cross. She holds a Masters in Theology and Religious Studies from St. Paul University, Ottawa, Canada. Sr. Judy has served the Church in education/evangelization/mission outreach for 50 years. Currently she coordinates the Public Relations and Communication ministry for the Marianite Congregation and is co-director of the Marianite Associates, an organization for lay women and men who identify with Holy Cross spirituality. For more about this blogger, click here.