Written on: February 4, 2014
The Grey Nuns in Atlanta enjoyed being with one another. On holidays and other special occasions, we usually gathered for a delicious meal cooked by one of the sisters. We relished sharing stories of our ministry and any news from the sisters in the North! Atlanta was miles from home for most of us so these gatherings were special events. Today, many of these sisters are at the Motherhouse and continue to enjoy friendships formed in Atlanta.
I arrived in Atlanta in July of 1976 to accept my assignment as the principal of Christ the King School. I LOVED being a principal. There were opportunities to serve parents, teachers, and students. I was energized and enthused by the prospect of working with the school community to create new educational challenges. A banner in my office displayed the message, “Every child can delight in learning.” Creating an environment where this philosophy could become a reality was easy. Parents were supportive, teachers were dedicated, and the pastor, Monsignor John McDonough, was exceptional in his belief in the value of Catholic Education.
Known for its high standards and in recognition of its outstanding educational program, in 1987 the school was named a National School of Excellence by the United States Department of Education, the first elementary school in Georgia to receive this prestigious award.
In addition to academic excellence, a spirit of joy permeated the school climate. Halloween was always a special occasion! I joined in the fun by dressing as the Great Pumpkin. A friend made the voluminous orange costume complete with cascading green vines and hula hoops for girth. The kindergarten students were intrigued by this mysterious visitor. No one would know me, or so I thought until a bright-eyed five year old said, “It’s Sister Jean. I can tell by her shoes!” Having been ‘discovered,’ the following year I arrived as a golden-winged, Halloween angel complete with magic wand.
Reflecting on my twelve years in Atlanta brings a smile to my face! I am grateful for lasting friendships, the knowledge that ideas and programs I introduced have come to fruition, and that the spirit of St. Marguerite d’Youville remains alive in the hearts of all at Christ the King School and Parish.
Sister Jean is still a strong teacher, although mainly through adult faith formation, working with local parishes and our Grey Nun Associates. She is a strong advocate for prison reform and has lobbied locally and nationally for the repeal of the death penalty.