In honor of International Women’s Day I want to tell you about a group of women who played a major role in how I became the woman I am today: The Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity. Specifically the ones who taught at Lindsay Holy Family School in the very early 1980s.
I’m not sure they set out to encourage me to be an independent feminist women, but I like to believe many of them would have been secretly (or not so secretly happy) about it.
It was from them that I learned women can be fierce and friendly. Sister Antonita used to spend her days teaching high school students Math, in what I hear was a somewhat intense fashion, but after school she helped me make paper airplanes while I waited for my dad, who taught English across the hall, to finish his work for the day.
It was seeing Sr. Teresa, and Sr. Jane, the principals of the Elementary and High Schools, be respected and somewhat feared, that led to me to never question the idea that a woman could hold the highest position in an organization.
Because my parents both taught at the school, I had the pleasure of knowing the Sisters who were at Lindsay at the time, not only as teachers, but also as people, so I also got to see an example of women living together, without male support, using their own God given talents in service to the community.
I knew the Sisters when I was a child, so I’m sure I missed much of the nuance of what it is to be a Nun in a small community, but I will always remember them with fondness, and take their lessons, both the ones they taught with their words, and the ones they taught with action to heart.
P.S. If you also happened to attend Lindsay Holy Family in this time frame and have photos, let me know! I was full of fail when I tried to find some.