“Over the years many Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur served as teachers, administrators and board members at East Catholic. They created a wonderful learning environment in the spirit of Saint Julie Billiart– a spirit that continues to this day,” Sister Peggy said.
Actually, this was Sister Peggy’s second mission. Her first teaching experience was at Saint Aedan’s School in New Haven, Connecticut where she served as a second grade teacher before moving to East Catholic.
She taught high school religion and Spanish before becoming a Guidance Counselor, a role she has had at East Catholic for over forty years. “ I love talking with the students and helping them sort through issues from organizing their approach to learning to coping with individual challenges,” she said.
“I didn’t know women religious in my early years. I attended public school until our parish opened an elementary school and I enrolled there as an eighth grade student. That was when I met the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. The education was excellent. The sisters had a great spirit, a love for life and for their students. By their lives and example they helped their students experience the goodness of God. It was then that I began thinking about being a sister. “
Sister Peggy grew up in a project in East Hartford near a manufacturing plant that was a large employer in the area. “It was a special time and place,” she said.” We all knew one another and looked out for one another. There was a real spirit of community.” Several people who came to the fifty-year celebration were from the old neighborhood including Congressman John Larson, who has known Sister Peggy and her family for years and who spoke about her service to the school and community.
Sister Mary Grace Walsh ASHJ, the Provost for Schools from the Hartford Archdiocese, who was one of her second grade students and Archbishop Emeritus Henry J. Mansell, an honorary member of the Irish American Home Society in Glastonbury, where Sister Peggy and her sister have been members since they were in elementary school, shared memories and offered their congratulations.
East Catholic used this occasion to spread the good word about the school and as a fund-raiser. “It made it easier for me to be in the spotlight knowing that it would help others. I was given the opportunity to identify areas that would benefit from the donations. I asked for three important areas: scholarship money to help students with tuition; professional development funds for faculty and staff, and donations to the SNDdeN Jubilee Fund,” she said.
“Before the gala, I was interviewed by a local television station” Sister Peggy said. “During the taping, the reporter told me he calculated that I had touched the lives of thirty thousand students during those fifty years. I wasn’t expecting that comment, but as I heard it, I immediately shared my reaction, which was that over the years thirty thousand students had touched my life. This ministry has been continues to be continues to be a great joy.”