The following is from the Autumn 2020 issue of Vision.
At our Mount Saint Vincent Convent I see many Sisters of Charity faces. Some come from near and some have come from faraway places. But all of them are here to reach one common goal–to heal the body, mind, and the soul.
My life has taken me on many paths. I enjoyed most of my jobs along these paths, and even if I didn’t, I still did them always to the best of my ability. I learned that from my Mom, who would say, “Do it right, or don’t do it at all.” I love Mom.
I started my first job at the age of ten, after my dad died, to help Mom with money by delivering newspapers for the Daily News before school in the morning at St. Margaret of Cortona. This is where I met and was taught by my first Sisters of Charity—Sr. Mary O’Brien, Sr. Dominic and Sr. Nazaretta. They and others were great teachers.
I’ve worked many other different jobs with people of all races, creeds and colors over the years. I even worked in Ireland one summer and then, ultimately, became a carpenter for 36 years. But I always knew something different was out there for me.
I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would ever be working in one of the most beautiful, peaceful pieces of land in the Bronx. When I was 12 years old, I used to ride my bicycle really fast down the big hills on the Mount campus, right past the Sisters of Charity Convent. It was great fun for us as kids, not so much fun for the security guards chasing us out of the college grounds.
I never realized that being taught by the Sisters of Charity was preparing me for the job that I now have; it was the one job I was always looking for over the years. I got to really understand the mission of the Sisters of Charity, and they are still teaching me. It is just great. I learned French from Sr. Helen Fleming; I learned Gaelic from Sr. Aquin Flaherty; I am learning to speak German from Sr. Paula Holdman; I learn patience from Sr. Genevieve Wetmore, and gardening tips from Sr. Mary T. Higgins. I have learned all that, and so much more from all the other sisters at the Convent. What wonderful, smart, creative, caring and intelligent ladies they all are!
Oh brother, as kids being taught by the sisters, we didn’t understand they were preparing us for the world. Sometimes in life we miss or don’t take the opportunity to say how we feel, and then regret it when we don’t. I don’t want to regret it when I get older that I should have told the Sisters how I felt. I remember years ago when Mom was having a baby, I wished for another sister, but I got a brother instead. That wish was still out there I guess, and it finally was answered 47 years later! Now I have close to a few hundred sisters—yikes!
And a special “Thank you” to Mother Angela who brought the first sisters to the Mount Saint Vincent property after they purchased it back in 1856. Thanks to them we are all here at this piece of heaven on earth… Great, strong and smart women.
So, I would like to say I am very grateful that the path I was on finally gave me the job I was always looking for but had never found. I just want to say to all the Sisters of Charity I have met, present and some who have passed on, I am grateful and honored to work for you all. I look forward to many more years working with you, having a few laughs with you, and learning more along our path together. Besides, my Mom likes to brag to her friends in Ireland that her son Michael goes to college every day and works in a Convent.
Mike Carr, Your Maintenance Man