Tuesday, August 15, was the 90th birthday of Sr. Marie Irene Breheny, SC. She was one of the most influential people in my life, starting when I was in high school. We kept in touch for many years. After I saw her a few years ago at a reunion, I sent her a birthday card and told her how much she meant to me. I’d like to share two life lessons I learned from her.

I was once having a terrible time with a math problem, unusual because I was one of the top students. I finally gave up and asked her for help. She took one look at my paper and said I had copied the problem wrong! Lesson: before you try to solve a problem make sure you understand it correctly.

Another time I couldn’t decide which of two options I wanted to do. She told me to flip a coin. The instant I saw the result my gut reaction (yay/darn) would tell me what I REALLY wanted. Lesson: find a way to help you reliably determine what you want and factor it in your decision making. Both these lessons have served me well through the years.

I truly believe that the twelve years I spent with the Sisters of Charity (grades 1-8 at St. Lawrence Academy in Manhattan before Seton) played a major role in who I am and whatever good I might have done. And no one had a greater impact on me than Sr. Irene. We kept in touch for many years, she was often better about it than I was. It was her faithfulness, her willingness to remain in my life that meant so much.”

Happy birthday, Sr. Irene, with love and gratitude!

Joan Phillips-Sandy
Elizabeth Seton School
Yonkers, Class of 1963

Sister Irene is one of the participants in the Kittay House Walkathon to raise money for the Elizabeth Seton Pediatri Center.