Reflection by Ms. Colleen Gribbin, former Middle and Upper School Principal
Many are the stories that could be shared about Sister Mary Faith, as we have just heard. And many are the stories she would tell about herself as a high school student. Like the times she would crawl out a window at Mt. St. Mary Academy to run to the flat-iron building a block away to buy chow mein sandwiches for lunch for herself and her friends. And the many adventures she had with Sister Elaine Heffernan as they tried to outwit their teachers. It’s a wonder she was ever allowed to become a Mercy!
And, of course, we know that she was very close to her brother Billy. He’ll keep his stories to himself; otherwise, Faith will haunt him forever.
In the pursuit of her vocation as a Mercy educator, like Catherine McAuley, Sister Mary Faith touched the lives of innumerable people. Her reputation extends far beyond the confines of St. Mary Academy - Bay View and Bishop Feehan High School. Her influence was felt strongly in both boardrooms and classrooms.
During her 25 years at Bishop Feehan, she left lasting impressions on her students, and to this day, continues to be recognized for their successes. They are always eager to recall the life-changing lessons learned from her and how those lessons impacted on their career goals.
Many are the parents who credit her with being the guiding force in the lives of their children. She always saw the potential behind the "attitude" and was not one to give up on anyone. Sometimes her solutions were very creative, to say the least. But in the end, all her efforts were for the good of the student. She saw possibilities where others saw limitations and let her faith guide her decisions.
It was also at Feehan that Faith met two of her best friends--Sr. Rose Angela and Sr. Evangela. These three women supported each other through thick and thin for many years and brought laughter and comfort into each other's lives.
No one can dispute the fact that this woman had an impish sense of humor. You just had to look at her attire on Halloween, St. Patrick's Day, or any of the other holidays. She truly relished life and lived it with an exuberance that was infectious. It was nearly impossible to feel down when she was around. The adage, "Laughter is the best medicine" must have been coined by her. Even when she was dealing with serious health issues, she maintained her sense of humor and was a challenge to her doctors and nurses.
To those of us who have been blessed with the opportunity to work with her, to be mentored by her, to be disciplined by her, we know that she, like Catherine McAuley, was larger than life. She listened with an open mind and responded with a loving heart. One of the comments posted on Facebook exemplifies all the qualities that Faith embodied:
“Some people come into your life when you need them most. Thank you, Sister Faith, for guiding me and letting me know I could be anything in this world. I miss our talks in your office, especially the ones where I should have been getting suspended, but instead we’d talk about what was really going on and definitely laughing over coffee that I would bring in daily due to my chronic tardiness. She was truly one of the most influential women in my life.”
Faith’s level of energy and inner fire were the secrets to her youthfulness. She was an inspiration to all of us.
Were Catherine alive today, it would be safe to say that she would have met her match in Sister Mary Faith. All who met her knew instantly that she was a woman of conviction. Her sense of fairness and justice won her the respect and admiration of her students and of her colleagues. In her unobtrusive way, she mentored administrators, teachers, and students. Her untiring labor in the field of education advanced Catherine's mission.
Many of us are familiar with the words from the song “For Good” from the musical Wicked:
I've heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason, bringing something we must learn. And we are led to those who help us most to grow if we let them, and we help them in return. Well, I don't know if I believe that's true, but [we] know [we are] better today because we have known you, Sister Faith.