Why I Give
As teachers, mentors, colleagues and friends, the Sisters committed their entire lives to serving God’s people. Every day, dear friends and former students express their gratitude through their testimonies and extraordinary generosity.
There are so many reasons and so many different ways to support the Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk. With little financial support from the Diocese, the Ursuline Sisters rely on donations to support the work of the Province and to secure the retirement of the Sisters no longer in active ministry.
Br. Hank Hammer, FMS, President of Marist High School, Chicago, Illinois, is a faithful supporter of the Ursuline Sisters. He explains why he gives:
Other than my parents, the most significant people in my childhood were the Ursuline Sisters at St. William the Abbot School in Seaford, NY. The foundation for my whole life was set during those crucial years. Clearly, education was a means of evangelization, and both my religious and
academic education prepared me for the rest of my life. As a high school administrator and teacher for 45 years,
I know that what we do for students in high school would not be possible without the commitment and talent of grammar school teachers. I would not be a teacher and administrator if it were not for the Ursuline Sisters. In addition, not only did the Sisters inspire me to be a teacher, but also they inspired me to be a Brother. As I grew through grammar school and high school, I realized more and more that I wanted to do and be what the Ursuline Sisters were for me. I wanted to experience the joy of working together for a common mission and for something bigger than myself. I have found in the Marist Brothers what I saw lived out day after day by the Ursuline Sisters. I give to the Ursuline Sisters for one very important reason: they shaped the person I am and the life I live today.
Joseph Stevens is a long-time supporter of the Ursuline Sisters. A 1951 graduate of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Ozone Park, NY, Stevens credits the Sisters for putting him on the right path in life. He admits that his record “wasn’t the best,” but the Sisters, instead of expelling him, put him “on trial.” He was taught to read, write and above all, to be morally straight. “They gave me my faith – the greatest treasure I have.”
Joseph now sees this gift passed on to his five children and eight grandchildren. “He could drive you mad, but you had to love him,” said Sr. Anna, who developed a lifetime friendship with Stevens. “Anytime he had a job, he always bought something for the nuns.” Today, Stevens runs a family business, working with his brother, sons and a grandson. He attends church and receives communion daily, studies the Catechism and supports many Catholic causes. He thanks the Sisters for his faith. “I can’t stop thanking those great nuns who helped nourish this gift.
For Jim Gomiela, reconnecting with our Sisters has helped him reconnect to his youth, grow spiritually, and give back to others in need. Jim was educated at Nativity BVM, Ozone Park, NY. He was taught there by Sisters Margaret Mary Feahilly, Catherine Gardiner, Ursula Leibold, and Mary John O’Rourke.
During a recent interview, Jim reminisced about his days at Nativity and the Sisters who taught him there. He is committed to supporting Catholic education, and he contributes to scholarships for needy students. When he returned to the school as a successful businessman seeking to make a philanthropic donation, he found Sr. Marguerite serving as Principal. Jim and Sr. Marguerite quickly became friends, talked often, and have remained very good friends for many years. Jim also reconnected with Sr. Margaret Mary, who was his 6th-grade teacher. “When I met her later on in life, I just felt like I found a long lost friend,” he said.
As owner of Celebrity Moving, Inc., New Hyde Park, NY, Jim has been very generous to the Sisters over the years, both with monetary donations,
in-kind donations, and donating the services of his moving company to move the Sisters on numerous occasions. Most recently, his employees
moved our Sisters out of our former St. Ursula Center and into their new homes. Asked why he gives to the Ursuline Sisters, Jim said, “I give to the Sisters, because I would not be who I am without them – they were a big part of my foundation.”
The Sisters have remained a constant support to Jim in his adult life, especially during his recent battle against cancer. Thanks to his medical care, the support of his wife, Geralynne, his family, and friends, and his own determination, he has beaten cancer. He has overcome the ordeal and is healing, with spirituality as a source of strength and a great reliance on God. “I always prefer giving to the Sisters than asking for something, but this time I asked for their prayers,” he said. “Sr. Marguerite always let me know that the Sisters were praying for me. I received so many beautiful cards from everyone. I felt their love and concern.”
Jim continues to give generously to the Sisters. An avid golfer and member of our Golf Committee, he is looking forward to our annual Swinging for the Sisters Golf Outing in June, and continues to support this event year after year.
Pauline Balles and Annette Curran are good friends and both are dear friends of the Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk. Both women are faithful supporters of the Ursuline Sisters.
Pauline was taught by Ursuline Sisters at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary School in Ozone Park, NY. Although Annette was not taught by the Ursuline Sisters, she grew a close connection with the Sisters later in life through her late husband Donald Curran, who was taught by the Sisters at Nativity. Pauline has many fond memories of being taught by Ursuline Sisters and of attending Congregational events. “The Ursuline Sisters have been a very big part of my life,” said Pauline. “They gave me my positive attitude.”
For Annette, attending the Sisters’ events, like the luncheons and the 95th Anniversary Celebration, have been very enriching. “They have enriched my life. They’re really, really wonderful women,” said Annette.
Both Pauline and Annette cherish their friendships with the Sisters whom they have known over the years. “They all
come from love,” said Pauline, adding, “They’re just so loving and so warm and so wonderful.”
As a lifelong resident of Howard Beach, it was only natural that my siblings and I attend Our Lady of Grace School staffed by the Ursuline Sisters. I made lasting friendships with many of the Sisters, in particular, Sr. Paula Carey. I visited her after she was transferred to Seafood, Connecticut, Bellerose and finally Blue Point. In fact, for a few years in the 1950s, I accompanied Sr. Paula to Fordham University once a week, as nuns were not permitted to travel alone on public transportation.
The Sisters dedicated their lives to children asking for little in return. It is only natural that I give back to help them in their retirement. Many people are unaware that the diocese does not help the nuns and that they are on their own to survive. To give a little each month or annually is not too much to ask of their former students who (in my case) received a wonderful education for practically nothing.