Sunday, March 24, 2013

Everyday Heroes

Crest of the Order of St. Benedict
Crest of the Order of St. Benedict (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There are some people that if you passed them on the street, you would never give them a second glance or thought.  Ordinary looking people that do not look like anything special.  The type of person who you would never think would have a lasting impact on the world.  Sister Jeannette Murray was one of those people.

Sister Jeannette was a nun of the order of St. Benedict.  She was a member of the Saint Gertrude Monastery in Ridgely, MD.  Sister Jeannette began her career as a teacher, specifically in the field of Special Education. In 1960, she landed at the Benedictine School for Exceptional Children to teach kids with special needs.  It also happens to be the school that my son now attends and my nephew graduated from.

Sister Jeannette was a tireless advocate for those that she labeled "her kids."  Through her guidance and perseverance, the Benedictine School has become one of the top schools in the country, much less the state of Maryland, for children with special needs.  But the school is not the only thing that Sister Jeannette was a big part of.

As the kids grew and left the school, they still needed a place to go where they could lead productive lives.  So, the Benedictine Community also took a leading roll in establishing a vibrant open community for adults building several group homes and establishing a number of vocational programs for adults with special needs.  My personal favorite is the Busy Bees Bakery in Denton MD.  They make a mean pumpkin roll.

Sadly, on Thursday, March 21, Sister Jeannette passed away, perhaps fittingly, on the day of the Feast of the Passing of Saint Benedict.  Thankfully, Sister Jeannette got to see the last piece of the puzzle completed before she was called home.  The Benedictine Foundation recently dedicated two new retirement homes for her children who are approaching that stage of life.

Sister Jeannette barely stood 5 feet tall, and I would hazard to guess that she didn't tip the scales at 100 pounds unless you slipped some rocks in her pocket.  Still, her impact will last well beyond her years on earth.  The Benedictine Foundation is on solid ground with a group of people who are passionate about carrying on the work of Sister Jeannette.

My initial interactions with Sister Jeannette were not positive.  My son was having a difficult time adjusting to the school when he first started to attend the school.  However, in the last year, Sister Jeannette told us how much he had grown.  She even went so far as to say that he was her "buddy."

Sister Jeannette will never be known like Mother Theresa but her impact on those she came in contact with will last as long as the impact that Mother Theresa had.  May you rest in peace, Sister Jeannette.  I am sure you will be continuously watching over your kids in the Benedictine Community from above.  God bless you for all you have done, especially for my son and my nephew.

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