Billy Chritchley-Menor, #1,582

“It’s so good to be with her,”

Billy said on a windy spring day four years ago. He could scarcely believe that he was standing with his first-grade teacher on the grounds of Jubilee Farm in Springfield, Ill., reminiscing about the times they shared together in Duluth, Minn.

“Even before I was in your class, we were friends,” he says to Sister Samuella. This twenty-something was remembering the out-sized role Sister Samuella played in the life of his family.

“Doing” Worms

“We did worms. We learned about compost. We’d always go walking all over the neighborhood collecting trash,” Billy ticks off a list of lessons he learned from Sister Samuella about his responsibility for the care of creation. This was before almost anyone outside of Argentina had heard of the Jesuit Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who would become Pope Francis, write his acclaimed encyclical on the Care of Creation, Laudato Sí, and inspire Billy to join the Jesuits.

Sister Sam is my former 1st grade teacher who continues to be a close friend. She was the first religious I ever knew & she left an indelible mark on me.

There is something unique knowing your teacher has a book with your name in it that she doesn't use to grade, but pray for you.

Jumping on Cans

When he was in first grade, the most exciting activity he could think of was recycling soda cans. “Before the school recycled, you were recycling,” he reminded Sister Samuella. “You’d take the cans out on the big back porch of the school and let us jump on them to smash them flat,” he laughs.

Now the can-smasher is studying philosophy and sociology at St. Louis University, and other exciting enterprises, including getting himself arrested at a protest in support of immigration reform in Washington D.C. and completing an internship at America Magazine, the Jesuits’ flagship publication.

A soft spot for Sisters

“I think ever since I had Sister Samuella in first grade there’s been a soft spot in my heart for women religious and what they’ve done for the church and also the tremendous good that they’ve done for the wider world,” says this former first grader from Holy Rosary School, Duluth.

He was delighted to visit Jubilee Farm which recognizes as “The perfect example of the innovative spirit and innovative ministry” of Catholic Sisters.

It’s clear to anyone who pays attention, just like the biblical Jacob, who was proudest of “the child of his old age,” Sister Samuella is proudest of student #1,582, Brother William Critchley-Menor, SJ.

And why shouldn’t she be? Through his life of consecration to God, in her senior years, she touches the future.

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