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Episode Three:
“You were a safe place”

In which a veteran educator makes a difference in the lives of future leaders.

After three years teaching 7th graders at Holy Angels School in Aurora, Ill., Sister Mary Paul moved a few miles west to Rosary High school to teach religion at the all-girls college prep school.

In 1975, the old convent dining room and kitchen became her classroom. They were next door to the chapel, which she “tricked out” with her grandmother’s rocking chair and some big pillows. When things “got crazy”—as one could imagine they might for high school freshmen girls—the class would convene in the chapel for a time of silence and prayer.

The girls called the chapel “The Ark”— “Not Noah’s Ark. The Ark of the Covenant”—Sister Mary Paul says.

She is not the only one who remembers.

“You were my touchstone”

In 2015, Rosary honored Sister Mary Paul for her dedication to Catholic education, from her years at Rosary to her role as superintendent of Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of Chicago—the largest Catholic school system in the nation.

A few of her former colleagues and students—some of whom work at Rosary today—shared their memories in a video prepared for the occasion.


Rose is still at Rosary, serving as director of teacher mentoring—and multiplying the impact of Sister Mary Paul's influence in ever-growing circles of impact.


“Thirty-eight years ago, you were my first mentor,” Rose Rebenstorf says to the camera. “You were the most inspirational person….and the reason I looked at Rosary as a lifetime career.” Rose, who was a new teacher when she and Sister Mary Paul crossed paths, is still at Rosary, serving as director of teacher mentoring—and multiplying the impact of Sister Mary Paul's influence in ever-growing circles of impact.

“It all started back here with you inspiring me,” Michelle Salerno (’84) recalled. “You made me feel at home, welcome, and safe. You were my touchstone.”

It’s about the lives

It is remarkable that Sister Mary Paul, who was once head of the largest Catholic school system in the nation, barely speaks of it.  As her former Rosary students know, Sister Mary Paul’s lifelong dedication to Catholic education has always been about the lives she could reach through the institutions she led, and not about the institutions as an end in themselves.

This is true of all our sisters, in whatever form of ministry they’ve found themselves. It’s all about the lives they touch and the impact that can be made through those lives.


Do you enjoy hearing stories about our sisters' life-long commitment to serve God's mission? Find more stories here, or make a contribution to support our sisters as they respond to God's mission for the life of the world. Thank you!

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