Class of 1959

We, the Class of 1959, celebrated our 50th class reunion on April 24 and 25, 2009. This blog is about sharing memories of our class reunions and a long ago life at our Alma Mater's, S.F.X.A. and S.A.H.S. Good memories of days gone by but not forgotten! A gift to my classmates. ~Marian Love Phillips ~

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Two Sisters

Sister Xavier was born into a wealthy New Orleans family and entered the convent in Vicksburg in 1865.  She was "Dedicated to education and the poor" until her death in 1918, historian and author Sister Mary Paulinus Oakes, R.S.M., writes in "Angels of Mercy." her 1998 book about 19th century sisters in the order.  Sister Paulinus devoted a chapter to Sister Xavier, who was remembered in her obituary in The Vicksburg Evening Post as an 'Angel of Mercy, beloved by all."

"Long before there were any charitable associations or community chests in the parish, she organized among her former pupils a society of aid for the poor."  Sister Paulinus wrote.  Concerned that people coming for help would be ridiculed or criticized, she had latticework constructed along the side of her building so "the poor could come and go with their baskets almost unseen."

Among Sister Xavier's teaching duties was preparing children for their first Holy Communion.

It is thought that as a child, Sister Isabel, born in Vicksburg in 1892 and educated at St. Francis, must have been one of them.

"She always said she would like to enter the order, but only if she could stay in Vicksburg."  McMaster said of Sister Isabel.  She joined the Sisters of Mercy in 1915, and taught music as well as tending the sisters' garden.

Along with scattering all those seeds, Sister Isabel must have planted a bulb or two, said McMaster. 

"When we began working out here, we found old-time antique bulbs popping up all over, just a mass of beautiful white blooms," McMaster said.  "There were hundreds and hundreds of bulbs that had multiplied over the years," she added - - gladiolus, calla lilies, daffodils, jonquils and many more.  They expect others to pop up in the fall. 

Sister Isabel gave music lessons to St. Francis children and those who did not attend the Catholic schools, the sisters always seeking ways to finance their projects, Sister Paulinus said.  "She was an interesting character," she said of Sister Isabel.  "She had a penchant for modern music, which the other sisters did not."

She used flowers and greens from her garden to create arrangements for the alter, and she also grew fresh herbs for the convent kitchen in the basement nearby.

"A great part of her spirituality was expressed in her music and her love for flowers and nature," said Sister Paulinus.

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