By Sister M. Rosalma Kmiec
I wanted to share a special occasion that happened to me, thanks to Sister Geraldine’s niece, Jackie Paluszak, who was also one of my first-grade students in 1954.
I entered the Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania Community back in 1951 and began teaching first grade two years later at St. Hedwig’s in Toledo. My first classroom had 60 students and, in those days, there were no teaching aides. With that many children, it seemed to me that I wasn’t getting anywhere! But thanks be to God, they somehow all learned what was taught that year. Not only that, it was heartwarming when the little ones would even thank me for teaching them.
Now, many decades later, my long ministry as an educator is behind me and I think sometimes of the hundreds of children who passed through my classroom do
ors over the years.
Thanks to Jackie, I was able to have the special experience of getting to see some of these students again.
When Jackie found out from Sister Geraldine that I was coming to live at Our Lady of Grace Hall, she immediately gave me an invitation I couldn’t refuse. Jackie is part of a group of St. Hedwig’s Alumni who have been informally ‘reuniting’ over breakfast/lunch for years.
That morning, there were eight of my former students there with their spouses. None of them knew in advance that I was coming.
Jackie had her way and everyone was delighted at the surprise. Naturally, we all had to introduce ourselves. My former first graders are now grandparents and their former first-grade teacher now has snowy white hair – and no habit and veil. After we got to know each other again, we talked the morning away and they entreated me to come again to their little St. Hedwig group, an offer that I gladly accepted. Unfortunately, because of COVID, that would turn out to be the last time the St. Hedwig group would gather for a long time.
I’m grateful for the wonderful memories of that gathering and am keeping my promise to them to keep my special students in my prayers.