Favorite Catholic school teacher stories


Little Eddie Z and me, greeted by Sister after walking a mile in the snow

In 1953-54, Sister St. Herman of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Chestnut Hill was my first grade teacher at St. Joseph the Carpenter School in Roselle, N.J. She was young and pretty, and the memory of her kindness still touches my heart.

My classmate, little Eddie Z, we called him, walked the mile to school with me every day. Eddie and I were the smallest children in the class and Eddie was the shorter of the two of us. One winter day we had an early morning snow storm which left the sidewalks and streets with many inches of unplowed snow. Bookbag in one hand and lunchbox in the other, Eddie and I made our way slowly through the snow. For short legs every step was a hurdle. We were very late for school but too chilly to worry about the consequences. Through the classroom window, Sister St. Herman could see us working our way up the long driveway between the rectory and the convent and across the playground.

She greeted us at the outside door with all of the warmth of the generous father in the Parable of the Prodigal Son. My friend Eddie was shivering; he was so cold. I realized later that he was not properly dressed for winter and certainly not for snow. Sister St. Herman took our snow-covered clothes and hung them to dry. She wrapped her wonderful shawl around Eddie and sat us both next to the radiator. Even at a young age I understood that Sister would have extended her kindness to any of us in the class. Her compassion and generosity will continue to inspire me. Thank you, Sister St. Herman, SSJ.

Jeanne Sundberg

Student within the Lay Ministry Formation Program and parishioner of the Catholic Community of Christ Our Light, Cherry Hill


I cried when I learned I was in her first grade class

It was September of 1953 and I was heading into first grade. We had three first grade Sisters teaching in our large Catholic school in Buffalo, New York and I had told my mother that I did not want to have the “black sister” (was I racist in first grade?). In actual fact none of the Sisters who were teaching were “black” but one of them was of Lebanese origin so she had dark skin especially after a summer tan. It is hard now to imagine a summer tan since the Sisters of St. Joseph who taught me were pretty well covered up in their habit — not much of their face showed! Well. as luck would have it, I was assigned to the dark skinned Sister and I believe I cried.

Well, here I am 61 years later and my first grade teacher, Sister Laurenita Zogby, SSJ, has been one of the most influential persons in my life. We have never lost contact throughout the years and I can honestly say that she has been and continues to be one of my best friends to this day. Obviously I cannot remember much of what happened back in first grade but I do remember that this joy filled, faith filled, energetic, common sense woman had a profound impact on me in some mysterious way. She has stuck with me through good times and bad times in my life and I hope she would agree that I have stuck with her through good times and bad times in her life.

Now when we are together, she at 87 and me at 67, we continue to support one another, often through our laughter and sometimes tears, and I know I have been blessed! God knew what God was doing back in 1953 when Terry Odien was assigned to the first grade class taught by Sister Laurenita, SSJ!

Father Terry M. Odien

Vicar for Clergy

Diocese of Camden


Share a memory

Do you have a favorite Catholic school teacher? What did he or she do that inspired you? Tell us about it. Contact via email at peter.feuerherd@camdendiocese.org or via post at Teacher Memories, Catholic Star Herald, 15 North 7th St., Camden, NJ 08102. Please keep your reflections to under 300 words so that we can share them with Catholic Star Herald readers and on our diocesan website.