Created By: St. Joseph's College
“Have heart and hold on" [Voices of SJC Spring 2017]
Susan Reyes: We’ve talked about change and how the college has been changing since the beginning and something that has changed a lot is the faculty. How do you feel about the diminishing number of nuns that exist in St. Joseph’s now?
S. Mary Florence: Well, I’m sorry, but here we are and this is the way it is going to be. That’s all I can say, I’m sorry. I think we played, the Sisters of St. Joseph certainly played a significant part in the history of this institution. Those first sisters and the congregation with the financial support it gave, the congregation was responding to a need.
You look back and we know from history, New York State tended to be anti-Catholic. I don’t think it really is now, we are much too diverse. But, it was anti-Catholic in its origins and in its attitudes. And while the graduates of the academy of St. Joseph in Brentwood were welcome, were academically qualified to go to Barnard College, here in the city up near Columbia, they were not welcomed socially.
And so the sisters decided that they needed to establish a college that would welcome the graduates of their academies. And so, St. Joseph’s College was put in place, was developed with full support from the congregation, both financially and in terms of personnel.
So I am sorry that there will be no more of this, and it’s going to come back to you to carry forward, the mission, to take with you from the college some sense of what it means to be in this kind of an atmosphere and to convey that to all the people you meet for the rest of your lives.
And to, I hope, to cherish some sense of what is what like when you were here, when you saw the last of the sisters, practically speaking.
Let me give you the word of advice that Sister George Aquin gave in her last interview, about a year before she died. And when she was asked, “What would you wish for those who come after you?” And her comment was, “Have heart and hold on.” And that’s the final advice I would give to you, “Have heart and hold on” and move forward. And have very happy lives. Thank you.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Voices of SJC Audio Walking Tour