Do you remember what you were like in 9th and 10th grade? Fortunately for my self-respect, my memory is hazy. I recall being an odd bundle of awkwardness and happiness, of insecurity and confidence, of groping idealism and shy romanticism, undergirded by faith, curiosity, a strong family, and a few really great friends.
Back then, the job of counselor in my high school focused solely on getting us girls into college. It never occurred to me to talk with her about the confusions of being a young teen.
Instead, I discovered the open door of Sister Agnes Maureen Badura, SP. Actually, it wasn't always open: fairly often, some other girl had gotten there before me, after school, and had closed the door for her own private counseling time. At 4 or 5 pm along the spacious third-floor corridor, Room 316 was the only occupied room as Sister Agnes Maureen sat at her desk, generously available - and maybe sometimes she actually got a bit of time for her own work of grading papers and preparing classes.
She was my favorite teacher. She made math a clear and fascinating exploration of logic as expressed in numbers. She taught with an unhurried capacity to both lead us into learning AND follow our confusions so she could turn us in the right direction again. She even mixed in life lessons. I remember putting up a long solution to an equation, meandering to the correct answer; then she pointed out a route that would have taken half the steps, mentioning the value of simplicity.
My favorite story is from a friend who was valedictorian for our class. Sister Agnes Maureen was the "coach" for Karen's speech. Karen initially wrote the pious pablum that she felt might be expected. Sister Agnes Maureen looked it over, looked up, and said, "You can do better. Write what you really want to say."
THAT is what Sister Agnes Maureen offered us: her calm, contagious confidence that we would use the intelligence, common sense, and other gifts God has given us. She did it through math and personal coaching. She did it through her example.
As I've read my alumnae news through the years, this expectation seems to me to be broadly characteristic of the Sisters of Providence of St. Mary of the Woods - plus a profound readiness to follow the path that God's Providence opens, wherever it leads. Sister Agnes Maureen modeled that openness, too, as well as amazingly generous and sensible kindness.
What gifts. And can you guess how much it meant to have them begin when I was 14?