In recent months, the BVM Office of Communication received emails from BVM alumnae letting us know how they are “staying connected” with classmates, continuing and renewing relationships of 50 years or more. Inspired by their desire to continue to have relationship, we wanted to share some of their interesting stories.
Mundelein College, Chicago
Opened 1930; Closed 1991
(Incorporated into Loyola University)
Barbara Gaebel Bradford, Class of 1965, writes, “Members of our class have an active email correspondence and many of us get together 2–3 times a year.”
Joan Giampoli Broz has coordinated this email correspondence since 2005 when the Class of 1965 celebrated their 40th anniversary. Today, 104 graduates and a few BVMs are on the email list.
Email provides a platform to meet one another, share news, ask for prayers, plan to meet for lunch in different areas of Chicago, schedule visits to the Botanic Garden, read a book together, and more. Alums who live at a distance, or even internationally, enjoy entering the conversation!
“Friendship and our time together at Mundelein created a bonding with one another that enables us to share more freely and openly about issues like our Catholic faith that are important to us, and we feel like we are in a safe place,” Joan reflects.
Barbara shares, “We always laugh about Sister Jean Schmidt’s ‘fame’ at Loyola.” Chaplain of the men’s basketball team, Sister Jean captured the hearts of fans as she cheered courtside during the Ramblers’ run to the NCAA Final Four. Barbara continues, “Many of us knew her long ago from classes she taught in the Mundelein education department. She was among the many smart and caring BVMs who were excellent role models for young women.”
Mount St. Gertrude (MSG), Boulder, Colo.
Opened 1892; Closed 1969
A member from the Class of 1960 shared with us how classmates have met monthly over Zoom for the past three years. The class numbered 34 students, split almost evenly between resident and day students.
During their Zoom meetings, classmates visit, pray the rosary, share intentions, and reminisce. Who would have thought in 1960 that the wonders of technology would make
such blessings possible?
Mary Margaret Runnion Holden shares, “This has become a deeply spiritual event for us . . . we can still experience the profound, deep connection with our Blessed Mother like we did during our high school days at MSG.”
Many class members live great distances from Boulder today—in Mexico, Wyoming, Minnesota, Nevada, and Texas. In August 2021, a few classmates gathered in Boulder, Colo. The friends “who are almost 80 years old” lodged together in a vacation rental, spent time out on the deck, and reconnected. Laughter and wine flowed freely as they shared stories and renewed life-long friendships, firmly planted during their days at “Gerties.”
Xavier High School (XHS), St. Louis
Opened 1833; Closed 1974
Due to the pandemic, three classes celebrated their 50th anniversary from XHS between October 2021 and September 2022.
Over the course of these three reunions, two BVMs gathered for the Class of 1970; one returned for the Class of 1971, and five attended the Class of 1972: Mary Ann (Clement Mary) Zollmann, BVM, a 1959 XHS graduate and faculty member (1965–1972); Margaret “Peggy” (St. Cabrini) Geraghty, BVM, principal (1970–1974); Mary Fran (Virginia Mary) McLaughlin, BVM, faculty (1965–1972); Joanie Nuckols, BVM, faculty (1971–1974); and Lynn Winsor, BVM, faculty (1971–1974).
Three different venues and various festivities engaged each class reunion for the “Golden Girls!”
After graduating 50 years or more from XHS, what did alums remember most about their high school years?
Mary Egler Fague (’70) says “people . . . both my fellow students and the warm and wonderful faculty.”
“Xavier was like being family with someone always there to support you,” replies Mary Beffa Brakes (’70).
“Friendship” was the first response of Rita Kohnen Ratkewicz (’70).
Ann Lewis Gallagher (’71) replies, “Meeting amazing classmates from all over the city and outstanding teachers who have broadened our horizons and challenged us.”
Roseann Maloney Hughes (’72) picked the Girls Athletic Association, playing volleyball and intramurals, trips to New York, Washington, and the Bahamas.
Even though XHS closed in 1974, these classes have met frequently at five-year intervals. Many gather for lunch or coffee, attend a sports event, or meet with alums no longer living in St. Louis when they return “home” to family for the holidays. Often, they “bump into” classmates or discover an unknown Xavier alum when traveling outside of St. Louis or even outside the country.
In September 2022, Class of 1970 members, Rita Kohnen Ratkewicz and Mary Egler Fague made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. One of the last evenings in Jerusalem, they discovered that another Xavier alum was also a pilgrim on the same tour! Who would have guessed that they would meet halfway around the world?
What joy it brings the BVMs to learn of former students still gathering together, sharing their lives and prayers with one another.
If you are an alumna from a BVM school or were taught by BVMs and still gather with your classmates (or desire to), let us know! We’d love to hear from you. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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