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I’ve been called by a new name

By Darcy L. Fargo

Darcy Fargo

October 6, 2021

It’s part of living in small towns, I think.

As I travel around the North Country, it’s not uncommon for me to be identified by my family associations. I regularly hear comments like:

“You’re Curt’s daughter, right?”

“Aren’t you Charlie Smith’s granddaughter?”

“Hey! You’re Jake’s mom!”

And that’s before I even consider all the times I’m called my twin sister’s name or called “one of the Smith twins.”

But it’s only been within the last 3.5 years – since I started this job – that I’ve been called by a new moniker: “(Sister) John Mary’s niece.”

Sister Mary Ellen Brett, a Sister of St. Joseph who is celebrating her 60th jubilee this year, uses that description when she talks to me. In fact, Sister has called me “John Mary’s niece” so many times, I wasn’t sure she remembered my real name for a while (now, I’m pretty confident she does; I’ve heard her use it a couple times).

When I was a teenager and young adult, being referred to by family associations bothered me. I felt like I didn’t have my own identity. Now, those associations make me smile, especially that newest one.

Sister John Mary Brockway was my grandmother’s sister, my great-aunt. And she was great. What I remember most about Sister John Mary (we called her “Sissy”) was her joy. She was always smiling, cracking jokes and finding good in life.

I couldn’t help but think of “Sissy” as I read the biographies of the sisters celebrating jubilees this year (see the stories starting on page 4). As I interact with Sister Mary Ellen Brett and the other sisters with whom I’m privileged to come into contact, I frequently see that joy I saw in Sister John Mary growing up.

I know for a fact that the joy doesn’t come from perfect lives. Sisters have struggles, too (Sister John Mary was an elementary principal; I can’t imagine that is an easy job for anyone). I’m pretty sure their joy stems from their willingness to say “yes” to God’s call and live their lives for Him. I’m pretty sure their joy comes from knowing they’ve served and, with God’s help, made a difference in the lives of others. I’m pretty sure their joy comes from the Lord.

And these sisters have shared that joy – the joy of the Lord – with all of us, as they serve in our parishes, schools, diocesan roles and communities. In the case of our jubilarians this year, they’ve been doing that sharing for 50, 60 or 70 years.

We thank the for their service. We congratulate them on their milestones. We keep them in our prayers.

We’re glad to be associated with them.

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