Pictured left to right are: Sister Kathleen Gingras, Sister Ann Roussel, Sister Virginia Agnes Turinese, Sister Theresa Stanek, Christian Guerrier (grade 4), Keisha Dornevil (grade 7), Sister Victoria Andreoli (past province leader), Sister Elizabeth Correia, Sister Dorothy Margaret Brown, and Sister Agnes Rose Richardson during the sisters' visit to St. John Paul II Catholic Academy in Dorchester. Pilot photo/courtesy Cummings Foundation
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DORCHESTER -- Eight of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, ranging in age from 74 to 94, recently made a rare trip from their convent at New Horizons in Marlborough to St. John Paul II Catholic Academy in Dorchester.
They were invited to a ribbon cutting ceremony for the repurposing of two salvaged 55-year-old stained-glass windows that now brighten the academy's media center.
During the Academy's rebuilding campaign last year, New Horizons donated the colorful windows, which were originally commissioned from award-winning artist and Lithuanian refugee Albinas Elskus for the chapel at Madonna Hall School for Girls. New Horizons saved the windows after purchasing the Madonna Hall property from the Sisters of the Good Shepherd in 1993.
When Mary Flynn Meyers, vice president of the Development Campaign for Catholic Schools, discovered the special connection the sisters had to the windows, she promised to invite the sisters to see them when they were installed in the academy.
In May, she made good on that promise, giving the sisters the opportunity to be among students once again and to see the windows of their former chapel sparkling in their new home.
"We were received like royalty," said Kathy Chinappi, RN, lay administrator for the convent for almost 15 years, who accompanied the sisters. "Everyone was so welcoming. The stories our hosts shared, the students we met, and the school itself were ever so impressive."
The sisters participated in a discussion with the 8th grade class. A question about prayer launched Sister Elizabeth Correia into a speech about how the sisters are a "powerhouse of prayer" that had the students riveted, according to Chinappi. When Correia asked if anyone had any prayer intentions, the room became a beehive of activity.
Chinappi kept notes as students and staff members alike asked for prayers for loved ones. The sisters made mental notes as well. When the women returned to their convent, Chinappi didn't even need to post the list; the sisters got right to work on the prayers for the academy community.
"This is the sisters' work, and they take it quite seriously," said Chinappi. "People call from all over the country with prayer requests."
A reciprocal trip is in the works for academy students to visit The Good Shepherd Center at New Horizons.
The Sisters joined the Archdiocese of Boston in 1867 and ran the House of the Good Shepherd on Mission Hill for nearly a century before moving their therapeutic residential program, Madonna Hall School for Girls, to Marlborough in 1964.
When the school closed, the sisters sold the property to Cummings Foundation, which built New Horizons on the site and invited the sisters to remain in their home on campus, rent-free. In 2012, the foundation constructed a 12,000-square-foot convent adjacent to New Horizons' Cardinal Cushing Chapel, where the sisters still help with daily Mass. The secular senior living community also offers weekly Jewish and Protestant services.