Giving » Windows Dedication

Windows Dedication

Part ceremony, part family reunion, our Windows of Opportunity celebration on November 17 brought together alumnae, current and past parishioners, board members, administrators, friends, family, and students for the dedication and blessing of our restored historic stained glass windows. Interested in leaving your own lasting legacy to St. Jean's? There are still two windows available to be dedicated.
 
Below are some of our donors' remarks from the evening.Group of donors in front of stained glass transom windows
 
 
Good evening Jeanites!!
 
Although I may not appear to fit the profile, I too am a Jeanite -- a graduate of St. Jean’s elementary school.
 
I am pleased to participate this evening in the Windows of Opportunity dedication ceremony for the magnificent stained glass, SJB Windows -- especially, the window being dedicated to two neighborhood kids and later stalwarts of St. Jean’s: Rev. William J. Dahms, SSS and Sr. Rose Daly, CND. Fr. Dahms and Sr. Rose (Mother St. Aloysius) were born and spent their formative years in the East 70’s, where each attended St. Jean’s under the guidance of the Rev. Francis “Pop” Brennan.   
 
Fr. Dahms, on the staff of St. Jean’s Parish, served as the Director of the School for many years. Fr. Dahms was a person of great vision and dedication to the community.  He organized and participated in the Scout Troop, instituted the fund raising Card Party Nights, as well as hosting Holy Name Society meetings. During his tenure he oversaw several major modifications improving the appearance and function of the building: hallways, lighting, classrooms all refurbished. 
 
Sr. Rose, my First Grade teacher at St. Jean’s, is wonderful. It is difficult to imagine how she not only controlled, but actually taught, a classroom of 60… Yes, 6 - 0 first graders.  She was an innovator in her classroom days, always keeping the students interested in the lessons and demonstrating her sincere affection for them. I got to know Sr. Rose better during my HS and college years. She was (and is) full of good common-sense advice. I enjoyed listening to her explain how she described religious philosophy to her young students. Sr. Rose’s kindness and love are models for all to follow.
Fr. Dahms and Sr. Rose were a great team at and for St. Jean’s. I observed their sincere respect and affection for each other as they worked to improve St. Jean’s and the community -- two neighborhood kids who were life models and coaches for my generation.
 
Thank you, Sr. Rose …Talk to you soon.
 
Sing we another song
Song of the bright and fare
Where sweetest memories throng
Jewels are nestled there…

These are the first lines of our school song and upon reflection, I think the Jeanites are the jewels polished and molded by the Congregation of Notre Dame, a few lay teachers…think:  Dr. Pagano, Miss Doran…, to a lesser extent, the Blessed Sacrament Fathers and, of course, our families.

Sometime in the 1950’s, St Jean’s became a client of my dad’s.  Charles McElhinney was a distributer of candy and chips primarily to mom and pop stores and Catholic schools in Manhattan, the Bronx, and Queens. So he had done his homework, having personally visited several all-girl Catholic High Schools. When my sister Ann was ready for High School, Daddy suggested St. Jean’s. Through meeting with Mrs. Murphy every Friday during lunch he experienced the vibe at St. Jean’s and liked it. (Although he would have never used the word “vibe”.) I followed three years later and two years after that, Candace and Maureen, our sister-in-law.  Yes, we even got our brother Tom to have a connection to St. Jean’s!

I am not known for having a very good memory among my sisters. Ann remembers endless details from our childhood and Candace remembers every day, date, year of every consequential event in our lives.  Truth be told, I have no recollection of the transoms here in the auditorium.  Don’t think I ever noticed. But what I do hold dear are the memories of my four years at St. Jean’s…the friends, the laughs, the activities, the events, the aforementioned faculty.  St. Jean’s made Ann, Candace, Maureen and me the women we have become: wise, caring, loving, faith-filled.

I am happy to have had a small part in restoring the windows to their original beauty. May they be shared by generations of students to come…GO JEANITES!!!
 
“Let a smile be your umbrella.” In looking through the 1956 yearbook – the year Maria Angela Camisa graduated from St. Jean’s – I discovered that this was the motto ascribed to her by her classmates. Further perusal revealed a young woman who was committed to her faith by her involvement with Sodality, a talented singer in the Choral Club, as well as a member of the French club and yearbook staff. Maria remained a lifelong Jeanite, supporting the Annual Fund and Jeanite Fund through the years.
 
As a woman, Maria was someone we would be proud to have our students emulate. In her own career, rising through the ranks to Vice President at Bank of New York, she worked tirelessly to advance women around her and empowered those who worked for her to be their own advocates. When she died in 2018, many women shared that they would not have had the career they had if not for Maria, adding that “You didn’t work for Maria, but with her.” 
 
Her sister Frances Camisa, who is here with us this evening, describes her older sister Maria as the heart of the family. We are honored that Frances has chosen to dedicate a window to the memory of her dear sister, Maria.   
 
Thank you all for participating in this very special event tonight and for all the terrific work everyone does to prepare the SJB girls for their future.
 
Roger and I are honored to have been selected to help with the restoration of this very special window which we are dedicating in memory of our parents. Eduardo and Patsy Martin and John and Kay Cooper.
 
I would like to take a few minutes to tell you why this window is so special to us. But first, let me share with you something about our parents. Roger’s father John was born and raised in England and after serving in the Royal air force during WWII was “imported” into Mexico to marry his mother. Kay was born in Mexico of Anglo French parents and also having served in the Royal Air Force during WWII returned to Mexico and married John having two children Roger and Diana. Patsy, my mother was born in NYC and likewise was imported to Mexico for her childhood and ultimately marrying my Father Eduardo having six children of which I am the second. My father of Spanish French descent has an interesting ancestry. His mother was a direct descendant of the Emperor of Mexico. But more importantly his mother’s great uncle was the archbishop of Mexico when the Blessed Sacrament Fathers pursued expansion into Mexico. His mother’s uncle, a diocesan priest, built the San Felipe of Jesus church in Mexico City which has had perpetual adoration since its inception in 1897. He also founded an order of sisters whose mission is to educate young girls. His case is in process of beatification.
 
Two additional anecdotes: around the time the San Felipe de Jesus church was being built in the late 19th century, both of our grandfathers were business partners in establishing the French Mexican bank. Also, today is my mum’s 10th “heavenly anniversary” as Carolyn Masters would say.
 
On a personal note, my career with Citibank took me to living in many countries of which the first was Argentina. Near my apartment was the Blessed Sacrament Basilica and they exposed the Blessed Sacrament all day, seven days a week. Coming from a large family and being “alone” for the first time, I spent many hours in quiet adoration and it became an integral part of me. Three years later I moved to New York City, and lived close to St. Jean Baptiste Church. Not only did it also expose the Blessed Sacrament but I soon found out that St. Jean’s and the Blessed Sacrament Basilica were built using the same plans and thus are almost identical; and both are run by the Blessed Sacrament Fathers.
 
In view of all of this you can see why this particular window of the Blessed Sacrament is so near and dear to our hearts.
 
Celebrating SJBHS – good evening – Suzanne Vlamis – class of 1962.

We’re coming to the finish line. Best place to reflect. Think big, write tight, speak succinctly, and create scholarships. This is what St. Jeans helped nurture in me with my parents. On that note, allow me to say that the seeds of one’s education start when we are very young, and grow through a filter of life’s impressions and experiences and teachers.

I am proud to say that I am a child of immigrants. My mother from a Czechoslovakian village and my father from a Greek island in the Aegean. In fact, my parents met here in New York while working at a nearby restaurant called the Lyric. My mother Anne became a great fan of St. Jean Baptiste Church and the St. Anne Shrine. Hence, I was destined to attend St. Jean Baptiste grammar school and then the high school as did my brother Anthony.
In retrospect, the teachers were motivating angels. My first grade teacher, Sr. Rose Daley, who is still alive today at 100 years old brought us from printing to cursive writing in the first grade where I attempted to run away for the first two weeks of school. But then Sr. Rose, with her infinite patience, helped me acclimate to first grade. With an art teacher, Mother St. Gertrude, who brought us to the Metropolitan Museum of Art; our music teacher Mother St. Catherine Anne; and my English teacher Mother St. Helen of Notre Dame, I was ultimately led to a career in photojournalism with the Associated Press.

In a blink of an eye a quarter of a century flies by. And here we are celebrating the 93rd anniversary. I am grateful for the opportunity to have been nurtured by the nuns of the Congregation of Notre Dame and Blessed Sacrament Fathers at a tender age, growing up with a diverse education on the upper east side of Manhattan. How lucky can a girl get?The nuns were strict but motivating and created a disciplined path for us even though I rebelled a bit against the strict regime. Can you believe that tuition was $15.00 a month? But if you sang in the choir it was only $5.00. Hence, I sang in the choir.

As I stand here, I imagine my speech and theatre teachers giving me the confidence to act in plays and use my voice to the fullest versus daydreaming in the back of the classroom and causing mischief. The memories are fond and lifelong. They motivated the creation of the Anne and Steve Vlamis Scholarship for the Arts in 2008. It is all about giving back – a tradition nurtured thru through my parents and my teachers which is why I stand here today to encourage you consider doing the same. (How many designer clothes can you wear?) Create an environment for children to grow into their creative best amidst motivating teachers and in spite of their hardships. With that go and leave behind a legacy to benefit humanity.

When people ask me how I am, I say great. I am grateful to still be here on earth and mobile…giving back to motivate others’ talents. And trying to motivate young people less fortunate than myself. Seriously. We leave tonight thinking big, creating dreams and funding scholarships for future lives. It’s the best high.

Be well and be safe and grateful. God bless us all. And thank you, God and my parents, for sending me and my brother to SJB School, an indelible impression on my life in channeling my imagination. Alleluia.