Sister Catherine Ann Cesnik, a gifted teacher and friend [Letter]

August 19, 2014

Aug. 15 was the feast day of the Assumption of the Blessed Mother, full of grace. I want to share my story of another woman who was full of grace, Sister Catherine Ann Cesnik.

I was 14 in 1965 when I entered high school at Archbishop Keough School in Baltimore. I was painfully shy — my family had moved to Catonsville in August of that year — and I went from a class of about 30 at Blessed Sacrament School on York Road to a class of over 300 young girls.

I knew no one. It was a very painful time in my life, but God sends grace, and I found it in Sister Catherine's English class. Sister Catherine was so passionate about writers and Shakespeare that I was caught up in a world of fine art. I remember memorizing a soliloquy from "The Merchant of Venice" that, when I stood up and performed it in the front of the class, so impressed Sister Catherine that she cried out "Bravo"! I was inspired by her love of literature.

Not only was Sister Catherine a gifted teacher, but she also had the grace to draw girls to trust her and confide in her — girls who were being abused, girls whose mothers were dying of cancer, girls who felt the pain of growing up in the 1960s.

I now look back on her unsolved murder 45 years ago and wonder how many readers know what it is like to have someone you trust and can be there for you.

I believe all of us have grace to share and that by being open to others while being anchored in our faith we can change the world. Sister Catherine did for me.

Rebecca Ferrara Quinn

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