1873 - 2013 and BeyondReflections on our 140th Anniversary in Boston - by Rosemary Brennan, CSJ President
140 years ago, on October 2, 1873, Sisters Regis Casserly, Claire Corcoran, Mary Delores Brown, and Mary Felix Cannon arrived at St. Thomas Parish, Jamaica Plain, settled in the five-room house provided by Father Thomas Magennis, and four days later opened an elementary school for 200 girls in the basement of the church. With no strategic plan, limited resources, and a lot of courage, these women dared to dream.
There are many reasons to mark an anniversary such as this. Perhaps the most important is the millions of students, families, parishioners, clergy and co-workers to whom we are deeply grateful. We have not been on this journey by ourselves. In our Constitution, we state, “We acknowledge humbly and gratefully that from those to whom we minister we receive more than we give, indeed, in full measure and flowing over.” It is this relationship we celebrate during our 140th year – a relationship that inspires us to dare to continue to dream, to dare to continue to listen to the needs of our dear neighbor near and far and respond with courage and fidelity to God’s dream for our world.
Father Thomas Magennis was seeking sisters to serve a poor and marginalized immigrant population. At the time, Irish Catholic immigrants – girls in particular – were not welcome in the public schools of Boston. So our presence in Boston began in response to an unmet need. While surface appearances have changed, today we continue to live the dream, we continue hold firm to the mission of Jesus Christ and the belief that relationship is at the heart of our service to the dear neighbor without distinction.
"The good news of Jesus Christ is not so much what happens to us but what must be done by us. The choices we make for the future will create the future.” Our first sisters made choices to create the future. We continue to do the same. I believe Mother Regis Casserly would be proud to visit our current ministries and witness the ways in which sisters, associates, and ministry partners continue to respond directly to our newly arrived dear neighbors who are in need of education, advocacy, and inclusion into American society."
 Ilia Delio, The Unbearable Wholeness of Being, © Orbis Books, 2013, pg. 202