85 Years And Counting

On June 9, 2018, Our Lady Star of the Sea School in Solomons, Maryland, celebrated eighty-five years of Catholic education in partnership with the Congregation of Divine Providence. Six sisters from Melbourne, Kentucky, made the journey to join four others currently working in the school and parish for the Fifth Annual Father Maurice Alexander Gala.

In 1933, four Sisters of Divine Providence—Sisters Francis Agatha Paris, Mary Praxeda Jasnoch, Mary of Jesus Menke, and Mary Hilda Doheny—answered the call to help Father Alexander start a parish school. The first year they had just thirty-one students and held classes in the church basement. Within ten years, enrollment had reached 111 students and the school had its own building.

Sister Carleen Schumacher, who taught at the school for four years and attended the gala, says, “Their love for the sisters is obvious and the event was just wonderful.”

Organizers invited all the Sisters to share the challenges they experienced and their hopes for the school’s future. A few contributed tales of memorable events from their tenure. Sister Lynn Stenken shared the story of a mean goose who tried to keep her from entering the school building every morning during the first year she was principal; she had to be rescued by the eighth-grade boys. Sister Paula Gohs related a memory of trying to eat Maryland crab for the first time: “I finished up still hungry and frustrated with such little results to show for all the work. There has to be an art to this crab surgery!” And Sister Mary Luke Murphy reflected warmly on her time there, “It was a small but wonderful school with a family-like atmosphere.”

The school presented an award to the Sisters for their many years of dedicated service. Their work continues, with four Sisters still helping out in the school and parish by tutoring, visiting the sick, leading adult faith formation groups and in numerous other ways.