As I am sure you are aware, two weeks ago our community was rocked by the shooting of Officer Sean Houle. As I understand it, this is the first shooting of a Kernersville Police Officer in the history of the department. Officer Houle is stable but remains in critical condition. I have been in communication fellow members of the Kernersville Christian Ministers Fellowship regarding the needs of Houle’s family, the KPD, and the wider community in response to this tragedy. We have made ourselves available for prayer, counseling, and other ministry-related support to those who need it. Please continue to keep Houle and his family in your prayers, as well as the safety and well-being of all our police and other first responders.
Late last week, the Sisters of St. Joseph, Chestnut Hill Province, communicated to the diocese that the three sisters of the convent at St. Leo the Great Catholic Church will be retiring in June and returning to Pennsylvania. While the three sisters are not a direct part of the parish life at Holy Cross, I wanted to take the opportunity to celebrate their history in the Catholic life of the entire Piedmont-Triad. The Sisters of St. Joseph came to Winston-Salem in 1943 at the invitation of Raleigh’s Bishop Eugene McGuinness. By 1949, they opened the first Catholic school in the Triad, the Villa Marie Anna Academy. In the late ‘50’s, with a greater demand for upper grade levels, the Sisters worked with diocesan officials and local clergy to build and staff the first Catholic high school for the area, Bishop McGuinness Memorial High School. On Sept. 8, 1959, the school opened its doors off of Link Road in Winston-Salem, the same school that is now utilized for Our Lady of Mercy Catholic School. That school is still lead by St. Joseph Sister Gerri Rogers.
With an ever-growing student body, Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School relocated to a new and larger facility in 2001 here in Kernersville, just south of the intersection of NC Hwy 66 and I-40. Two Sisters of St. Joseph currently serve at the school. Sr. John Christopher “JC” Tate joined the faculty in 2001 as a Chemistry teacher. She currently serves as a substitute teacher in the science department and attendance coordinator. Sr. Anne Thomas Taylor, SSJ, joined the faculty in 1996 as a music teacher and later Dean of Students. Currently, she is the school’s Spiritual Counselor. This weekend, both Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School and St. Leo the Great Catholic Church and School released their own announcements about the sisters’ retirement. I communicate all of this to you because the history of Catholic education in the Triad is inseparable from the Sisters of St. Joseph. Please keep these sisters in your prayers. For those who have been a part of Catholic education in Kernersville and Winston-Salem, there is no doubt that you have met these sisters. The high school and St. Leo’s will have details soon about how the sisters will be celebrated.
As a parish family, let us continue to pray for vocations to the religious life and priesthood!