PICTURE FROM 60TH REUNION CELEBRATION
SEPTEMBER 14-15, 2018
DOWNERS GROVE AREA MIDWEST MINI-REUNION
Left to Right Back Row: Rita Mitchell Mathern, Karen Fritz Smit, Mary Graff Bozek, Judy Bradley Everson, and Jack Doyle
Front Row: Charlene Tobin DeVitto, Kathy Finn Bruner, Ed Briner, Christine Jaloweic Ceranek, Mary Ellen Heelan, Janet Sienkowski Panos, and Camille Wosik
Twelve of our classmates gathered together at the Wheatstack - A Midwestern Eatery & Tap in Lisle, Illinois on Saturday, 22 February 2020. At 50 degrees fahrenheit in February, the weather could only be described as terrific. The best part of the two-hour gathering was that everyone seemed to have had a good time! Reportedly, there were many requests for another get-together (those familiar faces do look happy).
Common discussions centered around questions like: What are you up to? How are the grandchildren? Any new adventures? What's happening on the health front, emotional and physical? Any trips in the offing? Are you working or retired? How are you coping with losses and stressors?
Everyone was delighted to be with our honorary classmate Jack Doyle again, too!
CLASS OF 1958 HONORIFIC PAVER ON THE SISTERS OF PROVIDENCE CAMPUS
If you're planning to be in the vicinity of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, call ahead to (812) 535-2800, to arrange for a visit to Foley Park on the campus of the Sisters of Providence. Please take some pictures that are inclusive of our paver and we'll share them here. Be sure to include yourself and other loved ones in the photo. Here is the letter that accompanied this picture of our paver:
I don't know anything about this Seniorlink organization, but the message of its chief executive is spot-on; so, I thought it should be shared as it is a timely message for us! The message appeared as a full-page ad in the Washington Post on November 1st, 2018. Tom Walker
We see you. You hold your family together. Your energy seems boundless; your commitment is palpable. I was convinced that you could do no more and then you took your mom into your home. Now your work is never finished. She cries out to you in the middle of the night just as your children did so many years ago and you respond, as you did then, with patience and kindness. We call you a family caregiver but this label doesn’t feel quite right—you say you are a mother, wife, sister and daughter first. It is clear that caregiving is in your soul, but it does not define you.
We admire you. You are tenacious but humble. You ask for nothing in return for your efforts but your face lights up to small gestures of gratitude. You demonstrate compassion in the face of constant exhaustion. You cook, clean, transport, and translate. You reconcile and administer medicines, pay bills, act as health care proxy and power of attorney. You maintain a career despite spending as many hours each week managing family and coordinating care as you do at work. You prove that grace is not just a word but a state of being.
We worry about you. Increasingly, you compromise taking care of yourself, always putting others first. Your fatigue has led to poor eating habits and weight loss. You are becoming more isolated from friends and family. You recently expressed your loneliness and I am concerned about what that implies. You will always trade things most precious to you in favor of those you love, who always seem to need more.
We thank you. You and 44 million of your fellow caregivers around the country are the foundation of our healthcare system, providing over $500 billion each year of uncompensated care. Without that commitment, our very society would be in peril. As Americans, we all owe you a debt of gratitude.
I am proud to know you. Thank you for your service to our country.
Thomas P. Riley
Chief Executive Officer and President Seniorlink
DOWNERS GROVE AND ST. JOSEPH PARISH CHURCH AND SCHOOL - 100 YEARS AGO
I found this map in the DuPage County basement records room a few years ago, and it is pretty neat. I've circled the location of St. Joseph's Church and School. The amount of vacant land is amazing! I'll put the unblemished picture in the "Photos 1950-58" Teachers & Edifices Tab, and you should be able to open the image and zoom-in. Enjoy!
PHIL VERVEER'S REFLECTION ON OUR DECEASED AND MISSING CLASSMATES
Tom has asked me to say a few words about our deceased and missing classmates, and by implication about all of us.
So what can we usefully say about a group of this size?
First, we have a lot in common.
Our classmates, and each of us, had the magnificent judgment to be born when we were. It almost certainly was the best time to be born in the entire 20th century. It occurred at the beginning of two-plus decades of unprecedented national prosperity. Unlike our children’s generation, we didn’t have to worry about whether we would find employment as adults. Rather, we had to find an answer to the question, “What do you want to do when you grow up”?
That’s not to say that their, or our, wishes were fulfilled, but it is to say that we had a better opportunity than most.
We also were the children of the Greatest Generation. I suspect that we didn’t fully appreciate it during our time at St. Joseph’s, but the fact that our parents lived through, and in one form or another participated in, both the Great Depression and World War II had to have significant ramifications, both personal and societal. Those experiences created and attitudes that were transmitted to us, mostly implicitly. Calvin Trillin once joked that he had been raised in the Midwest to prize modesty—except like many jokes it turned out to be true, at least for the Class of 58.
For many of us—perhaps most of us—we came to be in Downers Grove in the 1950s because the dislocations of the Depression and the War brought our parents here from elsewhere.
Finding ourselves in Downers Grove in the 1950s seems like a great fortuity in its own right. Our class is a reflection of its homogeneity. To say that it was a simpler time and place than almost anywhere today is an enormous understatement. We had degrees of freedom to come and go that seem unimaginable by today’s standards. Our children and grandchildren have to deal with challenges in reaching adulthood that are a great deal more ominous than what we confronted.
We find ourselves placed for socio-economic purposes at the very end of what has been labeled the Silent Generation—at least we escaped being Baby Boomers, who presently are being blamed for almost everything that is going wrong in our society. What might we fairly claim? Each of us, our deceased and missing classmates and each of us, participated in improving the social fabric of our country and in preserving the international order that with some ugly exceptions improved the lot of most people on the planet. We are leaving our children and grandchildren with large, difficult problems, but we can take pleasure in knowing that we are leaving issues of racial and gender equality better—in fact, much better—than where we found them.
That’s the kind of thing I try to incorporate when I’m asked to deliver a eulogy. But what can we say that’s a little more personal when we’re speaking about a group?
John Donne’s great Meditation—“never send to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for you”—is right.
We spent our formative years together, interacting in ways that contributed disproportionately to the kinds of adults we became. We are who we are because of one another. We learned how to work, how to contribute, how to cooperate, how to lead. We began to understand our gifts, who we are and who we are not. Some learned how to dance and, it must be said, some didn’t. But we did it together.
Any reflection that touches on death has many dimensions.
One of them is simply, why are we here when thirteen of our classmates are irretrievably missing?
A second is the sense of sorrow at our loss of our friends, and more poignantly their families’ loss of a spouse, a parent, a grandparent.
And a third, the unavoidable speculation about ultimate reality. And that brings us back, in a way, to St. Joseph’s School in the 1950s. It may, dare we say, be a place where cosmic reality and certain unhappy memories of the conduct of certain teachers (not to mention instances of PTSD) come together. We were taught religion during a time in which, in the words of a Jesuit friend, “theology was at its worst.” From the distance of six decades, it’s relatively easy to understand what was going on.
Our teachers, and therefore we, were subject to a Jansenist strain of Catholicism, almost certainly imported from Ireland—not the most salubrious Irish import compared with, say, Guinness or Irish whiskey. For some of the teachers, especially some of the nuns, salvation involved a desperate struggle. We got a full dose of Jonathan Edward’s “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” Fortunately, at least for those of us who continue to practice Catholicism, times have changed. God isn’t angry any more, or even especially judgmental, but rather merciful. I of course can’t prove it, but it provides hope that our deceased classmates and all of their and our deceased friends, relatives, and benefactors continue to exist and are resting in peace.
Presented on September 15, 2018, on the occasion of our 60th Reunion.
CELEBRATING AN ANNUAL MINI-REUNION EVENT TOGETHER
We four classmates, Mary Ellen, JoEllen, Tom and Phil, are fond of valuing our old friendships. Annually, whenever Mary Ellen comes to town, we gather at a spot in the Washington, DC, area to refresh our historical St. Joe roots and friendships. Our last gathering was generously hosted by Phil at the Cosmos Club where we all enjoyed a most delightful meal and upliftingly good discussion, which generally centered on our health, families and politics. After five or six years of these gatherings we still very much enjoy one another's company and expect to continue the tradition. JoEllen's spouse Bob Potts and my spouse Marlene were present, too. We ran short of time, however, and reluctantly had to limit ourselves to this one photo.
OUR SISTERS OF PROVIDENCE TEACHERS 1950-58
Wonderful that we have this terrific update on the Sisters who served at St. Joseph School from 1950-58. Yes, Sister Adrian Marie is still going strong and living in California and three other of our teachers are also alive and living at St. Mary-of-the-Woods!
NOW ARRIVING AT THE DOWNERS GROVE MAIN STREET STATION
THE CLASS OF 1958'S 60TH REUNION - ALL ABOARD, PLEASE
We had a terrific time at our 50th Reunion!
Please join us for our 60th!
Many of us in our graduating class of 79 students attended St. Joseph Catholic School together from the 1st thru the 8th grades, in the Village of Downers Grove, Illinois. Our last names are reminiscent of the post WWII era: Crepeau, Drimba, Epach, Fritz, Graff, Howerton, Jalowiec, Jamieson, Kopecky, Laczynski, Michalek, Niemec, Ruhnau, Schlanser, Sienkowski, Skala, Tuskey, and Wosik.
Long before we had ever heard of subgroups, we constituted one. The collective feel of our relationships transcended our individual friendships. We remember one another (and all of our antics, personality quirks, and adolescent romances) vividly. Being Catholic in what seemed to be a largely protestant town, we were keenly aware that we were different, which undoubtedly contributed to the strength of our feelings as a group.
For many of us, the mere mention of places like our uniquely blocked-off and cobblestoned Franklin Street playground, Prince Pond (our Winter skating paradise) and the Tivoli Theatre (pipe organ and heavy red drapes), elicits intensely pleasant memories. While not all memories of our youth were pleasant, there may well be benefit in recalling the bumps in the road together, too.
We can't relive the past, nor would it be advisable. Reminiscing, however, well that's okay! For some of us, reminiscing about places and events can be fun all by itself. For other's, nostalgia increases life's meaning. To share these memories while reconnecting with our classmates and friends from 60-years ago, however, may well be just what the doctor ordered.
As we are all beginning to realize and feel in our bones, the opportunity for us to assemble together (in the flesh) is not eternal! Hopefully, this website and our 60th Reunion gathering in Downers Grove this September, will provide a most welcomed respite from the struggles we all face everyday.
This preamble was originally written for our 50th Reunion. Today, its message is still valid.
As we approach the celebration of our 60th Reunion, let it be known and honored that we come to the event with many conflicting memories and life experiences.
Our expectations and anticipations will be many and various in their level of excitement and, perhaps, even fear. Some of us will arrive at the Reunion with painful remembrances, hoping to face down internal demons still resident from notsopleasant and longago experiences. Others of us will bring to the Reunion gloriously vivid memories of a beautiful time in such brilliant detail that the events remembered will appear to have taken place last week and not sixty years ago.
Let us remember that none of us can confidently claim to know the myriad feelings of traveling with our classmates as we all make our separate ways to the Reunion. Likewise, we cannot begin to see the environment that we faced individually as students at St. Joseph School. Our interactions with one another during our student years, and the interactions that we and our parents and families had with priests and sisters during that time, were not uniform, nor were they always played out publicly or pleasantly.
Likewise, we are not privy to the private experiences that each of us had within our family units; some of us suffered, and others thrived. Some of us went to school happily, smiling and unconfused, while others of us arrived tensed with fear and ridden with anxiety. To complicate matters, we weren't always good to one another once we were there.
In addition to the memories and experiences of our elementary school days, our lives have been further complicated and enriched by our subsequent growth. Then, we were relatively unburdened by politics, religion, and money; now, however, we have many years of contrasting experience with this volatile triumvirate. Over these many years, we have all individually faced life and death, sickness and health, good marriages and bad, ignorance and knowledge, solitude and togetherness, wealth and bankruptcy, and happiness and despair. For those of us who have had the good fortune to survive these intervening years, the impact of these 60 years is nonetheless palpable.
These observations are not unique to us as former students of St. Joseph School. They would be valid for any student, at any school, at any time, and at any place. Nor are they meant to discourage our participation in the Reunion. Instead, these thoughts are presented to assuage fears, temper anticipations, and heighten our sensitivity to the needs and concerns we will bring to the Reunion.
We are gathering together not just to reconnect and recall juvenile experiences but to make new and better connections with the people with whom we shared early and significant developmental experiences. We gather not just to review milestones but to strengthen the resolve to carry on regardless of what lies ahead. We are coming together not to compare or judge but genuinely to enrich our lives by embracing the totality of one another's experiences. Finally, we are gathering to acknowledge and celebrate the incredible resilience of life as we know it and to seek new horizons in our very complex lives.
Eight Sisters of Providence - 1955 Christmas Holiday
The Name the Sisters Contest was a bust. Only two classmates took the survey. Guess that it has been too many years since we really knew these women. So, here are the identities for seven of the eight sisters (our contact at St. Mary of the Woods couldn't identify Sister "D"):
Sister "A" is Virginia Clare, Sister "B" is Rose Eleanor, Sister "C" is Mary Ignatia, Sister "D" is Unidentified, Sister "E" is Mary Urban, Sister "F" is St. Ambrose, Sister "G" is Adrian Marie, and Sister "H" is Mary Ethel.