Marking Milestones: Holy Infant nun celebrates Golden Jubilee
By: Sheila Frayne Rhoades
The faculty, students and parishioners of Holy Infant Catholic Church and School in Ballwin recently honored one of their own as Sister Laurentia (Nuala) Cusack celebrated two milestones: 50 years of service to the Sisters of Mercy in Ireland and her 30th year of teaching at Holy Infant.
“The teachers learned a Gaelic song, ‘Ag Chriost an Siol’ (“Christ has the Seed”), and sang it beautifully for me,” Cusack said.
A Jubilee Mass was celebrated for the entire parish.
“I was so proud when my nephew, Laurence Broderick, a New York opera singer, sang at the Mass,” Cusack said.
Born in Longwood, County Meath, Ireland, she said she is “of good farmer stock.” In 1959, she entered the Sisters of Mercy as a novice in Navan, Ireland.
“My vocation began in sixth grade when missionaries came to our school, and it strengthened while I was in high school,” she recalled.
Cusack took her first vows in 1962 and her final vows in 1965.
After leaving Ireland, Cusack spent eight years in Jacksonville, Fla., before coming to Holy Infant in 1982. Upon her arrival in St. Louis, she met a young priest who later became Cardinal Timothy Dolan.
During her years at Holy Infant, Cusack has taught sixth-grade math, English, writing and religion to approximately 3,000 children.
“Sister Laurentia taught me in sixth grade,” said Father Brian Fallon, of Queen of All Saints Parish in Oakville. “Remember those teachers that so impressed you and shaped your life? Well, Sister Laurentia is one of those. She imparts knowledge to her students with great joy.”
Fallon, whose parents live in Wildwood, was ordained last May and celebrated his first Mass at Holy Infant.
“I try to emulate Sister Laurentia in my own calling,” he said.
Another former student and recent college graduate, Michelle Treese, of Ballwin, has fond memories of Cusack as well.
“Sister Laurentia is a teacher who makes learning fun and engaging,” Treese said. “She pushes us to be better students.”
Aside from teaching, Cusack said she loves gardening, reading, walking, good music and baseball. An ardent Cardinals fan, she enjoyed a surprise visit from Fred Bird at her Jubilee party.
Cusack spends her Christmases in New York, where her two sisters live, and every summer, she returns to Ireland, where her two brothers reside.
“I thank the whole Holy Infant parish for their warmth and love and for making my 50th Jubilee and 30thanniversary so very memorable,” she said.