"The greater the work the more
important it is to establish it on
a solid foundation. Thus it will
not only be more perfect; it
will also be more lasting.”

St. Louise de Marillac

“Be diligent in serving
the poor. Love the poor,
honor them, my children,
as you would honor
Christ Himself.”

St. Louise de Marillac

 

A Journey Into the Unknown

By S. Regina Kusnir

S. Peggy Rein has ministered at Holy Family School in Cincinnati since 1991 and currently teaches reading to kindergarteners in small groups.

The image of the Holy Family engenders feelings of warmth, innocence and the willingness to journey into the unknown, trusting Divine Mystery. Little did S. Peggy Rein know what lay ahead of her when she was first assigned to Holy Family School in Cincinnati, Ohio, some 34 years ago.

S. Peggy started her ministry at Holy Family as a teacher of children in fourth, fifth and sixth grades. After five years, she was asked to teach eighth grade science. When the school needed a certified religion teacher, S. Peggy shared faith with kindergarteners and students in other grades. Presently, she teaches reading to kindergarteners. There she relishes working with groups of six where the impact of learning is obvious. She also teaches third grade religion, helps teachers plan Masses, preps readers for Mass and enjoys playground duty. The variety in her ministry is life-giving and she quips that, “When I’m not willing to try new ideas – I’ll retire.”

Holy Family lives up to its name. The student populace today is immigrant, primarily from Guatemala. A very supportive faculty joins together in caring deeply for the children. Each child is special, called by name, loved, cared for, and respected as unique. This is not the first contact with families from other countries for S. Peggy, who in the 1970s worked with migrants in Bay City, Michigan, as well as Union City and Findlay, Ohio.

S. Peggy witnesses strong ties in these immigrant families. For example, “a family came to Cincinnati in 2015. Years later another family came to stay with them since there is always room for one more. This helps with their inculturation,” she says.

The parents are deeply committed to wanting their children to have the best education. They will sacrifice to see it happen by attending meetings, helping with projects, etc. The voucher program has helped families find educational stability. 

Still there are challenges. Many struggle financially and tend to be underemployed. Some are “cleaners” to provide for their families leading children to accept responsibility for each other. Most children enjoy the free breakfast and lunch program and benefit from weekend food bags. “One child was asked what he would like for Christmas. His reply, ‘a bed,’” S. Peggy recalled. 

Parents are deeply religious and Holy Family’s Sunday Spanish Mass is lively. The cultural contributions of these families include soccer, “the big sport,” and festivals with the music, food, and dance of the Guatemalan community. The delightful, animated, lovable children “always give you a hug,” she says. “If I can help these children get a good education – I am witnessing the works of mercy.”

Two quotes from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton inspire the ministry S. Peggy loves: “God takes delight in his people,” and, “If this project is to succeed, praise God. If it does not succeed, praise God because it wasn’t supposed to.” 

S. Peggy Rein teaches third grade religion at Holy Family School in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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