A Spirit of Excellence and Care

St. Anthony School
Dominican Sisters of Sparkill at St. Anthony's Mass of Thanksgiving

In many ways, it was a normal, end-of-school-year celebration, honoring teachers who were retiring after many years of dedicated service. But the celebration on June 3, 2023, at Saint Anthony Parish, Nanuet, NY, had a special significance. With the retirement of Sisters Dorothy Kelty and LynnAnn Lewis, Saint Anthony School marked the end of 70 vibrant years of educational ministry by the Dominican Sisters of Sparkill.

Sisters Dorothy (Dottie) Kelty and Sister LynnAnn Lewis

Sisters Dorothy and Lynn offered the following thoughts:

Saturday, June 3rd was filled with joy, gratitude, and memories of the Sparkill Dominicans’ 70-year teaching ministry at Saint Anthony School and Parish. We felt both humbled and blessed to be part of this community’s life and faith and also to celebrate our retirement. Father Jerry Deponai orchestrated this wonderful event.  It was very important to him that the Sisters be acknowledged and celebrated.  The day was perfect!

In September 1953, seven Sisters arrived to open the new parish elementary school. Over the past 7 decades, more than 75 Sparkill Dominicans have embraced the mission of forming faith-based learners for thousands of students who would go on to do great things and make a positive difference in the world. By their word and example, the Sisters’ ministry extended well beyond the classroom, and they participated in leading youth groups, service trips to Appalachia, parish religious education programs, adult faith formation, and even coaching CYO athletic teams.

Sisters offering the 13th Century Dominican Blessing calling for blessing, healing and enlightenment.

Sister Jeanne Shary alumna (Class of 1977) and Dominican Sister of Sparkill said:

Today we speak about Pope Francis’ letter, Laudato Sí, which emphasizes our interconnectedness with all of creation and each other. This was always part of the fabric of Saint Anthony’s. If someone was in need, then the community responded—and the Sisters led the way. And thanks to the Sisters’ broad vision, the scope of those in need wasn’t just the person in my neighborhood. I would have to say the seeds of my vocation were nurtured by attending Saint Anthony’s.

Long-time colleague and Pre-K teacher Nancy Duggan shared:

It was an honor to work with the Dominican Sisters of Sparkill.  We are eternally grateful to them for founding Saint Anthony School 70 years ago.  They carved a path of justice and kindness for the children. Most importantly, they taught and showed the children, by their example, the importance of God’s love in their lives, each and every day.  Thank you and God bless you!

At a special Mass of Thanksgiving, hearts were full as Father Jerry spoke of the selfless commitment of the many Sisters and lay faculty members, honoring not only the 4 who were retiring this year but also the past teachers and administrators who had died. He presented a plaque to the Leadership Team of the Dominican Sisters in gratitude for the Congregation’s 70 years of educational leadership and service in the Parish. In true Saint Anthony’s fashion, all enjoyed a festive reception in the cafeteria after Mass.

Many alumni have chosen to send their children to Saint Anthony’s "where children learn to love—and love to learn." Alumnus, Brian McGuinness (Class of 1988) captures the Sisters’ legacy well: “The Dominican Sisters brought a spirit of excellence and care that permeated the entire school and beyond. Their teaching and example gave us a strong foundation built on high morals and a strong work ethic that we proudly share with others.”



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