Very few people realize it, but the sanctuary known as Maryknoll nestled high on a hill overlooking Ossining and the Hudson River had its beginnings in nearby Hawthorne, NY.
On April 3, locals from Hawthorne, Thornwood, Pleasantville, and Vahalla, as well as a number of Maryknoll Sisters who made the 15-minute drive from Ossining to attend, gathered at Holy Rosary School in Hawthorne to hear about those historic roots and relationship from Sister Claudette LaVerdiere, an historian and author of "On the Threshold of the Future: The Life and Spirituality of Mother Mary Joseph Rogers, Founder of the Maryknoll Sisters."
Regaling the 30 or so women gathered for the monthly meeting of Holy Rosary Church's Rosary Altar Society with amusing tales of water gone bad, cooks gone awry and ghosts creating a stir in one of the local homes the first Maryknollers rented back in 1912, Sister Claudette spun a fascinating web of history. Included were stories of tussles with land owners of the first property Maryknoll founder Father James Anthony Walsh tried to buy in Pocantico Hills, future Sisters who were celebrated for their personhood but not their expertise in the kitchen, and the love affair with the natural rolling hills that surrounded their first home in Westchester.
The Maryknoll Sisters, Fathers and Brothers still hold a special fondness for Hawthorne, Sister Claudette confessed, referring to it as the "cradle" or "Bethlehem" of the first US based society and congregation of Catholic priests and religious dedicated to foreign mission.
Maryknoll Sisters are celebrating their 100th anniversary this year with a wide variety of events. Next up: "Hearts on Fire", a symposium on mission and religious life in the 21st Century. The public is invited to this free event. For more information, visit their website: www.maryknollsisters.org/symposium.