,

In Memoriam: Sister Barbara Heil: by Written by Hannah Langley ’17

Sister Barbara’s Grotto

Babe Ruth once said, “Heroes get remembered, but legends never die.” On the night of March 4, 2016, Kennedy Catholic lost its very own legend – Sister Barbara Heil. Sister Barbara, a beloved member of the Sisters of Divine Compassion, began working at Kennedy Catholic while it was still called St. Mary’s High School. In 1966, when the school moved to its current location, Sister Barbara once said, “I came along with the moving vans.” Since the beginning of the school’s opening, Sister Barbara was known for her unforgettably cheerful and witty attitude. She was more than just a teacher at Kennedy; she was a mentor, colleague, mother, and friend to all who knew her.

Sister Barbara was considered the “Miss Hospitality” of Kennedy Catholic, as she organized and participated in nearly every school event. She commanded a strong presence in every aspect of school life at Kennedy. She consistently pushed herself every day to provide for each of the students at the school, whom she loved as though they were her own. As a teacher in Mathematics, Latin, and Home Economics, she inspired and touched the hearts of many students. For years, Sister Barbara, along with Mr. Schmidt and other Sisters of the Divine Compassion, worked to support the impoverished migrant families in Goshen, New York, providing them with food and handmade clothing. During the Christmas season, she organized the collections for the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital Toy Drive, and, during Easter, she arranged baskets for Goshen children. For many years, Sister Barbara exercised one of her greatest passions: designing and sewing costumes for the Kennedy Catholic play productions. In addition to her participation in the school play, she was also an avid sports fan who attended nearly every home game for school sports played both in the gym and on the field. Sister Barbara exemplifies the spirit of hard work, and, during her lifetime, she brought out the best in everyone she knew.

Sister Barbara’s stone in the grotto

Following her passing, many former students and parents have returned to speak on behalf of Sister Barbara and the legacy that she left. Annette DiGrandi, mother of 2016 graduate Nicholas DiGrandi, shared a personal relationship with Sister Barbara, as the two worked together in costume design for Kennedy Catholic performances of The Sound of Music and Cinderella. This year, Mrs. DiGrandi wishes that Sister Barbara was here t
o volunteer with her, but she is grateful to have known and worked with her. She describes Sister Barbara as an “example of kindness and compassion not only for our children, but for all of us”and commemorates her by saying, “We miss you but know you are with us, looking down on all the kiddies with your beautiful smile.”

In remembrance of Sister Barbara, Kennedy Catholic has launched several memorialization projects, including the renovation of the grotto at the entrance of the school, as well as a bench crafted in dedication to her. The bench, which will be unveiled toward the end of this school year, will be engraved with Sister Barbara’s name, a Latin quote, and other items that she cherished. On May 22nd, Cardinal Timothy Dolan will be coming to the school to bless this monument and pay respect for such a wonderful woman.

It has been one year since Sister Barbara’s passing, but she continues to be, and will always remain, a legendary woman in the hearts of the entire Kennedy Catholic community. She embodies the virtues Kennedy Catholic was built upon – courage and compassion. Sister Barbara’s endless love and support, as well as her unfailing spirit, will never be forgotten.

 

 

 

Comments

comments