by Amy Latorres-Rios
Amy is Program Director of Center for Family Life’s Beacon Program at PS 503/PS 506 in Sunset Park. She joined the Center’s programs at the age of 12 and was one of our first youth volunteers. As a counselor, teen coordinator and now program director, she has dedicated herself to helping Sunset Park youth realize their strengths and talents. She received the 2009 PASEsetter Award from the Partnership for After School Education, in recognition of her contributions over 25 years as a participant and staff member at the Center. Amy is among those in the Center’s staff who had known the late Sister Mary Paul ever since the Center opened its doors in 1978, and she wanted to share her thoughts about her recent passing.
I’ve known Sister Mary Paul since I was about 14. Although she didn’t frequent the teen center or the St. Michael’s Jams like I did at the time, I knew about her. She was “the other nun.” Years later, when I was an adult and working at Center for Family Life, I would see her in passing, sometimes we would sit in the same meetings. Once, at the end of a staff roundtable meeting, she asked my name. I joked with co-workers that I had been employed by the Center for over ten years, yet Sister Mary Paul didn’t know my name.
I don’t remember when it happened, but at some point she and I became more important to each other. I would always greet her with a kiss on the forehead and say goodbye with a kiss on her hand. It warmed my soul to know that she insisted on attending the event when I received the “PASESetter” award. For days, she left me notes requesting that I give her a copy of my speech. She told me that I made her very proud and that Sister Geraldine would have been proud, too.