(Extensions of Remarks - December 03, 1999)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E2536]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                        TRIBUTE TO SISTER DAMIEN


                           HON. MARCY KAPTUR

                                of ohio

                    in the house of representatives

                       Monday, November 22, 1999

  Ms. KAPTUR. Mr. Speaker, I wish to extend my profoundest condolences 
to the Sisters of St. Francis and all of the friends of our dear, 
beloved Sr. Damien, upon her passing from this life into the next. 
Sister Mary Damien was a treasured friend and gifted educator in 
Toledo, Ohio. She was an absolute inspiration, a master craftswoman of 
teaching, a singularly focused and dedicated educator.
  To watch Sr. Damien practice her craft was pure joy. She knew every 
trick to command the attention of students and to grade them on an 
infinite variety of skills she hoped they would come to master. I 
recall, as an adult, visiting her class at Central Catholic High School 
with a former classmate from Little Flower Grade School, which was 
attended when Sister Damien was our teacher and principal. As we 
observed her work with her Geometry students, we remembered and reveled 
in the moment. She was unrivaled in her trade.
  She kept a black notebook on her desk, with the name of each student 
in it. As the months of the school year went by, there appeared 
thousands of crosshatches aside each student's name, indicating that 
student's performance on technical material as well as other measures 
of performance. Those notebooks were as detailed as the program for the 
Mars launch. She graded students for everything--from participation to 
effort to appearance. Though one could never be certain what all the 
categories were, every student knew there was always room for 
improvement. I can still hear her teaching students how to spell 
commonly misspelled words, and remember the distinction she drew 
between ``pupil'' and ``student'' as she tried to get young minds to 
grow. She had a unique ability to challenge her students to exercise 
``the gray matter between the ears'' even as she never stopped using 
hers. She embodied a living metaphor for lifelong learning.
  Sr. Damien always wore her habit, a most pious Sister of St. Francis. 
She never pushed religion, but she lived her vows every day. Her 
holiness and piety moved with her. I must also offer public gratitude 
to her for her abiding kindness to our family, through good times and 
those that were difficult. She was always there for us, and I am sure, 
for countless others. She lived for others, and it was a double joy to 
know her as we, her students, became adults and shared the wonderful 
gift of a lifespan together.
  Sister Mary Damien was a stern task master, yet beloved by all of her 
students. We consider ourselves many times blessed to have known her 
and been helped to grow through her tutelage. What she selflessly gave 
to all of us--literally thousands of students who were fortunate to sit 
at her knee--is priceless. Her contributions to others will live 
through the people she helped to advance educationally and spiritually. 
What a legacy she has left as she served Christ and our Blessed Mother 
as a Sister of St. Francis.