I spent my childhood from age 3 to 11 living on the lower Eastside of Manhattan. Although my family lived in the Bronx at my birth, I was christened at The Church of the Most Precious Blood. From first grade to sixth grade I attended St. Patrick’s School, as did my younger brother, sister and cousin. I recall many very specific incidents and some blended situations. I distinctly recall the early days of first grade as being traumatizing. Our teacher was Sister Elizabeth, who as I recall was aging, strict and cranky. I am a September baby, my gift that year was my very first ring with a sapphire birthstone. The ring was a little loose on my finger and I found ,tesla regularly turning it to its proper position. I guess Sister probably admonished me to stop fiddling with it, but that was harder than she realized. When she saw that I continued to be distracted by it, she took it from me and tossed it in the trash can. It was not returned to me at day’s end and required my mother to make a visit to retrieve it. Fortunately the rest of that first year did not leave any indelible me memories. My favorite year was third grade. We made the transition from pencil to fountain pen and printing to penmanship. Sister Marita was great! Patient, animated, funny and feisty, she made learning fun and inspired me to do my best. I really excelled that year and received the annual class scholastic achievement award given to a girl and boy from each class. The most memorable part of it was the ceremony held in our beautiful, awesome Cathedral, during eight grade commencement. In fact, every moment spent in our church was awe inspiring. The architecture, the colorful stained glass windows, the statuary, the magnificent organ and chandeliers as well as the many flickering candles. I remember how blessed I felt walking the center aisle for First Holy Communion and then every Sunday and Holy day thereafter. The excitement of making Confirmation and being able to actually approach the altar and be made a soldier of God and blessed by the bishop was unsurpassed by any other childhood event. I knew way back then what a special place our church and school was.
Fourth grade is when I recall really making friendships that extended beyond school. I was allowed to have lunch outside of school and explored the offerings of the surrounding streets of Little Italy, the best of which was the five cent pizza from Parisi’s on Elizabeth St. It was this year that I was also allowed to attend the after school program sponsored by the Police Atletic League and held at the Parish Center on Mulberry St. up the street from the church. Lots of fun…games, bazaars, sports…character building.
Fifth and sixth grades were quite easy with Miss Guma and Sister Regina.
I remember having two principals during my time at St. Patrick’s School, can’t remember for sure the first one, but Sister Miriam Marguerite was there for more of the time I attended. The pastor was Monsignor Tomasso and the priest assigned to shepherd the students was Father Principe.
I am deeply honored to have had the privilege of attending this historically significant school & church.
Congratulations on the elevation to Basilica and Happy Bicentennial Anniversary.