Showing Love to the Daughters of Wisdom

A lucky winner picks up her prize. 

For the second year in a row, staff at St. Mary’s Home are using Valentine’s Day to show some love to the Daughters of Wisdom, the order of nuns who ran St. Mary’s for decades.

Members of the Environmental Committee, which plans fun stuff to boost camaraderie, baked and bought cakes and other Valentine-themed goodies to be raffled off today Hungry staff bought tickets in droves, raising nearly $300 to be donated to the sisters. The committee is still accepting donations through Monday (Valentine’s Day).

On Tuesday, the last nun on the staff, Sister Mary June Morin, retired after 51 years of serving children at St. Mary’s. She was back today as a volunteer, but at least she got to sleep in — until 7 a.m. — after years of reporting to work at 4:30 a.m. to beat the tunnel traffic from nearby Portsmouth. You can read a lovely article about Sister from The Virginian-Pilot newspaper here.

Lucky winners. 

"Everybody Likes to Give"

Many generous people across the nation have donated money to help Haiti recover from the earthquake in January. At St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children in Norfolk, employees recently took up a collection and raised $1,705 to send to the Daughters of Wisdom to use for their Haiti relief efforts.

St. Mary’s Home has had a special connection to the religious order for most of its 65-year-history. Nuns from the Daughters of Wisdom arrived at the Home in 1946 to take charge. Today, the sole nun still on the staff, Sister Mary June Morin, is starting her 51st year of working at St. Mary’s.

So, when news came that six Daughters had been killed in the earthquake, St. Mary’s staff was especially moved to help. The money raised by employees includes $450 from a Valentine’s goodie sale/baked goods raffle organized by the Nurses Environmental Committee, which focuses on building camaraderie among the staff. The photo shows committee members Janie Mines, left, and Susan Kok, right, among the carnations and boxes full of Hershey’s Kisses that were for sale. The committee also raffled off (mostly) homemade baked goods.

You can read more about the committee’s work here, in a column about charitable giving by Mike Gruss of The Virginian-Pilot. Susan Kok told Gruss that she never worried the chocolates, carnations and cakes wouldn’t sell: “Everybody likes to give. Everybody likes to get something.”

Helping Haiti

(Undated St. Mary’s file photo.) 

Among the many sad stories coming out of Haiti is the news that six sisters of the Daughters of Wisdom were caught in the rubble. Three were killed; the others are not believed to have survived. 

St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children in Norfolk has had a special connection to the Daughters, a congregation of Catholic religious women, for most of our 65-year-history. About a year after the Home opened in December 1944, a group of sisters from the order arrived from New York state to manage the residence. The last remaining nun at the Home, Sister Mary June Morin, is celebrating 50 years of service at St. Mary’s. 

To learn more about the Daughters of Wisdom and the wonderful work they do in Haiti and elsewhere, please visit their website. There, you also can make a donation to help earthquake victims through the Daughters’ emergency relief fund. Click on the “You Can Help” link, then choose “donate online.” Next to “Use this gift for,” click “other” and type in: “Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund.”

65 Years of Comfort & Caring

Sisters of the Daughters of Wisdom feed children during an evening meal. (1946 file photo)

The world was at war when a downtown Norfolk building that already had served children for more than a century as a school for girls was re-dedicated on Dec. 8, 1944, for a new purpose. “St. Mary’s Infant Home will provide shelter for the little boys and girls who cannot find it elsewhere,” Bishop Peter I. Ireton, co-adjutor bishop of Richmond, said during the ceremony, according to news accounts.

At first, St. Mary’s was a home for young children with no homes of their own or who needed a temporary place to stay while their mothers worked in war plants. The Daughters of Wisdom arrived at the Home to begin taking care of the children in 1946.

Over the years, the Home evolved into a home for children and young adults with severe disabilities, changing its name and moving into a new facility in the 1960s and then into its current, state-of-the-art building in 2005. Starting in December 2009 and continuing throughout 2010, St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children will be celebrating its 65th anniversary in a number of ways, including vintage-themed holiday decorations, displays of historical items, billboard advertisements in the Norfolk area and an anniversary dinner on March 24, 2010. Be sure to keep checking our website and our newsletter, Guardian, for details – and thank you for supporting the children and young adults who call St. Mary’s “home.”