Lessons I Learned from Sister Irene Breheny, SC

Tuesday, August 15, was the 90th birthday of Sr. Marie Irene Breheny, SC. She was one of the most influential people in my life, starting when I was in high school. We kept in touch for many years. After I saw her a few years ago at a reunion, I sent her a birthday card and told her how much she meant to me. I’d like to share two life lessons I learned from her.

I was once having a terrible time with a math problem, unusual because I was one of the top students. I finally gave up and asked her for help. She took one look at my paper and said I had copied the problem wrong! Lesson: before you try to solve a problem make sure you understand it correctly.

Another time I couldn’t decide which of two options I wanted to do. She told me to flip a coin. The instant I saw the result my gut reaction (yay/darn) would tell me what I REALLY wanted. Lesson: find a way to help you reliably determine what you want and factor it in your decision making. Both these lessons have served me well through the years.

I truly believe that the twelve years I spent with the Sisters of Charity (grades 1-8 at St. Lawrence Academy in Manhattan before Seton) played a major role in who I am and whatever good I might have done. And no one had a greater impact on me than Sr. Irene. We kept in touch for many years, she was often better about it than I was. It was her faithfulness, her willingness to remain in my life that meant so much.”

Happy birthday, Sr. Irene, with love and gratitude!

Joan Phillips-Sandy
Elizabeth Seton School
Yonkers, Class of 1963

Sister Irene is one of the participants in the Kittay House Walkathon to raise money for the Elizabeth Seton Pediatri Center.

3 Responses to Lessons I Learned from Sister Irene Breheny, SC

  1. Adele Porter Pascucci August 18, 2017 at 6:07 pm #

    I was blessed to have Sr. Marie Irene as a math teacher at Elizabeth Seton College and then as a colleague when I was Director of Public Relations at Elizabeth Seton College. Her wisdom and humor were great gifts. Those years, 1965-67 as a student, and 1970-73 as a colleague, were among the best years in my education/career. Thank you to Sr. Marie Irene and the Sisters of Charity.
    Happy Birthday Sr. Marie Irene. You and the sisters are in my heart and my prayers.

    Adele Porter Pascucci.

  2. Margaret fitzGerald August 20, 2017 at 5:41 am #

    I am blessed with wonderful memories of Sr Irene and my years at St Lawrence Academy. So sorry it closed the year before I was to graduated. However, my sister, Rose Anne Crimmins graduated in 1959. When she died as a Peace Corp Volunteer in 1967 Sr Irene’s letters to my parents were a comfort and support and showed such great compassion. I love my faith because of hers.
    God bless Sr Irene and all the Sisters of Charity.
    Margaret Crimmins FitzGerald

  3. Virginia Bono O'Connor August 21, 2017 at 10:17 am #

    Every student has that special teacher that they remember as having an impact on their life. I will always be thankful to Sr. Irene for being that one. My years at St. Lawrence Academy from 1956 – 1960 were made special because of her.
    Happy Birthday and I can’t thank you enough.

    Virginia Bono O’Connor

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