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By Lorraine Cooper, SC

Sister Marie Paula HoldmanSr. Marie Paula, at 96, greatly embodies the spirit of Mother Seton, the educator. Without planning it, love for writing seemed to be an attraction for her throughout her life. Creative expression was seeded in her heart by a grade-school teacher who enriched her lessons with art and music in Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Scarsdale. Both in high school and college she became involved in facets of journalism and publishing through such channels as student publications and public relations.

Her sense of vocation as a Sister of Charity not only drew her to helping the physically poor, but her goal became helping the young people in her English classes in Cathedral High School. She sought to enrich her students’ spirit with a vision for their lives through the arts, music, and beauty, thus expanding their capacity to receive God into their lives, as St. Therese explained. In that way, the students enriched their own lives and the society around them as well.

Later, as a professor of German at the College of Mount Saint Vincent, her minor field, she continued to work toward this goal. Sister Paula views CMSV as a spiritual as well as intellectual center in rapidly changing times in education. It is her dream that not only recent graduates, but the many alumnae who went before, will always live the CMSV motto of “goodness, knowledge, and discipline,” and thus influence the society they represent. She sees this as vital in a time of dismissal of the intellectual life and in the lack of the development of the whole person.

Sr. Paula has never ceased to develop her interests. She is an avid reader, especially in history, spirituality, and biographies of people who live out the fullness of their humanity. This is a source of wisdom for the Sisters with whom she lives and for her prayer for students, alumnae, and recently, for immigrants and refugees. Her special prayer is that each one’s guardian angel will protect them. Thus, all facets of her life are linked together in prayer.