Nun at IHM School makes teaching a habit
The Scarsdale Inquirer; September 26, 2007; By CARRIE GILPIN
For the first time in almost 40 years, a nun is on the faculty at Immaculate Heart of Mary, a Catholic archdiocesan school for nursery through eighth-graders at the corner of Post Road and Boulevard in Scarsdale.

Siser Dorothy DeYoung, a Franciscan sister for 46 years, has been involved in Catholic education as a teacher or principal since 1963.  She came to IHM from St. Margaret of Cortona School in the Bronx, where she was principal from 1997-2007, and worked prior to that as a Congregation Minister of the Francisan Sisters of Peace in Haverstraw.

"I am delighted to be back teaching after being an administrator for 29 years," said Sister DeYoung.  "I'm glad to be a part of the rebirth of the school and I love interacting with the children," she said.  DeYoung teaches math and religion to middle schoolers in grades 6, 7, and 8.

"We love her," said principal Patricia Gatti, who knew DeYoung when both women were school principals in the Bronx.  "She is such a superior teacher, especially in math, and her reputation preceded her.  She could have gone anywhere and we are so lucky to have her.  She is a celebrity, but a reluctant one!"

DeYoung agreed, "I'm doing something unusual, which is to move from administration backto teaching, not the other way around.  When they heard I had been a teacher in the early 60's, they were worried I might not make it up the stairs to the classroom, but I have the energy."

When DeYoung began teaching, most of the faculty was comprised of priests or nuns; today nuns in particular are rare.  DeYoung attributes the decrease in nuns of all orders to the creation of newly extended ministries available to women since the Second Vatican Council, approved under John XXIII in 1965.  Vatican II redefined the nature of the church and increased lay participation in the liturgy."

"Women today can minister within the church without giving up the life they had been accustomed to [sisters take vows of poverty and chastity].  There are more retired sisters than active ones today.  But those of us who have made this decision are not deflated in any way by the decrease in numbers," she said.

Today, there is an influx of women from Third World countries becoming nuns rather than most of them coming from the United States, according to DeYoung.

Nor is DeYoung thrown by the troubles the Catholic Church faces in regard to priests, both the lack of them and the scandals of abuse in recent years.

"There are so many dedicated Christian brothers and priests who do so much for so many people.  I wouldn't want the good to be lost in this cycle of misconception.  The church is beyond any human being.  I have a passion about the faith and what we believe, regardless of human failing.  My focus is on passing on the faith to this faith community."

IHM has 50 new students enrolled this year, and has opened two new pre-K classes.  Ninety-six percent of the student body is Catholic.  "This is a happy school, and the students were excited and a bit nervous to have Sister here," said Gatti, who acknowledged many of the students had never met a nun before.

"It's been just great," said DeYoung.  "I'm loving every minute."