Students fete their departing principal

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Taftville - posted Mon., Nov. 26, 2012
Former principal Mother Mary David, center, enjoys the cheers of the student body at Sacred Heart School. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.
Former principal Mother Mary David, center, enjoys the cheers of the student body at Sacred Heart School. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.

How determined was Sister Mary David Riquier, SCMC, to keep Sacred Heart School thriving? So determined that she earned a commercial driver’s license so she could drive a busload of new students from Colchester every day.

Sister Mary David, now Mother Mary David, was showered with accolades, hugs and dozens of tiny red paper hearts during a special pre-Thanksgiving assembly at the school. The departing administrator was elected mother vicaress - second in rank to mother general - this summer by her order, the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady Mother of the Church. The post requires her to reside at the order’s Baltic motherhouse.

The outpouring of love left the former principal, usually all business, visibly choked up.  “A piece of my heart will always be here,” she told the crowd, her voice breaking. “I wouldn’t have moved if I had a choice. I tried to work it out actually, because I love Sacred Heart.”

Mother David spent 27 years at the school, first as a teacher and then as principal. She shepherded the parochial school through tough financial times in the 1990s by offering admission to Colchester residents and obtaining a bus to ferry them back and forth herself. Students from Colchester still attend the school: now a bus company provides service.

“Everybody tells me that I have big shoes to fill, and I know I do,” said Mother Mary Christina, the new SHS principal, who took the reins over the summer. She cited the former principal’s stewardship and leadership as the reason for the school’s solid enrollment and academic strength.

Those sentiments were echoed by Sacred Heart pastor Msgr. Henry Archambeault, who has been in the parish even longer. “I think some of our teachers have been here almost that long,” he said. “It’s a credit to Mother David that those teachers have stayed for so many years. She’s a good administrator and a good, holy sister. To all of us, she is the face of Sacred Heart School.”

Mother David’s stint as a bus driver was humorously re-enacted by eighth-graders on stage, with Grace Delucia portraying the intrepid nun. As the students on the “bus” broke into a robust rendition of “Call Me Maybe,” she shouted over her shoulder, “Quit with that rock ‘n roll! Sing some church songs.” Asked to lead the singing, “Sister” replied that she’d been kicked out of the convent choir.

In another skit, the “principal” confronted an errant student, who made up a wildly improbable excuse for flying a paper airplane. “You’re quite a storyteller,” she told the student. “Well, so am I. Just imagine the story I’m going to tell your parents!”

Each grade presented a skit, poem or song, along with gifts ranging from pink roses to paper-plate “suns” emblazoned with inspiring words. One class gave their former principal a box containing their written memories, along with an autographed pillow so she could finally get some rest. The school’s cheerleaders even presented a rousing cheer written just for her.

Mother David told the assembled students, teachers and staff that she would miss them. “We have some of the best students here,” she said. “That’s a prerequisite, you know – you’ve got to be a great kid to come to school here. We’ve got the best.”

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