By Lisa Zepponi
GREENVILLE – During the annual crowning of Mary at Our Lady of Lourdes School on Friday, May 15, the students, current and former faculty, parents and friends recognized and honored Sisters Mary Elizabeth DeBoer and Marie Elizabeth Alspaugh for their unwavering devotion and loyalty to the students, both past and present.
Both sisters will be returning to their religious orders in New York and
Seventeen years ago, Sister DeBoer arrived in Greenville to begin teaching language arts and math to fifth and sixth graders. During the past eight years Sister DeBoer has been the volunteer librarian at Our Lady of Lourdes, where she has shared her love of reading with children and adults alike.
Sister DeBoer entered the Dominican Sisters of Hope in Newburg, NY in 1949, and began her teaching career in 1952. She has taught in Catholic schools in New York, North Carolina, New Jersey and Mississippi and served as principal of two separate schools in Durham, NC and Glen Rock, NJ. She brought her love of education to many who have walked through the doors of Our Lady of Lourdes.
“Teaching children and developing their spiritual life is a life process, which I am most proud to have participated,” said Sister DeBoer.
As she begins her new chapter of life in Ossining, NY, she said, “My hope is to read children’s books to adults who can no longer read or are incapable of reading.”
After turning down several different principal positions, including one in West Virginia and three in the Jackson area, Sister Alspaugh chose to make Our Lady of Lourdes and Greenville her home for the next 25 years. She joined the Sisters of St. Joseph in Philadelphia in 1956, and began teaching in 1959 at St. Bern in Philadelphia. She has taught and served as principal in Catholic schools in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, New Jersey and Mississippi. She has served as a classroom teacher for 16 years and as a principal for 33 years, 18 of which were for Our Lady of Lourdes.
“I chose Lourdes and Greenville because of the great support I received from Father Ferrell, formerly of St. Joseph Catholic Church, the parents and the strong group of teachers,” she said, adding that she wanted to involve the families in their children’s education. “I felt I could accomplish this goal here in Greenville where I stayed for 25 years because I love Greenville, the culture, the children and the families.”
Sister Alspaugh retired as principal of Lourdes in 2008 and began her new parish work including volunteering at St. Vincent de Paul, which she continues today. In 2011 she was enticed to return as a teacher of an advanced math class for sixth grade students, which she continued for the past four years to fifth and sixth graders.
We pray for their safe return to their respective orders and for the Lord’s continued blessing upon them. You will be missed and forever loved.
(Lisa Zepponi is the public relations director for Greenville St. Joseph Catholic School.)