Sister Angela Hearne

Posted on 13 November 2008

A conversation with Sister Angela Hearne, RSHM, The 95-year-old veteran teacher on 75 years at school, growing up in Ireland and going to the church’s retreat house in Tarrytown to lend a hand because “a lot of old people need help”

Sister Angela, could you tell me a little about your background, before you joined the church? I grew up on a horse farm in Ireland, in County Waterford right along by the ocean. I had loved horses. My father was in the horse business. He raised horses and trained them and I was always out there with him. I loved the horses. He would throw me up on the horse’s back, even before the harness was on it. I go home to see my sister Mary every year, she is 96, and I am 95. Yes well, thank God I’m able.

How did you come to Sag Harbor?
I was at Saint Mary’s teaching, and I was just told to move out. I moved to Brooklyn for a year and then I moved out here.

How old were you when you first arrived in Sag Harbor?
I was 17 when I came over from Ireland and it was three years later when I came to Brooklyn, I guess I was 20. I was about 25 when I came to Sag Harbor. And I’ve been here for about 70 years.

Do you remember your first teaching experience in Sag Harbor?
The first few years I was here, I wasn’t teaching I was just sort of in charge of the grade school. We started a grade school when we had the academy – and now it’s Sag Harbor Elementary. That was an all girls school, mostly boarding school. You had little ones boarding, I always felt so sorry for them, six-year-old boarding. I had to be a model to them all – I did – the little ones I felt sorry for them.

When did you begin at Stella Maris?
When we closed the academy in ‘68 and I moved there. I taught the second grade communion class always.

Lots of students have come and gone since you have been here – Do any of them still keep in touch with you?
Yes there are lots of them, and I still see many of them around. They say, “why are you going away?” and I’m not going that far anyway, I’m only going up to Tarrytown. They call it retirement, but I’m not retiring, I’m going up there to help out. Because a lot of old people need help.

While you were working here, how has the education system changed?
They have and they haven’t – I don’t know, children are children no matter what age you have them. I usually work with six and seven year olds. And then during the summer I ran a summer camp. I always kept busy. I’m still busy I go over to the school every day.

Yes, I heard you walk to the school everyday.
Oh that’s no distance. All I do is walk that’s all. I go over to the school and I make coffee for the teachers and then I prepare lunch for the children. We usually have chicken nuggets or pizza. We get the pizza free from the store but I have to serve it.

What will you miss about the students?
Just seeing them enjoying themselves. I love to see children enjoying themselves.

Have you lived here, in the convent this whole time?
I used to live in the academy, and in ‘68 when we closed the school, I moved here. In the same room. And now I’m straightening up and packing.

Have you had many roommates?
We had different nuns, I like company, but this one that I’m going to in Tarrytown, it’s bigger and they are all retired. They are either on crutches or walkers or can’t get out of bed. So I can help them. Sister Christine [Murray] was in an accident about a month ago, and she’s up there. We really haven’t asked her what happened, she was in pretty bad shape, but she is coming along, and she seems excited that I am coming up. I said I will bring you a cup of tea anytime you want it. I know quite a few people that will be there. I used to go on a retreat once a year there. I would spend five or six days up there, I know the run of the place.

Are you excited about the move?
I’m happy about it. Because when the head sister came down to tell me – she started to tell me, and I said, you don’t have to tell me – I was in the chapel praying and the Lord told me why you were coming. He said you are going to Tarrytown. I heard the Lord say that before the superior came to tell me.

How will you say your goodbyes?
I don’t like goodbyes, I’ll pretend I’m not. The school is having a big party for me, but I’d rather do something, just a little thing and then say goodbye to them all. We have two men [teachers] in the school. They hugged me and they kissed me and they said, what are we going to do without you? They are always happy days. I don’t think I’ve ever felt sad.

In Sag Harbor, is there any shop you will miss or your favorite place to eat that you will miss?
I love to walk around the five and ten and pick up little odds and ends. And usually I don’t need them, but I pick them up anyway; like crochet wool. I always like to have something to do, even if its only search words. So that’s my story. I probably have a few more years.

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9 Responses to “Sister Angela Hearne”

  1. Bruce says:

    The Sister is now 95, and has spent 70 years in Sag Harbor. I think it would of been kinder to let her live out her remaining days in Sag Harbor.

  2. GT O'Connell says:

    What a nice story of someone who because of the faith has devoted her life in a humble and generous path. We all know she has an express reservation to left hand seat of God.


    I was one of those young girls placed in the boarding school (I was eight and my sister was six), the year was 1960. I remember our long hikes around Sag Harbor every Sunday morning with Sister Angela leading the way. I remember her making all of the communion dresses for the girl’s in my younger sister’s communion class. I was also at camp every summer from age 8 through 18, and Sister Angela also ran that. She was amazing. I will not be surprised if she lives to see more than 100 years of life. I just hope that wherever she is, she is happy and knows that there are many little girls who will never forget her kindness to them when they needed it the most.
    God Bless You Sister – The Scelzi Girls (Barbara and Judy)

  4. Scott Seckel says:

    Sorry, but I went to St. Andrews (now Stella Maris) in the early 1970s. This woman beat me mercilessly. I came home in tears so many times my mother and grandfather had to go to the school on two separate occasions until she laid off. One time I brought a box turtle into the classroom and she told me she was going to put it under the wheel of the school bus. I was in second grade. I ran into another St. Andrews alum recently and all we talked about was the abuse and the beatings at that school. I know where this woman is going to sit, and it’s not at the hand of God. Sorry this is such a mean comment, but if anyone did the things she did to me back then now, they’d be in prison.

  5. Catherine Fetka says:

    As a single parent raising a child in Sag Harbor in the 70s I was
    thrilled with the fact that there was St Andrew’s School .
    It resulted in a very bad experience for my child. Sister Angela was
    abusive and cruel. I was told she did not like little boys and she
    certainly proved it time and again. I am not sorry for sending this comment.
    When a person retires there is always great praise for all there
    good deeds…this woman was not a person of good deeds but rather
    a nasty, bitter old woman.

  6. Rosemarie McGuire says:

    What has happened to Respect??

    It is so sad that adults have to trash a 95 year old person who devoted her life to the service of others. Perhaps it is time for Catherine and Scott to grow up and face their own IMPERFECTIONS. Sister Angela helped many children and missions in Africa as well as being generous to this community.

    Sr Angela deserves Respect and she will have mine forever.

  7. Daniel says:

    Rosemarie, “time for Catherine and Scott to grow up and face their own IMPERFECTIONS” ??

    Good thing you weren’t a judge on the Nuremberg Trials, my understanding is that the Nazi’s where just mis-understood and did many good things too. Exactly how many good things does it take to un-do the torcher of a child to win your respect Rosemarie? It must be a dubious distinction to win your respect, guess it would be different if it was you child.

  8. JK says:

    Sister Angela Hearne, RSHM was asked “What will you miss about the students”?
    She answered “Just seeing them enjoying themselves. I love to see children enjoying themselves”.

    I am glad Melissa Lynch did not comment about this old Woman’s attitude.. She would have lost my respect and that of others.

    Did Sister Angela forget her love for seeing children get upset? or too old to remember?.

    As an African, I have experienced a lot of abuse like this at school from fellow African..who we thought did not know better! It’s disappointing to see others looked up to as positive examples and loving subject children to abuse too.

    Let us learn from this and remember that the evil done will come back and hunt.

    I have learnt to forgive and forget to move on positively

  9. Fran Alioto says:

    Sister Angela was my second grade teacher at St. Andrew’s School, I loved her!

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