Sue Silverstein-Gilligan, director of Campus Ministry and Community Service and the Theology Department Chair at Bishop Maginn, reflects on her time spent at the school as Maginn prepares to shut its doors at the end of the 2021-22 school year. (Evangelist file photo)
Sue Silverstein-Gilligan, director of Campus Ministry and Community Service and the Theology Department Chair at Bishop Maginn, reflects on her time spent at the school as Maginn prepares to shut its doors at the end of the 2021-22 school year. (Evangelist file photo)
When I was asked to write about my memories of the years I have spent at BMHS a literal waterfall of images came to mind. Recently, some of the students were going through old yearbooks. Someone said, Mrs. Silverstein, it’s like we watched you grow up! Indeed they did, I suppose. I was in my 30s when I started what was supposed to be a six-week favor to the then-Principal Joe Grasso. Six weeks became the rest of the year and the rest of the year became 24 years. And here I am. About to say goodbye to what has become the fabric of my heart. I often say that I have thousands of children. Each face has a story to tell. I have watched them grow, I have held their children, celebrated their accomplishments, prayed with them, fed them, laughed and cried with them. They are mine, every one of them. Their families have been kind enough to share their most precious children with me and I am blessed.

It is an honor to teach theology and art in a Catholic school, it’s a gift. I have always thought of teaching as walking with the students on their faith journey. Maginn has been an oasis, a refuge from sometimes troubled places, a faith community where the belief that we are here to help each other and be stewards of our community permeates everything.

In 24 years, I have seen many changes. Changes to the location, changes to the enrollment, changes in faculty and administration, but never a change in mission. The mission remains the same. From the words of Jesus … Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
There are so many memories I could write about. The pure joy of that opening night performance of “The Wizard of Oz” to a sold-out crowd! The excitement or heartbreak of winning or losing sports seasons. The first vegetables harvested from a garden to feed the hungry. Decorating the gym for a prom, praying together, working together, being a family. The devastation of losing those who meant so much to the history of BMHS. I have worked with so many caring and compassionate people, people who have changed lives for the better every day of their lives. I learned by watching them and I hope that younger faculty can learn the same way. By watching people who make a difference, even when life gets hard, or a pandemic hits and the way education happens turns totally upside down.

My children are graduates of BMHS. I am a graduate myself, the first class in 1978. I can’t help but feel the void that will be left in this community by the closing of this place that has been home to so many. This I know, the spirit of Maginn will live on in the lives of all who have been a part of the rich history of this amazing institution. They will make the world a better place. Once a Griffin, Always a Griffin.

Sue Silverstein-Gilligan is the director of Campus Ministry and Community Service and the Theology Department Chair at Bishop Maginn. In the fall, she will be working at Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons in the art department and community service.