“How good is the good God.” – St. Julie
Sister Francis Timothy Quinn first met the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur as a student at Cardinal Cushing High School in South Boston. Immediately, she felt drawn to them. “The friendliness, the joy, and the caring that each Sister had for the students was just radiant,” she recalls. “They always had a smile and were happy to help.”
Sister Francis had an uncle who was a priest, Father James Quinn, she loved hearing his stories of helping people in various ways. She decided at a very young age that she wanted to be like him. Along with her uncle, she was moved by the Sisters’ deep commitment to the children in their classes. Sister Francis began to consider a vocation as a Sister of Notre Dame. “They loved children and I love children. I think that was probably the biggest draw for me.” In 1953, immediately after graduating high school, Sister Francis entered the congregation .
She attended Emmanuel College and earned a BA in Education. Her first mission was as a kindergarten teacher in Boston’s North End, with sixty students in her class.
Teaching gave Sister Francis great joy and she went on to have a long, rewarding career as an educator at many schools throughout Massachusetts. She taught for a year at St Mary’s in the North End, a year at St. Rita’s in Lawrence, a year at Holy Rosary, also in Lawrence, and eight years at St. Gregory’s in Dorchester, three years at Holy Redeemer in East Boston and for twenty-eight years at St. John’s, Beverly. For most of her career, she taught the first grade. “I just loved the children,” she says. “I loved teaching.”
Sister Francis was known as a kind and compassionate educator and took great pride in her work. “To me, children are God’s gift to us,” she shares, “and it's our responsibility to appreciate and love that gift.”
When Sister Francis Quinn retired from teaching, her friends, colleagues, and former students threw a celebration for her. One former student’s letter summarized the impact that Sister Francis had on her students throughout her long career in the classroom: “The teacher said to the students, ‘Come to the edge!’ We replied. ‘We might fail.’ The teacher said, ‘Come to the edge.’ We replied, ‘It’s too high.’ Again, the teacher said, ‘Come to the edge.’ We came to the edge, and she pushed us … and we flew. That’s what you did for me years ago. You taught me to fly.”
As she reflects on 70 years, she is deeply thankful for the time she spent as an educator. “This is what I believed in: I was to teach the children and open up a world of wonder.”
Watch this reflection video, taken of Sister Francis Timothy Quinn at the time of her 70th Jubilee: