“In prayer you will find strength for the journey.” – St. Julie Billiart
Sister Marie Pero was born on Labor Day in 1936. She was a middle child, between an older brother and a younger sister. She attended St. Joseph’s School in Sommerville, Massachusetts. She recalls that her family was of average means. Her father worked two jobs to supply the family with what they needed. Her mother was a full-time mother and housekeeper. In addition, she sewed for the family’s church – hemming finger towels, corporals, and other such jobs – all without the aid of a sewing machine. “You couldn’t even see the stitches, they were so small,” recalls Sister Marie. “She was, of course, a perfectionist. My father was a comedian. I have both traits in me.”
The Sisters had a great influence on the young Sister Marie. When she was in the 7th Grade, she asked her father if it would be ok for her to enter the convent after graduation. He replied, “There is nothing I would rather see you do.”
She didn’t think about it much more until after high school. “Being very shy at the time,” she reflects, “I couldn’t bring myself to tell anyone.” One day, her teacher passed out pieces of paper and asked them to write down what they intended to do after graduation. “I sat there wanting to say that I wished to enter the convent, but I couldn’t do it. Finally, I peeked at the paper of the girl beside me. She had written, ‘I want to enter the convent.’ So, I did the same.”
After entering, Sister Marie Pero’s first mission was to Notre Dame Academy in Roxbury. She taught music to freshmen, sophomores, and some younger grades, as well as piano lessons on the side.
Looking back, it is hard for Sister Marie to say which ministry has meant the most to her. She taught music for many years – from individual piano lessons to classroom music, to directing glee club and choir. She loved putting on shows and concerts. Then, one year she was asked to teach one English class a day to 5th graders. With this experience, she realized that she loved teaching more than music (though she remained the glee club and choir director.) Teaching Religion and English was very interesting to her. “Relationships with the students as individuals and within the classroom were more possible than before,” she recalls. “I still keep in contact with students from the late 60s and on.”
Reflecting on the past 70 years, she says she has much for which to be grateful.
I am most grateful for the numerous graces and blessings which God has given me through the years. I am blessed with a wonderful family and with many SNDs who have been such an inspiration in my life. God always sends the right person at the right time.”