Blogs » J.Q. Tomanek of Victoria » When a prom queen becomes a nun


I still remember Sr. Emilie correcting me when I would say “St. Joe.” Between her and Sister Perpetua, she is one of two of the gentlest people I have met. Our first encounter was the yearly Our Lady of Victory marathon. That was her last year there and my first year of kinder. As I was walking those laps at Riverside Park and passing the stamping booth, she cruised by me. We were introduced. Walking alongside your principal was a treat. Her presence next to me was probably my first direct experience of leadership outside my natural examples of paternal and maternal leadership. It was probably at that meeting that we discovered we had a hobby connection. We both collected frogs.

Fast forward to the year 1996. I was a senior at St. Joseph. I had spent the past 12 years of my school life with a varsity football coach’s daughter. Given the size of our classes, the students knew each other and their families. I am probably not the only football player on the OLV team that tried extra hard because the head coach for STJ would come to our games because his daughter was a cheerleader. Talk about pressure for an aspiring athlete.

Through the senior year, the Class of ’96 celebrated many of the traditional school events including: Homecoming, Sadie Hawkins, Baccalaureate Mass, and May Crowning. Probably the most memorable of school dances is Prom. Our prom queen was chosen among all the young ladies of the class, but our prom queen would eventually take a different path.

These memories were recalled last night as my son ran to the mailbox for the daily surprise of mail. Like everyone else, we received all kinds of coupons, bills, catalogues, and non-profit promotions. Rummaging through the stack, my wife says, “Hey Jared, there is Sr. Marie Hannah!” She was pictured with two other sisters in a leaflet for her order of nuns. I have a special place in my heart for her order because my wife and I named our first born after the order’s founder, St. Dominic de Guzman. If you have a chance, this saint has an incredible life to read.

Sister Hannah’s order of nuns is one of the fasted growing orders in the nation. Every year, more women are enrolling in their program to discern a vocation. Sister Hannah has been in the order for 10 years or so and is now a principle herself. Like Sister Emilie, I am sure she is speaking with a nervous kindergartner and showcasing a great example of servant leadership. I wonder if she is collecting frogs too.