Sr. Dennis McFadden, CSJ
Sister Dennis McFadden, CSJ, passed away on September 8 at the age of 94. Her funeral Mass will be held at St. Monica on Monday, September 20, 2021 at 10am with burial to follow at Holy Cross Cemetery.
Sister Dennis ministered in education for 64 years, twenty-two of them at St. Monica Catholic High School. She loved teaching Social Studies and made history come alive for her students. Sister Dennis was inducted into the Mariner Hall of Fame in 2018. At that time she wrote her memories of being in education and at St. Monica.
"I was born in Oakland, California, the second daughter of Irish immigrant parents. Being Irish Catholics, my parents wanted Catholic education for their three daughters. Elementary education was at St. Jarlath's School in Oakland followed by high school at Notre Dame Academy in Alameda. After one year at San Francisco Junior College, I transferred to College of the Holy Names in Oakland. During my second year there I entered the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet in Los Angeles. Six months later I received the habit and was given the religious name Sister Dennis Mary - both my parents names.
"After two years of formation, I was assigned to Saint John Chrysostom in Inglewood where I taught second grade. After two years I was missioned to Saint Stanislaus in Lewiston, Idaho. It was located in a rural community and was a four room school. My experience there was to teach combination first and second grades and later to teach third and fourth grades. For the first time in my life, I had the experience of snow! After five years, I was surprised to be missioned St. Jarlath's, which was my home parish, something that rarely happened in those days. But, for me, it included the Deaf Ministry of our Los Angeles Province. After teaching fifth grade in the morning, another Sister and I went four of the five school days to four different cities. We taught religion to deaf students who were in special classes in public schools. They were taught in the Catholic school which was closet to their homes. On Sundays we bussed the Catholic students who resided at the California School for the Deaf in Berkeley to the Deaf Center in Oakland so that the students would have the opportunity to attend Mass.
"After five years of this work, I was assigned as a principal and eighth grade teacher at St. Eugene in Inglewood. This was my last elementary experience as I was missioned to Saint Bernard High School where I began my years of reaching my dream of being a high school Social Studies teacher! The interesting years of teaching and administration in high school were all in the Los Angeles Archdiocese. After Saint Bernard, Bishop Montgomery, and Saint Mary's Academy, I ended my teaching days at Saint Monica where I spent 22 happy years.
"When I think of St. Monica it seemed that there was constant building taking place which did not interfere with our teaching days. I treasure the memories of the Social Studies Department located in the basements of the west wing building where I taught with some very wonderful people. I also look back and realize how lucky our students were to have such dedicated faculty who worked with them - not only in the classroom but other events of their school lives - sports will all its games, the drama productions, clubs, and their other interests. Another happy memory was my first day of teaching at St. Monica when I said to myself, "Why did I ever leave the classroom?"
"Enjoying school so much, I look back now on what I consider one of my greatest accomplishments. Although I did miss part of one semester because of head surgery, I was able to be at school each day thanks to the good health that God has given me."