Sister Thomasine Griffin
“O, my Beloved, you have searched me and know me!” (Psalm 139:1, Nan Merrill)
“This was one of Sister Thomasine’s favorite Psalms. I am sure it brought her peace in her pain through the years. Pain that most of us did not know she was suffering,” said Sister Mary Ann Phelan in her commentary for Sister Thomasine Griffin, who died Oct. 23.
Margaret Griffin was the oldest of three children of Irish immigrants Thomas and Mary (Costello) Griffin. She was born Aug. 30, 1925, in Boston. She attended St. Thomas Aquinas Grade School in Jamaica Plain, Mass., and secondary school at the Academy of Notre Dame, Roxbury, Mass. Sister Thomasine entered the Congregation July 20, 1942, and professed first and perpetual vows Jan. 23, 1945, and 1950, respectively. She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and a master’s degree in education counseling from the University of New Hampshire.
Sister Thomasine began teaching in 1945 at Immaculate Conception, Norwood Park, Ill. In Chicago, she ministered at Our Lady of Sorrows. Her Indiana classrooms included Holy Cross and St. Joan of Arc, Indianapolis; St. Ann, Terre Haute; and Our Lady of Providence High School, Clarksville. Sister Thomasine spent several years in Massachusetts teaching or serving as principal at St. Rose Grade and High schools, Chelsea, and Cheverus High School, Malden. While on the East Coast, Sister Thomasine served as first councilor and provincial at St. Raphael Provincial House, Fall River, Mass. She spent two years teaching in Robstown, Texas, at St. John High School. In 2000, Sister Thomasine returned to the Woods and volunteered in the Providence Co-op.
“Sister Thomasine loved teaching and was a great teacher, which her students realized. Just last week a woman, who had Sister Thomasine at St. Rose, wrote to her after the 50th class reunion: ‘You were the best of the best teacher.’ I have also heard that many of the other ladies at the reunion spoke very highly of Sister Thomasine,” continued Sister Mary Ann.
“One reason that this was true of Sister Thomasine is that she followed the words of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin: first love your students then teach them,” said Sister Mary Ann.
“Sister Thomasine’s love was not limited to her students and the sisters. Her family was always a big part of her life. During the summer when she went to the beach, she often helped care for her niece and nephews. We heard of the successes of the nephews and niece as they were growing up. Those of us who were from a distance felt that we were hearing about our own young nieces and nephews. Many of us who lived with Sister Thomasine went to her home on big holidays to enjoy the family as well as the great meal,” shared Sister Mary Ann.
“Those of us who knew Sister Thomasine well know how much she liked to tell stories. She loved to just drop into a conversation that she studied abroad. She would say with a big grin, ‘Oh, yes, we visited family in Ireland when I was very young and when my cousins went to school I asked why I couldn’t go, too, so they let me go to kindergarten there. Surely that counts as studying abroad,’” said Sister Mary Ann.
“We will miss you, Sister Thomasine, and hope that we can remember to be grateful as you were for everything others do for us. At every resident council meeting and health care meeting you said thank you to all those who took such good care of you and all the other sisters in health care,” concluded Sister Mary Ann.
The Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Thomasine was celebrated Oct. 27, with the Rev. Daniel Hopcus presiding. She was preceded in death by both of her brothers. She is survived by Sister Teresa Costello, SP, a cousin.
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