‘Fatima Girls’ hold reunion, share memories

Beginning in the late 1920s, numerous teenage girls attended the high school aspirancy of the Sisters of the Precious Blood. Over the years, many of these young women went on to become sisters. Others moved into different walks of life.

In 1950, a special building was opened to become the home for the aspirants. It was named Fatima Hall, built on the campus of the Dayton motherhouse. In September 1964, Fatima Hall opened its doors to its last freshman class. That class would stay at Fatima only two years before the aspirancy was closed, but a bond would be formed that would last for life.

On April 23, 2010 — 44 years later — 17 members of that last class gathered for a joyous and memorable weekend in Gatlinburg, Tenn. Eileen O’Connor Vaughan, an organizer of the reunion, said that the group “had had a few reunions in the past, but this was the first time that we had located every member of the original freshman class.”

While some couldn’t attend, those that did shared tears, poignant moments, and hilarious laughter as they reminisced about their time as aspirants. They sang old songs, told stories and even played a “Fatima Word Scramble” complete with terms from their convent days.

During their reunion, these former “Fatima Girls” said they knew they wanted to let the Sisters of the Precious Blood know how pivotal the sisters were in their lives.

“Even before we met at Fatima, we were inspired and influenced by the Sisters of the Precious Flood in our home parishes,” wrote O’Connor-Vaughan. “That love and respect led us to Fatima, where we deepened our faith, received an excellent education, learned important lessons about work, time management… and formed bonds of friendship that would always be with us.”

The former “Fatima Girls” also expressed their appreciation for the sisters who worked with them during their aspirancy – “who taught us, ate with us, played games with us, guided us… and gave of your time and talents.”

“We are better people for having been at Fatima, and even though we never formally entered the ranks of the Precious Blood Sisterhood, we have served our families, our parishes and our communities in the way that you modeled for us.”

Today these women, mostly married, are active in more than 60 different types of church ministry and community service. They work as Catholic school and religious education teachers, hospice nurses and volunteers, with the mentally and physically disabled, and so much more.

“Thank you, Sisters of the Precious Blood, for all you did for us, for the church, and for the world,” they wrote at the close of their reunion. “God bless you all, you special women of God!”

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