In the wake of the death of journalist Tim Russert, the public has found out a lot about his Catholic faith, including the influence of growing up Catholic in Buffalo, New York and of his grade school teacher Sister of Mercy Mary Lucille Socciarelli and Father John Sturm of Buffalo’s Canisius High School.
In the book The Person Who Changed My Life: Prominent Americans Recall Their Mentors, Russert said of Socciarelli: “In the seventh grade at St. Bonaventure School in Buffalo, New York, Sister Mary Lucille, a Sister of Mercy, was both impressed and yet concerned by—shall we say—my excessive energy in class. She expressed that in her words, ‘We have to channel that energy, Timothy,’ because I was prone to mischief. One day she told me, ‘I’m going to start a school newspaper and you’re going to be the editor. This means that you have to give out assignments, you have to edit the copy, you have to write your own articles, you have to go around and interview students, teachers, and administrative people, and publish the paper. You have to distribute it. You have to decide whether you're going to charge for it, or if you’re going to have a fundraiser to underwrite the cost.’
“It became this extraordinary project that I threw myself into and so did all my friends. If left us little time to get in trouble because we were so devoted to the paper, called The Bonette after St. Bonaventure School. Then she said, “If you don't keep up your grades we're not going to be able to do the second edition of the newspaper.” That made us all committed to studying harder. It became a real class project.”
Russert established the Sister Mary Lucille/Father Sturm Award, a cash prize provided to a Buffalo Catholic school teacher each year who has made a difference in a child's life by acting as a mentor.
At the memorial service for Russert, Socciarelli returned the favor:
Reprinted with permission from PrepareTheWord.com. ©TrueQuest Communications.