PHS Reunion Liturgy Welcome by Carol Wagner, RDC ‘69

Welcome home!  Welcome back – to each of you who are such a special part of our Preston community! Welcome most especially to the class of 69…  The Vietnam war, peace activists, the death of Martin Luther King, racism, the women’s liberation movement, sexual revolution, riots, drugs, rock and roll, and the war on poverty -  that was happening outside, while we bonded and had the best 4 years of our life here!


As we begin our liturgy today, I invite us to open our hearts to our theme -  gratitude and commitment to the call and challenge of the gift of Divine Compassion mission in our lives, and for our families communities and world!


150 years ago a 29 year old woman walked the streets of NYC in deep despair. Her marriage had fallen apart, her heart was broken, and she was a single mom raising her 2 sons.  A story not unlike those in our own lives and families today.

As she passed a Catholic Church one Sunday however, with doors wide open and the pews packed – she listened to the preacher, who happened to be Monsignor Thomas Preston.  Friends encouraged her to seek him out for spiritual

guidance, and the rest is history, our history…


This 150 year old story is about Mary Caroline Dannat Starr, later Mother Mary Veronica… A single mom and a priest, who during their own deep personal and professional suffering and tragedies  – 

experienced the gift of God’s Divine Compassion as they shared a friendship and their personal spiritual journeys, which led them into Divine Compassion mission. Amidst their own pain and heartache, their hearts opened to young destitute

immigrant girls living in poverty violence and abuse, on the streets of NYC…


Mary Caroline purchased two homes, one to raise her sons,and next door she welcomed 45 young girls off the streets.

This residence, the House of the Holy Family, was moved to our mansion here in Throgs Neck in 1927, and was converted into PHS in 1947.


So what is the invitation and challenge to us today? 

The Divine Compassion mission and spirit have touched all of our lives, and that mission and spirit lives in each of our hearts. One of Mother Mary Veronica’s quotes still touch our hearts deeply today: “The cry of the children is a loud one which

will be heard sooner or later.  If we hear it now and answer with ready hearts there is every hope for them.  We may right the wrongs they have suffered.” 


The cry of the children, women and families in our communities and throughout the world -  is louder and more desperate than ever! Let us listen deeply to God in our hearts today, so we might hear how God is inviting and challenging us to

bring Divine Compassion to others – wherever we live and wherever we go from here today…