'Sis' wore many hats at St. Bernard with an understated grace

They are the face of their place. Amazing, isn't it? How one family can impact an entire institution?

And while there would be a St. Bernard School standing today even had Carmela Sousa "Sis" Guerin and Arthur F. Lamoureux Jr. never existed, would The School On The Hill have the same cachet?

Of course not. Sis and Art, mother-in-law and son-in-law, personify the almost scriptural significance St.  Bernard holds for so many alumni.

Lamoureux, the rest of the family and hundreds and hundreds of others mourned the death of "Sis" on Saturday. Many of her 92 years on the mortal soil were spent on the grounds of 1593 Norwich-New London Turnpike. Sis was a study in firsts at St. Bernard — first athletic director, physical education instructor, home economics instructor, biology instructor, driver's education instructor and the school's first coach.

And she did it with an understated grace, as if subliminally suggesting that if you ever needed to know how to act in a certain situation, just look at whatever Sis happens to be doing at the time. She sustains 2 Timothy 4:7. She fought the good fight, finished the race (first, no doubt) and kept the faith.

Sis is the leadoff hitter in any lineup of St. Bernard lore and legend, a few spots ahead of her son-in-law, who is far less understated. And anybody who ever learned grammar, public speaking, football or life in general from Lamoureux would have it no other way.

And now, in this time of sorrow and inspiration, in this time where death can lead to a new respect for life, in a time where memories can galvanize a revolution ... it's time, St. Bernard alums.

It's time.

Your school is too important.

It stands for too much.

Sis did too much.

Art's legacy is too deep.

Sis' death should give pause to the 60 years' worth of St. Bernard graduates. Honor her effort. Honor what she taught you. Honor what Art stands for. It's time. It's time for St. Bernard to rise again.

OK. So this much we know: The buffet at Mohegan Sun has fewer choices than families do around here now for educational choices. Public, magnet, private, charter, technical ... pathways, STEM, arts, leadership, agri-science ... yikes.

But in this corner of the world, there is but one St. Bernard, offering equal parts scholarship and spirit. And couldn't we all use a little more of that, given the tenor of this country?

Yet in recent — and not so recent — years, enrollment has stagnated. My guess as to why: In the days St. Bernard thrived, our corner of the world had more scientists from Pfizer than craps dealers from Foxwoods. Please don't perceive that as a jab. It's just that scientists make more money and are more likely to afford tuition to a private school. Plus, there are several quality public school systems in surrounding towns.

Once again, though, with feeling: There are 60 years' worth of alumni out there. It's time to reconnect with the school that provided you the background to be self-sufficient and happy.

Go back and volunteer.

Fund scholarship money — lots of it — to make tuition easier for families.

Go to the games and support the kids.

Whatever you can do.

Heaven knows we're all short on time. But don't make the tributes to Sis in the last few days just words. Remember what she meant and stood for. Remember what Lamoureux continues to stand for. They put their lives into that place. They taught you. Now it's time to give back and make the school great again.

Every school, public or private, has its icons. But two people from the same family who gave St. Bernard its moral fiber can — and should — be the catalysts for a better tomorrow.

Viva Art Lamoureux.

And RIP, Sis.

Happily, memories really do last forever.

Now let's make them count.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro


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