Seeing Beyond Ourselves
By Megan Moore, Communications intern
S. Georgia Kitt (right) reconnects with her former student Ann Johnston at the Motherhouse on Tuesday, March 10.
National Catholic Sisters Week is about more than simply recognizing Sisters for their service, it’s about acknowledging and appreciating those stories and experiences that have influenced generations of individuals who have had the privilege of spending time with Catholic Sisters.
Recently, S. Georgia Kitt received a book written by one of her former students, Ann Johnston, titled Getting Started with Mentoring, about the importance of mentoring to individuals, organizations, and corporations. The book was dedicated to the author’s mother and S. Georgia, who Ann considers her first mentor.
Ann is now 50 years old and the experience that led to the dedication occurred when she was only 15. After all of these years, Ann still remembers her experience with Sister as a pivotal moment in her life.
“My mother arranged for me to be tutored by S. Georgia in algebra one summer and it turned into an incredible conversation about my responsibility and the gifts I had been granted and the fact that I needed to do more with my life than just get by. It was inspirational,” Ann remembered.
In celebration of National Catholic Sisters Week, S. Georgia’s friends and colleagues on the Communications team invited Ann to surprise Sister for lunch – to reconnect and show her appreciation for her mentor in person.
Despite the fact that Ann has told the story of S. Georgia and that summer literally hundreds of times all over the world in her role as business learning leader for GE Aviation, she had not seen Sister since her high school years.
The reunion was a joyful one filled with memories and catching up. Neither woman could contain their smiles when they first saw each other.
“You looked at me as a whole person and that’s a huge part of the book. You wanted to know why I thought it was OK for me to sleep through algebra,” Ann said to Sister with a smile on her face.
“Because I couldn’t understand it. Algebra is wonderful!” S. Georgia laughed.
“That’s the key,” Ann agreed. “The mentor has to have expertise and a deep passion around the topic but great mentors not only connect with the topic, they connect with who they’re mentoring and what’s going on in their life.”
Ann was not the only one who vividly remembered the summer tutoring sessions. S. Georgia remembered the experience just as well.
“I was just convinced that it wasn’t right that she failed algebra. There had to be some reason under all of this why it just didn’t click. It was with some reluctance that Ann first came to our tutoring sessions. Here it was summer and she was supposed to be free and instead she was riding her bike up to sit with me and learn algebra! I just thought, let’s make the most of this time together and see if we can’t get moving in the right direction. I do remember how she came to look forward to our time together instead of coming begrudgingly. We talked about anything and everything but we always got to algebra.”
Ann reflected, “I look back and I have no idea if I would do what you did. I had a bit of an attitude and it was just miraculous to me, even now, that you would take the time that you did. And I do believe that it made a huge difference in the trajectory of my life and my need to take responsibility for my life.”
I credit the Sisters of Charity for creating the compelling argument that we have to see beyond ourselves and we have to be of service for the world. That’s the message that I’ve tried to carry forward in my career.”Ann’s story is a perfect example of why we celebrate National Catholic Sisters Week; the effects of the work our Sisters do can last a lifetime. They ask us the tough questions that lead us to want to better ourselves, they push us to think about the world outside of our daily lives, and for that, we thank them.