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A Brooklyn Family Tale - Center for Family Life
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Center for Family Life: Interview Transcripts: Sister Mary Paul
Sister Mary Paul

I see the mission of the Center for Family Life as contributing somehow to sharing with children and teens and parents their own becoming, their own development in their relationships with each other and in their community. And I see us doing that in the context of the community itself, because I believe very strongly that people take their values, their sense of themselves, and their sense of their futures from the cues they get from the people around them. And that participating in a community of shared experience, of shared values and beliefs, of having some connections in the community ... that all those things, contribute to a person's sense of self.
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I believe that it takes community, that it takes a societal dimension, for most people to develop a sense of themselves, of purpose, of value, of direction; to develop a compass in life. One doesn't get it spontaneously within. We don't exist in a fish bowl. We take cues and we take messages and we take hopes and purpose from living in a community.

I believe that's very important.


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When you make a life choice you think of something total. I think for many people, as far as I know, when they choose marriage or they choose families, there's something that really unifies their life. And for me, religious life was that. I don't know how better to explain it than to say that I wanted something that was for all of my life, an expression of my love and my love of God, but also my thanksgiving.

At that point of my life, I felt very strongly that I wanted to spend my life in a way that was thankful; that thanksgiving would be the expression of my life. And I still feel that way; that the only reason for my being a Sister of the Good Shepherd is in thankfulness. It's my total appreciation of life.

I cannot help but think of myself as extremely, extremely fortunate.

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Each one of our staff has had a lot of experience, as you know. Many of our staff members have been here for years. They too have a perspective now that is not born just of last year or this year, but of some years.

Actually, we have been thinking a lot of the fact that we have just very recently had our 21st anniversary. At age 21, one begins to think that a certain maturity has occurred. We have been involved in a very deep and heartfelt process of addressing families and children over these 21 years, but also have developed a relationship with the community itself.

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