Nun celebrating 80th jubilee got her calling at St. Alphonsus School in Springdale
Editor’s note: This is part of an occasional series that features Alle-Kiski Valley residents and the notable things that they do.
Audrey Sagan knew she wanted to be a nun when she was young.
She credits her teachers — nuns — at St. Alphonsus School in Springdale for inspiring her to take the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
“When I was in grade school, I already wanted to be (a nun),” she said. “I liked the sisters that taught me. I grew up there and after that came to the convent.”
The Springdale native is in her 80th year as a nun with the Sisters of Divine Providence, across from La Roche University.
Sagan, 97, plans to celebrate her 80th jubilee with family and friends after Mass on Oct. 26.
“I like the life,” she said, sitting on a couch in one of the convent’s community rooms. “I did a lot of crocheting and made baby afghans by the hundreds. That’s some of our fundraising things that we did. I wanted to be a sister. We have special days. I changed my name.”
Sagan grew up as Erma Sagan but changed her name to Audrey when she entered the sisterhood.
Her parents, the late Matthew and Catherine Sagan, were surprised at her decision and ultimately supported it.
“My dad was very quiet,” Sagan said. “I think my sisters told my mother, ‘Don’t worry about it. She’ll be OK once she goes to the convent and joins.’ I think it hurt, but they’re happy about it.”
Sagan earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Duquesne University. She taught first and second grade and prepared children for their first communion at numerous Catholic schools for 51 years.
Schools included St. Basil in Carrick, St. Cecelia in Glassport, St. Mary in Glenshaw and McKeesport, All Saints in Etna, Queen of Peace in Michigan, St. Peter and Paul in East Liberty, and St. Mary in Sharpsburg. She also served at Guardian Angels Parish in Pittsburgh’s West End.
“We make it very important to them, tell them they’re getting Jesus for the first time, and they’re always so happy about that,” Sagan said of her teaching experiences. “I like little children. They take everything so serious. I never had a problem with parents no matter what. The Sister’s the Boss.”
Sagan can often be found wearing her dark blue habit and veil accessorized by a necklace with a gold triangle embossed with the letters “CDP” for Community of Divine Providence. She said not many sisters wear veils these days, and hers fits just fine.
“I’d say about 10 of us in the community wear them,” Sagan said about the veil. “I wear mine all the time. Why should I take it off?”
She also noted far fewer women are becoming nuns than in previous years.
“I think the girls don’t want to come to the convent anymore (because) they have everything out in the world, and they do what they want to do,” she said. “If they would come to the convent, they would have to follow rules and regulations like we all do.”
Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, [email protected] or via Twitter .