Friday, May 12, 2017

How Sister Paulette LoMonaco Spends Her Sundays

Sunday Routine


Sister Paulette LoMonaco and Sister Maureen McGowan chat during breakfast together. Credit Jackie Molloy for The New York Times

Sister Paulette LoMonaco is 73 and lives in a building with 46 teenage girls. So for her, Sunday is a well-deserved day of rest. As the executive director of Good Shepherd Services, a nonprofit organization that works with 30,000 children and young families around New York City, Sister Paulette has spent decades battling the administrations of Mayors Koch, Dinkins, Giuliani, Bloomberg and de Blasio over funding for social programs for vulnerable residents. The oldest of seven sisters, and the only one to follow a religious calling, Sister Paulette grew up in Forest Hills, Queens, and now lives east of Union Square in Manhattan, in an apartment she shares with two other Good Shepherd nuns.

EARLY RISER I start my Sundays with a cup of coffee or two. Whoever gets up first, of the three, starts the coffee. We set it up the night before. Usually it’s me, because I’m definitely a morning person. I usually wake up around 5:30 or 6.

With Sister Maureen, left, leaving church. Credit Jackie Molloy for The New York Times

MORNING GRACE I spend maybe an hour or so meditating and praying. I start by reading gratefulness quotes every morning. There’s a website, I find them very inspiring. And there’s always a question for the day. It’s just something to get you centered for the day, and I find that time really important to me. For me, it comes out of a religious conviction and religious desire to be in contact with God.

IN GOD’S HANDS And then I usually read the readings for the day from the liturgy. I just use that time to bring to consciousness the agency that I’m running, the young people and families that I’m working with. I pray for wisdom to guide this huge organization with a $90 million budget and 1,300 staff members. It’s a huge responsibility. And I put them all in God’s hands every morning.

Tending to the flowers on her terrace. Credit Jackie Molloy for The New York Times

NEWS AND FOOD Then I usually have breakfast with the two other women I live with. We bring up the papers and we look at the headlines while we eat. I’m particularly interested in anything having to do with child welfare or with education, because those are the areas we work in. Then I am out the door to 10 o’clock Mass in our local parish, Epiphany. On the way back I do food shopping for the week.

STREET CLOTHES I haven’t worn a habit for 40 years.

SWING TIME In spring and summer, I am a wannabe golfer. It’s the hardest thing I ever wanted to do. Unfortunately, when you play maybe seven or eight times a year it doesn’t really happen. There is a place in New Jersey called Bella Vista, which is very near another Good Shepherd program in Monmouth County, and I have friends there, so I might go there. Or I might meet up with one of my sisters and go up to Eisenhower in Nassau County.

Catching up on emails. Credit Jackie Molloy for The New York Times

OFF THE LINKS I might go out on our deck and water the flowers or go to a museum or do something with friends. If I haven’t had a chance to catch up on emails, I do have to spend four or five hours each weekend.

QUIET TIME And then I’ll have time to read the paper. If I’m going to be home for dinner, the two other sisters and I eat dinner together. We cook and eat. Then we usually watch “60 Minutes.” Depending on what I see in the paper, I might send a little email around to my staff or a city official or chancellor. I like to pay attention and notice when our government officials have done what I consider to be the right thing. And I let them know. If I see something positive I say something. Our government officials have a hard job and I think it’s important to recognize the good that they do.

MONDAY LOOMING After “60 Minutes” I usually start collecting myself for the next day. Maybe it’s a little ironing, maybe it’s a few more emails, phone calls. If I’ve been out for most of the day and Saturday, I might have phone calls from my family that I want to return. And then hopefully that’s it for the day. I like to call it a day by 10 or 10:30.

A version of this article appears in print on May 14, 2017, on Page MB2 of the New York edition with the headline: After Prayer, Practicing Her Swing. 

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