Sharon Kassing SL
I’m a native of St. Louis and have lived there all my life, except for the time I spent in Kentucky in formation. Growing up, we were three kids, and I am the youngest, with all the benefits and disadvantages that place in the line carries. We were lucky to be part of a family that included grandparents near at hand and a parish family that took seriously their responsibility to care for everybody’s kids. I was educated and loved through my elementary years by the Sparkill Dominicans and by the Sisters of Loretto and caring lay faculty at Nerinx Hall through high school.
I entered the novitiate after high school. My undergraduate focus was on the sciences and art. I graduated with a degree in chemistry, but I quickly discovered that my heart was in elementary school where I could teach both. I taught for just short of 30 years at Visitation-Holy Ghost and St. Pius V in St. Louis, loving every minute of it. In summers during that time I earned a master’s degree in earth science education from the University of Oklahoma and another in liturgical studies from St. John’s in Collegeville, Minn.
When I had expended all my energy in formal education, I answered an ad in the St. Louis paper for a position as an instructor naturalist at the Saint Louis Zoo. Having grown up within walking distance of the zoo and having explored its wonders my whole life long, it seemed a natural fit. I was hired and quickly became the oldest member of the staff. My classes addressed individuals from preschool to senior citizens and challenged my abilities to keep the material fresh and engaging, in spite of the draw of live animals which we used in every presentation.
The last eight years I was at the zoo, I worked with area teachers, developing curriculum and helping them strengthen their science pedagogy. These years in informal education were an especially fulfilling capstone to my education career. Teachers are remarkable people!
In my “retirement” I have increased the amount of Loretto committee work I had been doing, finding the Discernment Steering Committee, the Motherhouse Coordinating Board and the Farm & Land Committee to be especially engaging, although I wouldn’t quickly step down from any of the others on which I have worked.
I find this a very exciting time to be in a religious community, especially the Loretto Community, because I see us at the very edge of what is to come. I am confident that we, as a Community, have the courage and strength to be a part of a future that has yet to show itself completely.