Mr. Bishop (GA) – Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to an inspiring woman of faith, beloved educator and spiritual leader, Sister Mary Cecelia Harrison, FMS. Sister Cecelia will be retiring after 25 years of outstanding leadership as Principal of Mother Mary School in Phenix City, Alabama. On Saturday, August 4, 2012, Sister Cecelia will be honored with an appreciation luncheon at the Columbus Trade and Convention Center in Columbus, Georgia.
Sister Cecelia, a native of Kingston, Jamaica, was born on May 7, 1937, the ninth child of Philip and Agnes Harrison’s ten children. In 1956, she entered the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help of Jamaica. She graduated from Boston College in Massachusetts in 1966 and then assumed a variety of principalships in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands where she oversaw the increase of enrollment in several schools and was appointed Member of the Cayman Islands Board of Education by the Governor for seven years.
In 1988, Sister Cecilia was assigned as School Principal and Program Coordinator at Mother Mary School in Phenix City, Alabama at a time when the school was almost defunct. It had poor academic standing and low enrollment and plans were in place for its closing. Sister Cecelia was only too happy to take on this challenge. Within three years, Mother Mary School was thriving with increased enrollment, high academic standards and improved facilities.
In her 25 years as Principal of Mother Mary School, Sister Cecelia has become an educational and spiritual mentor in the community. Not only does she contribute to the education of young minds but she also works to provide assistance to the needy within the community. Her generosity is flowing and never ending and her faith is strong and enduring.
Mr. Speaker, one of the things I admire most about Sister Cecelia is her selfless determination to help others. While she was in the Cayman Islands, there was an area of land next to the school where she was Principal that was unusable because of its rocky and uneven terrain. Sister Cecelia wanted the children to be able to use this land for much-needed recess so in any spare moment she had, she would go out there and pick up the rocks one by one herself. Her dedication inspired others to help and within a year, Sister Cecelia had the area leveled, graded and cleared of rocks for the children to enjoy.
Proverbs 11:25 says, “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” Sister Cecelia has given her life to God and dedicated herself to the service of others. She has been blessed in many, many ways and enjoys watching the children she has mentored and nurtured grow into good, generous and hardworking men and women of faith.
Mr. Speaker, I ask my colleagues to join me today in paying tribute to Sister Mary Cecelia Harrison for her legacy of selfless life service and her 25 years of dedicated leadership to Mother Mary School and the surrounding community.