Charlotte Bergin, IBVM

I can’t remember when I first became so interested in teaching - Charlotte Bergin, IBVMI can’t remember when I first became so interested in teaching - Charlotte Bergin, IBVMI cannot remember when I first became so interested in teaching, that after completing high school I enrolled in the Toronto Teachers ’ College. The following year my dream was fulfilled when I began teaching in a one-room country school not far from my home. I stayed for six years.

After much discernment and spiritual direction, I entered the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Loretto Abbey on October 2, 1945, and made my first Profession of Vows on August 15, 1948.

Immediately after profession, as a qualified and experienced teacher, I was assigned to our convent at Toronto Gore (near Bolton) to open the first Catholic School in the newly-established parish at Malton. Since the school building was not yet ready, our facilities were make-shift and supplies were inadequate. However, with Sister Anna Leboldus teaching Grades one and two, and me teaching Grades three to eight, we struggled through that first year with great difficulty and inconvenience until the school building, which came to be known as “Our Lady of the Airways,” actually opened. Our enrolment increased rapidly, extra class rooms were added, and lay teachers joined our staff. We were encouraged by the co-operation of a dedicated pastor, Rev. Vincent Egan, so committed to the cause of Catholic education for the children in his parish that he took it upon himself to transport the Sisters to and from the school.

Eight years later, in 1956, I was transferred to St. Anthony School in Toronto, to be principal of what later became the largest Catholic School in Ontario with a population of over 1,500 students. During this time I was faced with another building program. Buses came and went as we transferred students to other accommodations until the building was complete.

St. Anthony School, situated in a predominantly Italian neighbourhood, was home to many Italian children who emigrated to Canada with no knowledge of English. It was necessary to have special English classes for these new arrivals. A dedicated staff worked diligently to cope with a language problem in the classroom. St. Anthony’s was also active in all areas – music, sports, public speaking. For 16 years I enjoyed the tremendous spirit of this school.

In 1972, I was transferred to St. Alphonsus as principal of that school opened just two years previously. A new challenge awaited me there, which was to operate an “open-area” school, the type of which was introduced at this time. With tremendously co-operative staff and students who were predominantly Italian, I came to enjoy the “open area” and it was with great regret that after five years, I left St. Alphonsus and moved to St. Cecilia School.

St. Cecilia was a well established school, operating for more than 50 years In the beginning, the Loretto Sisters staffed this school in its entirety traveling by streetcar from the old Loretto Abbey on Wellington Street, to West Toronto. The Loretto Sisters continued at St. Cecilia’s throughout the years.

After my retirement four years later in 1981, a vacancy at Corpus Christi School, in Vancouver, attracted me to the West Coast to share in the ministry of the Sisters there. I was relief teacher and librarian and taught Public School religious classes. For two years I enjoyed this voluntary ministry before returning to Toronto to spend one year at the Marriage Tribunal until I was appointed Community Leader at Loretto College School. After four years as community leader, it was time for a brand new ministry at Loretto Niagara where I went to help with the Outdoor Education program. After four enjoyable years I returned to Loretto College School.

As I reflect on these years, with so many opportunities to work with children, parents and the Church, I can only thank God for giving me the strength, courage and heath to take part in the spreading of His Kingdom.