Alice Carpenter - Gone ! This hèartbreaking news is painfully unbelievable.
The sight of one lovely picture of former Mount de Sales students with Alice, triggered an outpouring of memories of my ten-year stint as Religious and Culinary Arts teacher in the Academy.
Coming to America to teach was probably the most daring challenge I ever took: to test the treacherous waters in a foreign land; but to pursue the so called elusive American dream was a hauntingand gnawing call especially to one coming from a far-flung island - the Philippines.
So, I got my initial dose of culture shock: the accent, colloquial terminologies, western food, biting weather, strange greetings, laughter, questions and comments from students the tone of which, to my mind, bordered between curiosity and mockery.
I was about to give up, but I prayed harder each day for guidance and strength in that magnificent chapel in MDSA. God's answer was quick, for He sent His angels to the rescue in the person of Alice Carpenter and Mary Stanton. These two women have become my pillars of strength all those years of my adjustment struggles.
Alice Carpenter was an ex- traordinary woman: soft-spoken, gentle, generous, helpful, always smiling, always pleasant, always welcoming. My day to day encounter with Alice in the library revealed much more behind that pleasant and wholesome mien: she was a woman of substance and great inner strength that easily infects. There was so much learning to absorb from her. The magnitude of her mind was unfathomable
The mere words "Thank you" are not enough for the tremendous help she extended to me especially the annual Hunger Banquet of the Culinary Arts as a fundraiser. It always reached a satisfying fruition with her and Mary Stanton around. Most of all, Alice had her shoulders ready to catch tears of many troubled and confused souls. A small nook in the library became second home to tired and hungry students after school. Her home-made delectable cookies surely brighthened up their faces.
Now, retired at 75 here in Manila, Philippines, I recall a very vivid picture of Alice along the library corridor: a tall, slender figure in black office attire giving me a tight hug as I bade her goodbye on my last day in school to begin my retirement. My steps were heavy as I walked away from the library. I looked back to catch a last glimpse of my friend, still smiling,, waving her hand and wiping her tears. I did not look back again for this time, my face became hot with tears.
This very minute, i'm looking at the sky through our glass window at home fascinated by the clouds taking on various shapes and contours of figures, I imagine seeing you, Alice, enveloped in the warm embrace of the Blessed Mother with Jesus on her side and the angels around. I want to say, "Thank you God, for that great Gift you have given us all: Alice Carpenter."
Aida L. Sorra