Sister Karen Hawver belongs to the Religious Community of the Sister of Charity of Cincinnati. She came to Holy Family in 1991 after she had been the Principal of St. Dennis School in Royal Oak.
During her time at Holy Family Sister Karen saw an unprecedented demand for Catholic education. She recalls there were so many people trying to get their children enrolled that parents were sleeping outside the school the night before registration day. Sister Karen worked with Fr. Tim Babcock, Fr. Jerome Brzezinski, Fr. Edward Mitchell and Fr. Eugene Strain to expand Holy Family School to accommodate these families. Sister Karen always had a wish in her heart to open a new school and that finally came true when the South Campus opened in 2001. She worked with Mrs. Vandercruyssen to hire 32 new teachers in one summer! Sister Karen said her greatest experience at Holy Family was at a school board meeting where every parent had to cast a vote to agree to pay an increased tuition to be able to help Holy Family expand. The meeting was held in church and the ballots were falling out of the “Yes” box. She was very proud of the Holy Family parents because they wanted others to experience the what they were experiencing. “It was the work of God coming together with a group of people who were all happy!”
When we look back at Sister Karen’s twenty years at Holy Family there are many great memories. She shared her love for music with everyone. Students would “sing their socks off” while Joyful, her guitar, or Barney, her banjo, would accompany her. She loved working with the Eighth Grade Choir and Mass was always special, particularly when she sang. She went over every eighth-grade students’ report card with them individually and could be seen riding her Ohio State scooter through the hallways. She led the school in prayer and told the students she loved them every morning on the announcements. Sister Karen’s favorite word continues to be YES! She inspired the entire school community to say YES and sell more oranges than any other school in the country to accomplish fundraising goals. Sister Karen said, “Holy Family is truly a holy place. It is the families, the teachers, the children and the wonderful staff that make Holy Family so special.”
Sister Karen will celebrate her 60th Jubilee next year. She said, “I have never had an unhappy year, I thank God for that!” She lives across the hall from Sister Rita Jeanne Ferrante, former HFRS Teacher Assistant and Sister Helen Susalla, former HFRS Director of Religious Education, they have been “neighbors” for almost 40 years. Best known as “The Sisters Three,” they are like family; they eat together, pray together and know everyone together. We are forever grateful for the dedication of these holy women who helped make Holy Family the special place it is. Sister Karen continues to stay in touch with her former staff members and families from Holy Family. She still sings at wedding and funerals, attends graduation parties and receives countless Christmas cards. Our hearts delight with joy when we remember our time with Sister Karen. Her leadership inspired everyone, her love for Jesus Christ was evident and she brought all of us closer to God. Thank you, Sister Karen, you are loved beyond measure!