Liberia: Sister Evelina De Guglielmo Honored for A Lifetime of Service
Philadelphia, PA – Sister Evelina De Guglielmo, FMM, Principal of St. Teresa’s Convent, was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award by Saints Friskies Alumni Association (SFAA), the organization that represents graduates and former students of St. Patrick’s High School and St. Teresa’s Convent. Sister Evelina was bestowed this prestigious award at SFAA’s 24th Annual National Convention in Philadelphia, PA on Saturday, May 26, 2018.
It comes as no surprise that Sister Evelina was bestowed this honor, given her many years of service in Liberia. In 1971, she arrived in Liberia after pronouncing perpetual vows following her training at the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary Institute. The story of how Sister Evelina came to serve in Liberia is one of fortunate irony. When first asked where she wanted to be placed on mission, Africa was not on her list. In fact, she had no desire to serve in Africa.
In Sister Evelina’s own words, the conversation about her posting to Liberia went like this, “Where would you like to go on mission?” asked her mother superior. Sister Evelina answered, “Anywhere but Africa.” To this day, she wonders what prompted her to say that she didn’t want to be posted to Africa. She recalled that a week later her mother superior came to tell her, “I know where you are being missioned – you are going to Monrovia.” She answered, “Isn’t that Africa?” and the mother superior responded, “Yes, but you will love it.” Sister Evelina recalled, “My heart was at peace and I was happy to know that I was going to Liberia.”
Upon her arrival in Liberia, she was assigned to St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Yekepa, Nimba County, where she served for 5 years. Her next assignment was St. Martin’s Catholic School in Gbarnga, Bong County, and then to St. Mary’s Catholic School in Sanniquellie, Nimba County. After serving with distinction at these schools, she was sent to Monrovia to teach at St. Teresa’s Convent. She worked in various capacities at St. Teresa’s Convent until she was promoted to Principal in 1995, a position which she currently holds.
Sister Evelina feels a profound sense of fulfillment as Principal of St. Teresa’s Convent.
“Sometimes what students have said to or about me makes me very happy. To know that I helped to change someone’s life or added to her future, fills me with gratitude for the chance given to me to be a part of her life”, says Sister Evelina.
She adds, “One student said once at the PTA’…I want to say thank you to Sister. Evelina who taught me to love reading!”
On reflection, Sister Evelina states: “People come and go in and out of our lives and, each one leaves a mark – some very soft, others very strong! But each one does! And it stays forever. How many students have passed through my hands, I have not counted but I always pray that wherever they may be, may they be open to God’s grace working in them, and that they may always have enough!”
Sister Evelina has served the Catholic Mission and the children of Liberia for 47 years. Although the thought of serving in Africa was not her first choice, she now believes that her mission in Liberia was divined by God.
“God chose this mission for me and I am ever so grateful because my years here have been truly enriching and He has been with me through every thick and thin! I have seen the good and the bad during all this time in Liberia. I have enjoyed their good times and felt their pains during the bad times. May God continue to heal the wounds of the past in every Liberian and bless this land and her people with clear vision and renewed hope, always!”, says Sister Evelina.
At 75 years old, Sister Evelina shows no sign of slowing down. She is dedicated to her life’s work in Liberia and has the utmost respect and love for the Liberian people. She is especially thrilled that Saints Friskies Alumni Association, through donations of graduates, former students, family, friends and supporters, sponsors 51 students at St. Teresa’s Convent at the cost of $24,142.01.