From the Time She Started to Walk, She Wanted to Teach
Sr. Kathryn Keenan wanted to be a teacher from the time she started to walk. As a student at Notre Dame High School in Belmont she was attracted by the warmth and caring of the Sisters who were her teachers. After graduation from U.C. Santa Barbara where she majored in Spanish she spent a year as a bilingual aide in a poor public school in Isla Vista, teaching Hmong and Mexican-American children. After this teaching experience, Kathryn joined the community of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.
Her dream of being a teacher was more than realized. For more than a decade she had guided little ones in the kindergarten at Mission Dolores School in San Francisco. Her fluency in Spanish proved very useful at the school and in her work at Catholic Charities.
Sr. Kathryn described what many before her have said: “I don’t think I understood the Notre Dame mission at first. I had to go through my own transformation and conversion.” But from the first, the international mission of the congregation that stressed the goodness of God with special care for poor women and children appealed to her. Her view on her vows: “They give me a sense of rootedness for my life. Coming from a large family that embraces four generations from elders to infants, she felt immediately at home in an SND multigenerational community.
Sr. Kathryn spoke of special experiences that she cherishes: “I loved preparing for my final vows in Namur, Belgium, helping in Peru, preparing Sisters in Nigeria for their final vows and joining a Notre Dame pilgrimage to El Salvador.
Sr. Kathryn has a degree in counseling and has worked for Catholic Charities in grief counseling. Today, she is principal and religion coordinator at Notre Dame Elementary School, Belmont. When asked what she does for relaxation there was no hesitation: “I love to bake, especially cookies and cakes.”