Ducks! Do Not Open!
If you were to ask Sister Eileen McCarthy to describe herself, she would most likely decline. However, if you were to ask anyone else who knows her, there wouldn’t be enough words or time to describe how generous and good she is, because as Sr. Georgianna Coonis says, “that’s just the way she is.”
Sister Eileen grew up in San Francisco and attended Notre Dame High School there. After entering the Novitiate, and making vows, she taught in Yuba City, San Jose, Watsonville, Santa Clara, Santa Barbara, Covina, Saratoga and Campbell.
She loved working with young people and they loved her. Cindy Vrooman, a long-time friend of Sr. Eileen, remembers a visit to her when she was teaching at Most Holy Trinity School. “[Sr. Eileen] had evidently told the children I was coming. I appeared at the door and, not wanting to disrupt the class, waited to catch her attention. A student looked up and quietly went to Eileen and ever so politely said, ‘Sister, we have a visitor.’ The way the students looked up at me I felt like Mary Poppins. They were so welcoming, and that reflects the spirit of Eileen.”
Sister Georgianna also recalls living with Sr. Eileen in a convent in Covina frequently visited by mice that roamed the nearby fields. “We were not allowed to even mention the word ‘mice’ in the presence of Sr. Eileen, who instead referred to them as ‘ducks.’ Visitors would occasionally be puzzled to come across a note on a cupboard door that read ‘Ducks! Do not open!’ “
When several Sisters were living at the Hermitage Arms Apartments in San Jose, the manager became ill, and Sr. Eileen was asked to help manage the building “just for a short time;” she was a natural at responding kindly to the wide range of requests she was asked to consider. She never would have imagined that she would manage the apartment building for 8 years!
Since moving to the Province Center in 2016, she has been chauffeuring Sisters to the airport and to medical appointments and assisting with other kinds of errands. She knows not the meaning of, “no” and is always available to help. One thing, for sure, as Cindy says, “a visit with her lifts your spirits and makes you laugh.” With a ‘heart as wide as the world’ and a wonderful laugh, who wouldn’t want to get to know Sr. Eileen?!