Jean Theresa Redigan was born at Bridgeport Hospital in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Her parents, Helen and John, devout Catholics, presented her for Baptism at St. James Church in Stratford, CT. shortly after her birth. Eight years later, her sister Sheila was born. When Jean was twelve years old, and Sheila was four, their mother died, and sadness overtook this staunchly religious family. However three years later, her father met and married Marie Faubel, a widow who was raising three young children—Robert, Milton, and Mary Lou. Her half-brother John was born to John and Marie, making it a blended family of “his, hers, and ours.” Her step-mother Marie, now 98, is still living in Connecticut. Jean believes that her father was her “greatest religious teacher,” because of his “wisdom, knowledge, clarity of explanation, and example.” She also admired his work ethic, exemplified by his 40 year newspaper career. At the time of his death, he was News Editor of the Stamford Advocate.
EDUCATION AND CAREER HIGHLIGHTS:
Education was also valued in the Redigan household. Jean’s early education was in the Connecticut public school system. She graduated from Stamford High School in 1948. After spending one year at University of Bridgeport, and at the urging of Monsignor Martin Doran, Pastor of St. Maurice Parish, Jean entered the Religious Order of St. Ursula, originally known as The Company of St. Ursula. Sr. Gabrielle, as she became known, was the first Postulant from Connecticut in the Ursuline community. She continued her baccalaureate education at St. John’s University in Jamaica, and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.S. in Education. Later, she earned an M.A. degree in English, also from St. John’s. Sr. Jean, as she became known during the “post-Vatican changes and challenges,” also studied Spanish at The Catholic University at Ponce, Puerto Rico and completed Administration courses in Steubenville, Ohio.
From the time she was eight years old, Jean knew that she wanted to be a teacher. Hence most of her life’s work has centered around teaching and educational administration, as well as serving in administrative positions within her Order. For six years, she taught at St. William the Abbot school, in Seaford, Long Island and subsequently was appointed Principal of that school for a six year term. Then for three years, she taught at Nativity of BVM school in Ozone Park and later became administrator of the school for three years. She also served her Ursuline Community for twelve years in the Provincialate, which was initially located in Bluepoint, Long Island and more recently in Jamaica, Queens. During that time, she traveled extensively throughout the U.S., India, Guatemala, and Zaire, overseeing changes in “ministry and community.” She visited Belgium eighteen times and made two pilgrimages to Brescia, Italy. Brescia was the birthplace of Angela Marici, foundress of the Ursuline Order.
MIDDLE VILLAGE COMMUNITY AFFILIATIONS:
After she completed her Ursuline Community administrative commitment, and spending one year as Director of Religious Education, Sr. Jean received a telephone call from her friend of 37 years, Monsignor Nicholas Sivillo, Pastor of Our Lady of Hope Church. Msgr Sivillo invited her to become Principal of Our Lady of Hope Elementary School. After prayerful consideration on the “challenges and blessings” inherent in the position, she accepted the invitation, recognizing that at the time, “this was the greater need.” She was appointed Principal of OLH in 1990. Since then, Sr. Jean has served the children and families of the parish with wisdom, expertise, dedication, and unwavering commitment to Catholic Education. While focusing on maintaining a strong academic curriculum, as a foundation for life and further education, she enunciated two goals which she has for the school, which are to: (1) nurture the faith of all the 700 children of Our Lady of Hope, and (2) instill in the students a peace, reverence and respect for life and for all of God’s children. She would like to remain at Our Lady of Hope as long as God gives her the “health, energy, and mental acuity,” to be successful in her work. She is especially proud of the fact that OLH students are actually developing the Webpage for the school.
Sr. Jean is drawn to activities which combine “action and contemplation.” She enjoys quiet walks by the ocean, and marvels at the majesty and variations of the tides. She likes to garden and cultivate flowers and plants. She reads extensively, selections ranging from spiritual treatises to books on the history of the Civil War. She enjoys speaking about the origins and work of the Ursuline Order of nuns, especially as their primary mission had expanded from teaching to include other ministries, such as peace and justice work and hospital chaplaincy.