During her years as a Visitation School student, there is one particular memory that stands out amongst an array of happy memories for 1996 graduate Sinead Daly: her first Holy Communion.
“I was doing the first reading and I walked over to the pulpit only to realize that they put a much larger milk crate there for me to stand on (than) the one we had practiced with,” Daly said. “I had no idea how I was going to get up on it wear(ing) a big dress. I guess my face said it all (because) Monsignor Barry came down from the altar and lifted me up on the milk crate so I could do the reading.”
Graduates like Sinead Daly, her sister Deirdre Daly, and Marie O’Shea — a parent of 2001 graduate Glynnis O’Shea McDonnell — are part of a group of alumni and friends organizing a Visitation Alumni Day on May 13 from 1 to 5 pm. Located at 171 W. 239th St., Visitation is set to close its doors for the final time at the end of this school year in June.
The school also is the place where Deirdre Daly and O’Shea met for the first time. Both served as lectors at the church and Deirdre Daly babysat O’Shea’s daughter Glynnis.
Deirdre Daly, a 1992 graduate, said planning the event has been bittersweet.
“I spent my whole childhood at Visi and had some wonderful experiences throughout the years,” she said. “All the positive qualities I have instilled inside me as an adult I owe to not only my parents, but to Visitation School and Sister Rosemarie.”
She recalled other memories such as Sister Rosemarie’s bullhorn, which signaled everyone to line up in alphabetical order for a one-on-one conversation, and Mrs. Cody guarding the door.
The day will be a celebration of longtime friendships, catching up with former staff and a chance to walk through the school for a final time. O’Shea said that former pastors Monsignor Barry, Monsignor Larkin, former principal Sister Rosemarie Connell and current principal Chris White will attend.
When O’Shea learned the school was scheduled to close, she and other members of the Visitation community said they wanted to do something to celebrate the school and how it has impacted so many lives.
“Many lifetime friendships started there,” O’Shea said.
Since the announcement of the closure, White said students have reached out to his office asking if they can come back to visit. In addition to the May 13 event — open to all graduation years — the Class of 1994 is planning a separate gathering as well.
Visitation School formally opened in 1932 with 17 students under the leadership of the Sisters of Charity at Mount Saint Vincent. The original building was demolished in 1950 to make way for the Major Deegan Expressway.
The current school building opened in 1953, according to the school’s website.
Visitation Alumni Day takes place on May 13 from 1 to 5 p.m. Details can be found by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or finding the event on Facebook.
For those not on the internet, more information can be found by calling (718) 796-0463.
“It has been a blessing to our little corner for the Bronx for so many years, it was easy to take it for granted,” O’Shea said. “But now that we won’t have it any more, the neighborhood won’t be the same. We are losing something very special when Visitation School closes its doors at the end of June.”