In previous reflections I wrote about the role of academics and athletics in forming young women of character and competence. Today I’d like to speak about the arts, which have held a special place not only in the history of Holy Names, but in the living out of the charism of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary.
One of three foundresses of the order, Mother Marie-Agnes, loved the arts and from her work grew a congregational commitment to the arts and music which became a hallmark of their schools. This focus was exemplified in our own history with the work of Sr. Annette Covatta, SNJM, who graduated from AHN in 1946, entered the order, and served in the music department here in the 1960s. Along the way she earned a Doctorate in Musical Arts from Boston University. It was Sr. Annette who envisioned and oversaw the creation of the Campus Arts Center, the spectacular modernist structure that graces our campus and serves as the venue for our dramatic productions, such as the upcoming The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
According to her obituary, Sr. Annette left AHN to become Provincial leader of the Sisters. She was later given a three-year appointment by Governor Mario Cuomo to the New York State Council on the Arts. Aside from her administrative work, she also developed a workshop and retreat program that was shared internationally.
The fine and performing arts can be careers for many. For example, when I was in New York City this past week, I met one of our alumnae, Alyssa Howard ’03, who is a production stage manager with the Atlantic Theater Company. However, for many of our students and graduates, their formal arts training may not be carried beyond our walls, but the lessons they learn about viewing the world and themselves within it serve to shape the persons they become. Our students produce beautiful murals, paintings, drawings, and three-dimensional works that grace our hallways. They perform on stage. The sing at our liturgies. In the act of training, practicing, creating, and performing, our girls hone their skills, express themselves, and build self-confidence while bringing joy to all of us who witness the results of their efforts. The fine and performing arts continue to play an important role in the formation of our young women.
Sr. Annette passed away in January 2020 but has left an enduring inheritance to AHN in the Campus Arts Center. Her remains will be interred this month in a private ceremony at Calvary Cemetery. In this week, when we commemorate All Saints and All Souls, it is fitting that we remember Sr. Annette and her legacy. Inspired by her, the arts continue to flourish here at Academy of the Holy Names.