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Sister Catherine Schuyler, CSJ, Marks 100 Years of Life with Liturgy and Celebrates
by David Taube
Ask Sister Catherine Schuyler what sport she loves, and she'll tell you that it’s walking. The retired nun still goes upstairs and down stairs from her bedroom, walks to and from church, and wanders with Sister Linda Hogan and the pair’s dogs along a trail past Cronin’s Golf Resort where their four-legged friends go swimming. “If there aren’t dogs in heaven, Sister Catherine doesn’t want to go,” Hogan said.
Despite aging, Schuyler has resisted using a wheelchair or even a cane. She has resisted for 100 years as of August 20, 2011, her birthday. At 89, she hiked Hackensack Mountain. At 96, she climbed Ben Wood Mountain. She is due for another climb when she turns 103, Hogan said.
Sister Catherine was born August 23, 1911, in Hagaman near Amsterdam and has been a nun since 1933. Most retired nuns, such as those at the Latham headquarters of the order to which she and Sister Linda belong, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, live with more assistance, Sister Linda said. The Latham headquarters can provide everything from assisted living to acute care for those who need it. However, Sister Catherine lives on the second story of the convent for St. Cecilia’s Roman Catholic Church next to the church on Route 9.
Sister Catherine and Sister Linda are the only residents in the convent. At 63, Sister Linda is more than 35 years younger than Sister Catherine, and she tries to watch out for her. Sister Catherine said she will sneak to adjust the curtains, using a ladder, when Sister Linda isn’t around because she knows she wouldn’t be able to get away with it if Sister Linda were close by to intervene. Sister Catherine laughs easily and likes to come out with self-deprecating one-liners.
About six months ago, while Sister Linda was helping her with something, the then 99-year-old Sister Catherine said to her housemate, “Linda, what am I ever going to do when you're gone?” In 2008, Sister Catherine felt chest pains, but she disregarded them. Sister Linda called an ambulance. Sister Catherine had had a heart attack. Sister Linda said she continues to meet with her heart doctor who tells her at the end of each appointment, “See you next year!”
Macular degeneration has made Sister Catherine legally blind, but she indulges her love of reading through audiobooks and fulfills her craving for world politics through TV news programs. “She can out talk me on anything,” said Warren County Sheriff Nathan “Bud” York, an acquaintance of Sister Catherine who climbed Ben Wood Mountain with her a few years ago.
Ten years ago, for Sister Catherine’s 90th birthday, York cut up her driver’s license because she had decided to retire from driving, Sister Linda said. Sister Catherine’s love for walking developed early when she would make the six-mile walk home from school by herself. She caddied at Sacandaga Park’s golf course during summers in her pre-teenage years to earn money for clothing on her return to school.
(Copyright 2011, The Glens Falls Post Star, 8/23/2011. All rights reserved. Used with permission by Ken Tingley, editor)
Centenarian Sister Catherine Schuyler (1st row, 3rd from right) and Sister Linda Hogan (1st row, 2nd from left) celebrate with fellow Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and friends.