News and Events

Sister Peggy - 50 Years and Still Touching Lives

MANCHESTER, CT, Apr. 1, 2019 -- In high school Peggy Evans was no angel. “If I had to break a few rules to enjoy life, I did. No one would have thought this is what I would be doing now,” she says. 

Today, Sister Peggy Evans is still enjoying life doing what she delights in the most – working with the students of East Catholic High School. And, on April 6, her current and former students, plus the parents and faculty of the school, will mark her 50 years of service to their community. This already sold-out event will include a Mass, a reception, and the ability for those who love Sister Peggy to show their feelings by supporting three funds set up in her honor. 

It’s been quite the journey for the East Hartford-born Evans. Since entering the convent in 1960, she has traveled to Washington, D.C. to see Pope Francis at the invitation of Congressman John Larson, been the Grand Marshal of the Hartford St. Patrick’s Day Parade, earned two master’s degrees, and touched the lives of over 30,000 East Catholic High School students. “I loved life and this is why I adore working with young people,” she says. 

Sister Peggy, as she is known to the 600 students at East Catholic High, grew up in East Hartford, CT. She attended St. Rose Junior High School and St. Thomas Aquinas High School. After graduation in 1960, she joined the Congregation of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and has since devoted her life to the order’s commitment to “…making known God’s goodness” and “…educating for life.” Sister Peggy first fulfilled this mission in her work at St. Aedan’s School in New Haven, teaching first and second graders from 1963-1968. She earned her first master’s degree in Spanish from Southern Connecticut State University in 1965 and second in School Counseling from Central Connecticut State University in 1968. 

In the fall of 1968, Sister Peggy began her first year of teaching at East Catholic High School as a member of the Religion and English departments. In her second year, she taught Religion and Spanish. Ultimately, her passion for working with students brought her to the East Catholic Guidance department and then to the role of vice principal for academics from 1980-1984. But it was counseling that continued to hold her heart and she returned to the Guidance Department where she continues today. “The students who come through my door are do-ers,” she says. “I never discourage them. I love the freedom in young people today. They don’t see barriers. This is what keeps me passionate about what I do.” 

Counseling is Sister Peggy’s favorite roll of her 50 year career at East Catholic. “I see counseling as a way to be astounding board to these kids,” she says. “They tell me their hopes and dreams. Or sometimes it’s just about listening to what they are going through. Every day as a counselor I learn something new about myself. I love counseling because it gives me the ability to plant so many seeds.”

Sister Peggy sees the current generation of students as givers: “I think young people today are the most generous, giving individuals. They are so willing to give of themselves.”

She believes education should go beyond developing skills. “Education is not about conjugating verbs. It’s about opening up worlds for other people. These students are in worlds that I cannot begin today because of where I am in my life. But I can live vicariously through them. And I continue to do that well after they leave East Catholic High School by keeping in touch with grads.” 

Sister Peggy does, indeed, stay in the lives of the students she’s touched over the years. “These young people who sat in front of me in my office years ago have now become my friends,” she says. “I go out to dinner with them. They have invited me to their 60th birthday parties. They ask for me to keep them in my prayers after difficult events. I go to funerals for their parents and to their special events of celebration. I recently went to an 80th birthday party. There were six children there. Each one of them had graduated from East Catholic and I knew them all!”

Persuading Sister Peggy to go to her own celebration was another thing. She is somewhat embarrassed by all the attention the April 6 event will bring to her. “I like to be the person behind the scenes. I hate being the center of attention,” she says. “When they told me about this event I was reluctant. But they persuaded me it was a good thing because it could be helpful to other people by bringing attention to the fund sI’ve set up. It will also give me the opportunity to express my thanks to all the people who have crossed my path in the last 50 years.”

The three funds will be the centerpieces of the April 6 event. They include: the Sister Peggy, SND Endowment for East Catholic High School Tuition Assistance Fund, a Scholarship for the Professional Development for East Catholic Faculty, and donations to the Jubilee Fund for Ministries within the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.The Jubilee Fund benefits the work of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur our order throughout the world.

Congressman John Larson will be speaking at the event and had this to say about Sister Peggy, “I’ve known Sister Peggy all of my life and grew up with her in Mayberry Village. She hit the trifecta: she was born in Mayberry Village, lived in East Hartford, and is a Sister of Notre Dame. Sister Peggy has impacted countless lives throughout her time at East Catholic. She is always offering a helping hand or kind words. I am honored to know her and to have had a chance to host her in Washington when Pope Francis came to visit. She shines a bright light on everything she touches.”

Sister Peggy wants to make it clear that the event is not a retirement party. “I have no intention of retiring,” she emphasizes. “People ask me‘why don’t you retire and enjoy life?’ I don’t know if I could enjoy life any more than I do right now. For me the job is what I enjoy. I love getting up and saying to myself ‘What am I going to learn today? What am I going to hear today? Or who can I help today? I don’t need the job in the traditional sense of a job. My life would go on as it is now without it. I do it for the love of the kids. If and when the day comes when I get up in the morning and don’t want to go to work I’ll stop. But right now I get up in the morning and I’m anxious to go to work so I keep coming in.”

She sums up her five decades at East Catholic this way: “I look back and I see the hand of the Lord in my life.I have received more in my 50 years than I could have ever given. The people who have touched my life have made me a better person.”