Letters to ...

Search for a Sister

... a great-aunt found

from Kristy Miller

The following sequence of emails between an "accidental" reader and some editors of the Melrose Mirror was so interesting that we present them, with its unexpected happy ending. Printed with permission of the sender.

Sent: Monday, March 17, 2008 7:30 PM
From: Miller.Kristy

Subject: Sisters of the Holy Child of Jesus, Sharon Hill

Hello Dear Person Mr./Ms. at Melrose Media,

I have just found this article on the web (booklet) about the Sisters of the Holy Child of Jesus from Sharon Hill, PA. I am wondering if you can help me locate any of these sisters, Sister Isabel Goineau, or any others from Sharon Hill who might be able to help me?

I am searching to find my long-lost Great Aunt Regina Jacops, she was a sister with this order in Sharon Hill, PA, during the late 1920s and 1930s. From this article, I have learned that Sister Isabel Goineau would have entered the order about the exact same time as my Great Aunt Regina. Perhaps they knew each other?

Sister Regina later went to Africa. My grandfather, Edward V. Jacops, was her brother and only sibling. My grandparents went to the train to see her off when she left for her African mission. After some time, my grandparents stopped receiving letters and never got a response from her in Africa.

After years, my grandparents assumed she must have fallen ill and perished in Africa, but I do not think our family ever received 100% confirmation of this theory. (My grandparents, who lived in Ohio, moved several times and perhaps some official correspondence was misdirected?)

I am wondering if you can point me to one of the older sisters or an Order Historian, who might have known her or be the "keeper" of the records. I'd appreciate any help or suggestions you might be able to offer. You can email me or call me on the numbers below. Thank you very much for your time!

Kristy L. Miller

"Russ Priestley"
Subject  Re: Sisters of the Holy Child of Jesus, Sharon Hill

If you can hold on for a week or so, our authority on this subject, Kay McCarte, will tell you what she knows. At present she is in Rome, but swears she is not there by request of the Pope, but we know better.

Russ Priestley, one of the editors.

Mr. Priestley,

Thank you for your prompt response -- this is wonderful news-- and yes, I can certainly hang on for a couple of weeks until Ms. McCarte returns from Rome. I had tried to make some inquiries about five years ago but never got very far--then lost contact with that source of information.

It would be appreciated to get some information and/or clarity about what ever happened to Regina Jacops. If she were still living, she'd be in her late 90s by now. Thank you for forwarding my request and always feel free to contact me(I too travel frequently.)

Thank you so much for your help on solving this family mystery!

Kristy L. Miller

While you are hanging on for Kay McCarte, let me thank you for sending in your question. It turns out that the article you found was completely lost in our database, because of an old problem that has since been fixed. Only by googling could you have hit on it!

Anyway, I did find the original article hiding away, and resubmitted it for publication in the September 1999 Previous Issue as "Life as a Catholic Nun" by Jim Driscoll and Don Norris. You can also see it by clicking on the Features section in the left column.

So welcome to the Melrose Mirror, this time through the front door at http://melrosemirror.media.mit.edu.

John Averell

Mr. Averell,
Happy I was able to help you out in some small way.

Well, indeed, this is all quite interesting because I was under the impression that "Melrose Media" was a Catholic publication of some type? But, that seems to be entirely wrong now! Well, I am happy that someone might be able to help me in my hunt.

Is it correct to assume that your publication really has no connection to the Sisters of Holy Child of Jesus in Sharon Hill, PA? Or, perhaps does someone have a connection? Thanks again.

Kristy L. Miller

Indeed we have no connection with anything but the city of Melrose and senior citizens publishing on the internet! One never knows what a random google search will turn up -- sometimes the right answer by mistake. Kay is one of our editors, and coincidentally has relatives and friends active in Catholic endeavors.

So good luck in your search. I tried "Regina Jacops" with google and only turned up one apparent reference to a Swedish internet site, similar to Facebook and YouTube. Not your person of interest I'm afraid.

John Averell

Dear Melrose Media-

Many thanks to you all for helping to solve the mystery of my missing Great Aunt. I have now found and made contact with the Philly order of nuns: SHCJ. I found out my Great Aunt had not perished in Africa in the 1930s as assumed, but, indeed, she was in Africa for 50 long years working and enduring many trials! With few roads in remote areas, no postal or telephones, many moves and even several wars, our family simply lost contact with her. As a nun, Regina had changed her name to "Mary Hubert"; I did not have that clue and my grandparents had always just referred to her as "Regina". I was looking for Regina not Mary Hubert.

Alas, Regina returned to the USA in 1987 and then she passed in 2001. I am quite sorry and sad we did not get to meet her in the 1990s when she was living back at the Order's convent in Philly, but, it's certainly good for our family to know the real history and story behind the family legend. Certainly, your publication helped me solve this jigsaw piece and the internet is bringing more people and families together than could ever have been imagined.

What a story!! I only wish I could tell this astounding news to my grandparents!! My grandfather passed in 1962 so I never got to talk with him about his only sister, Regina. His wife, my grandmother, was my only source of information and she passed in 1992. So there would have been an opportunity for my Grandmother and Regina to meet once again after nearly 60 years! It's sad that that connection did not happen in time. I will try to go to Philly sometime soon to meet with one of the older nuns who knew "Mother Mary Hubert" well and gave her eulogy.

Thank you again for your responses and support!  

Kristy Miller

Fri, 28 Mar 2008 11:48:42     
From: Miller.Kristy      
Subject: Re: Sisters of the Holy Child of Jesus, Sharon Hill
To: "John Averell"    
Hello John--

Last night in the mail  I received the promised "archive" package from the Sisters. Just a bit more biographical information. It seems that before going an her 50-year mission to Africa, Regina spent several years teaching on the West Coast in Portland, OR. This was unknown to me, but, that would account for a train trip and Regina's stop in Ohio, when my mother was a baby(another family story--which I assumed was a detail mix up.) All in all--still not a lot of information--no diaries journaling "My Fifty Years in Africa" (at least not yet.)

They did send a few xerox copies of photos  (sorry to say, nothing printable, I'm afraid.) In the copied photos, I did glean a familial facial expression and resemblance. In two of the bio write ups it did mention she was "the type of person you wanted to be around" and gave a little story about her singing. I read that as she had a sense of humor with a streak of fun in her--(and that certainly would be a family trait!) Something probably not too often encouraged in Nuns of the 1930s.

One slightly interesting note, her "best friend" nun and close companion, becaame a "hermit" at a hermitage off the coast of Africa. (Regina did visit her several times, something I'll have to research later.)

And, I was able to confirm that Regina's father had all the exact same birth info as my great grandfather-- so it all checks out, as suspected.

Kristy L. Miller

April 4, 2008

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