Sister Alice tells her story from orphan to beloved community leader
Courtesy of Monday Club
WELLSVILLE – Sister of Mercy Alice Roach enthralled Monday clubbers recently with her life story and how she became a nun.
Sister Alice, a popular local resident, is not only known to local Catholics, but to all members of the community after spending a significant amount of her life here as the principal of the former Immaculate Conception School and as an active member of the community.
She was born in Buffalo during the Great Depression and was the youngest of seven children. Her mother passed when Alice was just three years old, causing her father to put his three youngest children into an orphan home. But Sister’s story is no Oliver Twist saga. She lived in the orphan’s home for about two years before moving in with a nearby foster family.
Of her time growing up and attending to St. Theresa’s Catholic School, Sister said, “If I was hurt, I ran to a nun. If I was scared, I went to a nun. For everything I needed, I went to a nun.”
But while she was no stranger to a religious life, it was her love of children and her desire to work with them that led her to take the veil. She recalled, “I didn’t have a vision about being a nun like some girls do, but I knew that I didn’t want to marry or put children through what I went through growing up. One day I decided I wanted to work with kids, so I joined the convent.”
She said it was a change for her and that she missed the social life she had led, but sister went on pursuing her education, and teaching children (fourth grade was her favorite) and progressing to administrative work. Coincidentally one of her mentors was a Wellsville native, Sister Mary Embser.
When Sister Alice saw an ad. placed by Father McCarthy of ICS in Wellsville, she thought her prayers had been answered. She moved to Wellsville in the 90s and became the school principal.
Sister Alice has been a nun for 71 years and during that time she has beaten breast cancer and gone on to become a beloved member of the community.
Sister Alice’s talk was the first for Monday Club’s 2023-2024 season. On upcoming Monday’s members will hear next from Amanda Robbins and Wendy Skinner about the programs at the Fountain Arts Center in Belmont. After that they will learn about Celtic Art forms from metalsmith Stephen Walker of Andover.
Monday Club is a women’s study club that has persisted in Wellsville for over 130 years. Their main objective is support of the David A, Howe Library. They meet at 2 p.m. on Mondays from September through December in the library. After a winter hiatus, programs start again in the Spring. Membership is by invitation and those interested in joining may attend a meeting as a guest and get acquainted with the 50 plus active members.