Snapshot: Sister Colleen Therese Smith

Occupation: I’m the principal of St Rose of Lima School, and religious sister, Apostle of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Family: I am the youngest of five children. I grew up in St Louis, Mo. I have three older brothers and one older sister. My mother died when I was 27; my father and my stepmother still live in the St Louis area. I currently live with my community, Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in Shelton. There are five of us living at St Joseph Convent.

Pets: None at the moment, but I love dogs.

How long have you been in Newtown? I just moved to Connecticut in July. I currently live in Shelton and commute each day to St Rose in Newtown.

What do you like to do in your free time? I love to run, bake, and spend time with my community.

Who is your favorite author? James Martin, SJ, is one of my all-time favorite authors. He is a famous Jesuit journalist. His books include My Life With The Saints, The Jesuit Guide to Just About Everything — my favorite — and Becoming Who You Are. He just put out a book entitled Jesus, which I have not read yet. He is an editor and frequent contributor to America Magazine.

What is your favorite travel destination? I love the Pacific Coast. Bodega Bay, Calif., is one of my favorite places. I had taught in Sacramento California for several years and then was transferred to the East Coast again. One year, my sister-in-law surprised me and my sister and took us to California on vacation. I reconnected with some very dear friends, and this family and my family traveled together for several days. A highlight was a picnic supper on the beach at Bodega Bay at sunset. It was not only such a beautiful place to be... but it was just such a blessing to have my family and friends all together.

What is the best thing about Newtown? The people have been so warm and welcoming. I find people very friendly and generous.

Who or what has been the greatest influence in your life? The most life-changing experience of my life was a 30-day Ignatian, silent retreat. My retreat director, a very wise Jesuit priest, has had the greatest influence in my life. His wisdom and holiness have inspired me and stretched me. The greatest professional influence in my life was a sister who was my principal when I taught middle school in Rhode Island, in the early 90s. Her name was Sr Mary Carol, and she challenged me and mentored me as a leader and educator.

Do you have a personal philosophy? As an educator, I often recall the words of Parker Palmer: We teach who we ARE. I also love the motto of my community, the words of St Paul: The love of  Christ impels us.

Do you have a guilty pleasure? A piece of dark chocolate every day seems to be my downfall.

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