|Sister Mary Jane Rolston has served as a Sister of St. Dominic of Amityville for 60 years!
She grew up in Richmond Hill as part of a big family, the oldest of seven children, who were “very much involved,” in her parish St. Benedict Joseph Labre. She attended Bishop McDonnell Memorial High School, and it was there, “I got a sense of Religious life,” she said. “The Dominican sisters were realistic, honest, straight forward, full of goodness, and full of God. That’s what attracted me to consider Religious life.”
But, she didn’t have to go far to see what good examples of Religious life looked like. An aunt on her mom’s side was a Sparkill Dominican sister; an aunt on her father’s side was a Franciscan in Peekskill and an uncle on her father’s side was a Christian Brother of De La Salle. “Get the picture?” Sister Mary Jane asked. “How could I excuse myself from the crowd?”
She also encountered the Dominican Sisters as a lay teacher at Sacred Heart Parish School in Glendale, while attending St. John’s University to earn a degree in Education at night. “It was there, I saw the sisters interacting with each other in the cafeteria…I saw their joy.”
“I vividly remember going to (the Motherhouse) Amityville with my brothers and sisters with a large trunk filled with stuff I was required to bring. My dad said, ‘Give it a try, Mary Jane. If it doesn’t work out, you can always come home.’ After all these years, I am still trying,” she said. “I love it. I love my vocation…it has worked in so many ways and on so many levels.”
As a Sister, her first assignment was as a parish school teacher in Incarnation School in Queens Village and then St. Joseph Patron School in Bushwick, Brooklyn. In 1973, she found a new passion: Religious Education. She served as the Director of Religious Education at St. Joseph School in Long Island City and then St. Dominic Parish in Brooklyn. She then served at St. Pascal Babylon Parish which merged with St. Catherine of Siena to become Our Lady of Light Church in St. Albans as Director of Religious Education and as a Pastoral Associate. She currently serves as the Director of Religious Education at Mary Queen of Heaven in Brooklyn.
In Religious Education, she found a special ministry. “I love it,” she said. “It speaks to me and my values, not only joy and hope, but of God, and God in all the people. God is there …in our neighborhoods…. I love relating to and getting to know people.” She loves the kids, the teens, and the families who are so supportive. To her, relationships are sacred. She enjoys “discerning the needs of the church, serving in ministry and working with the people of God.”
In this time of Jubilee, she says, “I feel grateful, and I feel fulfilled.” She is thankful for her community, ministry, and large family. As a lector, she has a love for Scripture, and quotes from the Gospel of John, “‘I came that you may have life, and have it to the full’ — that keeps me going.”