Carmen Pelayo Norona never forgot the Sisters who educated her four children at St. Joseph and Sacred Heart elementary schools and Notre Dame High School in San Jose. More than once she told her daughters that she wanted to show her gratitude to the Sisters. We didn’t know about her intention, but when Carmen died in 2010 a few months shy of her 100th birthday, we found out!
Two of Carmen’s daughters came to the Province Center to present their mom’s gift to the Sisters. Along with a check for $13,000 from her estate, they brought these kind words, “The dedication, love and compassion the Sisters exhibited to all of us will never be forgotten. We shall never forget Sister Dolores Julie, Sister Mary Wilma, Sister Catherine Dolores and Sister Adrienne Marie.”
We learned from her daughters that Carmen was born in Mexico and moved with her family to the Santa Clara Valley, later becoming a proud, naturalized citizen of the United States. After her husband died, she supported her children by working in the canneries and going door-to-door in the evenings selling dresses. She later owned a small market, then a childcare business. This hard-working mother shared her love of reading, poetry, drama and film with her children, and was proud that all four children graduated from college.
Touched by Carmen’s generous remembrance long after her children graduated from Notre Dame schools, and grateful to have been part of her remarkable life, the Sisters promised Carmen’s family that they will gratefully and prayerfully remember their mother.