You are invited to contribute to the Sr. Feliz Gil-Jimenez Scholarship Fund at OLA School. Call (909) 626-3596 for more information.
The following summary is from the parish bulletin article of Sept. 26, 2010 (On the occasion of her Golden Jubilee)
“The purpose of life is to matter, to count, to stand for something, to have it make some difference that we lived at all,” says Sr. Feliz Gil Jimenez, quoting Leo Rosten from a poster that hangs in the classroom where she teaches juniors and seniors at Pomona Catholic High. “I pray that I have made a difference.”
This thought was highlighted at her 25th anniversary as a sister in the Felician Order, and it still rings true for her as she celebrates her 50th anniversary. This is the message she has exemplified and taught generations of students from the first grade to the twelfth grade. Hundreds of families and their children – many now grown to adulthood – would agree that she has, indeed, made a difference at OLA.
Her golden contribution to our community will be celebrated Sunday, Oct. 3, at the 11 a.m. Mass followed by a festive reception. This occasion coincides with the feast of that great spiritual father of the Felician Order, St. Francis of Assisi, the following day.
Sr. Feliz maintains her youthful enthusiasm for life and a lively mind through daily contact with young people. Who wouldn’t find teaching religion to teens a challenge? But Sr. Feliz is an experienced educator who knows how to recognize that golden moment of opportunity when a young person is receptive to a new idea. Her topics are relevant to today’s headlines, as in her World Religion class where she compares Christianity to Judaism and to Islam.
An outstanding feature of Sister’s long career has been her connection to the OLA community. On three occasions she was assigned to OLA School – the first, from 1965 to 1971, as an eager young teacher who quickly gravitated from first grade to junior high; the second as a junior high teacher from 1973 to 1977; the third from 1983 to 1989 as the seasoned principal of the school.
In the historical narrative of school history, Sr. Feliz shared her memories of the OLA convent. In 1965, when the Felicians first arrived, the convent renovation was not complete and the parking lot was unfinished. She recalled watching a bulldozer knock down orange trees that stood in the way of the parking lot The nuns moved into the convent on Oct. 4, but had to walk all the way around the block to avoid the mud in the parking lot when going to and from school.
“I always took great pleasure in hearing the church bells at the convent, looking out through my window at the bell tower, and watching parishioners come and go,” Sister reminisced. Thirty-two years later on March 19, 1997, she was also present when the Felicians packed and moved out of the convent, a sad day in light of her earlier experience.
Throughout these years, and the years between when she served at Pomona Catholic High, she maintained her involvement at OLA as a Confirmation teacher, a Eucharistic Minister and a counselor. (She earned a degree in counseling with night classes at Cal State, Long Beach). She also served on the Archdiocesan pastoral councils through Msgr. William Barry, OLA’s pastor at the time.
One of her most memorable experiences was meeting the sainted figure of Dom Helda Camara in 1976 at Msgr. Barry’s family retreat in Newport Beach. The cardinal from Brazil spoke at length of peace, and echoed the refrain: the purpose of our lives is to be a force for good in the world, that is, to make a positive difference.
When Sr. Feliz took the helm as principal in 1983, she had an idea about how she might make a difference at OLA. Msgr. Barry asked her about her dream for the school, and she replied that she wanted a kindergarten class. Together they led the drive to construct the kindergarten building, among Sister’s proudest accomplishments.
“Father Barry was like family to me,” she explains. “His death was the deepest loss, like losing my father. But his life was my inspiration.”
The hallmark of Sr. Feliz’s tenure as principal at OLA was that same community spirit, with a faculty, student body, and parent organization defined and energized by its love, its respectful collaboration, and its unity of purpose. That brings us back to our opening quotation about the purpose of life – to make a positive difference – which is the most important lesson of all from one of OLA’s greatest teachers.
“I have always felt grounded at OLA,” Sr. Feliz reflects. “Making OLA my home has been a wonderful blessing and I am so grateful. My advice to the students I teach now is get involved in your parish!”
In recent years, Sr. Feliz continued to involve herself in parish life, working a Fiesta booth every year, joining the Administration Co-ordinating Council a few years ago, and contributing as a member of the New Pastor Committee in 2008. Her wisdom and friendship were much sought after by members of the OLA Family who feel that her celebration today is also a celebration of our community. In May 2016, Sr. Feliz joined Fr. Charles Ramirez, Deacon Bob Steighner, Msgr. Tom Welbers and an entourage from OLA in a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and Rome. She celebrated her retirement from active ministry in December 2016 with relatives and friends from both the OLA and Pomona Catholic communities. She now resides in retirement and welcomes phone calls and visits at the Felician Sisters Motherhouse, 4210 Meadowlark Lane SE, Rio Rancho, New Mexico, NM87124.
– Jean McKenna
Sister Feliz still cherishes the holy card from the Franciscans that arrived in the mail about the time she was pondering her decision to join a religious order. She had grown up with the Felicians in her hometown of San Antonio, Texas, and thought that going to their novitiate in Ponca City, Oklahoma, would prevent her from leaving too hastily. (Another order trained its sisters just a bus ride away from her home.)
1960 Sr. Feliz entered the Felician Order on July 31
1963-65 Grade 1 at St. Philip Neri School in Midwest City, Okla.
1965-67 OLA School: Grade 1 in the morning; junior high Spanish afternoons
1967-69 OLA School: Departmental junior high (religion, literature, history)
1969-70 Studies at Loyola Marymount Univ; OLA religious education teacher
1971 -72 OLA School: Half-year in Grade 4
1971-72 Junior High, bilingual education at Holy Trinity School in LA
1972-73 Junior High at St. Joseph School in Pomona
1973-74 Junior High at St. Margaret Mary in San Antonio, Texas
1973-74 OLA School: Substitute teacher last three weeks of school
1974-77 OLA School: Junior high teacher; OLA Eucharistic Minister (1977)
1977-81 Counselor, teacher and dean of students at Pomona Catholic High
(Spanish, American History, and Religion); OLA Confirmation
Teacher and counselor, counselor at OLA School, EM
1981-1983 Principal at Sacred Heart School in Pomona
1983-1989 OLA School: Principal, Confirmation teacher, EM, Archd. councils
1989-99 Principal at Pomona Catholic High School
1999-2000 Teacher and counselor at Aquinas High School, San Bernardino
2000-2003 Principal at St. George School in Ontario
2003-2005 Teacher and counselor at Aquinas High School in San Bernardino
2005-2008 Teacher and counselor at Pomona Catholic High School
2008-2009 Teacher, campus minister and dean of discipline at Pomona Catholic
2009-2010 Teacher and dean of discipline at Pomona Catholic
2010-2011 Currently teacher, dean, and vice principal at Pomona Catholic
2016 Retired to Mother House of Felician Sisters, 4210 Meadowlark Lane SE, Rio Rancho, New Mexico 87124