BAY CITY— Surrounded by school children, Bay City Mayor Christopher Shannon issued a proclamation honoring a local Sister of Charity. He declared Nov. 3, 2015, Sister Julie Gatza Day in Bay City (click here for photo album).
Sister Julie is the principal at All Saints Central Elementary School in her native Bay City.
The proclamation outlines some of Sister Julie’s accomplishments and characteristics, such as her graduation from St. James High School in Bay City, Mt. St. Joseph College in Ohio and Hunter College in New York and her 43 years as a teacher and 13 years as a principal.
“She is known for her welcoming spirit, innovation and desire to use the latest technology and best teaching practices,” the document reads. “She has great compassion and heart for helping the less fortunate... She is an outstanding witness to the value and rewards of Catholic education and a woman of exceptional faith.”
As Mayor Shannon’s term draws to a close, the proclamation was given at his final City Commission meeting at Bay City Hall. Shannon said that because of this, he wanted to do something special, describing the thought to honor Sister Julie as “divine revelation.”
“It’s up to the discretion of the mayor, as the voice of the City, to bestow honors such as keys to the city and proclamations,” he explained. “I’ve known so many kids who have been influenced by Sister Julie. This (proclamation) was something that had to be done.
”More than 60 friends, family, religious, students and parents attended the City Commission meeting during which the proclamation was presented. Mayor Shannon invited current All Saints Elementary students to join Sister Julie in the front as he read the proclamation aloud, followed by a standing ovation from the crowd before Sister Julie shared a few thoughts.
“This is the reason I get out of bed in the morning,” Sister Julie said as she gestured at the students. “God has given me a mission.
“It’s not a thank-you to me,” she continued, speaking of the proclamation. “It’s a thank-you to God, who gave me the gifts, the job and the grace to teach the children.”
After the commission meeting ended, Mayor Shannon also gave Sister Julie a signed terra cotta tile from the historic Bay City Hall roof.
Sister Julie thanked him for the gift, and immediately declared that it would be displayed at the school.
“I’m honored, but I’m humbled,” Sister Julie said. “God chose this for me, and He was so right. I’ve loved every year.” Regarding her students over the years, she said there is a real tie between a teacher and a child. “They touched me and they formed me. We formed each other.”
When asked how she would celebrate Sister Julie Gatza Day, she was uncertain.
“I think the kids should celebrate with me,” she said. “How about an extra 15 minutes of recess?”