Sister of Mercy, Sister Lucille
Socciarelli, Tim Russert's seventh grade teacher at Saint Bonaventure
Elementary School in Buffalo, New York, remembered Tim Russert at his
memorial service at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D. C. on
June, 18, 2008
Timothy John Russert. In all of my
55 years as a Sister of Mercy, Tim Russert stands head and shoulders above
all the many students that I have been blessed to have taught.
In 1963, this 13-year-old entered my
seventh grade classroom at Saint Bonaventure Elementary School. I
knew from Day One that Tim was especially gifted in many ways. As
the days progressed, I realized that Tim was intelligent, sharp, witty, a
math whiz - how well we know that!
I tried zealously to convince him that
diagramming English sentences would benefit him one day but to no avail.
"How," he asked? "How would that happen? Who and why
would anyone ever ask me about a subject, predicate, and direct
Tim possessed the ability to combine his
love of learning with the love of sports making him a well-integrated
student - every teacher's dream.
Each morning following a little three
basketball game - you have to be from Buffalo to know this - Bonaventure,
Canisius, and Niagara. Tim was a Bonaventure fan. I was a
Niagara fan. Every morning after one of these games, Tim and I
called it a terrific game if our team won. And I was no match for
him when he rattled off all the stats right from his own head. No
notes in front of him.
Oftentimes, before classes began in the
morning, and sometimes during lunch hour, and even after school, the field
or the empty lot right next to Saint Bonaventure's school was the official
basketball, baseball, and hockey field. "Go Sister!" he'd
say. "Run!" Tim would shout urging me on. Rosary
beads flying, veil flying - in those days we had the complete habit.
Not only did Tim choose me for his team, he always picked the kid that he
thought might not be chosen at all.
Come the Buffalo winters, Tim Russert's
snowballs flew the highest and went the farthest.
Assigning Tim the editor of the school
newspaper, The Bonnette, not only gave him means to channel his
excessive energy, it also gave him the opportunity to develop his
leadership skills as he organized his staff and worked with them to
produce the best elementary school paper in the Diocese of Buffalo.
Tim also introduced the CYO, the
Catholic Youth Organization, into the parish of Saint Bonaventure. He went
on to become president of the diocesan chapter.
Because of his actions and service on
behalf of others, Tim received the Monis Christi/ Hands of Christ
Award. It is the highest award in the CYO.
This Irish kid from South Buffalo; and
I, a Mother Terenian Irish Daughter of Dubliner Catherine McCauley, the
Founder of the Sisters of Mercy, shared a common bond. Our love of
President John F. Kennedy and Senator Robert Kennedy. We rang doorbells,
made signs, stuffed envelopes. Those were the days when it felt that
anything was possible. We worked hard, and we loved every single minute of
In my mind and heart, ever since Friday,
June 13, I hear God:
"Here's little Timmy
Russert. You're in heaven now, Tim, where every day is Meet the
Press. Welcome home."
1,000 attended Tim Russet's Memorial
Mass at Our Lady of Victory Basilica in Lackawanna, New York, on September
15, 2008. "Tim would have liked this: The people, warm weather,
sunshine - and the Buffalo Bills are winning right now," smiled Mercy
Sister Lucille Socciarelli.