Sister Cecilia LaPietra, a Dominican Sister of Sparkill, New York, received the prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honor at a gala ceremony May 7. Sister Cecilia was one of 106 awardees honored by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations (NECO) at their 25th anniversary celebration held on Ellis Island. Past recipients have included six U.S. presidents, Nobel laureates, and leaders of industry, education, government, medicine, the arts, and athletics.
Sister Cecilia was honored for her work with immigrants as the founder and executive director of One 2 One Learning in Nyack, New York. A sponsored ministry of the Dominican Sisters of Sparkill, One 2 One Learning serves the local adult immigrant population by providing free evening classes in the English language, preparation for GED, and classes in computer skills, parenting, and nutrition. Approximately 250 to 300 students are enrolled annually in 23 learning groups ranging from beginner to pre-GED. In its 13-year history, One 2 One Learning has served almost 4,000 men and women.
One 2 One Learning is a ministry close to the hearts of Sparkill Dominicans because it embodies the ideals of their founder, Mother Catherine Antoninus Thorpe—to care for the needs of the immigrant population of our own day as she did in the 1870s in New York City. Mother Catherine Antoninus attended to the plight of immigrant women and children in NYC who were in need of food, shelter, and education. Today, One 2 One Learning continues in this tradition, furthering the mission of the Sparkill Dominicans to proclaim a ministry for justice, especially to the poor and vulnerable people among us.
The National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations supports new education initiatives and cutting-edge medical research endeavors, partners with humanitarian organizations nationally and internationally, celebrates the diversity, achievements and progress of all ethnic backgrounds, and promotes tolerance and cultural awareness. For more information, visit the NECO web site.
Story and photo provided by the Dominican Sisters of Sparkill.