Sharing the Wonders of CHC
On a warm, late August afternoon, Deborah Breidinger Vicario ’73 gave in to her grandson’s repeated requests to visit Chestnut Hill College and drove to the campus from her home in North Plainfield, N.J., with her daughter, Terra, and seven-year-old Jake.
“He saw me reading the spring issue of the Chestnut Hill magazine and asked what the book was about,” says Vicario. “I told him it was a book about where I went to college, and he got excited and said, ‘Really, Gooey? You went to Hogwarts?’”
The young Harry Potter fan saw the resemblance immediately and began a mission to encourage “Gooey” to take him for a visit. The trio ended up on the 4th floor of St. Joseph Hall where they encountered Fran Vorsky, director of alumni/advancement events, who happily shared a pair of Harry Potter socks and other items with Jake. And she told them about the Harry Potter Festival coming up soon — October 20-22 —which, of course, they quickly made plans to attend.
Vicario majored in psychology and went into early childhood education after graduation, becoming the director of a New Jersey preschool. She retired in March. While visiting with Vorsky, Vicario shared her recollections about being the first married woman at CHC to finish her degree and graduate with her class. Her husband was going to be drafted and the couple was worried he would be sent to Vietnam. They didn’t want to wait until after she graduated and take the chance he would be stationed overseas, so they were married during the summer after her junior year.
“The last thing on my mind was that I wouldn’t be allowed to stay in school. I didn’t know that was the rule,” she remembers and says she had to plead her case before the president at the time, Sister Mary Xavier Kirby, who allowed her to return 43 years ago.
The group continued on to visit Sister Therese Benedict, Vicario’s former art teacher, who now lives at The Villa. As soon as Jake heard that one of his grandmother’s former teachers lived nearby he wanted to see her. After milkshakes at Brunos and a long visit with Sister Therese, the three headed back to New Jersey.
“Jake just loved it,” Vicario said in a phone call after the visit. “He said, ‘Gooey, you went to a great place where people really liked you. You must have been something!’ and I laughed and told him, ‘No, they treat everybody that way. That is why I like it so much.’”
— Brenda Lange
This story originally appeared in the October 2016 issue of Connections. To read more from that issue, click here.