A Special Thanks From a former resident at St. John Orphanage, Belleville, Illinois

Friday, 22 June 2012


I came to St. John Orphanage in the early 70s as a 5-year-old little girl along with my brother Kenny who was severely abused by our mother. I remember Sr. Roberta and Sr. Theresa the most. Sr. Roberta worked with the boys and Sr. Theresa worked with us girls. My brother Kenny lived there with me for a couple of years and I know he gave Sr. Roberta a run for her money! (I'm sure I did! LOL) I remember her being tough and she would get out there with us kids and play kick ball, softball or whatever we were doing as an activity. Thank you for that Sr. Roberta.

Another Sister I will never forget is Sr. Bernice. Whenever she would walk by me I would always ask her how old she was because she was so intriguing to me. She was old with a hump in her back, plus she was as short as I was at 5 years old. "Sr. Bernice, how old are you?" I would ask. "I'm as old as my pinky," she would say while holding her pinky in the air. "Well, how old is your pinky?" I'd ask. She would only say "It's a secret." Every time I saw her I would ask the same question and I would always get the same answer. Well, one day I was feeling really sad and unloved and she must have known because she actually stopped me that time and said to me "Sherry, do you know that your name is in the GOOD BOOK?" "What's the GOOD BOOK?" I ask. "It's a special book that God keeps with all the names of the special children who will go to heaven and your name is in it." "It is?" I said with enthusiasm. At that very moment when she told that to me, all of my sadness went away and I felt so loved all of sudden. A love that I had never felt before. I'd still ask her every time I'd see her but I never forgot what she told me. And that feeling never went away either.

I also remember getting up early on Sunday mornings having to go to church in the convent next to our cottage. Boy, how I didn't like going to church. I used to say it was boring but now that I am in my early 40s I look back and I am so grateful to the Sisters who worked with us children, who gave up so much to help us kids. I know a lot of us kids were pretty messed up emotionally at times. I know I was truly a handful as well as my brother Kenny but through all of my rough and tough tribulations in my life, I must say that I came out OK and I believe that it was partly due to my religious foundation that the Sisters gave us children. Now that I'm older with children of my own, I feel that without that foundation I don't think I would've come out this good. I know it's GOD who gave me my inner strength but it was the wonderful, caring Sisters who put the "seed" in me to get me started on the right path in life. It took a long time for that seed to grow but now it has blossomed into a beautiful flower.

I'm sure you Sisters don't always get feed back from former children or others you have helped but being one of those “special” children I just want to thank ALL of you for your love, support and the unselfish acts of kindness that you give to those less fortunate. Much love and blessings to you all.

Sherry Lynn Turner

(P.S. Wherever you are Kenny, just know I never stopped loving you and hope you're in a much better place!)