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Scecina graduate's film on Sisters draws crowd back to school

 From left,Barb Koers '60, Katy Bridenstine '60, Sister Lavonne    Long, George Newhart '60, Andy Murphy and Debby Knox at the Scecina premiere of "A Sign of The Cross."

By Beth Murphy, Director of Marketing Communications

“So moving and so beautiful!” is how one movie reviewer described “A Sign of The Cross” after its Scecina premiere on January 29.

 More than 130 alumni, parents and friends attended the showing of “A Sign of the Cross,” a documentary by Scecina alumnus Jeannine “Andy” (Andersen) Murphy ’60 on a snowy afternoon. Her documentary, which has been aired on the Indianapolis PBS affiliate, WFYI, tells the story of the Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg. Many current sisters drove up from Oldenburg for the Scecina event.

President Joe Therber also welcomed the Sisters, remarking on their long history with Scecina. He also introduced Andy and local TV news anchor Debby Knox, the film’s narrator and a producer. 

"The Sisters had a story never really told before,” said Debby. “I was humbled and proud to serve as a producer and narrator on ‘A Sign of the Cross.’ It is an amazing story and they deserve so much admiration for all they have done in their 165-year old legacy.”

Andy, founder of the Write Stuff Writers conferences and author of four books, recalled how her filmmaking odyssey began when she and some Scecina classmates from the Class of 1960 had lunch in Oldenburg with Sister Lavonne Long and Sister Barbara Piller.

“Listening to them share their decisions to enter the Order and speak of their life as a Sister was mesmerizing to me,” Andy recalled. “On the way home to Indy, I made the decision to put a story together visually that would turn into a 2-½ year journey to tell this story. “It was worth everything to have finished the story, getting their history correct and then having the final project approved by the Sisters I have come to know and cherish. ‘A Sign of the Cross’ was produced by the efforts of a core team that walked with Debby and me every step of the way... what a blessing it was for all of us.” 

“A Sign of The Cross” was the first film Andy has made. She since completed another called “One Starry, Starry Night.”

Eleanor (Luthman) Kolbus was one of those classmates at the fateful Oldenburg lunch, along with Katy (Caster) Bridenstine and George Newhart, who now is chairman of Scecina’s Board of Directors.

Eleanor called the movie “so moving and so beautiful!” “What started as just a visit with several friends … developed into a beautiful tribute and documentary about the Sisters of St. Francis,” she said. “During her visit to Oldenburg, Andy Murphy found a powerful story that she felt a compelling desire to tell.”

Andy’s 2 ½-year journey was spent interviewing people such as many Sisters at Oldenburg; Scecina officials including President Therber; and historians. She also poured over archives from Marian University, Notre Dame and Scecina, among others.

 “With her amazing creative writing, directing and producing ability, she spent many long hours creating a very moving documentary about the history and lives of the dear Sisters of St. Francis,” said Eleanor. “This is just another example of Scecina High School’s motto ‘Give that Little Extra!’ Jeannine (Andy) has indeed given that little extra.

 “I am so proud of Jeannine and honored to be her Scecina Class of 1960 classmate,” she added. “Thank you for making our "Sign of the Cross" premiere a lovely event,” said Katy. “The Sisters were overjoyed to be there.”

 “For me, it was an honor to share my memories and thoughts of the Sisters,” said Katy, who appears in the film. “The Sisters were not only great educators but also comforters. Most importantly they continued the task our parents began; teaching us about Jesus and our Catholic faith throughout every hour of the school day. For example, if an ambulance, fire truck or police car went racing by with siren, Sister would stop and we'd pray for whoever was in need. I passed that on to my children who have passed it on to their children.” 

Andy has dived into promoting “A Sign of The Cross,” resulting in showings on TV, including the local PBS station, at Marian University and at Scecina. She was very happy with the turnout for the Scecina showing and to be able to return, with the Sisters, to her alma mater to present her film.

“Scecina was a special school with an amazing history that was directly tied to these dedicated Sisters who gave their hearts to God and their lives to the service of others!” she said. The Sisters who attended were: Sr. Maureen Irvin, Congregational Minister; Sr. Margie Niemer, Council member; Sr. Joanita Koors, Council member; Sr. Mary Beth Gianoli; Council member and former faculty member; Sr. Ellen Michl, Scecina graduate; Sr. Barb James, Scecina graduation; Sr. Barb Piller, Scecina Board member; Sr. Lavonne Long, former faculty member; and Sr. Evelyn Forthofer.


4 comments (Add your own)

1. Mary Beth (Mullens) Kenny wrote:
How wonderful! Is there a way to purchase the documentary? Might be a good fund raiser for Scecina.

Mary Beth

Sat, February 4, 2017 @ 8:40 AM

2. Ann Kingsbury Zimmerman wrote:
Is there a way for me (don't live in Indy or able to watch WFYI) to see the film? I was taught by the Sisters at Lourdes, Scecina and Marian and have many fond memories of the sisters.

Sat, February 4, 2017 @ 12:01 PM

3. Eleanor Luthman Kolbus wrote:
Just a note to add: Barbara Blinn Koers, Katy Caster Bridenstine and George Newhart went with Jeannine on her first trip to Oldenburg.

Sat, February 4, 2017 @ 11:12 PM

4. Sharon (Kiemeyer) Johnson wrote:
I would like to see the film but were in Florida until May. Let me know if I can purchase it or see it somehow.

Sun, February 5, 2017 @ 12:27 PM

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