On This Date in Nativity History
Nativity’s religious education program entered a new phase in September 1990 with the arrival of its new staff: two Sisters from The Handmaids of Reparation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a religious community of women from Italy. The Sisters were assigned by the superior general of the order, Mother Antonella Gulino, at the request of Nativity Pastor, Fr. Sal Ciullo, who stressed the great need the parish had for help in its religious education program. In May 1990, there were 1,647 children enrolled in weekly religious education classes, and the parish anticipated an enrollment of 1,700 students in its religious education program in the fall of 1990.
Sister Donatella Merulla, who had obtained a degree in elementary education from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, in Ohio, where the order opened its first house, in 1958, was appointed Nativity’s Minister of Religious Education. She was assisted by Sister Mary Wendy McMenamy, a native of Florida, who also had a degree in elementary education. In the newspaper photo below, Sister Donatella (left) and Sister Mary Wendy (second from right), join Fr. Sal and a visiting Sister from Steubenville, Sister Ernestine Vitello (right), in a visit to the Arlington Diocese chancery in 1990. Sister Mary Wendy left Nativity in 1991. Sister Mary Attilia Todaro, who also received a degree in Elementary Education from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, in Ohio, joined Sister Donatella as Nativity’s Minister of Religious Education. In 2000, Sr. Donatella and Sr. Mary Attilia earned master’s degrees in Education Leadership from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. In the second photo, the Sisters are enjoying a moment with a friend they encountered during a trip to California.