February 21, 1919 — August 12, 2013
Sister Christina was born to Paul and Gertrude (Couzzi) Bruno on February 21, 1924, in Hamilton, Ohio. She began her Christian journey on April 17 when she was baptized Louise at Saint Mary Church. The family provided a strong Italian/Christian foundation for this new arrival.
Life held much promise for Louise. As the youngest of five children, she had been preceded by three brothers: John, Nicholas, Joseph; and one sister, Molly. Soon Louise was ready to join her elder siblings at St. Mary Elementary School. There she strengthened her Christian foundation when she received her First Holy Communion and was later confirmed. She completed her grade school years with all the ordinary “ups and “downs” of life. Then she went on to Notre Dame High School where she continued her relationship with the Sisters of Notre Dame.
In a brief autobiography, Sister Christina related that when she was in the fifth grade she greatly admired her SND teacher who “... was happy and who loved us. I wanted to be just like her.” However, she confessed that in grades 8, 9, 10, “I was having too much fun. I was absolutely sure I did not want to be a Sister!” God’s call was persistent. In her junior and senior years the thought returned with urgency. Her senior teacher became her inspiration and mentor. God won!
In 1939, two years after graduation, Louise entered with the Sisters of Notre Dame at the Summit in Cincinnati, Ohio. After six months as a postulant, Louise received the habit of a Sister of Notre Dame and was given the religious name of Sister Rose Carmelita. (She was known by this name until 1958 when the Sisters were given the option of returning to the use of former names. From then on she was known as Sister Christina.) For the next two years, Sister Christina learned about religious life and began studies to prepare her for teaching.
On January 31, 1942, Sister Christina pronounced her first vows which she earnestly desired to make – and she never regretted! This was the beginning of a varied career in the service of the Lord, with the Lord. Her initial studies were the foundation for her receiving a Bachelor Degree in Education from Teacher’s College and a Master Degree in Administration from Xavier University, both in Cincinnati.
Sister Christina’s first ventures in the apostolate gave her experience in grades 1 to 8. From 1943-1948 she taught grades 1-4 at Julienne Country Day School in Dayton, Ohio. That fall, she was on the first faculty of Saint Christopher School in Columbus. There she taught grades 5 to 8 from 1948 to 1961. From 1950 to 1961 she added the duties of being principal. In 1955 she expanded her responsibilities to include being the Superior of the Maryhurst community.
In the fall of 1961 Christina was recalled to Dayton as the Archdiocesan Supervisor of elementary schools in Dayton. This position lasted until 1977. Then, once again, she was called to expand her influence when she was named Archdiocesan Superintendent of North Dayton and Dayton Schools. She was treading new waters! She was the first woman to be named Superintendent in the area. The sign the best man for the job is often a woman! appeared on her door. This was the legacy of her predecessor who truly supported her as the best candidate for superintendent.
During the years 1977-1985 Sister Christina was to meet many challenges. She did it with grace and expertise! Her experiences in the classroom, as a consultant and in the supervisory capacity had prepared her for the position of superintendent. Being a woman was, in itself, a challenge! However, Sister Christina’s companion superintendents soon learned that she knew what she was doing – and knew how to achieve the desired results. By the end of her term, the truth of the best man for the job is often a woman came to be acknowledged by her fellow workers. As she left the position, she received many sincere accolades from them in appreciation for her work.
Following the experiences of Superintending, Sister Christina enjoyed a brief sabbatical experience at Notre Dame University, South Bend, Indiana. From August to December 1985 she had a well deserved breathing spell before entering four months of community service at Immaculate Conception Convent in Dayton, Ohio.
On May 1, 1986, Sister Christina was back at work organizing and directing the new reading center in Columbus. In February 1987, she was named Administrator/Director of that center where she remained for the next four years.
Throughout her career, Sister Christina faced different kinds of challenges: including enrollment and financial problems; sexual discrimination; inner city disruptions; racial problems. She faced them all with determination and gentleness. She became involved with programs that were established to alleviate situations, to educate the public to aim for solutions and to improve relationships of workers in their positions. Sister Christina took leadership in resolving problems that interfered with good working conditions or relationships.
After this long series of ministries, Sister Christina returned to Mt. Notre Dame in Reading, Ohio – not to rest but to take up other activities. At Mt. Notre Dame she accepted the responsibility to co-ordinate meeting services and to arrange hospitality for Pius Hall visitors. She also became an active member of the “Adopt-a-Sister” of the nearby Mount Notre Dame High School. This very popular program matches Sisters with groups of students who meet on a monthly basis. Each group decides on the nature of their meetings and the agenda for each meeting. Sister Christina’s girls usually decided on discussion meetings based on current topics. Sister Christina developed some very good relationships with her girls, some of whom returned to visit with her after graduation.
Sister Christina hoped that she could make a worthwhile contribution with her life. That she did! She broke open new areas for women. She helped to develop programs that would assist teachers to develop their skills, to broaden their knowledge and contribute to their faith development.
In the Liturgy of the day of Sister Christina’s funeral, Christ issues His famous invitation “Come follow me!...You will have treasure in heaven.” She heard that invitation and she responded.
May Sister Christina rest in Peace! May she enjoy the fullness of that Treasure!
Sister Alma Grollig, SNDdeN
August 12, 2013