Last month, Sister Pat Reinhart was given the Distinguished Leader Award for her outstanding work and presence as the Principal for nine years at Dolores Mission School (DMS) in East Los Angeles, California.

Sister Pat told those present, “Thank you for inviting me back to my ‘hood! I am humbled by your recognition. Contrary to what you may hear, I did not ‘save the school.’ Like everything at Dolores Mission, getting the school back on its feet was a COMMUNITY effort!”

Sister Pat said, “We must thank the Jesuit community! Father Greg Bonfiglio, SJ now pastor of St. Ignatius in San Francisco; and our pastors, Father Mike, Father Scott, and Father Ted, for making the school a priority. Not all pastors do that! They built a team to assure ongoing support for DMS with the Advisory Board, the dedicated Development Directors who worked with them, the Jesuit Volunteers. Now, I’m proud to say, there’s a DMS alumna on the team, Nataly Quintero who is directing the High School Scholars program!”

Sister Pat talked about the many challenges, “From 1997 to 2006 were the years of the demolition and reconstruction of the three housing projects which compose the parish. Years of death and resurrection in other ways, ten homicides, including the death of Ramon, a leader at Homeboy Bakery, and ten-year-old Stephanie, shot on her bicycle during a drive-by. And a fire destroyed the bakery! Like the phoenix rising from the ashes, Homeboy Industries was rebuilt bigger and better than ever. Community members banded together in ‘Camino Seguro’ to assure that streets were safe. Comunidad en Movimiento worked with city leadership and Hollenbeck police to assure better protection for the neighborhood. And while other local parish schools have closed, DMS prepares to construct a new Kinder building!”

Sister Pat concluded with a call to action, “The neighborhood is calmer now, but we face even bigger challenges, threats to the values this community stands for. Attacks on immigrants, attacks on the environment, attacks on health care, attacks on world peace. These are our issues today. some people say you should get an education so you can make money. I believe that DMS graduates say, ‘I got an education so I can make a difference!’

Sister Pat received many glowing accolades, including this one from an Alumna from 1996, said “If it weren’t for her. Things wouldn’t have turned out for me the way they did.”