SOMERS, N.Y. -- Sister Barbara Heil, a woman who had been part of Kennedy Catholic High School's faculty since its start nearly half a century ago, was mourned on Wednesday following her untimely death in a car collision.
Heil's memorial service was attended by a large crowd at St. Joseph's Church, which is located just a quick drive from the school. Space was reduced to standing-room only inside, as pews were packed by attendees.
Fr. Mark Vaillancourt, Kennedy Catholic's president and principal, described Heil as being the "spirit and soul of our school" since its infancy.
"Sister Barbaras gave her life to this school," he said.
The 80-year-old Heil, Vaillancourt recalled, taught at St. Mary's in Katonah, which was Kennedy Catholic's predecessor school before its 1966 founding. From there, she stayed and became a fixture in multiple ways.
Vaillancourt said Heil was involved with costume work for school plays and was a spectator at the school's sports events.
"She loved the basketball games," Vaillancourt said.
Vaillancourt remembered how Heil would prepare for mass every morning, laying out various items needed.
"She put love for God in every detail," he said.
Heil's memorial service included singing from a student choir, along with readings of scripture from multiple students. Vaillancourt guided several prayers for the service.
Heil's long tenure at Kennedy Catholic was profiled just weeks ago in a story for the student newspaper , Gael Winds. The article, published on Feb. 23, noted that Heil began teaching at the school when it only had 240 students, a figure that has tripled over the decades.
“Fifty years ago, I came with the moving vans," Heil told the student paper.
Heil was involved in a two-vehicle collision this past Friday on Route 6, Daily Voice previously reported; she was traveling with a fellow faculty member, Sister Marie Murphy, 83, who was injured but is recovering.
Vaillancourt, at Heil's memorial, noted that Murphy will have a difficult recovery.
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