On Friday, my beautiful Sister-In-Law, Stacia Andricain was named Principal of St. Joseph's Academy, a National Blue Ribbon all girls Catholic High School here in Baton Rouge. It happens to be my alma mater and my little sister's 12 years later. Both my brother and sister-in-law have worked there for years and the Jewel of Havana studio is literally steps from the school. Let's just say, we REALLY care about this school.
Today is my Mom's birthday and the whole family gathered to celebrate Mom and Stacia. After a lovely lunch and cake, the gifts came out and my Mom did it again! It's something she's done since my earliest memories and each and every time, we all cry... the whole family men and women alike. Jewelry for us carries the stories of our family and the tradition of passing it to the next generation with the stories of the people it came from is deep in my roots.
With permission from both of them, I will share my Mother's letter to Stacia today below. Mom says it so much better than I ever could. It is my deepest hope that the jewelry I make today will carry your stories and the memories created around them as they travel through your family.
September 23, 2017
No words can express how proud we are of calling you our daughter. Yesterday you reached a milestone that you have truly earned by your loyalty and hard work at SJA. We always thought that you deserved to be the principal, but now we know that we are not the only ones that thought the same.
When each of our children graduated from High School we passed down to them a family ring to commemorate the occasion. Hugo's ring was my father's. In my family, the passing down of jewelry from generations is symbolic of passing the family blessing from one generation to the next. Each piece of jewelry that I have been handed down, came also with a story of the life of ancestors that had owned before me.
We thought that it should be very appropriate to pass down to you a family ring to commemorate your accomplishments at SJA. My parents were joyful, devoted and faithful Catholics dedicated to prayer, service and ministry to those in need and their favorite saint was St. Joseph, very much like the congregation that you and Hugo serve. This ring belonged to my mother Emma, who sadly you did not get to know, but who I am sure is smiling down from heaven along with my dad today. I remember how happy Dad was when he learned that the name of the high school that his granddaughters were attending was SAINT JOSEPH'S. So having another granddaughter be the principal of the same school would be like icing on the cake. But there is more... this ring was made for my Mom by a Cuban jeweler whose daughter, Liza was under my parents care for four years. She was one of the two girls that my dad took to the altar on their wedding day because their fathers were still in Cuba and unable to do so.
Liza's father wanted to thank my parents for loving, guiding and protecting their daughter during the years that it took for them to escape Cuba and reunite with her. He did so by giving my mom the first ring that he was able to make as a jeweler in the USA. From 1961 to 1964 my parents worked as foster parents for the Catholic Welfare taking care of hundreds of girls that had come to seek refuge from Communism under what is known as Operation Peter Pan. Do you see the pattern...guiding, protecting and loving hundreds of girls... Mom gave the ring to me and it has been one of my favorites. With the passing of years it had to be enlarged to fit my finger, please feel free to alter its size if need it.
I could not think of a better piece of jewelry to pass down to you today. SJA is as lucky as we are to have you as part of our family.
With our prayers, blessing, love and best wishes,
Zoila & Hugo
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