Sr. Beth Dowd, OSU
Sister Beth Dowd, O.S.U.
Sr. Beth was an extraordinary woman who believed that peace is possible and that every person deserved the opportunity to learn and enjoy music. After growing up in Holyoke, MA, and attending the College of New Rochelle, Sr. Beth served as a music teacher and choral director in Bethesda, MD, Springfield, MA, and Bronx, NY. She came to New Rochelle in 1976 and began teaching music at New Rochelle Catholic Elementary School (later, Blessed Sacrament Elementary School). Out of the school choir grew Choir Camp, which has continued for the last 41 years.
Upon leaving Blessed Sacrament, Sr. Beth founded Songcatchers, a nonprofit music organization dedicated to "Reaching for Peace Through Music". Songcatchers continues to provide an array of choral and instrumental programs that serve children, teens, and adults in the New Rochelle and Southern Westchester Communities.
Sr. Beth's presence and impact has been felt by thousands of children and adults across multiple generations. Whether it was directing the Choir, hearing children in the After-School Music Program perform at recitals, or teaching Early Piano to young children, Sr. Beth loved each person dearly as if they were her own, never missed a moment to teach music, and cherished all the music-making that was going on around her. Inspired by Sr. Beth, many of her former students and Songcatchers participants have gone on to become musicians, teachers, and work in service-oriented fields.
Thank you, Sr. Beth, for believing in and seeing the good in each one of us, and for helping us to see and express the music within ourselves.
"Because we've known YOU, we have been changed for good."
(Stephen Schwartz, "Wicked")
Awards & Recognition:
The Community Service Award from ArtsWestchester (accepted on behalf of Songcatchers); the Woman of Excellence Award from the New Rochelle Chamber of Commerce; the Woman of Spirit award from St. Augustine/Sts. John & Paul: the Yitzhak Rabin Peacemaker Award from the Coalition for Mutual Respect; the Unsung Heroes award from the New Rochelle Youth Bureau; and the Milestone Award from the National Guild for Community Arts Education.
"I am a firm believer that all children should have access to private instrumental music lessons regardless of affordability."
- Sr. Beth Dowd, OSU – Founder