Sunday, January 13, 2002

Prize possessions

Giraffes stand tallest in nun's world

By Marsie Hall Newbold
Enquirer contributor

        Who: Sister Marty Dermody, 53, of Delhi Township, a Sister of Charity of Cincinnati who has a fondness for giraffes.

Sister Marty Dermody has nearly 75 giraffe-related items.
(Dick Swaim photo)
| ZOOM |
        On display: Nearly 75 of the long-necked creatures including: stuffed animals, figurines, jewelry, photographs, drawings and clothing.

        Where: Throughout her home and in her office at the Sisters of Charity Motherhouse. (She serves as the photographer and videographer for the congregation.)

        Favorite thing: Sister Marty began collecting giraffes nearly 10 years ago when her friend, Barb Mechley, gave her a sketch of a mother giraffe with her baby.

        “The baby is nuzzled up against the mother's face,” Sister Marty says. “There is something about it that is so touching. It really inspired me.”

        Trip of a lifetime: “I can also remember as a kid always dreaming of going to Africa,” she explains. “I thought I'd never get there. Then I saw a show that Thane Maynard did after a zoo trip and he said if there is one thing you try to do in your life, get to Africa.”

        “So,” she giggles, “I did.”

        In 1997, she went on a Cincinnati Nature Center-sponsored safari.

        Wildest expectations: “It was phenomenal,” she says. “Like the kids would say, "awesome.' There are no words to describe the whole experience. It was just unbelievable.”

        Especially when she came face to face with her favorite creature.

        Sister, behave! “I got reprimanded by the tour guide because I got so excited,” she admits. “He said, "If you'll be quiet, you'll see him better.”

        Sister Marty, a former teacher, even wrote a book for her students called, “The ABC's of Africa's Gentle Giants: The Giraffes.”

        “It was part of an assignment,” she recalls. “I asked them to write an ABC book related to the topics I was teaching them about,” she sayss.

        All things bright and beautiful: The lanky creature has even found its way into her spiritual life.

        “While I was attending a Celtic retreat this past spring,” she recollects, “The leader said that the Celts always had some personal name for God. The word giraffe came into my head. So, I worked with it and came up with this acronym:

        “God Is Real and A Faithful Friend to Everyone.”

        She has incorporated it into her screen saver at the office where she can see it everyday.

        Looking up: “One of the reasons I like giraffes is I'm short,” the 5-foot-1 1/2-inch nun remarks. “I always wondered why I couldn't be as tall as a giraffe.”

        “Besides that,” she says with a grin, “They just warm my heart.”

        Share your prize possessions with Marsie Hall Newbold at


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