Photos and links to video of this event, copies of the program and a transcript of Sister Iswari’s remarks are below.
This year’s Founders Reception and Induction of Merna Brown/Sri Mrinalini Mata into our Hall of Fame was a bit magical due to so many factors; it’s hard to list them all.
First, we had several alumni come to the reception who either had never been before or who hadn’t been back in a long time. That in itself is very special. We especially appreciate our senior alumni and would like everyone to come back as often as possible to share their memories with us.
Then we had more than one alum show up from the Class of 1940 for the first time in a couple of years: Roy Combs took his rightful place next to fellow ’40 classmate Mary Arballo Magaña, giving them the honor of being the most senior alumni present at the Founders Reception. We are SO GLAD Mr. Combs and Mrs. Magaña could enjoy the day with us!
On top of that we also had a good-sized group of 1940s and 1950s attendees who, frankly, got a little rowdy! What a blast they are! Alumni from the 1940s and 1950s are AWESOME.
And then Joyce Darby Tighe, one of the members of the Class of 1949, caused a bit of a stir when she was revealed to be best friends in high school with Merna Brown, the girl who was given the name “Mrinalini” by Paramahansa Yogananda and who would later become known and beloved worldwide as the fourth president of the Self Realization Fellowship.
Mrs. Tighe brought her 1949 Hoofprint with her, which generated even more excitement with our attendees because it holds a beautiful sentiment written by Merna to Joyce and everyone wanted to read it.
When Sister Iswari and Sister Sarala of the Self Realization Fellowship arrived they were delighted to meet Mrs. Tighe, as they knew of her from Sri Mrinalini Mata’s recollections of her high school days.
Sister Iswari told Mrs. Tighe that Mrinalini Mata had spoken fondly of Joyce, and that in reading what Merna had written when she was such a young adult, they got a glimpse of the girl who was to become the spiritual leader of the Self Realization Fellowship.
Then it was time for the Hall of Fame ceremony to begin. City Council person Tony Kranz started things off by reading a proclamation from City of Encinitas declaring this a special day on behalf of Sri Mrinalini Mata.
Ken Harrison (’73) then introduced Sister Iswari and Sister Sarala, who accepted the Hall of Fame award on behalf of Mrinalini Mata.
After that, Sister Iswari recalled her many conversations with the former Merna Brown, who would often reminisce about her high school days at San Dieguito, including one of her favorite teachers, Mr. Gerald Jordan, who told Merna that she was too smart for the class she was in and offered to give her more advanced work.
Merna/Mrinalini decided to study Shakespeare (and was encouraged to do so as well by Yogananda to help prepare her for her future work as Editor-in-Chief of the Self Realization Fellowship), and spent many hours in the San Dieguito Library researching and studying. When she mentioned to Yogananda that her friend Joyce was getting straight As, Yogananda exhorted her, “I want you to get straight As, too!”
Apparently Merna/Mrinalini took that to heart, because her face and name appear in the 1949 California Scholarship Federation (CSF) photo in the 1949 Hoofprint.
Another story Sister Iswari told the crowd was about making a stealth visit to San Dieguito about two years ago, a visit sparked by an issue of our alumni newsletter.
“This particular newsletter had a writeup about Mr. Jordan. So I took that to her and it also said that there were memorial bricks and that two of them had been dedicated to Mr. Jordan. She said to me… ‘I want to go and see the bricks!'”
Sister Iswari drove Mrinalini to the school where they parked and explored the campus until they found Mr. Jordan’s two bricks by the bell tower.*
At one point during this excursion Merna/Mrinalini confessed, ‘I feel like I should tell somebody that I am here!'” Attendees laughed when Sister Iswari concluded, “Well, I guess that you all found out that she was here!”
At the end of her remarks, the sister invited Mrs. Tighe up to read Merna/Mrinalini’s inscription and to share her memories of their friendship.
If you would like to experience some of the moments described in this article, please see the links and photographs below.
- Click here to download a copy of the commemorative program distributed at this ceremony (in black-and-white)
- Click here to download a copy of the commemorative program distributed at this ceremony (in color)
- Click here to download a transcript of Sister Iswari’s remarks (including Mrs. Tighe’s portion of the ceremony.