“You yourselves have seen how I carried you on eagle’s wings and brought you to myself.” (Ex. 19:14)
Sister Lina lived her life, quiet, unassuming, smiling at all who greeted her and giving forth the essence of God, an infinite part of her. This is how she left her earthly bounds on June 25t\ 2017. She left to complete her journey to her.Go d, who was the inner part of her heart.
She was born in Waialua, Oahu, Hawaii to Robert Garcia and Antonia Saming Pagdilao. She was named Rizalina.
From her home parish, St. Michael Church in Waialua, Rizalina Pagdilao entered the Syracuse Franciscans on September 2, 1952. Her date of of investiture was March 3, 1953, and her final profession date was August 16, 1958.
Her ministry was education. Sister received a bachelor’s degree in education from the College of St. Rose in Albany, New York, and a master’s degree from the University of Scranton in Scranton, Pennsylvania. For over 50 years, Sister taught in California, Hawaii, New Jersey, North Carolina, and New York state.
Returning to the Motherhouse in Syracuse in 2007, Sister worked for Nunbetter Chocolates. When the Motherhouse on Court Street closed, the sisters moved to the Franciscan Villa, and Sister Lina continued doing community service for the sisters with whom she lived.
For Sister Lina’s remaining years she lived a life of prayer, love of her Hawaii, and always greeting people with leis. She displayed devotion to her community by the manner in which she quietly went about doing good for others.
God hold you in the palm of His hand, Lina
Born in Montgomery, Alabama and raised in Utica, New York, we remember Sister Lorraine James for her vivacious personality and the love that she had in her heart for God and her Franciscan community.
An educator for 33 years in California, New York and New Jersey, she also served for 10 years in the Medical Records Department of St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center in Syracuse as well as the Northside Poverello Clinic in Syracuse.
Sister Lorraine loved to sing. For many years, she sang with the Hospice Harmony Singers in Syracuse. She delighted in her Lebanese heritage and celebrated with family in song, dance, and good food.
May God hold you in the palm of his hand, Sister Lorraine.
The life of Sister Joanne was no less than extraordinary, yet profoundly and simply Franciscan. She was a teacher, nurse, senior living community manager, minister, and leader. But most important, Joanne was a holy woman who will always be remembered for her servant leadership.
Sister Joanne served many years in leadership with our community and in this role, she became sister and servant to all. In the days of renewal and revitalization, she encouraged us to dream again and to reawaken in ourselves a passion for the Gospel life. We are fortunate to have a number of her written reflections for the community. Several of these articles emphasize a desire to embrace the future and to be peacemakers, especially to the most vulnerable. Her style was never to possess power, but to realize that power is for each other and within each other.
According to Sister Joanne, the greatest gift of God is the desire for renewed life. Her entire life was a testimony of this gift, as she encouraged others to desire it and to live into their deepest hopes and dreams. Although she earned numerous degrees and certifications, she once wrote that her best sources of wisdom were found in her sisters. She truly learned the uncommon and not-well-understood beauty of living religious life to the fullest even when one is ill and dependent.
We can now say that Sister Joanne completed her journey to God. She followed Francis by rejecting no one and seeing Christ in all. During her life, she cared for the sick, ministered to victims of AIDS, led her sisters through times of renewal, and ministered to the dying. In her living, she offered compassion to others and in her dying she expressed only gratitude. Her final wish empathized this. “I want my funeral to be a celebration,” she said with conviction as she returned from her care center for the final time. In her final days, she expressed only gratitude as she awaited that final embrace of God.
It is providential that Sister Joanne left us at this time of spring, a time of new life and renewal. We await and prepare for the most sacred time of Holy Week only to celebrate a most holy woman. In Christ’s dying and in Joanne’s dying, we believe in the promise of new life. And so with God and with Joanne, we celebrate.
May she rest peacefully in the loving arms of God.
“Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by your name, you are mine.” (Is. 43:2-4)
Born and raised in Utica, New York, Sister Mary Kevin DeTore joined the Sisters of St. Francis in Syracuse, New York in 1951. For the next 66 years, she faithfully journeyed with God, serving others with great love and determination.
Sister Mary Kevin taught the faith and academics to countless numbers of students in Catholic schools in New York and New Jersey for more than 35 years. In 1983, she began serving in health care at Loretto Rest, a home for senior adults in Syracuse. She continued serving in health care at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse and finally at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Utica, New York, where she also served in pastoral care and as an administrative assistant.
Beginning in 2000, Sister Mary Kevin dedicated the remainder of her life to prayer ministry, bringing Christ to people through prayer.
Sister Mary Kevin will be remembered for her dedicated service to God’s people, her devotion to her family and her wonderful sense of humor.
Sister Mary Kevin, rest in God’s peace.
A long-time teacher, Sister Margaret Anthony Domin’s own education began in a little red school house in the Boston, New York countryside, where she completed grades one through three. The schoolhouse itself had special significance to the Domin family since it was built on land that was part of the family farm.
From these simple beginnings, Sister Margaret Anthony went on to enter the Sisters of St. Francis in Buffalo in 1952 and eventually earned a master’s degree in education from State University College at Buffalo.
For 37 years, she ministered as a teacher at elementary schools in the Diocese of Buffalo including St. James and Holy Name in Buffalo, Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Silver Creek, St. John the Baptist in West Valley, Sts. Peter & Paul in Hamburg, St. Francis of Assisi in Tonawanda, St. Mary’s in Lancaster, Nativity in Orchard Park, Most Holy Redeemer in Cheektowaga, Annunciation in Elma, Queen of Heaven in West Seneca and St. Leo the Great in Amherst. Most recently, she served as pastoral care minister and service coordinator at Holy Family Home in Williamsville, New York.
A faithful servant who shaped the lives of countless numbers of children, leading them toward the kingdom of God, we celebrate the life of Sister Margaret Anthony. May God hold her in the palm of his hand.
Sister Carmen Puhl left behind a godly legacy.
Welcome home, Sister Carmen Puhl, OSF
As we mourn the March 4 passing of our dear Sister Carmen, we also celebrate with joy a life truly dedicated to the service of all God’s people.
Her ministry in New Castle as a nurse at St. Francis Hospital, nursing home administrator at Hill View Manor and co-founder (along with Dr. John Prioletti) of St. Francis Hospice, brought to the canvas of nursing the colors of compassion, integrity, vision, transcultural love, and a deep conviction that every person in whatever stage of mental or physical incapacity deserved equal respect and dignity.
It was apparent to those who saw her in action that she acknowledged that God temple in everyone to whom she ministered. The memory of her, which will forever be etched in our minds, is of one who had a special love for those afflicted with AIDS, of one who compassionately held the hand of the man or woman dying in hospice, or the times when she quietly and patiently without judgment listened to one baring his or her soul, or the memory of working with her on the first Peace and Justice Committee of the Sisters of St. Francis.
Upon retiring from nursing, Sister Carmen went on to offer her services at Mt. Alvernia Day Care and Learning Center in Millvale, where she joyfully rocked the tiny babies, providing much TLC.
Yes, we will keep your memory alive, Sister Carmen, in our attempts to follow your example until we, too, experience the loving caress of a God who welcomes each one of us with open arms.
Anyone wishing to remember Sister Carmen in a special way, may make a donation in her memory to the Sisters of St. Francis Ministry, Formation or Retirement Fund, 146 Hawthorne Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15209.
– Sister Shirley Huff, OSF
Originally published in the March 28 edition of the New Castle News
One of the songs Sister Ellen chose for her funeral liturgy, “Hail Mary, Gentle Woman” truly speaks to us not only of our holy Mother Mary, but also of Sister Ellen herself. “Gentle woman, quiet light, shining star, so strong and bright; gentle woman, peaceful presence, teach us wisdom, teach us love.” This quiet, gentle woman was also strong, peaceful and wise. In her 87 years in the community, Sister Ellen travelled along many paths: teaching God’s little ones in first, second and/or third grades; as elementary school principal, as postulant directress, as home care provider for her dear mother during the latter’s last years. Mr. Vince Cinski, the present mayor of Millvale, recalls loving memories of her as his first grade teacher.
When she returned to the regional house, she continued her care of others, ministering to them when and however she could. She was always happy when she could in some way help to lift the spirits of others and encourage them in their efforts to do good. She enjoyed interacting with the sisters, keeping up with the news and relating stories from her past years. She helped to develop programs for the senior sisters, endeavoring to keep them active and healthy. She continued in community service until a stroke confined her to the health care unit for the next nine years.
As a patient, Sister Ellen was a model of peace and patience in long-suffering, still talking with other sisters as much and as long as she was able. And later, she continued to minister to each one of us without ever having to say a word. Sister Ellen found great peace in her prayer life – quiet times with the Lord, community prayers with the other sisters, and enjoying God’s beauty and presence in all creation.
On Feb. 8, Sister Ellen entered into eternal life, into the loving embrace of the Lord, into an eternal encounter where she is welcomed as a gentle woman, strong and bright, a peaceful presence who has taught us wisdom – taught us love.
Sister Alicia came to our congregation from small beginnings. She was born and raised in Monessen, Pennsylvania, a small steel-making town nestled in the rolling hills along the Monongahela River. Her home town was a mere 3.1 square miles. Our sisters educated her in fifth through eighth grades at St. Leonard’s School. She went on to attend Monessen High School and cultivated a keen passion for learning and teaching. After working as a clerk in Horne’s department store, she decided to join her younger sister, Grace, as a Sister of St. Francis in Millvale, Pennsylvania.
During her early years in community, Sister Alicia taught the little ones in first and second grades in Catholic schools in the Dioceses of Pittsburgh and Greensburg. St. Scholastica School in Aspinwall boasts that she was principal there for 19 years. At that time in her life, Sister Alicia took a sabbatical at Notre Dame in Indiana with a program called Years of the Lord’s Favor. She found that living and interacting with sisters from various religious communities was an enriching and rewarding experience. This encouraged her to accept a teaching position at Santa Maria del Popollo School in Mundelein, Illinois, where she remained for the next 12 years.
Of all those years, Sister Alicia said, “Serving in the role of teacher and administrator was both a challenge and a rewarding experience. For 50 years, I focused on being the voice of Catholic education in the Dioceses of Pittsburgh and Greensburg, and later in the Chicago area. I felt responsible for being that ‘beacon of light’ to students, parents, and the sisters in community.”
When Sister Alicia retired to Mount Alvernia, she served as a group supervisor and staff member at the Mount Alvernia Day Dare/Learning Center for eight years. After suffering a stroke, Sister Alicia continued to offer her services to others until failing health limited her to the health care unit. During all her years, she continued to say, “…God has generously and graciously kept me in the palm of his hand.”
Called to be with and for God’s people!
Throughout her 50 years in health care ministry in the Pittsburgh region, Sister Rosita Wellinger enjoyed interacting with people — physicians, nurses, personnel, patients and their families, neighbors, clergy, civic leaders and benefactors. Sister Rosita believed that her vocation involved relating with people. “This is part of God’s wish for religious,” Sister Rosita once said. “We are here to serve God’s people.”
Her life and ministry focused on St. Francis General Hospital, St. Francis Medical Center and St. Francis Health System with all its subsidiaries. Often she played the part of support team for Sister Adele Meiser who served as chief executive officer of St. Francis Medical Center from 1959 through 1977 and Sister Sylvia Schuler who was chief executive officer of St. Francis Medical Center from 1977 through 1985 and St. Francis Health System from 1986 through 1994. Together, they worked for the cause of people in need.
While Sister Rosita did not seek the limelight, she was always willing to “be out front” on behalf of St. Francis Health System. She served on the Hospital Association of Pittsburgh board of directors, and as its chairperson. She participated on many committees and boards through the years, representing the health system and contributing to the common good of church, civic and government organizations.
Sister Rosita’s prayer life was simple, yet profound. Her time with her God was usually in the late evenings, often following special events of the health care system. She had her special prayers to say, certain intentions for which to pray, and always her quiet time with the Lord.
The demise of the health system and the dissolution of its entities caused Sister Rosita considerable personal pain. Yet she was committed to what the future would bring for her. She and several other sisters moved into a parish convent in Pittsburgh’s Penn Hills neighborhood when they closed the convent attached to the Lawrenceville hospital. They became part of St. Bartholomew’s parish family, participating in church services and volunteering in other ways to be a presence with the families of the parish.
When Sister Rosita moved to the Mount Alvernia convent in Millvale, she remained active with the congregation’s annual golf tournament, a carry-over from the St. Francis Health System.
Sister Rosita delighted in spending time with her family and was very proud of them as the children grew and a new generation began. In her declining health her nieces visited her regularly.
Sister Rosita, thank you for the many ways you ministered with others in healing body, mind and spirit. Now, enjoy the presence of God, with all your family, our sisters, and the hundreds of people whose lives you touched. May we follow your example of service to and for others.
She completed her life’s journey in the quiet, grace-filled manner that she lived her life. A life that was filled with dignity, gentleness and a smile that welcomed all.
Sister Gwendolyn entered the Sisters of St. Francis in Syracuse in 1944. For 71 years, she served the Lord as a true Franciscan, always giving witness to the gospel message in all of the ministries in which she served.
Sister Gwendolyn’s primary ministry was in the field of education. She was a catechetical teacher in her early years in New York State. Sister Gwendolyn taught school for many years in the state of New Jersey. She also served as a hospitality minister at St. Francis Pensione in Rome, Italy.
When she retired as a full time teacher she gave of her time and talents as a substitute teacher and religious education teacher at St. Rose of Lima School in North Syracuse. During the summer she volunteered at the Pen and Pages Tutorial center.
Sister Gwendolyn touched many lives during her years of ministry. Her dedication, kindness and ever present smile will be remembered by all who knew her. During the last few years of her life, she continued to live as a quiet and gentle woman waiting to meet the God she served so graciously. May she now rest in God’s heavenly peace.
A Sister of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities for 84 years, Sister Catherine Thomson was one of 11 children. Born in McKeesport, Pennsylvania and raised in Pittsburgh’s Donora neighborhood, she entered the Sisters of St. Francis from St. Charles Parish. She attended Mount Alvernia High School in Millvale and earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.
For more than 50 years, she served as an educator in elementary schools in the Dioceses of Pittsburgh and Johnstown. In addition, she offered private piano lessons to children and adults.
Sister Catherine was well-known for creating unique crafts, including beautiful, knitted afghans. A woman of deep faith, Sister Catherine always gave generously of her time and talents. Sister Catherine’s older sister, Eleanor Ann, who passed away in 1996, was also a member of the Sister of St. Francis in Millvale.
In 1945, Sister Barbara entered the Sisters of St. Francis in Syracuse from St. John the Baptist in Taylor, Pennsylvania.
A Sister of St. Francis for 70 years, Sister Barbara served in many ministries while always bringing a true Franciscan presence to all of God’s people. After serving in the congregation’s formation program for four years, she began working in education ministry, teaching children in New York, New Jersey and Florida. She then served in the congregation’s finance office.
Sister Barbara’s dedication and faithfulness to her call as a Sister of St. Francis was immeasurable. She was a quiet influence on so many people, no matter where she was.
Sister Barbara, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.
A teacher for more than 50 years, Sister M. Antoinette Campiere also served in pastoral ministry, community service and most recently prayer ministry.
After graduating from Grove Cleveland High School in Buffalo, New York, she worked for the Maryland Casualty Insurance Company. At age 23 she joined the Sisters of St. Francis and attended Mount St. Joseph.
Sister Antoinette taught children in kindergarten, first and second grades at the German Roman Catholic Orphanage, St. Nicholas, St. Agnes, St. Francis of Assisi and St. Bernard’s School, all in Buffalo. She also taught at Our Lady Help of Christians in Cheektowaga, New York and at Queen of Heaven, West Seneca, New York.
May she rest in God’s peace.
“I have loved you with an everlasting love.” Jeremiah 31:3
A Sister of St. Francis for 66 years, Sister Winifred Guinan served in education ministry as a teacher and principal. She educated thousands of children at Holy Cross and St. James Schools in Syracuse, New York as well as at Our Lady of Sorrows School in Vestal, New York. She also taught children at Catholic schools in New Jersey and Ohio. Later in her ministry journey, she served in the community’s finance office and in pastoral care at Community General Hospital in Syracuse.
Sister Winifred treated every person she met with gentleness and great respect. In her later years, she developed chronic leukemia. Nevertheless, she lived the remainder of her life with acceptance and dignity. Her way of life, even through her illness, was a sign of her character as a Franciscan woman of God.
Sister Winifred, may the Lord hold you in the palm of his hand.
For more than 45 years, Sister Dolores took great pride in serving God’s people as a registered dietitian and nutrition instructor. She educated hundreds of students at Niagara University School of Nursing in Niagara Falls, New York, where she served as a clinical nutrition instructor. In addition, she served as an administrative and clinical dietitian at Mount St. Mary’s Hospital in Niagara Falls; St. Francis Hospital in Buffalo, and Mount St. Mary’s Hospital, Lewiston, New York. From 1973-1991, she was also local minister of the convent at Mount St. Mary’s Hospital. Most recently, she served in prayer ministry and community service at St. Mary of the Angels in Williamsville, New York.
While Sister Dolores received great satisfaction from her ministry, she had many other interests that made for a very full life. She loved to read, especially about history, and she enjoyed classical music and old movies. She also enjoyed sewing, knitting and baking. It was her prayer and her love of God that brought all of the aspects of her life together, making for a very rich and full journey.
Born in Poughkeepsie, New York, Sister Mary Rosaire Miraglia dedicated her life to God as a Sister of St. Francis for 66 years. She began her life of service as an elementary school educator in Pelham, New York. This was followed by many years of dedicated service to children at Mount Loretto on Staten Island where she ministered as a teacher, director of child care and director of the Girl’s Division. As Sister Rosaire’s journey continued, she served for 17 years at Holy Trinity Parish in Poughkeepsie where she cared for those who were sick, poor and older. During this time, she was known as the “Mother Teresa of Poughkeepsie” because of her loving and caring service to all who were in need. Eventually, Sister Mary Rosaire served in pastoral care at St. Francis Hospital in Poughkeepsie and was a gentle presence to those who were sick, dying and families who were experiencing grief.
From 1983 to 1986, Sister Mary Rosaire served as superior general of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Immaculate Virgin in Hastings, New York, now known as the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities. She also served on the community’s leadership team as a council member.
When St. Francis Hospital was sold in 2014, Sister Mary Rosaire moved to Syracuse, New York to reside with her sisters in community at the Franciscan Villa. She was immediately loved by all of the sisters and became a treasured gift and blessing to them. Not only did she radiate God’s peace and love, but she gave witness to what it means to be a Franciscan as she, in her quiet way, lived the gospel message.
Sister Mary Rosaire will be remembered for her resilient spirituality, selfless love and devotion, gentleness, resourcefulness and integrity. With untiring effort she often reached out to the underserved children of God, and had a calming influence on so many in troubled times. She also had a great sense of humor and endeared herself to those whom she encountered.
Now Sister Rosaire is reaping her reward from the God she served so well.
A Sister of St. Francis for 61 years, Sister Juliana Whitefield served in education ministry for 38 years as a junior high teacher and principal at various schools in the Diocese of Buffalo including: Infant of Prague, Most Holy Redeemer and Our Lady Help of Christians, Cheektowaga; St. Mary’s, Swormville; Queen of Heaven, Ebenezer; Sacred Heart, Bowmansville; Nativity, Harris Hill and St. James, Buffalo.
She served for 19 years in religious education and as the school librarian at St. Anthony of Padua in Greenville, South Carolina. In 2007, she returned to St. Mary of the Angels in Williamsville, New York, where she served in prayer ministry. She was known from her friendly, neighborhood encounters which resulted in lasting friendships.
Some 84 years ago, Cornelius and Helen Garrigan welcomed their daughter Patricia Ruth into their family and this world. Some 66 years ago the Sisters of St. Francis in Millvale welcomed her into our Franciscan family. Now, God welcomes her to her eternal home in heaven.
Sister Patricia’s resume of ministry accomplishments, certificates of study, board memberships and volunteer work recognitions can all be overwhelming to those who did not know her; the spirit of who she was can only be captured in how she was present on a daily basis to those around her.
As a child, Patricia was the tomboy who climbed trees and packed a toy pistol while dressed like a cowboy. She was the aunt who, when visiting, became the playmate of all the kids in the family. Her sense of play and humor stayed with her in the community. And no one can ever forget her winsome smile, which invited others to visit and chat with her. Yes, Sister Patricia had degrees, work experiences, opportunities that accompany one in high positions, but she never talked about those. She would rather listen to others and experience joy in the small pleasures of life. Little by little, she suffered physical losses and was wheelchair bound, and even though at times she experienced great pain or discomfort, she never complained. Even in her last days in the hospital, the only words that came from her lips that might have registered pain or frustration were, “Oh, my.”
Sister Patricia was very proud of her Irish heritage. Her twinkling eyes, Irish wit, engaging smile, and gracious manner won the hearts of all who met her or worked with her. She will be long-remembered in the words of her former co-workers, for “Your love, guidance, service and being such a wonderful part of our young lives and making us the nurses and women we are today.”
May Sister Patricia now rest in the loving arms of our God.
Perhaps it was somewhat prophetic that Jane was born during Advent, on the first day of Advent when the O Antiphons are sung. Her birthdate is dedicated to wisdom, the holy word of God that governs all of creation with strong and tender care. Sister Jane sought wisdom all through her life. In her tireless service in education and spiritual care, she yearned for the wisdom of God and offered both counsel and comfort for those in her care.
Jane entered the community in Millvale, Pennsylvania in 1949 at the age of 29, and became known as Sister M. Ancilla. Prior to her entrance, she served as secretary in the office of the Carnegie-Illinois Steel Corporation in Pittsburgh. She also served as secretary to a group of attorneys in downtown Pittsburgh. Her desire to become a Franciscan came to her slowly over time. Seeking counsel, she was encouraged by some, but not by all. Finally, it was Sister Regina Mary who was instrumental in encouraging Jane. She entered with some trepidation but clung to the hope that God would provide.
And God did provide. Sister Ancilla became a masterful teacher of religion and business courses in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. During these years, she chose to change back to her baptismal name and became known as Sister Jane. Her special love came later in her ministry of spiritual care at the House of Prayer in Uniontown and then as director of Pastoral Care at St. Francis Hospital in New Castle. In these ministries, her wisdom shone forth like a light to all who felt broken and void of hope. She truly became God’s instrument in showing that only love can bring the broken to new life.
At the age of 80, Sister Jane’s eye sight began to fail, forcing her to return to Mount Alvernia. In her own brokenness, she learned to give comfort and solace to her sisters for as long as she could.
May Sister Jane rest peacefully in the loving arms of God, whom she desired to serve with her whole heart and soul.
“You will leave with joy and be led away in safety.” (Is 55:12)
Sister Norma Mihalko’s steadfast prayer life and commitment to serving others were the imprints of her character. After entering the Sisters of St. Francis in 1950, she began serving at Loretto Rest the first diocesan home for the aged in North America, located in the Diocese of Syracuse in New York. In 1952, she went on to serve as a catechist and social worker at Holy Family Parish in Fairmount, New York.
Sister Norma professed her final vows in 1955 and traveled to Kalaupapa, Molokai, Hawaii to care for patients with Hansen’s disease (leprosy). This was a significant time in her life, and it remained a part of her heart forever.
When she returned to the Diocese of Syracuse in 1960, she served as a catechist in Galeville, Manlius, Liverpool, Chadwicks and Skaneateles. She also served as a driver for sisters at St. Anthony Motherhouse (Convent) and ministered in the Microfilm Department at St. Joseph Hospital. Beginning in 1996, Sister Norma devoted her life to prayer ministry and community service at St. Anthony Convent.
God was with Sister Norma throughout her journey and welcomed her to her eternal home. Sister Norma, rest in God’s peace.
Sister Rosaire’s life as a Sister of St. Francis followed many paths, all of which led to one goal: love of God and the desire to do his will and serve others with and through the many gifts he gave her.
She was a teacher in schools which were staffed by our sisters, a campus minister on college campuses, and a caretaker at Maryhouse which was a home for the homeless. She was a writer, an artist and a contemplative visionary. From her obscure beginnings in a small farm community 10 miles south of Erie, she learned to touch, see and feel all that was good in God’s creation.
At a very early age, she knew that she had a special love for art. As she grew into adulthood this love of art born in childhood developed into a passion that would never be extinguished. Many of her paintings adorn the walls at the sisters’ regional house in Millvale.
She also created treasured sculptures and other artistic memories. In 1965, Sister Rosaire created the life-size crucifix which hangs in the back of the Mount Alvernia chapel. This was followed by the Life, Death and Resurrection sculpture in our cemetery in 1971.
When the Millvale congregation merged with another Franciscan congregation in Syracuse, New York in 2007, Sister Rosaire wrote the Icon of the San Damiano crucifix which is now on display in Syracuse.
One of her latest sculptures is a life-size bronze statue of our St. Marianne Cope, which now stands on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. We treasure a smaller version of this statue in Millvale.
For several years, Sister Rosaire had an art studio at Mount Alvernia. Anyone who visited her studio could not help but come face to face with an extraordinary woman of contemplative prayer. Receiving God’s spirit into her work, she created many icons and taught others this prayerful form of art. She was a firm believer that art was a gift of God for others. She herself became an icon, revealing the face of God to anyone with eyes to see.
On the wall in Sister Rosaire’s studio is a quote from Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman that describes her passion for God. It reads, “God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have a mission. I may never know it is this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons; He has not created me for naught. I shall do good – I shall do His work. I shall be an angel of peace while not intending it if I do keep his commandments. Therefore, I will trust Him.”
Sister Rosaire lived this quote. We are grateful for the legacy she has left for us and others. May she rest in peace.
“Those who went sowing in tears now sing as they reap” (Ps. 126:5-6)
An educator for more than 30 years, Sister Grace Vincent taught children in elementary schools and in parishes throughout the Diocese of Syracuse. From Liverpool to Albany and Utica, New York, Sister Grace Vincent brought knowledge and God’s unconditional love to all those with whom she ministered. In 1996, Sister Grace Vincent began serving as a health aide at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Utica.
Sister Grace Vincent possessed a deep devotion to God and to her sisters in community, including her sibling Sister Bernadette Joseph Kupris who ministers at St. Mary’s Academy in Baldwinsville, New York.
May she rest in God’s peace.
“It is the season to hold the trees close to stand with them in their grieving.” – Joyce Rupp
Sister Miriam Van Hatten quietly went home to her loving God during the season of autumn. A season to hold the trees close, as God had held her close for 98 years.
From 1937 to 1972 Sister Miriam taught children and served as a principal in schools in the Diocese of Syracuse as well as in New Jersey and Ohio. Her journey then took her to the congregation’s former Dorn Day Care Center in Syracuse where she ministered as directress and caregiver. She went on to serve in ministry with her congregation.
A woman of great faith, Sister Miriam was loyal to her God and to her religious community. In later years she lovingly delivered mail to her sisters in community who appreciated her faithfulness to this task.
May she rest in God’s peace and love.
As a child, Evelyn Stuthers dreamed of one day becoming a follower of St. Francis, and her dream was fulfilled when she joined the Sisters of St. Francis in Millvale, Pennsylvania.
Following her vision, based on love and trust and faith, she left her family, and became Sister Elaine. After completing her early studies, Sister Elaine went on to become a teacher, focusing mainly in the field of science. Students remember her for her patience, her kindness, and her fairness as she guided them through the intricacies of the subject.
After retiring from the classroom, Sister Elaine ministered in the business offices of two hospitals as well as at the motherhouse in Millvale for a number of years. She also took great delight in teaching English as a second language to a Vietnamese family who had recently moved to the U.S.
Sister Elaine’s spirit of surrender to God’s will helped to sustain her in her later years, when she discovered that she had Parkinson’s disease. For many years, as the disease continued to deprive her of more and more of her abilities, she continued to smile and enjoy the company of the sisters. A ride around the grounds in her wheel chair on a nice day delighted her. She used this opportunity to water flowers and other plants with a squirt gun, and occasionally squirt one of the sisters for a good laugh. She continued to reach out to others and became quite adept with some modern technology which helped her communicate with the nurses, sisters and family members in Arizona.
Sister Elaine was an inspiration and mentor to many on how to travel on our own life journeys, even in the face of long suffering. Mother Teresa of Calcutta said that suffering is a sign that we have come so close to Jesus on the cross that he can kiss us and show that he is in love with us, by giving us an opportunity to share in his passion. Sister Elaine lived out these words. May she now rest in the loving arms of her God.
After teaching elementary school for several years at Immaculate Conception School in Astoria, New York and St. Clare Academy in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, Sister Marie Therese moved forward eventually earning a master’s degree in nursing from New York University.
She served as associate director of nurses at St. Agnes Hospital in White Plains, New York and St. Francis Hospital in Poughkeepsie, New York. Then she combined her experience in education and health care ministry to serve as an instructor of nursing at St. Vincent Hospital and Medical Center School of Nursing in New York City.
Sister Marie Therese also served in congregational leadership for 18 years as a general councilor and as general secretary. In addition, she served as director of the office of community development and administrative director of Camp Clare Vue.
May God now hold her in the palm of his hand.
Dedicated to building the kingdom of God on earth, Sister Eileen Burns served as a teacher, religious education administrator and pastoral associate in the Archdiocese of New York for more than 40 years.
She began her ministry as a teacher at Holy Name of Jesus School in New Rochelle, New York where she served for seven years. She went on to teach children at La Salle Academy in New York City.
Inspired by her devotion to the poor, as a pastoral associate Sister Eileen served at Nativity, Ascension and St. Joseph of the Holy Family parishes in New York City and St. Margaret Mary Parish in the Bronx.
Sister Eileen also served as minister for the East Coast region of her congregation from 2005 through 2009 and as director of the congregation’s Franciscan Associates for 22 years. She also taught Franciscan spirituality to sisters who were novices with the Franciscan Handmaids of Mary in New York City. In addition, she was elected to serve on the Community Planning Board 3 in New York City where she served on the Public Safety and Rehabilitation Commission.
With a deep faith in God, Sister Eileen gave witness by her life to the redemptive power and presence of God in the world.
May she rest in God’s peace.
I love you, Yahweh, my strength …. You, yourself, are my lamp, my God lights up my darkness. (Ps 18:1,28)
A Sister of St. Francis for 72 years, Sister Helaine served in education ministry in New York, New Jersey and Ohio. During her time as principal at St. Matthew’s School in East Syracuse she helped to develop a curriculum for the new math series which was implemented in Catholic schools staffed by our sisters in the Diocese of Syracuse. She went on to serve as math supervisor for these schools. Later in her journey, she served as a faithful volunteer at the NunBetter candy shop.
Sister’s devotion to her community was shown by her service to the endeavors of our community. Her warmth and smile endeared her to all she encountered. Her orange hat and sweatshirt showed her interest and support for the Syracuse University basketball team.
Sister Helaine, rest in God’s light, love and peace.
“I give you thanks, God of my journey … to receive the truth of your presence … to trust in the place of “forever hello.” -Joyce Rupp
A Franciscan sister for 80 years, Sister Bernice was born in Riverside, New Jersey. After professing her final vows as a Sister of St. Francis in Syracuse in 1937, she began serving in education ministry. She spent 57 years teaching in schools in Utica, Syracuse and Albany, New York; Honolulu, Hawaii as well as in Ohio. She then returned to her hometown of Riverside where she served as parish minister at St. Peter’s Church. Upon her return to Syracuse, she served as a faithful candy maker at NunBetter candy shop, a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities. She also served at the Franciscan Place at the Carousel Mall.
Sister Bernice possessed a joyful love for her sisters in community and was also a faithful fan of the Syracuse Orange basketball team. Her radiant smile will be missed by all who shared in her joy-filled life.
May she rest in God’s eternal peace in the place of “Forever hello.”
Sister Veronica saw the face of Jesus in the faces of the many children and families she met as she lived out her vocation. This ministry journey included serving as a religion teacher for 52 years, census worker for 36 years, congregational leadership for 14 years and most-recently a prayer minister.
Born in Rochester, New York, Sister Veronica served in education ministry at Our Lady of Loretto and Holy Cross, Buffalo; Our Lady of Fatima Mission Center, Cattaraugus; St. Pius X Mission Center, Batavia and Immaculate Conception Mission Center, Belmont, New York. As a census worker, Sister Veronica worked in various parishes and locations throughout the Diocese of Buffalo.
Through the years, as she journeyed along the highways of western New York, she brought God’s love to others as she wiped away many a fear, comforted families and encouraged people to come back into the church. In all ways and always, Sister Veronica lived out her 103 years in fullness of faith and vibrancy.
While she began her journey through religious life in a traditional ministry, Sister Ruth Wangler embraced change and always welcomed the opportunity for new ministries.
After entering the congregation in 1943, Sister Ruth served as a teacher at St. James School in Buffalo and Sts. Peter and Paul School in Williamsville.
After earning a degree in medical technology, she ministered at Mount St. Mary’s Hospital in Niagara Falls and Lewiston, New York for 22 years where she served as a medical technologist and laboratory supervisor.
Sister Ruth then took a new path became one of the first Catholic sisters to become certified in pastoral ministry after earning a master’s degree in pastoral care at Trinity College in Washington, D.C. Upon her return to New York, she ministered at St. Jude Center, St. Francis Hospital, both in Buffalo; Brothers of Mercy Hospital in Clarence and Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital in Williamsville.
In the late 1970s, the congregation established Our Lady of the Lake House of Prayer in Derby, New York, and Sister Ruth served as a core member of the prayer community there for six years.
After spending a year in ministry in Puerto Rico, Sister Ruth returned to Williamsville and developed a formal enrichment program for senior adult sisters in her congregation. She also served in congregational leadership.
In her later years, Sister Ruth returned to the city of Niagara Falls to volunteer at a soup kitchen, while also coordinating the ministry of hospitality for the congregation at St. Mary of the Angels in Williamsville.
Throughout her life’s journey Sister Ruth remained in close relationship with her family and enjoyed sharing in summer vacations, holidays and birthdays.
“I am eternally grateful for my Franciscan vocation in this congregation,” Sister Ruth once said. Her memory remains with us and is a wonderful example of how to search, accept and growth through all of life’s experiences.
Within the roar of the mighty Niagara Falls, I was born,” Sister Julia Hamilton
During her junior year of high school, Margaret took a summer job at Mount St. Mary’s Hospital in Niagara Falls, New York. It was here that she met the Sisters of St. Francis, who were the administrators of the hospital. In 1956, Margaret entered the Sisters of St. Francis taking the name Sister Julia. Sister Julia served as teacher and principal in various schools in western New York including: St. Christopher’s, Tonawanda; St. Gerard’s and St. Agnes, Buffalo; St. Mary and Our Lady of Pompeii, Lancaster; Sacred Heart, Bowmansville and St. Mary’s, Swormville. After serving for 20 years in education ministry, she went on to serve in pastoral ministry at St. Mary’s Manor in Niagara Falls as well as at St. Agnes and Sts. Columba & Brigid Parishes, Buffalo, New York. In 1994 Sister Julia became a certified chaplain and served in this role for more than 10 years at St. Francis Hospital in Buffalo. Most recently, she served in ministry with the congregation’s Franciscan Associate Program.
Most importantly, Sister Julia was a woman of prayer, faithful to living the Gospel, and true follower of Sts. Francis and Clare. Sister Julia started each new day by celebrating Mass and she spent many hours in chapel praying before the Blessed Sacrament.
Julia, rest now in the hands of God. We love you.
A Sister of St. Francis for 62 years, Sister James Denis’ ministry in education took her to several schools in New York, New Jersey and Florida where she educated children of all ages. Before and after school hours, she was tireless in her efforts to teach children from other countries to learn and speak English.
As her life’s journey unfolded, Sister James Denis went on to serve in health care ministry at St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center in Syracuse, New York where she served as director of volunteers and served in the Microfilm Department for eight years. Later, she served for 11 years as secretary for Catholic Charities in Syracuse.
A strong woman of faith, she will always be remembered for her dedication and devotion to serving others, especially those most in need.
Her special chuckle, especially in her later years, gave much joy to those who knew her.
Sister James Denis, rest in God’s loving peace.
Teacher, Principal, Congregational Leadership
New York City/Staten Island/
Hastings-on-Hudson, New York
Your sun will set no more nor your moon wane,
but Yahweh will be your everlasting light and your days of mourning will be ended (Is. 60:20)
For 51 years, Sister Helen Marie left her imprint on all whom she encountered. Sister Helen’s primary ministry was in education. She served as a teacher in schools in Dewitt, Fulton, Gloversville, Syracuse and Utica, New York; Hoboken and Riverside, New Jersey; Lorain, Ohio; and in Tampa and Sarasota, Florida. In addition to teaching, she also ministered as a principal, religious educator and speech therapist.
As her journey continued, she gave of her time teaching at the former Pen and Pages Tutorial Center in Syracuse.
Sister Helen Marie walked in gentleness and peacefulness with a grace that was a trademark of her commitment to her God, her religious community and to all whom she encountered.
Sister Helen Marie, rest in God’s peace.
A Sister of St. Francis for 69 years, Sister Mary Toomey taught elementary school students in the Diocese of Pittsburgh for 25 years. After earning a master’s degree in library science, she served for 16 years as a librarian in various high schools staffed by the sisters. Most recently, Mary served as registrar for the St. Francis School of Nursing Alumnae for six years.
Throughout her 105-year lifetime, Sister Mary Beatrice Campbell witnessed many changes in the world. Yet, one thing remained the same, her deep faith in God.
In 1930, after professing her temporary vows, Beatrice began teaching at Immaculate Conception School in Astoria, New York. This marked the beginning of her 55- years in education ministry.
Beatrice served as a teacher and principal in Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of New York, where she taught students in just about every grade. For eight of those years, she served as a teacher at Mount Loretto on Staten Island.
No matter where God led Beatrice through her 87-years in religious life, she always remained close to God through prayer. “She had a great devotion to the Blessed Mother,” says Sister Rose Jerome Kenlon.
In her spare time, Beatrice enjoyed visiting with former students and staff, reading books and magazines. A lover of history, our centenarian lived through a significant portion of it: from the roaring twenties, to the Great Depression, World War I and II and the invention of the television, radio, penicillin, computer, internet and more. Through it all she remained prayerful and strong, tenacious and generous, enduring and kind.
In September 1934, Sister Mary Gregory Andrews joined the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Divine Child. After professing her final vows in 1941, she served in parish religious education in the Diocese of Buffalo for 27 years and then as a teacher in Catholic schools in the diocese for 15 years. She went on to serve in family home care for 15 years and then in prayer ministry for 19 years. A Sister of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities since the union in 2004, Mary Gregory was wonderful example to all. Her friendly face and life-giving spirit will be missed by those whom she loved and served.
May she rest eternally in the peace of God.
During her early years as a Sister of St. Francis, Sister Lois Ursula found herself serving in different ministries, first in the Admissions Office at St. Francis Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and later in the Business Office/Radiology at St. Francis Hospital in Columbus, Georgia. She then taught for many years at local Catholic grade schools as well as Mount Alvernia High School. After serving as principal from 1979 until 1993, she participated embarked upon a new venture: Collaborative Ministries in Roswell, New Mexico, where she was coordinator of religious education, living and working with sisters from other Franciscan communities. In Roswell, she got to see first-hand where the historical UFO landed.
Since 1997, Lois Ursula lived and ministered at Mount Alvernia as business office manager, in congregational service, and most recently in prayer ministry. As her years of ministry came to a close, we can only imagine what anxiety and turmoil she experienced as she became more and more aware of the physical limitations that the ravages of Parkinson’s disease began to place upon her. What appeared to some as a life destined to be totally dependent on others became rather a life of continued learning through reading, working of jigsaw puzzles and creating greeting cards to send to relatives and friends, tasks that required much patience and endurance.
We can only imagine the spiritual journey Lois Ursula traveled as she painstakingly completed her wishes for end of life care and arrangements for her funeral liturgy. We can only imagine the inexpressible joy and peace that Lois Ursula felt when she finally met her God.
May Sister Lois Ursula rest in peace in the loving arms of God!
An educator for more than 40 years, Sister Leonilda Avery served as a teacher and librarian at schools in New York and New Jersey. While serving as librarian at St. Rose of Lima School in North Syracuse, she did a wonderful job of modernizing the library. A member of the American Academy of Professional Coders, Leonilda also served as a microfilm clerk coder at St. Joseph Hospital Health Center in Syracuse.
But Leonilda’s passion was playing the trumpet. She shared her musical gifts with others as a member of the Central New York Police and Firemen’s Marching Band and the American Legion Marching Band. Her trumpet playing also enhanced many of our community’s liturgies and prayer services.
Sister Leonilda, enjoy the Trumpet sound of the Alleluia!
For more than 60 years, Sister Florence Kremer dedicated her life to serving God as a teacher, business office manager and prayer minister.
After professing her final vows in 1957, she taught grades four, five and six at St. Francis, St. Bernard, St. James and St. Agnes elementary schools in Buffalo for nine years. Her next 29 years were spent working in the business office of the former St. Francis Hospital in Buffalo.
In May 1992, Florence moved to Williamsville where she worked at St. Mary of the Angels on Mill Street and then moved to the new St. Mary of the Angels regional house in 1999. She devoted her retirement years to community service as receptionist and prayer ministry.
As part of the Adopt A Sister ministry, Florence kept her adopters and their intentions in her prayers. This ministry of prayer, especially Eucharistic Adoration was very important to Florence who blessed to have developed prayerful relationships with many people.
A member of the Sisters of St. Francis for 71 years, Sister M. Olivia Gibson devoted most of her active ministry to education. She taught in schools in central New York, New Jersey, Florida and Hawaii. In addition, Olivia directed and taught in the Maria Regina Speech Clinic in Syracuse from 1963 to 1970, and she served as office manager in the Spiritual Services Department at Saint Francis Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii from 1994 to 2009. She spent the remaining years of her life as a community and prayer minister at St. Francis Convent in Honolulu.
Olivia’s ministry as a speech pathologist enabled many non-speakers and poor speakers, those having congenital conditions and those suffering from acquired illnesses and physical traumas, to speak with clarity and confidence. Her success and dedication was the inspiration for a feature-length film produced by Universal Pictures, “A Change of Habit,” which starred Elvis Presley and Mary Tyler Moore. It was the effort of Hollywood producer Joseph Connelly to “show a dedicated nun, who is also a woman doing a job that has to be done.”
In June 2014, Sister Olivia traveled to Scotland to visit her familial homeland and to celebrate her ninetieth birthday with beloved family and friends. She enjoyed herself thoroughly and was grateful to be able to be with them for one last time.
After professing her final vows in 1969, Sister Adrian Wise dedicated 37 years of her life to education ministry. She taught in many schools in Syracuse, New York and in Camden and Riverside, New Jersey. She also served as principal of Fulton Catholic School in Fulton, New York and vice-principal of St. Rose of Lima and at Our Lady of Pompei schools in Syracuse. In 2000, she began serving as administrative assistant at Jolenta Convent.
On March 11, Adrian’s season of spring, her rebirth, came from her loving God. Quietly she completed her life-journey and now enjoys her eternal home.
Sister Adrian, Rest in God’s peace.
As a registered nurse, counselor and psychologist, Sister Shirley Peace lived a full life dedicated to caring for others. In 2009 when she traveled from Virginia to New York to serve as one of the EC regional ministers, she took the regional house in Hastings by storm. Her great smile and gracious manner endeared her to all the sisters and staff.
Alive with new experiences and ideas, she broadened our horizons with her vast knowledge and many experiences. We were regaled with the stories of her days in Japan as a Navy nurse, never sharing, like so many Veterans, the horrors of taking care of those wounded in Vietnam. She spoke of her days in Haiti in loving terms, knowing she was doing her small part to help those in need of medical attention.
Her favorite table in the dining room had four chairs, but at the end of a supper time it might triple in size. Here, evenings were spent talking about parallel universes, other dimensions, quantum leaps and her favorite topic factoids. These conversations were always interesting.
Sister Shirley will forever be remembered for her dedication to helping others, and most especially her sisters in community. Truly a minister in word and deed, we will miss her, but we know she is at Peace.
In her 50 years of dedicated ministry, Sister Jane Hogan touched the lives of many people in a variety of ways. She taught at schools in Syracuse, Albany and Fayetteville, New York and later in Lorain, Ohio. She went on to serve in parish ministry in Endicott, New York.
Sister Jane then felt called to a new ministry and became a marriage and family therapist at Springfield Hospital in Springfield, Massachusetts, while also serving as a mental health counselor at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
She will be especially remembered for her work at the Listening Place in Lynn, Massachusetts, where she served as assistant director for more than 30 years. Here, she helped people whose lives were in chaos, to rebuild and begin anew.
Sister Jane’s love of life will live on in the hearts of those who knew her.
Sister Grace Weis began her 40 year ministry career as a teacher in junior high school classes in Pittsburgh and Monesson, Pennsylvania. After a few years she began teaching business in high schools in the Diocese of Pittsburgh and at Central Catholic High School in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.
After leaving the classroom, Grace’s ministries took her in different directions – librarian and serving in the congregational business office and formation office. In 1998, she joined the prayer ministry at Mount Alvernia.
Throughout her years in the community, Grace became a great storyteller. Sisters loved to listen as she shared stories of her childhood, her life in the convent in the “early days,” her days in the classroom, teaching young men and women. Visitors always left her room with a smile on their faces and a happy thought to carry through the day.
May Sister Grace now rest peacefully in the Lord.
Mary Barbara Schacht was welcomed into the world on Christmas Day in 1929 by her parents, brothers and sister. What a Christmas gift!
Sister Mary Barbara spent many years in education serving either as a classroom teacher or as a principal.
In 1987, she opened and operated Mount Alvernia Day Care and Learning Center, a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of St. Francis serving parents and children from six months old to kindergarten age. After spending many years as director of the center, Mary Barbara ministered in the congregation’s business office for a number of years.
Mary Barbara’s life was a series of hellos and goodbyes, moving out of one area of ministering to God’s children and moving into new, uncharted ones. Through it all, Mary Barbara maintained a very strong commitment to religious life and always had high hopes for the future of our community. We know that she will continue to intercede for us as she rests in the loving arms of God.
A dedicated nurse and administrator, Sister M. Johanna Delelys served in health care ministry for more than 45 years. After professing her perpetual vows in 1962, Johanna’s nursing career began at Mercy Hospital in Auburn, New York. In 1965, she went on to serve at St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Utica, New York, where she served for 45 years. She began working at St. Elizabeth’s as a nurse and went on to become chief operating officer and then president and chief executive officer. She was a guiding force in the creation of the Mohawk Valley Heart Institute and the new Orthopedic Unit. In addition, she was instrumental in expanding and modernizing the Emergency Department and cardiac catheterization labs. Upon her retirement, Johanna was commended with a legislative resolution adopted by the New York State Senate commending her for her many achievements.
Dedicated to her community and serving her God, Sisiter M. Johanna’s quiet presence and commitment to her ministry were her trademarks.
Rest in God’s peace, Sister Johanna.
A member of the Sisters of St. Francis for 65 years, Sister Margaret Mary Dromgoole dedicated her life to educating children in the Diocese of Buffalo, New York. She taught children in elementary schools at St. Mary’s, Lancaster; St. James and St. Francis of Assisi, Buffalo; Sacred Heart, Bowmansville; St. Vincent DePaul, Spring Brook; Nativity, Orchard Park and St. Aloysius, Springville. She also served as principal at St. Vincent DePaul, Spring Brook and Our Lady of Pompeii in Lancaster.
After 42 years in education, Sister Margaret Mary served in Williamsville as receptionist at Holy Family Home and then in community service at St. Mary of the Angels.
We give thanks for the life of Sister Margaret Mary and all her years of service and growing in union with God.
A member of the Sisters of St. Francis for 65 years, Sister Margaret Mary Foley, was born and raised in Buffalo, New York. After graduating from high school and attending business school, she worked as a bookkeeper, accountant and secretary. Yet, she felt God was calling her to do something more. After making a retreat at St. Mary of the Angels in Williamsville, Sister Margaret Mary knew that God was calling her to religious life, and she entered the Franciscan community.
Sister Margaret Mary went on to teach primary grades for 45 years. She said that teaching first graders enabled her to remain youthful, because the laughter, smiles, honesty and simplicity of the children was infectious. She taught in Buffalo, North Java, Elma and Hamburg schools in western New York and in Greenville, South Carolina.
Later in life, Sister Margaret Mary worked as the director of the Perpetual Adoration Aid Society and as a receptionist at St. Mary of the Angels. In recent years, Margaret Mary devoted herself to her love of walking, reading and prayer ministry. Her life was marked by a spirit of faithfulness and simplicity. We give thanks for her devoted life.
Sister James Therese Downey’s welcoming smile was her trademark. Her spirituality was another of the wonderful gifts she shared with all whom she encountered. After professing her perpetual vows in 1984, Sister James Therese served as an educator in schools in Syracuse, Fulton and Oswego, New York, as well as in New Jersey. An excellent math teacher, in 1992 she began serving at Bishop Grimes Junior/Senior High School in Syracuse, where she served as teacher, assistant principal and principal. Eventually, she became formation minister for the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities.
Always responding with a positively to any request, her “yes” was a gift to her family of four brothers and five sisters; to all whom she taught and served; to her loving friends; and to her Franciscan community.
On Jan. 14, her loving God was with her when she finished her journey. Just as she lived her life with God’s grace, she left her life in that same manner. Her “yes” was positive and her smile will always be remembered by all those who knew and loved her.
How true the saying “Oh! Only for so short a while you have loaned us to each other.” Thank you, Sister James Therese.
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.
“Your sun will not set no more nor your moon wane,
But Yahweh will be your everlasting light
And your days of mourning will be ended.” (Is. 60:20)
Gifted with a wise and beautiful smile, Sister Frances Ann Thom served in a variety of ministries for 62 years. In 1957 after making her final profession with the Sisters of St. Francis in Syracuse, New York, she began educating children in New York and Ohio.
Desiring to bring others closer to God, Sister Frances Ann established the Franciscan Hermitage of the Sisters of St. Francis in the hills of Fayetteville, New York and went on to serve in parish ministries at Holy Trinity Church, St. Daniel’s and St. Mary’s in Baldwinsville, New York. She also served in spiritual care at Rosewood Heights Nursing Home in Syracuse and as director of Mission and Spiritual Care at Mercy Health and Rehabilitation Center in Auburn, New York.
In 1995, Sister Frances Ann was elected to the leadership team of the Sisters of St. Francis in Syracuse and in 2000 she was elected to serve in congregational leadership in Hawaii, where she also served as mission educator at St. Francis Health Center in Honolulu.
A gifted writer, Sister Frances Ann was a member of the National League of American Pen Women. She will be remembered as a woman who gave of herself to her community in all of her ministries. Her spirituality spoke through her pen. Her care for God’s people spoke through her faithfulness to using her gifts for her community and to God’s people.
Sister Frances Ann, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.
“You will leave with joy and be led away in safety” (Is.55:12)
For 77 years Sister Walter Marie said “yes” to her loving God whom she served with great humility and faithfulness. These two virtues were the trademarks of her full and fruitful life of 99 years. Walter Marie served in health care ministry as a registered nurse at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse, New York and at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Utica, New York where she spent most of her years. She served in clinical nursing, teaching and administration. For 22 years, she ministered as the director of the School of Nursing and dean of the College of Nursing. She was respected by all with whom she came in contact. Walter Marie’s vision and positive influence on nurses who graduated from St. Elizabeth School of Nursing remains a 56 year legacy of devoted service.
Your sun will set no more, nor your moon wane, but Yahweh will be your everlasting light. (Is. 60:20)
Devoted to her community and to her family and friends, S. Virginia will be remembered for serving her God with a generous heart and for enjoying life. After professing her perpetual vows in 1957, Virginia earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Dayton in Dayton in Ohio and a master’s degree from SUNY Potsdam, N.Y. She earned a certificate in administration from Manhattan College in New York City and went on to dedicate her life to serving God through education ministry. She taught in Riverside, N.J., North Syracuse, and Dewitt, N.Y. She also served as principal at Holy Family School in Fairmount, N.Y. and assistant principal at St. Rose of Lima School. In her leisure time, Virginia enjoyed sports and time together with her family, friends and sisters in community.
You, yourselves have seen how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Exodus 19:4
After professing her perpetual vows in 1944, S. Rosanne, and five other sisters traveled to Hawaii in 1949. Eventually, Rosanne became the nursing supervisor in Kalaupapa, Molokai, Hawaii. This was the beginning of her profound love for the patients and sisters at the Kalaupapa mission. Her love for Father Damien and Mother Marianne was a deep core of her personality.
During her 53 years in nursing ministry, Rosanne ministered at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Utica, N.Y.; Mercy Hospital in Auburn, N.Y.; St. Francis Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii; Loretto Rest in Syracuse, N.Y. and at the Jolenta Care Site in Syracuse. For 24 years, she served as a visiting nurse and a public health nurse in Central New York. She remained active in ministry, while being a family care minister as well, truly living the virtues of kindness and charity to all.
Sister Rosanne, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.
After professing her perpetual vows in 1939, Sister Mary Roger taught school for 47 years in New York, New Jersey, Ohio, and Hawaii. From 1985 to 1988, she did microfilming work at St. Joseph Hospital in Syracuse, N.Y. Sister Mary Roger retired at St. Anthony Convent and worked part-time in the Communications Office. During her later years until her death she was a prayer minister at Jolenta care site and at the Franciscan Villa.
No doubt Sister Mary Roger is looking for the birds and dogs that were a part of her convent days. Her sense of humor and her daily comments on life added laughter to those around her. Her community was the focus of her love and loyalty.
“Oh, why only for so short a while you have loaned us to each other.” J.R.
“God created me to do something special for all that he created. He is my destiny!” This was the motto Sister Venard Kiley lived by for her entire religious life. Her ministries seemed to come in 19-year segments: for 19 years, Venard served as an elementary teacher in schools staffed by the Sisters of St. Francis; for the next 19 years, she was principal at Help of Christians School; and for the next nearly 19 years, she ministered to the poor and neglected senior adults at Bry-Mard Apartments, a Christian Housing high-rise in Pittsburgh’s Homewood neighborhood. She blossomed while serving in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. Her desire to serve the poor always seemed to lead her to consider new horizons.
Sister Venard had a special devotion to St. Venard, her patron saint, who himself was a special friend of the Little Flower, St. Therese of Lisieux. Throughout her life, Sister Venard grew in similar little ways modeled in the spirit of St. Therese. In 2007, Sister Venard suffered a stroke which limited her in many ways, but did not deter her from ministering in a very caring and compassionate manner with the sisters living in the health care unit, especially to those who were near death. Despite her physical limitations and her inability to speak, she was a consoling presence – always vigilant, always concerned, always prayerful. Sister Venard truly mirrored St. Francis in her outreach to those most in need, be it physical, emotional or spiritual. She was truly a gift to all.
In her life of many gifts and challenges, Sister Venard will be remembered for her singular focus on God – her only desire. This was evident in her services to children as well as adults. We also knew Venard to be a fond lover of animals, especially dogs. She frequently attended the blessing services of animals on the feast of St. Francis.
In her final years, Sister Venard endeared herself to everyone as we saw her daily wheeling herself to the chapel. Her simple repetitive journey would teach us so much about the value of prayer. Finally, she would make her way to each dying sister, becoming an instrument of comfort and peace, as only she could do. As Sister Venard began her own final journey, she welcomed a serenity given only to those who lovingly embrace God as their final destiny. May she rest in the peace of Christ.
Sister Ruth Ann grew up as the only girl among six brothers. After graduating from high school, she decided to join the Franciscans who had taught her throughout her elementary and secondary classes. During her early years in the community, she taught and served as principal and/or administrator in the elementary and middle grades in a number of schools. After spending a sabbatical year at Notre Dame University, 1989-1990, Ruth Ann went on to prepare for a new ministry, that of chaplain.
During the next two years, Sister Ruth Ann studied at the Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Chicago, as a CPE student, then as a CPE intern. The following year she began her ministry at Manor Care in Pittsburgh’s Greentree neighborhood as full time chaplain. She continued in this ministry for the next 12 years. When new owners phased out the position of chaplain, Ruth Ann was saddened to leave a ministry in which she was serving God’s sick and infirm. For the next several years, Sister Ruth Ann served as registrar for St. Francis Hospital nurses, preparing transcripts for those requesting them. She also gave of her time answering the phone, and helping sisters where help was needed. She was very artistic and enjoyed creating beautiful bulletin boards for jubilee celebrations and special feasts.
As her health declined, Sister Ruth Ann found it hard to accept the fact that she couldn’t do all the things she had done in the past; however, she would then turn her attention to things she could do, usually in service to the sisters. Her talents and abilities were so many and she found ways to use them for the sisters. Sisters often referred to Sister Ruth Ann as kind, pleasant, joyful, fun to be with, creative, and the list goes on and on.
Sister Ruth Ann always treasured a great love for God and Mary. And it was on the great feast of the Assumption of Mary into heaven that God called her home. May she rest in peace.
She could make a piano talk! From the time of her entrance into the congregation of the Sisters of St. Francis in Millvale, Pa., until her retirement, Sister Veronica Marie engaged in musical activities with those with whom she lived and worked. In her early days in the community, she cooked and cared for our sisters in the health care unit. She often entertained the sisters with music and song, and also engaged them in plays. After studying at Carlow College in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, she worked at St. Joseph House for Aged Women, where again she formed a choir with the women, and got them involved in music activities.
After further studies at Duquesne University, Veronica began her teaching career which took her from elementary grades to principal to high schools, and to college classes, where she taught dancing and typing. Wherever she went, the music went with her, and was expressed in plays, musicals, and choirs. She also played the organ in a number of churches. When Veronica was teaching business courses at St. Augustine High School, she became a close friend of the math teacher, Sister Coleman Conroy, and there a new ministry was created.
During the ensuing summer months, the sisters were asked by the pastor, Father Paul Kuppe, OFM Cap, to take a census of the parish to find out the needs of the people in Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood. Their final report showed that there was a great need for senior housing. From this need and with the support of the city and church authorities, Christian Housing was created. St. Augustine Plaza in Lawrenceville became the first high rise for senior citizens, 62 and older. From St. Augustine’s, they went on to erect a total of 24 high rises in various parts of Pittsburgh, Greensburg and Indiana, Pa. for senior citizens. As co-manager, Veronica involved the residents in parties and songs and music.
When Veronica celebrated her 70th anniversary as a Franciscan in May, 2014, she shared her reflection:”It is evident that every person has special gifts. My gift was recognizing others’ gifts and having the opportunity to help each one develop and use those gifts.” She added, “My life was enriched by the gifts and goodness of others who have crossed my pathways. And that includes each of you!”
May Sister Veronica Marie rest in the loving arms of God and unite her voice with all those in the heavenly choir!
The sixth of 12 children, Sister Florence Remata was born in Waimea, Kauai, Hawaii. A Sister of St. Francis for 57 years, Sister Florence served in education ministry. She taught at St. Peter School, Riverside, N.J.; St. Joseph School, Hilo, Hawaii, where she also was vice principal; and Our Lady of Good Counsel School, Pearl City, Hawaii.
She also served as director of religious education at Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, Pearl City, and at St. Patrick, Chittenango, N.Y.
In 1995, Sister Florence returned to her home island of Kauai and spent 17 years as director of religious education and pastoral associate at Immaculate Conception Church in Lihue. Those who knew her nicknamed her “The Mayor of Kauai” for her friendliness and outreach. In 1991, she received the Our Lady of Peace Award from the Diocese of Honolulu.
In 2013, Sister Florence was elected regional minister for the Franciscan sisters in Hawaii, California, New Mexico and Texas. Her all-too-brief term was characterized by her spirituality, hospitality and inclusivity.
True to her belief that “the glory of God is a person fully alive,” she cherished her personal, Franciscan and parish families, her friends and co-workers, her students and the Franciscan Associates, especially those she invited and formed while in Kauai. She enjoyed time devoted to spiritual reading and dancing for exercise.
She has 30 nephews and nieces, 60 grandnephews and grandnieces and 11 great grandnephews and great grandnieces.
Sister Florence lived with the belief that her peace lay in God’s will. May she rest eternally in the peace of God whom she so faithfully loved and served.
Read more at Hawaii Catholic Herald.
Patrice’s loyalty to her community and her never-ending care and compassion to the sick and the dying were her trademarks. Quiet, gentle and unassuming, Patrice’s peaceful presence will be missed. Patrice’s example of prayerfulness was an example to all of us.
After making her perpetual profession in 1955, Patrice served as director of Food Service at the St. Anthony Convent, teacher, and parish minister in Chadwicks, Fayetteville and Dewitt, N.Y. as well as in Riverside, N.J. For a total of 20 years, she was a chaplain at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Utica, N.Y., St. Joseph’s Hospital and Francis House in Syracuse, N.Y. She also served as hospitality minister at Jubilee House Retreat Center in Abingdon, Va.
Sister Patrice, may God hold you in the palm of His Hand.
10/10/10 — the day upon which baby Antoinette Schroeffel first saw the light of day. She was welcomed by her parents, Anthony and Anna Schroeffel, and would be the oldest of nine children.
Over 103 years, Sister Aelred made an impressionable mark on the lives of many people, most notable among whom were the many students she taught and mentored. A number of those students kept in touch with her all through the years. In her later years, she endeared herself to the nurses and aides who tenderly cared for her in our health care unit at Mount Alvernia. Her words of wisdom and memories of her many acts of kindness will remain with them forever.
During her life’s journey, Sister Aelred was known to be a spirited and independent thinker, confident and enthusiastic, a learned and excellent teacher who had a passion for imparting a love of the sciences to her students. As she grew older, it was delightful to notice that while she did not lose her zest for life and her feistiness, she was able to temper it with a profound sense of care for others, often showing compassion and encouragement to those who needed it most. Her display of genuine appreciation for anything and everything will always be remembered, along with the grace she possessed in accepting God’s will for her.
In her funeral file, Sister Aelred wrote, “As a Sister of St. Francis, I did my best to promote the honor and glory of God.” Those words were so true to everyone who met or knew her. As also are the words of one of her former students in a letter, “Thank you, Sister. I believe you are probably one of God’s favorites.”
During her years as a Sister of St. Francis, Sister Marilyn traveled many roads leading her in different directions, yet converging at one and the same point.
As a very young sister, Sister Marilyn generously answered yes to an assignment in Puerto Rico, where she taught high school classes in another language, and was challenged by our late Sister Ermelinda to go with her to the areas of the island where people with Hansen’s disease resided and teach and care for them. Sister Marilyn said she would try to hide from “Ermie” but she would always find her and she couldn’t say no.
When she returned to the states, Sister Marilyn engaged in a Franciscan Studies Program at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkley, Calif. It was here that she met Father Tom Speier, a First Order Franciscan from Cincinnati, Ohio. When they returned home, Father Tom and Sister Marilyn created a Franciscan Spiritual Direction Internship Program, based on St. Francis’ conversion. Father Tom says “Sister Marilyn’s prayerful insights, and feminine outlook were a positive contribution and constant encouragement, as we took this program around the world.” They would present the program in one third-world country and in one first-world country each year. This took them to many places not only in the United States and Canada, but also in Africa, England, Malta, Taiwan, Indonesia and the Philippines. Later they expanded the program to include a study of St. Clare’s prayers, life and writings.
Sister Marilyn was also a leader. From 1989 to 1993, she ministered as the major superior of the Millvale Franciscans. She chaired a committee whose objective was to revise the congregation’s Constitutions and was instrumental in helping to lead the community through a merger process. In her later years, Sister Marilyn served as the Western Pennsylvania Region’s archivist, sharing her talents as a historian, skilled in English, Franciscan through and through, with a world view.
Sister Marilyn was truly a trail blazer, an organizer, a mentor, a Franciscan woman – and we remember her as our sister, leader and friend.
Born in Buffalo, N.Y., Sister Kathleen Burke was the fourth of six children. After attending Bishop O’Hern High School, she entered the Sisters of St. Francis and became known as Sister Sheila Anne.
A lifetime educator, Sister Sheila Anne taught at various schools in the Diocese of Buffalo from 1961 to 1979 including: St. Mary’s, Strykersville; Infant of Prague and Our Lady Help of Christians, Cheektowaga; St. Mary’s, Lancaster; St. Leo the Great, Amherst; St. Christopher, Tonawanda and Sts. Peter and Paul, Hamburg where she was coordinator of religious education.
For the past 35 years, Sister Sheila Anne ministered as principal of St. Mary’s School in Swormville, where she said she initially intended to stay for just one year. Thirty-five years later, she remained at the school, very much involved with the education and the lives of everyone at both St. Mary’s School and parish.
Sister Sheila Anne delighted in family gatherings and always shared her care kindness with family, her sisters in community and those with whom she ministered. In fact, each school day she could be found at the main entrance of St. Mary’s School. As children entered, she greeted them reminding them that today was a new day, another chance to “begin again” and to make the best of this new day. What a reminder to all of us to live in the present day, knowing we can begin again, forgive one another and ourselves and remember that God loves us unconditionally.
Rest in peace, Sister Sheila Anne.
Sister M. St. Edward Underberg spent 45 years in education ministry in the Diocese of Buffalo, N.Y. Serving as a teacher and principal of grades one through 12, she said her most rewarding teaching experience was when she taught children from Strykersville, Springbrook and Darien Center, N.Y. During this time she taught children from four different grades in one combined classroom.
Sister M. St. Edward went on to minister as principal for 22 years at several western New York schools, including St. Bartholomew and St. Gerard in Buffalo, Queen of Heaven in West Seneca and St. Leo the Great in Amherst. This she said, was her most challenging work.
Sister M. St. Edward’s years of retirement from more active duty were devoted to prayer before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. She also assisted in the convent doing laundry, as a phone operator and completing other tasks where she was needed. Most recently, her ministry was one of prayer and loving presence.
A true teacher and a true learner, Sister M. St. Edward loved to learn, explore and share her education. News, politics, newspapers, radio and the computer helped her to stay in touch with church and world events.
Blessed with three brothers and 11 sisters, Sister M. St. Edward’s life was a happy and eventful one, and her zest for life at all levels was always apparent.
May our loving God welcome her with open arms.
A Sister of St. Francis for 75 years, Sister Anne Gertrude Rooney was a prayerful woman who held dear her Franciscan vocation and traditions. She was proud to have been born on Nov. 29, the feast day of all saints of the Franciscan order.
While serving in education ministry for 46 years, Sister Anne Gertrude strived to be understanding of the needs of the young people she served in the Archdiocese of New York. She ministered as a teacher at Immaculate Conception School in Astoria, St. Joseph’s in New Rochelle, St. Elizabeth’s Mount Loretto on Staten Island and St. Aloysius School also at Mount Loretto. In addition, she taught at two Westchester County schools: Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Pelham Manor and St. Eugene School in Yonkers.
Sister Anne Gertrude was a living example of gentleness. Her thoughtfulness was always evident to those around her, especially to the residents at Meadowview in the Wartburg where she most recently resided. Often, she could be heard saying that she was very happy and felt she had everything she needed. Her ministry to the residents at Meadowview was inspired by this thought process.
Sister Anne Gertrude, may you bask in the heavenly glory promised to us all.
A Sister of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities for 67 years, Sister M. Laurenza Fernandez devoted her life to education and nursing ministry. Born Nancy Thomasa in Puukolii, Lahaina, Maui, she was one of nine children of Pio Fernandez and Laurenza Angot of the Philippines. She received the name Sister M. Laurenza when she was invested in the Franciscan habit on August 16, 1947. She professed her final vows on August 18, 1952.
Sister M. Laurenza taught in New York state at Our Lady Help of Christian School in Albany; Our Lady of Good Counsel School in Endicott; and St. Peter School in Utica. In Hawaii she taught at St. Joseph School in Hilo; Sacred Heart School in Lahaina; and St. Francis School in Honolulu. She also taught at St. Anthony schools in Lorain, Ohio and Long Beach, Calif.
A registered nurse, her nursing ministry took her to St. Francis Hospital’s Special Education Center and St. Francis Convent on Oahu; Immaculate Conception Parish in Lihue, Kauai; and St. Anthony Convent in Syracuse, N.Y.
May Sister M. Laurenza rest in God’s peace.
Sister Marie Magdalena entered the Sisters of St. Francis in January 1939 and served in education and administration for 75 years as an educator, librarian, convent superior and principal of two Westchester County schools.
Education was always her passion and she loved to read, evidenced by the fact that she began three elementary school libraries. Marie Magdalena served on the human rights commission in New Rochelle, N.Y. for six years, and later ministered as a librarian at the public library in New Rochelle, known as the queen city of the Long Island Sound.
In her later years, Marie Magdalena was engrossed in the unpublished writing of Terence Cardinal Cooke, the former archbishop of New York. During her ten years in this ministry, she and her team worked to promote the cause of the cardinal’s elevation to sainthood. In 2005, Marie Magdalena received the Cardinal Cooke Award for her service.
One always knew where Marie Magdalena was in the house, her favorite music floating from her room. She knew all the words and even sang at Sister Mary Dominica’s 100th birthday party in December 2013. Among her many varied interests was her love of travel. Although she is gone from us now, the singing angels above have Marie Magdalena as their competition.
Rest in peace, Sister Marie Magdalena.
Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, Sister Marion Fusae Inouye attended St. Francis Convent School where she was baptized a Catholic with her two sisters. She entered the Sisters of St. Francis in 1949 and professed her final vows in 1954. She went on to devote 50 years of her life to education ministry.
She served in Hawaii at St. Joseph School, Hilo; Sacred Hearts School, Lahaina; Our Lady of Good Counsel School in Pearl City and Saint Francis School in Honolulu. She went on to minister at St. Anthony School in Lorain, Ohio; St. Margaret School, Mattydale N.Y. and Immaculate Conception School in Fayetteville, N.Y. She later served at St. Joseph Pro-Cathedral School Camden, N.J.
Throughout her life, she lived by the Franciscan quotation “Deus Meus et Omnia,” or My God and my All.
Rest in peace, Sister Marion Inouye.
Sister Loretta Egan entered the Sisters of St. Francis in July 1943 and began her long-lasting ministry in education serving as a teacher in Pelham, Hastings-on-Hudson, Astoria, Tuckahoe and Yonkers, N.Y. She is best known for her 21 years of ministry at Mount Loretto in Staten Island, N.Y. where she lovingly taught and befriended children in need in the New York City area.
Sister Loretta’s true passion was teaching young children. She was tough and exacting, but always with a caring heart. No matter where sister taught, children flocked to her. She radiated the love she had for each of them, as they plied her with questions on the playground or after school.
She was Aunt Loretta to family; Sister M Carmelita to many of us and Sister Loretta Egan to those who did not know her forever. In her 102 years, she touched the lives of many, no matter what her title.
If you were looking for Irish wit, as only a New York City policeman’s daughter could give, you did not have to look far when Loretta was around. She was a natural leader, as evidenced by her action during her first week at the Wartburg memory care unit. She led a delegation of residents to find out why no coffee and cookies were served mid-afternoon. We believe it is standard procedure now. As a traveler, she was usually the one to say, “let’s just look at one more thing.”
In her 102 years, Loretta touched the lives of many. Her high energy level stayed with her far beyond the expected years, but then we always expected the unexpected from Sister Loretta Egan.
A Sister of St. Francis for 65 years, Sister Joan O’Neill ministered as a teacher for 35 years at St. Paul Parish in Whitesboro, N.Y.; Oswego Catholic High School in Syracuse, N.Y.; and Maria Regina College in Syracuse where she touched the lives and hearts of students and their parents. Sister Joan went on to serve as secretarial assistant for the Sisters of St. Francis in Syracuse and most recently served as a volunteer at NunBetter Chocolates in Syracuse.
After receiving a bachelor’s degree in home economics from Syracuse University, she earned a master’s degree in business education from Marywood College in Scranton, Pa. Sister Joan will always be remembered for her many years of dedicated service and for her kindness, gentle manner, sense of humor and her dry wit.
Compassion and caring were most evident in the life of Sister Margaret Burns. She served as a registered nurse at the former Mount Loretto orphanage on Staten Island, N.Y., at St. Francis Hospital in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., as well as at the former Immaculate Conception Convent infirmary in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y. and the Visiting Nurse Service of Westchester N.Y. Sister Margaret also served as moderator of the former Immaculate Conception Convent and general councilor for the Sisters of St. Francis East Coast region. Walking, as she did, so often with illness, never made her less concerned for the health of others. She was always a positive person, the quiet reflection of what most people believe is at the heart of being a woman religious.
Born and raised in Pleasanton, Texas, Bernardina Bomba said that at age 12 she heard a sermon about Father Damien de Veuster and his work among patients with Hansen’s disease in Kalaupapa, Molokai, Hawaii. It was at that time when “a desire was born in me to work there also,” recalled Sister Mary Andrew on her 60th anniversary celebration as a Sister of St. Francis.
Believing in the power of prayer, when she entered the convent at the age of 27, Bernardina prayed a novena to St. Andrew that she would someday be able to work in Kalaupapa where Father Damien had worked. Because of her devotion to St. Andrew and because her parish in Texas was St. Andrew Parish, she took the name Sister Mary Andrew when she was invested as a Sister of St. Francis in Syracuse, N.Y. in 1948.
Sister Mary Andrew spent her early years teaching at various schools in New York and New Jersey. Then in 1966, Sister Mary Andrew received her wish. She spent the next nine years in Kalaupapa where she took care of the sisters and put her cooking skills to use. As a talented seamstress, she assisted patients at Bay View and the hospital, by doing mending for them.
After nine years in Kalaupapa, she traveled to Rome, Italy to serve at the sisters’ pensione. Sister Mary Andrew enjoyed meeting visitors and being in the heart of the Vatican for the next nine years. In 1985 she returned to the U.S. and assisted as a seamstress at Mercy Hospital in Auburn, N.Y. for two years.
In 1987 she returned to Honolulu, Hawaii to assist at St. Francis Convent until 1992, when she once again traveled to Kalaupapa to continue her ministry with sisters and patients for three years. Upon her return to St. Francis Convent, she spent her time in prayer ministry and enjoyed sewing.
We love you dear friend, and we treasured your life.
In the early morning of Dec. 10, 2013, Sister Gertrude Martin was free from the ties of her earthy body and joyfully entered the
home of her loving God. Her task was completed, her journey ended and eternity and all its beauty enfolded her loving spirit.
On February 1, 1947, Mary Catherine Delaney entered the Sisters of St. Francis in Syracuse from her home parish of St. John the Baptist.
Sister Gertrude’s ministry was in the field of healthcare. After earning a master of science degree in nursing from Catholic University in Washington, D.C., she served at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Utica, N.Y.; Bishop Home in Kalaupapa, Molokai, Hawaii; Mercy Rehab Center in Auburn, N.Y. and Maria Regina College in Syracuse, N.Y. She went on to serve as directress of St. Anthony Convent infirmary in Syracuse.
For many years despite her own illness, Sister Gertrude showed kindness, compassion and gave each person she encountered the love of God which was revealed in her smile.
Sister Gertrude, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.
When Sister Camille entered the Sisters of St. Francis, she began a journey that would take her into a number of ministries as she endeavored to follow in the footsteps of Jesus as St. Francis did. She began her journey with the sisters, engaging in food service in numerous convents. She broadened her horizons in venturing into health care services by providing clerical services at St. Francis Hospital in New Castle, Pa. and at St. Francis Medical Center in Pittsburgh, Pa. Following this, she served as secretary at North Catholic High School for 10 years.
Sister Camille credited her mother as being very instrumental in fostering her vocation to religious life and for a few years, she lovingly cared for her mother through her final illness. Perhaps it was during this time that she learned a special compassion for those facing injury or illness. Following the care of her mother, Sister Camille returned again to minister to her sisters by accompanying them to doctor visits or to the hospital.
Throughout her journey of 69 years in ministry, Sister Camille remained steadfast and focused on her dream. She longed to be with her God in the simple moments of silence. When Sister Camille learned that she was dying, she chose to seize these moments and silently await the coming of God. One of the few statements that she would utter in her final days was, “I want to be with God. I wish he would come.”
Sister Camille’s journey was a path that she could clearly see. Her whole life was following in the footprints of Jesus. Her dream was to arrive and to be placed in God’s love forever. She journeyed faithfully, waited patiently, and had her dream fulfilled by a loving God. She will be long-remembered for her kindness, her gentleness and her thoughtfulness as she journeyed with us, her eyes ever on her goal: to be with her God.
God’s hands are around you; they shelter your life as a flame is sheltered in the storm. – Caryll Houselander
In the early hours of Nov. 17, 2013, Sister Marie Carbery’s loving God called her to her eternal home where beauty and peace would surround her. For 62 years, Marie had led her life as a Sister of St. Francis. This life of devoted service filled her days and years, knowing that she would remain steadfast in her love and faithfulness to her God. This love and faithfulness spilled over to her life in her Franciscan community.
On April 2, 1933, Elizabeth Marie Carbery was born to James Carbery and Alice Monahan, both from Canada. Elizabeth Marie’s mother died at a young age. Her father brought up his children and gave them the values that sustained their lives. On Sept. 2, 1950, Elizabeth Marie entered the Sisters of St. Francis in Syracuse from her home parish of St. Bridget Church in Syracuse, N.Y. She made her final vows on Aug. 18, 1956. Marie received a bachelor’s degree in history from LeMoyne College in Syracuse and a master’s degree in education from St. Bonaventure University in Olean, N.Y.
Education was Sister Marie’s ministry. For more than 30 years, children experienced her kindness, gentleness and her devoted faithfulness in fulfilling her duties, as a teacher, a principal or as a Franciscan woman religious. She taught in New York, New Jersey, and Florida.
May God hold you in His Hands, Marie.
Sister Lambert’s dietary reputation made headlines and brought people to the hospitals where she worked simply to enjoy a meal which she created. For more than 40 years, as administrative dietitian at St. Francis Hospitals in New Castle, Pa. and Columbus, Ga., she taught diet therapy to student nurses, gave therapeutic instructions to patients and planned social activities for physicians, auxiliary, boards of directors and sisters.
A shining ray of happiness and hope, Sister Lambert gave unconditionally of her time, her talents, and her love to all who came in contact with her. Stories abound about how Sister Lambert reached out to others who were in need, giving someone a job, a meal, a listening ear, or merely a presence that spoke of unconditional love.
As a registered nurse, Sister Patricia ministered at hospitals and health centers in Auburn, Syracuse and Utica, N.Y. as well as in Newark, N.J. and Kalaupapa, Molokai, Hawaii. Sister Patricia also served in religious education at several parishes in the Syracuse area. She later became a member of the Foster Grandparent Program at Crouse Hospital in Syracuse. A Sister of St. Francis for 69 years, Sister Patricia will be remembered for her smile and loving service that she gave to her community. Sister Patricia, rest in God’s peace.
Sister Charlene’s early years in the community found her teaching in junior high school classes in schools staffed by the sisters in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, Pa. Sister Charlene then traveled to Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico where she served as an educator for several years. Upon her return to the states, Sister Charlene served as principal of Mount Alvernia High School in Millvale, Pa. for eight years, then went on to minister as vice-principal and dean of studies at Daniel Murphy Catholic High School in Los Angeles, Calif. for a number of years. She later served as teacher at Cantwell Sacred Heart of Mary High School in Montebello, Calif. Sister Charlene was known and admired, not only for her knowledge of the sciences, and her excellence as a teacher, but also for her sharp wit and ability to perceive and express humor, even in the most dire circumstances. She enjoyed living in California because of its natural wonders – the ocean, mountains, and desert – and found that those gifts of God brought her closer to the creator of all beauty. She said they were a reminder of her favorite quote from Scripture: “Be still and know that I am God.”
A Sister of St. Francis for 72 years, Sister Wilma served as an educator in elementary schools in the Diocese of Buffalo, N.Y. for 50 years. For several years she ministered to the sick in Tonawanda and then came to St. Mary of the Angels in Williamsville, N.Y. to help with congregational service and to do supportive correspondence to many. Most recently her ministry was one of prayer and loving presence. Born Geraldine Holler in Buffalo, she entered the congregation in 1940. She studied at the former St. Clare Junior College in Williamsville and at Mount St. Joseph’s Teacher’s College, presently known as Medaille College, in Buffalo.
A longtime educator, at times Sister Wilma taught double grades and often she also served as the school librarian. Her teaching years began at Annunciation in Elma, N.Y. and included Sts. Peter & Paul in Hamburg, N.Y.; St. Aloysius in Springville, N.Y.; Nativity in Orchard Park, N.Y.; St. Francis in Tonawanda, N.Y. and St. James and Sacred Heart in Buffalo.
Sister Wilma, rest in the peace of Christ.
Jennie Frances Reynolds was born in Manhattan, N.Y. The family moved to Tuckahoe, N.Y. soon after Jennie’s birth. Jennie attended school at Immaculate Conception. She completed High School in Tuckahoe and went on to College of New Rochelle for two years to study history, which was her passion. One afternoon in this church (or perhaps an associated chapel) she was praying at the altar when she felt a real distinct call to enter the Sisters of St. Francis. Following this call, she entered the Sisters of St. Francis of the Mission of the Immaculate Virgin in 1942 and professed final vows in 1948, taking the name Sister Mary Paul.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in science from Fordham University in New York City. As a teacher, she taught just about every grade from kindergarten to 12, as well as a variety of subjects including health, biology, chemistry, physics, earth science, mathematics, social studies and religion. She served as assistant principal at St. Catherine’s Academy for 15 years.
Sister Mary Paul served in many community capacities as well, including novice mistress, council member, general superior, general treasurer and archivist.
Intelligent, just and fair, one co-worker described her as “very professional, and so caring and comforting if you had any worries.” Devoted to her community, she was a woman of great prayer and she loved the psalms. “My life is a prayer,” she exclaimed time and time again.
God created her to be a leader, and as a wise and faithful servant she always did what was hers to do. May she now rest in the peace of her Creator.
During her early years, Sister Lorelda served as a teacher for only a few years before receiving a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pa. After ministering at St. Francis Hospital in Columbus, Ga. for 10 years, she attended Catholic University in Washington, D.C. where she received a master’s degree in nursing. From there, her ministry journey took her to Alverno College in Milwaukee, Wisc. for three years.
When Sister Lorelda returned to Pittsburgh, she joined the faculty of the University of Pittsburgh and Community College of Allegheny County. Later she served as local coordinator at Mount Alvernia for six years.
Although Sister Lorelda enjoyed her years in education, she came to love all aspects of nursing – patient care, supervision and teaching in the area of maternity and child care. During those years she touched many lives with her gracious, caring and endearing ways. In addition, she developed many life-long friends, and received many accolades, including being received into the Sigma Theta Tau National Honorary Nursing Society.
Sister Lorelda always went about encouraging others in her simple and humble ways. She will be long-remembered for her ever-present smile, her poetry and her gracious, loving presence among us.
Sister Lorelda, rest in the peace of Christ.
Marlene Johnson entered the Sisters of St. Francis in Syracuse, N.Y. in September 1961. Sister M. Eucharista was a quiet, unassuming person but when you got to know her, you found she was a woman of many interests. Her love for reading was legendary, as was her concern for the environment. This was evidenced by her love of gardening and lifelong concern for our Native Americans. She was often seen in gardening clothes creating beautiful surroundings for sisters living at the East Coast regional house and other places where she lived.
Diagnosed with cancer, Sister Eucharista accepted the disease with unfailing grace and she read all she could about it. Her doctors learned very quickly that she was known to ask surprising and insightful questions.
Early Friday morning, March 1, Sister Eucharista slipped away peacefully to a place called heaven. Her questions will be answered and her curiosity satisfied at last. We are sure she is already tending the Lord’s garden.
Sister Eucharista, rest in God’s peace.
Sister Mary Rose joined the Sisters of St. Francis in Millvale from St. Wendelin Parish in Pittsburgh, Pa. During her years in the congregation, she traveled many ways and byways in her ministries. In special education, her patience and encouragement brought smiles and joys into the lives of young children. As principal of a large elementary school, and as a school supervisor in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, she became endeared to faculty and students and all those with whom she worked, through her firm but kind and loving leadership.
After her term as supervisor, Sister Mary Rose moved to Arizona where she worked in the Boys Hope program for disadvantaged youth along with deceased Sister Barbara Neigh. When she returned to Pittsburgh, she accepted another challenge along with Sister Barbara — that of coordinating Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) at St. Francis Medical Center. She continued in this service until St. Francis Hospital closed. She returned to Mount Alvernia in Millvale, Pa. in 2009 and joined the sisters in prayer ministry.
Sister Mary Rose loved her community, her family, her relatives and friends. Community stories were part and parcel of her life and she considered friendships as treasured gifts. With her family, each wedding, birth of a new niece or nephew, family gathering – each one was special for her. She will be long-remembered for her great sense of humor, her gentle, kind and caring ways of service to her coworkers, her students and her sisters in community, all because of her great love and life dedicated to her God.
Sister Mary Rose, rest in God’s peace.
Inspired by St. Marianne Cope, OSF, Sister Richard Marie Toal entered the Sisters of St. Francis in Syracuse in 1937. She earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from St. Joseph College in Emmitsburg, Md. and a master’s degree in nursing from Catholic University in Washington, D.C.
She began her ministry in health care at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Utica, N.Y. where she served for 13 years. Following in the footsteps of Mother Marianne, at the age of 46, Sister Richard Marie traveled to Kalaupapa, Molokai, Hawaii where she showered love and care upon patients with Hansen’s disease for 39 years. To the people of Kalaupapa with whom she ministered, she too, was known as “Mother,” a title given to her because of their love for her.
For enjoyment, Sister Richard Marie enjoyed fishing and was also called the “fishing nun.” In fact, she received worldwide attention when she was featured in Hawaii and National Geographic magazines for her remarkable skill with the rod and reel.
Sister Richard Marie, rest in God’s peace.
Born in Buffalo, N.Y. Sister Lillian Schwartz entered the Sisters of St. Francis in Williamsville, N.Y. in 1938. Having two aunts in the congregation, Sisters Ester and Ruth, she became familiar with the Sisters of St. Francis and felt called to the Franciscan way of life.
She spent five years as a teacher in Catholic elementary schools in the Buffalo area and went on to study nursing. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing from Catholic University in Washington, D.C. She served for 21 years at Mount St. Mary’s Hospital in Niagara Falls, N.Y. in various positions including nursing supervisor and director of nursing and later as instructor and acting dean of Niagara University College of Nursing. An excellent leader, she then spent 12 years as administrator at St. Francis Home and Holy Family Home, both in Williamsville. Her last years were spent in prayer ministry at St. Mary of the Angels in Williamsville.
Throughout her lifetime, Sister Lillian responded to life’s gifts and challenges and allowed them to nurture her. Being true to herself, she allowed them to bring her to the fullness of growth that we remember and give thanks for today.
Sister Lillian, rest in God’s peace.
Born in Utica, N.Y. Francine Ann Spina joined the Sisters of St. Francis in Syracuse, N.Y. from St. Agnes Parish in Utica and took the name Sister Daniella. After earning a bachelor’s degree from Catholic University in Washington, D.C. and a master’s degree from SUNY in Oswego, N.Y., she served as an educator for 49 years.
Sister Daniella taught in many schools in the Syracuse, Utica and Oswego, N.Y. areas and in Long Beach, California. She also served as clerical receptionist at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Utica, St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse and director of volunteers at Francis House in Syracuse.
Sister Daniella filled her life with music, dancing and storytelling. She will be remembered for her many years of devoted service, and will remain in the hearts of her students and all with whom she served.
Sister Daniella, rest in God’s peace.
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