Meet Sister Frances Kowalski
Central New York Regional Minister
“The moment I entered Assumption Catholic Academy for the first grade and put my eyes on the sisters, I knew I was being called by God to join with them, and also to be a teacher,” says Sister Frances Kowalski, a minister in the central New York region. Born and raised in Syracuse, New York, Sister Frances was taught by our sisters from the first grade through high school. “Many of our sisters were an inspiration to me and also encouraged me in my call to religious life and especially the Franciscan way of life,” she says.
A member of the community for 46 years, Sister Frances recalls that even though she was an only child, her parents were very supportive of her decision to enter the convent.
Over the years, Sister Frances taught children from preschool through high school. “I usually taught science, math and religion,” she says.
Having earned a bachelor’s degree in education with a concentration in science from Marywood College in Scranton, Pennsylvania and a master’s degree in theology from St. Bonaventure University, Sister Frances was well prepared for her students.
Transitioning from education, Sister Frances trained to be a manager of HUD housing for senior adults. In Port Charlotte, Florida, she was involved with the Villa San Carlos II building through its construction to the rent-up phase. Sister Frances describes this facility comprised of 50 apartments for low income elderly as an “international building.” “There were residents from Haiti, Ecuador, Italy, Russia, India, Belize and the U.S.” While training for this manager position, she lived and cooked for the Sisters of the Holy Name of Jesus and Mary in Tampa, Florida. She also did some substitute teaching and says that one of her favorite experiences was taking the preschool children to the zoo in Florida.
Reflecting upon her past ministries, Sister Frances says, “My favorite ministry was working with the elderly. They had so many stories to tell and I felt privileged to know them and share their journey.”
Enjoying the water and reading a good book are both sources of relaxation for Sister Frances. She loves the ocean, but says she has to settle for Onondaga Lake while in Syracuse. Working on jigsaw puzzles and Sodoku, and listening to classical music are other leisure time activities for Sister Frances. In addition, “I’m a sports fan and follow Syracuse University’s football and basketball,” she says.
During her time in leadership for the congregation, Sister Frances had the opportunity to travel and to meet many sisters. “I was led to see the special person that each is and thank God for their giftedness and the blessing of being a part of this community,” she says.
Today, Sister Frances resides at the Franciscan Villa. “Living through the first year at the Franciscan Villa is still a work in progress,” she explains. “The greatest challenge is to find enough hours in each day to accomplish what needs to be done, while also trusting that some things really can wait until another day.” Despite the challenges, Sister Frances says, “My greatest blessing is my sisters and being able to share their life journeys. I pray my God will help me to be an instrument of peace and joy to each of them.”