This past summer, Sister Catherine Noecker completed her 27 year tenure as principal at St. Anthony’s Catholic School in Greenville, South Carolina. In addition, Sister Mary Schifferle, who served with Sister Catherine for 21 years as a teacher, also discerned that it was time for a change. Both the school and St. Anthony’s Church community have grown and received many graces through their dedicated service.
Sister Catherine recently reflected upon her ministry journey. “In 1988, as I was basking in the wonders of the Franciscan School of Theology in California – the last leg of my sabbatical year, I received a call from Sister Paula Marie, our director of ministries at the time, indicating that there were two schools looking for a principal. St. Agatha’s, a thriving school in Miami where I would be able to improve my use of Spanish and St. Anthony’s, a struggling school of 24 students in a Franciscan parish, located in Greenville, South Carolina. Geographically, St. Anthony’s came first on the itinerary. It was love at first sight! The African-American spirit of joy and welcome stole my heart and continued to nourish my soul for the next 27 years. It was a blessing to help grow the school to 160 students! As Father Paul Williams, OFM, noted at our farewell celebration, ‘Now she can go to Florida.’”
Today, Sister Catherine says she feels blessed to be able to maintain relationships with many of her partners in ministry in Greenville. Her life in Florida has been filled with many unexpected blessings and new experiences with a people who delight in being hospitable, she says. “God is good – ALL the time and we have been graced by the Catholic Community of St. Paul here in Leesburg which has more than 50 opportunities to be of service on every conceivable level.” Sister Mary is assisting the teachers at St. Paul’s School and Sister Catherine has volunteered in the parish office.
“It is my hope that as a member of our congregation’s Mission Advancement team, that somehow I will be able to engage in encounters that bring to light the beauties of being a consecrated religious and just how the relationships that will be formed will provide others with a chance to become a participant in our mission of “serving others with reverence, justice, and compassion.”