Sister Mary Schifferle learned early on that God truly does answer our prayers – just not always as or when we expect. During her mother’s fourth pregnancy, Mary asked God to PLEASE send a little sister as she already had two brothers. It didn’t take long for her to grow very fond of Peter when he was born, but it took seven years before her prayer was fully answered. In 1961 when Mary entered the Sisters of St. Francis in Williamsville, New York, she was overjoyed because she had acquired more than 400 sisters!
Mary made another plea to God when she was 6 years old: “Dear God, let me grow up to be a teacher.” Fifty-five years later Mary finds herself tutoring kindergarten, first and second grade children at St. Paul’s Catholic School in Leesburg, Florida. Enjoying her “part-time” status, Sister Mary has time to cherish the many memories made through her years of teaching elementary school students in Buffalo and Orchard Park, New York; Chicago, Illinois and most recently, Greenville, South Carolina.
As a part-timer, she also has more time to indulge in her hobbies, one of which is hunting for children’s treasures at the numerous thrift stores in Florida. Doing her part to “save the trees” she has found hundreds of children’s books (and games and little prizes) that she cleans up and uses as rewards for her tutorages.
Living in Florida provides extra days of sunshine for Sister Mary to ride her three-wheeler bike around Spanish Village where her ministry of bringing joy to those “over 55” happens with each encounter of resident senior adults. How she came to live here is yet another example of how God answers prayers. The simple prayer, “Lord, show us where you want us to go, “led to a new world, a transformed ministry, and growth in what it means to be a Sister of St. Francis.