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SISTERS OF T H E H O LY FA M I LY O F NAZARETH / / VO L 1 1 / / // NO 2 // SUMMER 2017



Jubilee celebrations: 25, 50 and 75 years of religious life S TO RY O N PAG E 1 0


Connections... RELATIONSHIPS Dear Friends of Nazareth, In this issue of Nazareth Connections, we recognize the various connections that have been and continue to be created among us. Connections… the theme of this newsletter, have many descriptive synonyms: network, contacts, associates, friends and relations identify just a few. When I hear or read the word “connections,” I am immediately reminded of the word “relationship.” Relationship is central to our understanding of the Trinity, and relationship reinforces the spirituality of the Holy Family. The Trinity is a communion of Persons in relationship (connection) with each other in love. It is love that binds the Persons of the Trinity together and energizes the relationships between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Love impelled the Incarnation,

The Holy Family has been called the earthly image of the Trinity. Jesus lived in a loving communion of persons and it is in the loving relationships among Jesus, Mary and Joseph that the family is called holy. We, Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, read in our Constitutions, the Covenant of Love, that “Our Foundress, Blessed Mary of Jesus the Good Shepherd, discovered in the lives of the Holy Family a model of the Trinity’s total self-giving love.” (1.1) Further, we are reminded that “(F)aithful to the charism of our Congregation, we strive to enrich the world with the spirit of Nazareth….” (1.5) I believe this “spirit of Nazareth” is embodied in the relationships/ connections that we have the privilege to form and to continue. You will have the opportunity to read about some of the connections in the lives of our Sister Jubilarians and through our Sisters in various

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son….” ( John 3:16) the Paschal Mystery, and Love continues to urge the outflowing of the Holy Spirit in the world.

ministries. We are grateful to our Sister Jubilarians for their many years of service. Their ministries have borne great fruit, and we thank God

HOW ARE YOU C ALLED TO LOVE? We invite you to pray with us, to listen to God’s call with us and to love with us as we find God in ordinary experiences. Learn more about our community life, our ministries and our mission at nazarethcsfn.org/join-us. Or contact, Sr. Emmanuela Le, CSFN, National Vocation Director at 972-641-4496 x111 or vocations@nazarethcsfn.org. 2

for their generous response to God’s call. I hope you will be inspired by all the “connections” highlighted in this issue. We count you, dear Friends, among our significant relationships/ connections. We are deeply grateful for all of your expressions of love and support. We remember in our prayers all the stories you have shared as well as the answers to prayer. We also appreciate the relationship you have with our community or with a particular Sister. You are an important part of the circle of relationships that surrounds our community. As you read through the pages of Nazareth Connections, please know that through your love and prayers and offerings, you help us make a difference in our world. I wish you continued blessings as our summer continues and we open ourselves to a new season of loving relationships/connections. Lovingly in JMJ, Sister M. Barbara Jean Wojnicki Provincial Superior


VOLUME 11 // NUMBER 2 // SUMMER 2017 Nazareth Connections is published three times a year by the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth in the USA.

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5 Faithful Listening: A Marian Reflection


12 Prayer on the Long Island Sound REFLECTION


6 Keeping Family at the Heart of Our Mission

14 An Upper Room for Our Times IN MEMORIAM


8 New National Vocation Director Reflects on Her Ministry

16 Srs. Mariella Omilanowicz, Antonia Marie Cholodowska, Adrianne Szczesna


10 Jubilee Profiles


18 Thank You from Our Development Office

O N T H E C OV E R : S r. B a r b a r a J e a n Wo j n i c k i , 5 0 y e a r s o f r e l i g i o u s l i f e , p i n s a c o r s a g e o n S r. S t e l l a L o u i s e S l o m k a , 8 0 y e a r s o f r e l i g i o u s l i f e , b e f o r e t h e J u b i l e e Celebration in Des Plaines, IL.

Editor: Tammy Townsend Kise Proofreaders: Sr. Clare Marie Kozicki Sr. Jude Carroll Sr. Lucille Madura Editorial Board: Sr. Angela Szczawinska Sr. Barbara Frances Samp Sr. Carol Szott Sr. Jude Carroll Sr. Kathleen Ann Stadler Sr. Lucille Madura Sr. Marcelina Mikulska Sr. Marcella Louise Wallowicz Sr. Mary Louise Swift Sr. Teresilla Kolodziejczyk Katherine Barth Design/Print: McDaniels Marketing Questions, comments, suggestions? Please contact: Communications Department Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth 310 N. River Road, Des Plaines, IL 60016 847-298-6760, x144 ttownsend@nazarethcsfn.org nazarethcsfn.org FACEBOOK.COM/CSFN.USA

C o v e r p h o t o b y S r. G a b r i e l a D u s z y n s k a NAZARETH CONNECTIONS // SUMMER 2017


New look, same mission by Tammy Townsend Kise, Communications Director Since 1875, when the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth were founded, their ministries have grown with and adapted to the changing needs of the communities where they serve. Veils have changed. Habits have changed. The people the Sisters serve have changed. But, the mission remains the same: spreading the kingdom of God’s love through ministry to families. Once again, change is happening as our publications grow with and adapt to the Sisters’ ministries and the communities they serve. After several months of research, analysis and planning, we’ve arrived at a bold, new look with a clean and simple design that will continue to convey the Sisters’ messages of joy, love and family. Our hope is that the new design provides you with an attractive, easy-to-read newsletter that invites you to more fully 4

experience the mission and ministries of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth. We also hope that as Nazareth Connections sits on your table, your kitchen counter or your desk, a daughter, a son, a grandchild or a neighbor will pick it up and ask,

After you read the Summer 2017 issue, we invite you to share your thoughts with us. Your feedback is needed and welcomed.

“Faith, as a supernatural grace, must command the understanding, elevate it, and accompany all our activities.” – Blessed Mary of Jesus the Good Shepherd (Frances Siedliska) from “On Faith,” Rome, 1877. “What’s this?” And, you, dear friends, will get to share your experience of Nazareth spirituality, as you tell stories of Sisters who have influenced your life. In the new Nazareth Connections, you will still find stories about the Sisters’ ministries. You will also see more stories on Nazareth spirituality in today’s world, like Sr. Marcella Louise Wallowicz’s article “Keeping family at the heart of our mission in a social media world.”

Please feel free to email me directly at ttowsend@nazarethcsfn.org. Thank you for continuing to share the Sisters’ mission of service to families.

Mother Foundress with some of the first CSFNs in the US, circa 1885. CSFNs at the Nazareth Academy High School Legacy Gala in March 2017. Blessed Mary of Jesus the Good Shepherd in London, 1899.


Faithful listening: A MARIAN REFLECTION

by Sr. Mary Louise Swift, CSFN In March, we celebrated the feast of the Annunciation, the moment Mary was asked to be the Mother of God. I see it as a mystery of joy, not of fear. The Holy Spirit enhanced her ability to listen faithfully, which was already a part of Mary’s life from her conception. Even as she listened well to God, if Mary accepted God’s invitation, her pregnancy would be more than an “inconvenient scandal.” In her day and in her country, there was a very direct way of dealing with an unmarried pregnant girl: she was killed. Did that thought cross Mary’s mind: “When I begin to show, will both my son and I be put to death by a storm of stones?” Whatever she thought, Mary knew God and God’s love for her. She trusted that God would bring about what the angel had promised, that she would give birth to the Messiah, and that the redemption of all humankind would take hold on the earth because of her trusting, faithful “yes.” This “yes” of Mary’s was no small thing. Her unshakable trust in and gratitude to God was the cause of her joy and is the cause of our joy as well.

Mary is a model of faithful listening, one of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth’s core values. The listening is a deeper kind of hearing. It’s noticing what is said and what is not said, and how something is said. When we listen well, the truth of another’s life unfolds.


Faithful listening includes undivided attention. One of the most precious gifts we can give to another is not letting our mind fritter away in the past or drift to what we need to do in the future, but being totally present to the now. Faithful listening often allows us to enter into deeper relationships with others. For us as a group, dedicated

to the spiritual renewal of family life, this Nazareth core value is essential and lived out daily. Mary listened well all her life. With Mary as our companion, we can practice listening well, deepen our trust in God, and show gratitude and joy in our own unique ways whenever we say “yes” to God’s invitation to bring forth and to be Jesus for the world. Amen. *** This is an excerpt of Sr. Mary Louise’s reflection presented during the Association of the Holy Family May Crowning in Grand Prairie,TX. To read the entire reflection, please visit: nazarethcsfn.org/around-theprovince/a-marian-reflection. Sr. Mary Louise currently serves as a Program Coordinator and Spiritual Director at the Nazareth Retreat Center in Texas. She entered the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth in September 1968. For information on becoming an Associate of the Holy Family (AHF), please contact Sr.Virginia Rozich, National Director of AHF, at 215-637-3599, or srvirginia@comcast.net.

Associates during the May Crowning in Grand Prairie, TX.



Keeping family at the heart of our mission

IN A SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD by Sr. Marcella Louise Wallowicz, CSFN In a Gospel Reflection earlier this year, I wrote, “Many voices in our world compete for our attention. We are bombarded with print and other media advertisements that encourage us to become absorbed in ourselves and our own wants while our brothers and sisters experience the lack of basic human needs.” This begs the question: With so many mixed messages competing for our attention, for our families’ attention and for children’s attention, how can we keep family at the heart of our mission in a social media world? The first time I became aware of the existence of social media was in spring 2007. As part of a class project, a student in my statistics course decided to survey her classmates, asking the question, “Which social media site do you prefer: Facebook or MySpace?” I had never heard of either before. Shortly thereafter, I was given a copy of America magazine, which contained an article written by Jesuit priest and cultural 6

As with any technology, social media needs to be used in a responsible manner so that no opportunity to live our mission, support families and share the Good News is ever wasted. – Sr. Marcella Louise Wallowicz anthropologist Rick Malloy entitled Religious Life in the Age of Facebook: Where have all the young people gone? It piqued my interest because at the time another Sister at Holy Family University had started a youth group on campus whose activities included a monthly Holy Hour for Vocations. I collaborated with her, and through my interactions with these young adults, my involvement with Facebook began. Fr. Malloy commented in his article that today’s young people live in a media world and are quite tech-savvy, while many priests and religious are not. Fortunately, this gap has lessened over the past 10 years for many CSFNs. Our province and vocation team administer Facebook pages. Similarly, many CSFNs have Facebook accounts. Still, some are hesitant to become involved with Facebook and other social media sites for various reasons. Two predominant explanations are the lack of civility and privacy on social media. We live in

a world where unfiltered comments are commonplace. There are many disrespectful and hurtful posts on social media which destroy rather than affirm. The internet is unforgiving. When a comment or photo is posted, it’s in cyberspace forever. I chose to make my Facebook page public so that I could communicate more broadly religious, social and public issues of interest to the Catholic community, including reflections on scripture readings, inspirational videos and news (from reputable sources). There are many reliable sites containing pertinent items that address contemporary concerns of the family. I readily share them. My Facebook account has also become a vehicle for prayer requests and a means for opportunities to support and encourage families whom I have come to know through my years of ministry.

As Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, we embrace the core values of faithful listening, loving relationships and recognizing God in the everyday. As with any technology, social media needs to be used in a responsible manner so that no opportunity to live our mission, support families and share the Good News is ever wasted. Sr. Marcella Louise is an Associate Professor of Mathematics and Assistant Dean at Holy Family University in Philadelphia where she earned her BA in Chemistry. She also holds an MA in Mathematics from Villanova University and a PhD in Post-Secondary and Adult Education from Capella University. She entered the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth in 1978.

Sr. Noemi Tereszkiewicz at work on her computer. Sr. Lucille Madura with her phone and rosary. Sr. Monika Brulinska during CSFN Cyber class.




National Vocation Director reflects on her ministry by Sr. Emmanuela Le, CSFN I was once told that only in dreams do dreams come true. I think that it all depends on how much one desires to make their dream a reality. It’s hard for me to put my feelings and experience into words but, over a year ago, deep in my heart, I had this great desire to make God known, loved and served by ministering in the field of vocation formation. My life took a sharp turn when I heard the statement: “If not now, then when,” which was the logo of our province assembly. It jarred me into thinking I was not doing enough for my Nazareth family. But how, when and where to start? I discerned 8

through prayer and received the courage to express my dream and my desire to our provincial leadership. God who knows our hearts and desires had a greater plan for me than I had envisioned. I asked for a simple ministry in vocation work and was given the responsibility of National Vocation Director. My new ministry has provided me many opportunities to be with God’s people through teaching, youth ministry, discernment weekends, come-and-see programs and retreats. Through these experiences, I have met so many influential people who have left an impression on me. Through their examples, I have been humbled and exalted, pruned

and nourished. Nevertheless, my life continues to be seeded by God and nourished by prayer and loving support from the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth. I have come to understand that every ministry needs servants, and I learned that well from my Sisters. There is no greater joy than to know that we, Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, are all in this vocation formation ministry together. “Family is where life begins and love never ends.” I am not alone, never have been and never will be in this ministry. Thanks be to God! In the past few months, it has been a challenge to adjust and adapt to new schedules, create doable programs and set my priorities right. I keep

reminding myself that God was working with many Sisters in this ministry before me so I should look for what God has been doing, and is still doing, then just continue to do that. In this ministry, sometimes it seems I am “doing nothing,” especially when no one joins our religious community. At other times, there is a danger of getting myself into a trap of feeling “unfulfilled.” Whenever I begin to feel this way, I am reminded of this beautiful message from one of our Sisters. She quoted Pope Francis: “Vocations aren’t the result of planning, but an encounter with God that changes your life.” It has

with parents, we make an effort to stimulate and cultivate a climate of vocation awareness in the family. I often challenge parents with these questions: “Does your child know where you stand and how you feel about religious vocations? Would you support your child who is considering the priesthood or religious life as a first option, or do you expect them to save it as a last resort after all other options have been exhausted?” I have found that God does not just call men and women from families who are supportive. God calls whom He wants and wills. That means all families need to have an understanding of the meaning of a religious vocation and the readiness to accept it for their

I am so grateful for this opportunity to share with young women my love for God and for my Community, and I find that I am growing with each encounter. Sometimes I think that I am gaining more than I am giving, and I thank God for His kindness in allowing me to serve Him in this ministry. Sr. Emmanuela Le became the new National Director of Vocations in January of this year. She entered the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth in July 2000.

Average age for discernment of religious life is 19 and for entrance into religious life is 30. The majority who enter are college educated. Source: National Religious Vocation Conference, “Statistics on Recent Vocations to Religious Life and the Priesthood.” become very clear to me that before I can even speak to youth, teens and young adults about a religious vocation, I need first to speak about the presence and encounter of God in their lives. It would be so hard or even impossible for them to respond to religious life when they don’t have that strong bond of a relationship with God. The heart of the matter is to help all those who come to our home to know Jesus, to fall in love with Him and to stay in love with Him. I strongly believe that once they are touched by God they are given new life, new sight, and they’ll have the courage to respond to Him wholeheartedly. As I become more acquainted with vocation ministry, I realize that it allows me the opportunity to connect more with family life. Together

daughter, should this call from Jesus come their way. During my meetings with young ladies during these past few months, I have experienced many memorable moments. One that I will never forget is when a 19-year-old young woman shouted out “Aww, look! They really do love each other!” at the February discernment retreat when she witnessed a group of Holy Family of Nazareth Sisters, wrapped in a cozy blanket, sitting on a swing and listening to their stories. What a wonderful way to remind us of Jesus’ new commandment: “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Jn 13:35)

Sr. Emmanuela (left) with Srs. Michaela Tomkowiak and Mary Paul Haase. Sr. Emmanuela talks with young women at the Dallas Catholic Youth Conference in March 2017. Sr. Emmanuela (center) with Srs. Marcjanna Szajkowska and Michalina Pawlak during the international formation meeting in Krakow, Poland.




Sr. Corona Molenda

DIAMOND JUBILEE - 75 YEARS Entered June 12, 1942 Grand Prairie, TX At three years old, Sr. Corona knew she wanted to be a Sister. Practicing with her dolls, she would put a dish towel on her head, pretending she was a Sister while she taught the dolls Polish prayers and English numbers. After 75 years of religious life and 61 years as a teacher, Sr. Corona continues to put on her veil and serve others. At almost 92 years old, she is active in daily ministry as she leads elderly Sisters through the rosary before guiding them through songs, rhymes and exercises to keep their minds and bodies active. She also creates feast day and birthday cards for Sisters, associates and special benefactors. Her smiling, cheerful greetings are contagious, bringing 10

joy to those she meets. As a selfdescribed “entertainer,” Sr. Corona continues to delight children with her annual recitation of “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Reflecting on her many years in religious life, she says, “All that happens, good or bad, are God’s will.”

Sr. Vera Ochmanowicz

DIAMOND JUBILEE - 75 YEARS Entered September 8, 1942 Philadelphia, PA Inspired by Sisters who taught at St. John Cantius School in Philadelphia, PA where she attended through the eighth grade, and with encouragement from her mother, Sr. Vera entered the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth three months before her 21st birthday and professed her first vows in 1945. For the next 43 years, she served as an elementary teacher. Her last teaching

assignment was in Colegio Espiritu Santo, Puerto Rico. She earned a BA in Education from Villanova University in Pennsylvania in 1957. Even in retirement, Sr. Vera continues a life of service in her prayer ministry. Her love of religious life shines in her obedience and faithfulness to the will of God. At Jesus of Nazareth Convent (Mount Nazareth) in Philadelphia, she enjoys reading, sewing and doing puzzles.

Sr. Barbara Ann Medvesky (pictured left) GOLDEN JUBILEE - 50 YEARS Entered September 8, 1967 Riverhead, NY The seed for Sr. Barbara Ann’s religious vocation was planted in 1964 when she attended a day retreat at Villa Immaculata on the Long Island Sound. Over a half century later, she serves as a Retreat Director, presenter and leader at Villa

Immaculata, inspiring others with her outgoing humor and compassion. She earned a BA in English Literature and Education from Sacred Heart University. This year also marks another milestone for Sr. Barbara Ann. She is celebrating 30 years in recovery from substance abuse, an experience she now shares with others as she directs recovery retreats and offers strength and hope to those who have walked a similar path. “Praise, gratitude and deep joy flood my soul,” she said. “It hasn’t always been ‘Magnificat’ moments. I had my share of ‘De Profundis’ times as well. But, through it all, God’s ‘Amazing Grace’ sustained and nurtured me.”

Sr. Barbara Jean Wojnicki

GOLDEN JUBILEE - 50 YEARS Entered September 8, 1967 Des Plaines, IL Sr. Barbara Jean attributes her decision to enter religious life to her eighth grade teacher at St. John Cantius School in Philadelphia, PA. Sr. Anita’s wit, teaching style and genuine goodness, along with the CSFNs she met at St. John Cantius School, drew Sr. Barbara Jean to the Congregation when she was 18. Fifty years later, Sr. Barbara Jean brings her own caring style, wit and genuine goodness into her ministry as provincial superior for Holy Family Province, a position she has held since 2013.

With a BA in Social Studies and an MA in religious studies, Sr. Barbara Jean has served as a teacher, CCD Coordinator, Director and Assistant Director of CSFN novices and Pastoral Assistant.

“As I continue to grow in my vocation, I am often surprised at the small ways in which we, as Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, make a difference in the lives of families,” she reflected.

Sr. Ellen Zak (pictured right) GOLDEN JUBILEE - 50 YEARS Entered September 8, 1967 Wading River, NY It was the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth’s charism of ministry to families that drew Sr. Ellen Zak to religious life. Influenced by CSFNs at St. Stephen’s in Paterson, NJ and by Sisters from other congregations throughout her childhood, Sr. Ellen knew she wanted to be of service to others. With a BA in Sociology from Sacred Heart University and an MA in Religious Studies from Iona College, she has served as a Director of Religious Education for 39 years, 14 of those years at Church of the Good Shepherd in Holbrook, NY.

Sr. Boguslawa Cofala (pictured right) SILVER JUBILEE - 25 YEARS Entered August 26, 1992 Philadelphia, PA Personal contact with several Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth who “exhibited deep spirituality, humility, simplicity and serenity about suffering” inspired Sr. Boguslawa’s religious vocation. Originally from Poland, where she received vocational training as a seamstress, Sr. Boguslawa now serves as a Theology teacher, Homeroom Moderator and Student Council Moderator at Nazareth Academy High School in Philadelphia. She earned a BA in Theology from the University of Dallas. “God’s faithfulness and love for me in spite of my weakness has given me such a bond with God, which is the greatest value in my life,” she says. In her daily life, she continues to live the CSFN charism by “helping individuals to connect the reality of life with faith and helping them to see their ordinary life as an extraordinary plan of God which gives meaning to every event, enhances personal dignity, enlightens suffering and leads to happiness of the soul.”

As she grows in her faith and her vocation, Sr. Ellen says, “I try to live in hope; to be radically dependent on God; to be available with open arms and heart; and, to live in freedom, courage and joy.” She also finds comfort in the words of St. Pope John XXIII: “Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams…”




Prayer on the Long Island Sound: SR. RONALD WLODARCZYK, SPIRITUAL DIRECTOR by Tammy Townsend Kise, Communications Director There is a comfort and gentleness about Sr. Ronald Wlodarczyk, a trust and grace that instantly puts one at ease. These God-given gifts make sense for someone who ministers as a Spiritual Director and journeys with individuals as they deepen their relationship with God. “Within each of us there is a desire for a more conscious experience of God’s love and presence even in the midst of an often busy life,” Sr. Ronald said. “We each have the desire to discover our true selves, to grow closer to God and to others, especially our families. Spiritual direction helps us reflect more deeply on the experiences of daily life and to realize how God’s spirit is truly with us every day and everywhere.” She went on to explain, “Through the journey we come to realize that God has been waiting for and desiring this closer relationship. So, spiritual direction isn’t really about being ‘directed’ but about being encouraged to draw closer to God and to trust that God seeks us where we are and as we are.” I first met Sr. Ronald on the steps of Villa Immaculata House of Prayer in Riverhead, NY where she serves as Director. I had barely gotten out of


the car, when she was there, camera in hand, asking me to pause by the pink concrete lions that grace the steps leading up from the driveway. She introduced herself after she took my picture. “I’m told that I have a good eye for photography, a hobby I hope to get into a little more,” she said in a later interview. “My PowerShot camera and I have already captured some pretty beautiful and interesting sights.” Villa Immaculata, set on a high bluff overlooking the Long Island Sound, is the perfect place for Sr. Ronald to refine these photography skills. She captures images of retreatants sharing prayers and photos of wildlife around the house, including a groundhog who, during the “Evening Prayer on the Sound” program last summer, seemed to rise on cue, paws together, as if offering his own peaceful prayer. A family of groundhogs has returned this year. Sr. Ronald’s current ministry grew from her time as Formation and Novice Director for young women entering the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth in the 1970s. As Formation and Novice Director, she conducted classes and provided spiritual guidance to those who were preparing to take their vows. It was around this time that Msgr. Andrew Cusak,Vicar in the Diocese of

Bridgeport, CT, approached Sr. Ronald and several others, asking them to help create a training program in spiritual direction. Later, she went through the “extensive and intensive” two-year graduate program herself. And, in 1984, she completed further training, earning a Spiritual Direction Certificate from the Spiritual Life Center, New Hyde Park, NY.

This relationship with God is something Sr. Ronald and Sr. Barbara Ann Medvesky, who also serves at the House of Prayer, want to make sure visitors carry with them when they leave Villa Immaculata. Next to the front door is a basket filled with colorful slips of paper, each with a blessing written on it.

*** “When guests leave, we offer them a blessing,” said Sr. Ronald. “That little piece of paper is significant, something tangible to hold on to as a reminder of their time here. Some ask to take a few more to share at family gatherings. Those little prayers have gone out far and wide to so many different, interesting places.”

Faithful listening, one of the core values of the CSFNs, is essential to being a Spiritual Director. “Being faithful to my personal journey in prayer and direction helps me to be a

On the sunny, soon-to-be summer day of my visit, the blessing read: “May the God of Winter be with you, walking with you as warmth and light through the dark and cold winter moments of your journey… May the blessing of

“When guests leave, we offer them a blessing,” said Sr. Ronald. “That little piece of paper is significant, something tangible to hold on to as a reminder of their time here. Some ask to take a few more to share at family gatherings. Those little prayers have gone out far and wide to so many different, interesting places.” listening presence, staying out of the way, so to speak, so that God can do God’s work,” she said. When people come to Villa Immaculata for prayer, for retreat, for spiritual direction or even simply to find God in nature, they’re not coming alone. Though they may arrive by themselves, they carry with them past experiences, present situations and future concerns. “What is happening or has happened in life is an important part of their relationship with God,” Sr. Ronald said.

deer get to them.” What’s her secret to successful tomato plants? She says she gives them a good watering, prunes them and talks to them. But, after meeting Sr. Ronald, it’s likely the growth also comes from listening, stepping out of the way and letting God do His work.

Sr. Ronald entered the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth in December 1954. She earned a BA in Biology from Holy Family College (now Holy Family University) and an MA in Education from Fairfield University. For information on small group retreats, private or directed retreats or spiritual direction at Villa Immaculata House of Prayer, visit nazarethcsfn.org/ministry/sponsoredministries/retreat-houses/. For more Ministry Profiles, including Sr. Frances Smalkowski’s, “A Ministry in the Sky,” please visit our website nazarethcsfn.org/about-us/sisters-stories/ ministry-profiles/

winter hope be with you.” Sr. Ronald told me to “stay tuned” – the gift of the blessing will come. Just outside the front door on the concrete porch, guests who visit in the summer are greeted by another of Sr. Ronald’s gifts – growing tomato plants. “We keep the plants on the porch,” she explained. “Otherwise, they don’t have a chance for life if the

Sr. Ronald on the front porch of Villa Immaculata with her tomato plants. Sr. Ronald (back row, left) with retreatants at Villa Immaculata. Villa Immaculata House of Prayer in Riverhead, NY.




An Upper Room for our times by Sr. Danielle Jacob, CSFN When a Sister of the Holy Family of Nazareth (CSFN) professes final vows she selects “a mystery.” It is a phrase added to her name that speaks to her personal spiritual journey, her relationship with God, a particular devotion she has. Someone once said to me, “Your mystery is the name by which you will be called when you stand before God.” I wish she had told me this before I picked my mystery; I am Sr. Danielle of the Scarred Healer. More correctly, I don’t believe you pick your mystery, it picks you. Over your years of formation, it seeps in and becomes a part of your being, a part of your DNA. In the beginning, you may not even be able to name it, and it becomes a quest to articulate it in just the right way.


In some ways, it is like the scene in The Little Prince when the Prince tames the fox. It is a delicate dance in which each comes to know the other more intimately until, one day, you have tamed each other and you know you

After 2,000 years of study, exegesis, dogma and tradition, it is easy for us to sit in judgment of the first followers, to question their feet of clay when Jesus was dragged before those who falsely accused him.Yet, I do the

When things are going well, it is easy for me to be a Christian. But when things get tough, when doing what is right gets hard, when what Christ is asking of me goes against “the crowd,” I want to run to the Upper Room, to regroup, to sort things out. – Sr. Danielle Jacob are forever responsible for each other. It is my mystery that draws me to certain parts of scripture; I have always been drawn to reflect on Christ’s Passion and the journey of the first disciples. I often imagine myself among them and wonder what I would do. Would I live up to my mystery? Probably not.

same thing in so many ways. When things are going well, it is easy for me to be a Christian. But when things get tough, when doing what is right gets hard, when what Christ is asking of me goes against “the crowd,” I want to run to the Upper Room, to regroup, to sort things out. Sometimes, like the Apostles, I forget that the ultimate price of baptism is death to self.

I forget that the road to resurrection necessarily leads through crucifixion, not around it. But I have to remind myself that the Upper Room was not just a place to hide. The Apostles had lost their anchor, their source of strength. They needed to pull back to think, to pray, to re-energize, to reignite the flame that gave them the energy to touch the people of God. They needed to wait for the inspiration of the Spirit before they were once again ready. It is the same with me, with us. Even though we gain so much when we give of ourselves, we have to find ways to be re-energized. Like the Apostles, we need an Upper Room where we can go to ‘be,’ to find God, to refocus and, at times, to reignite the flame. That Upper Room is different for each person. I find my Upper Room in a couple of places – hiking in nature and in music. Lost in nature or the chords of a song, I can feel the life seeping back into the marrow of my bones. When I can’t run to my Upper Room, I have created a wall in my office that represents my mystery and reminds me that “the way to resurrection is through the cross,” and the cross comes in many ways, some of which are quite beautiful! * * * Sr. Danielle currently serves as a Pastoral Minister for faith formation at St. Emily Catholic Church in Mt. Prospect, IL, assists other religious congregations with their major meetings and serves as the Technology Coordinator for Holy Family Province. She earned a BAS from DeLourdes College, an MA from Concordia University and completed the Lay Ecclesial Ministry Formation program at University of St. Mary of the Lake. She entered the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth in September 1978.

Sr. Danielle on a recent weekend hike. Sr. Danielle, pictured left, with Sr. Maria Magdalena Rybak. Sr. Danielle at St. Emily Parish. Sr. Danielle’s office wall that serves as her reminder “the way to resurrection is through the cross.”



In Memoriam Sr. Mariella (Frances) Omilanowicz February 23, 1913 - March 11, 2017 It was July 19, 1927 when Frances Omilanowicz and seven of her classmates from St. Mary Elementary School in Worcester, MA entered the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth (CSFN). For the next 89 years, Sr. Mariella (Frances) Omilanowicz continued to share her gifts, talents, joy and warm smile as a CSFN. Born February 23, 1913 in Worcester, MA, Frances was the third of six children born to Stanisaus and Agnes (Michalowski) Omilanowicz. She professed her temporary vows August 21, 1930 and her perpetual vows August 18, 1936. Sr. Mariella’s biological sister, Sr. Gemma (Anne) Omilanowicz, also entered the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth in 1927. Sr. Gemma passed away in March 1967.


Known as a kind teacher with a love for learning, Sr. Mariella taught elementary school for 38 years, beginning at St. Stanislaus School in New Haven, CT and serving at schools throughout Connecticut, New York and Pennsylvania. She earned her B.A. from Manhattan College in New York in June 1949. When Sr. Mariella left her beloved classroom due to medical issues, she volunteered in the gift shop at Nazareth Hospital in Philadelphia before transferring to Immaculate Heart of Mary Province in Monroe, CT in 1972. In Monroe, Sr. Mariella served as the convent’s Receptionist. She became a self-taught crafter, making beautiful creations that she gave as gifts. Her crafts were also sold at the Lawn Festival each year. As a lifelong learner, Sr. Mariella loved to find others who would join her in discussions about the new things she was learning. She also had an artistic side with a love for nature.

Sisters and Associates of the Holy Family visited Sr. Mariella often as her health dwindled, building strong relationships with her as they watched her favorite game shows together. On March 11, 2017, two and a half weeks after her 104th birthday, Sr. Mariella died peacefully. Sr. Mariella would have celebrated her 90th year of religious life this year. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on March 17, 2017 at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Convent in Monroe, CT. Interment was at Holy Family Cemetery, Monroe. Sr. Antonia Marie (Joan) Cholodowska August 8, 1932 March 21, 2017 Joan was born in Norwich, CT on August 8, 1932 to Dominic and Joanne (Przekop) Cholodowski, who owned a productive milk farm in Norwich. She had three sisters and one brother, John.

Joan and her siblings attended St. Joseph School, which was staffed by the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth. It was here that the seed of a religious vocation was sown in her heart. On a visit to Philadelphia to see her brother, she toured Nazareth Academy High School and immediately voiced her decision to become a student there and discern a possible vocation to religious life. In September 1946, she entered Nazareth Academy. On January 8, 1950, while still a student at Nazareth Academy, Joan became a postulant in the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth. In July 1950, she became a novice and was known as Sr. Antonia Marie. She professed her temporary vows on July 3, 1952 and final vows on August 12, 1958. Sr. Antonia Marie taught at St. John Cantius School in Philadelphia for eight years, then at St. Mary’s Villa for seven years. Her varied ministerial career also included School Principal, Local Superior, Provincial Councilor, Ministry Director, Facilities Manager, staff member at Nazareth Academy High School and other various community services. Besides Philadelphia, Sr. Antonia Marie ministered in Ambler, PA; Ardsley, PA; Meadowbrook, PA; and Baltimore, MD. Sr. Antonia Marie possessed a great sense of humor, and enjoyed her life and her family. On the morning of March 21, Sr. Antonia Marie began to experience difficulty breathing, so she was taken to Nazareth Hospital Emergency Room. The prognosis was not good, so the decision was made to take her home to Mount Nazareth and have her placed on hospice. The Lord

had other plans. While preparations were being made for her transfer, He came and took her to His home. Her suffering was over. A Mass of Resurrection was celebrated on March 27, 2017 at Jesus of Nazareth Convent – Mount Nazareth in Philadelphia. Interment was at Community Cemetery. Sr. Adrianne (Adele) Szczesna January 9, 1936 May 26, 2017 Adele Ann was born to Bronislaus and Casimira (Sikorski) Szczesny on January 9, 1936, the youngest of eight children. Adele completed her elementary education at St. Joseph School, where she was introduced to the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth (CSFN). As a student at Nazareth Academy High School in Philadelphia, Adele became a CSFN postulant on September 8, 1951. On August 16, 1952, she entered the novitiate and received the name Sr. Adrianne. She professed first vows on August 12, 1954 and final vows on August 11, 1960. Sr. Adrianne earned her BA from Holy Family University, her MA from Fairfield University and her Certificate for Administration and Supervision from Fordham University. She taught at the elementary and high school level in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York. She also served as Principal in Southampton, NY and Ansonia, CT. Her family remembers her as their playmate and babysitter, who taught some to “color within the lines,” who

loved to dance and always smiled. A woman of courage, strength, steadfastness, hope and tremendous faith, Sr. Adrianne is also remembered for her love of animals, her contagious laughter and her ability to imitate and mimic personalities and situations. Sr. Adrianne retired from full-time ministry at St. Adalbert School in June 2008 and transitioned to part-time office work at the school. In August 2014, unexpected health issues surfaced. From May 2016 through May 2017, Sr. Adrianne wore a neck brace 24/7 due to a neck injury caused by a fall, received chemotherapy, often felt sick and weak, attended frequent doctor visits, relied on the Sisters and her aide for assistance which at times was very humbling. Through all of this, Sr. Adrianne never complained. On May 26, 2017, after an extremely painful journey, Sr. Adrianne passed away surrounded by the Sisters in her local community at Sts. Peter and Paul Convent in Elmhurst, NY. A Memorial Mass was held on May 31 at St. Adalbert Church in Elmhurt, NY. A Funeral Mass was held on June 1 at Immaculate Heart of Mary Convent in Monroe, CT. Interment was at Holy Family Cemetery, Monroe.

Donations in memor y of a deceased Sister may be mailed to Development Office, Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, 310 N. River Rd., Des Plaines, IL 60016. Please include a note with the name of the Sister you are giving in memor y of. Donations may also be made online at nazarethcsfn.org/ support-us/donate-now/.




Thank you from our Development Office We are very grateful for each and every one of you, our generous friends and benefactors. Without you, there is so much that could not happen. Because of you, we were able to replace a rusty old car that our Sisters use to get to medical appointments; we were able to replace an air conditioner unit at Mount Nazareth in Philadelphia where some of our oldest Sisters live; and, we were able to pay all of our Sisters’ medical expenses. In short, we were able to meet ALL the needs of ALL of our Sisters throughout the year. Income

You were also instrumental in the advancement of our three newest ministries: Nazareth Retreat Center in Grand Prairie, TX; Holy Family Volunteer Corps in Pittsburgh, PA; and The Family Center in Philadelphia, PA. All three are very direct and tangible extensions of our ministry to families. To keep these ministries at little to no cost, and to support the Sisters who direct and participate in them, we will continue to need your support.

Every time we asked you, our loving and faithful benefactors, for help, you came through for us. You never let us down. Throughout the years, you have not only become a part of our history but a deep part of our lives.You are a gift to us – a blessing to us – and we are grateful! Please know that our Sisters keep you in their daily prayers.


2017 Grateful Gathering After a two-year hiatus, the Development Office hosted the Grateful Gathering on April 29. More than 200 friends, relatives and Sisters attended and our net profit was just under $15,000. The event was a wonderful opportunity for our Sisters and benefactors/friends to get together for a relaxing evening of fun, food, and fundraising. We are very thankful for Sisters Madeleine Rybicki and Sandra Sharon, Nancy Grub, Tee Amity, Nicole Marie Haas and Judy Mackin who so generously gave of their time and energy to make the event successful. 2017 CSFN Social Thanks to Sr. Carol Mockus, Allison Taylor, Barbara Gellman and Sr. Helen Petela, we had another successful CSFN Social. This year’s net income was over $86,000! One of the highlights of the evening was when Sr. Celine Warnilo’s cheesecakes were auctioned in a bidding war among benefactors, with a final price of $4,200 per cheesecake – four of them were sold. Special thanks to Patti Paluch, Dorothy Turner, and Joe Jr., Dylan and Brian Connelly, Tom Meredith and, of course, our Sisters for all their help. 18


Sr. Carol Mockus (pictured, right) has changed her ministry within the Development Office. She now serves as the Philanthropic Gift Advisor. This is a change Sr. Carol has wanted for a few years as it allows her to spend more time interacting with our benefactors. During this transition year, she will split her time between teaching Allison Taylor, the new Assistant Director of Development, about the tasks in the Philadelphia Development Office and building stronger relationships with our benefactors. “I look forward to learning more about our donors and why they value our congregation,” she said.

In January 2017, we welcomed Allison Taylor, the new Assistant Director of Development in our Philadelphia office. Allison has over 18 years of experience. She spent 17 years in the Office of University Advancement at La Salle University in Philadelphia, and most recently, Arcadia University in Glenside, PA. Allison also has a long-standing family connection to the Sister of the Holy Family of Nazareth. Her husband is a graduate of and her two children currently attend St. Katherine of Siena. Her mother is a graduate of Holy Family (College) University. “I’m very excited to be working with and learning from Sr. Carol,” Allison said. “I’ve met some wonderful benefactors and am grateful for the opportunity to help continue the mission of the Sisters.”

Heidi Scheuer joined the development staff last summer as office manager in Des Plaines. As a Certified Meeting Professional, she previously grew the Global Education and Training Department at Underwriter’s Laboratories, Inc., providing seminars throughout the U.S. Later she joined Harper College to assist in the startup of the Wojcik Conference Center. Heidi (and her amazing organizational skills) has been a wonderful addition to our staff. “This first year has been a delightful year of learning, from Sisters’ names, to technology, and all those little things in between,” said Heidi. “It has also been a joy to speak with our donors who care so much about the Sisters.”

Development staff Front row (l to r): Grace Austyn, Kathi Barth, Allison Taylor. Back row: Sr. Clare Marie Kozicki, Heidi Scheuer, Sr. Virginia Zielinski, Sr. Carol Mockus Not pictured: Sr. Helen Petela.



Non-profit Organization U.S. Postage Paid Des Plaines, IL Permit No. 340

310 N River Rd Des Plaines, IL 60016 www.nazarethcsfn.org

Making a bequest: GIVING A GIFT THAT LIVES ON Is there a CSFN Sister who was influential in your life – someone who helped you become the person you are? Maybe she taught you reading or prayed for you at a difficult time? One way you can honor her or her memory is by remembering the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth in your Will. By carefully planning your Will, you can remember those

charities and organizations that have been close to your heart throughout your life. If you would like more information about remembering the Sisters of the Holy Family in your Will, or if you have already done so, please contact Katherine Barth at 847-298-6760, ext. 143.

We, the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, are called to extend the Kingdom of God’s love among ourselves and others by living the spirit of Jesus, Mary and Joseph whose lives were centered in the love of God and one another. We witness to this love through dedicated service to the Church, especially in ministry to the family.

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Nazareth Connection - Summer 2017  

Nazareth Connection - Summer 2017  

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