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Franciscan VOLUME 4.3 • WINTER 2016

The Francis Factor:

‘Laudato Si’’ Strengthens Sisters’ Mission to Care for Our Common Home

A Publication of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities

Dear Friends, EDITOR


Rochelle Cassella


Cheryl Aughton Michelle Basista Rochelle Cassella Sister Marise May Cynthia Munschauer Sister Marcella Nachreiner Sister Lorraine Wesolowski GRAPHIC DESIGN

Peace and all good! In the 13th century, a wealthy young man exchanged his fine clothes with those of a beggar. He went on to embrace poverty for himself and his followers, but exhorted others to care for the poor because “it is in giving that we receive.” His constant calls to care for the environment and all the creatures of the world because they represent God’s love for us earned him the titles of patron saint of ecologists and of animals. This man became St. Francis of Assisi who spent his life feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty and welcoming the stranger as a friend.


In the 21st century, an Argentinian priest who became head of the Roman Catholic Church chose to call himself Francis. Like the Francis who came nine centuries before him, Pope Francis also exhorts us to feed the hungry and thirsty and to welcome into our countries strangers who are fleeing their war-torn homelands. In his encyclical on the environment, “Laudato Si’,” he urges us to clean up the planet, “our common home.”


In this issue of Franciscan Spirit, we highlight some examples of how our sisters have been living the teachings of the saint long after his death and well before Jorge Mario Bergoglio became Pope Francis.

Deborah Allen

Deborah Allen Cheryl Aughton Rochelle Cassella Gerianne Dobmeier Sister Ann Marie Saphara Jodi Hagan Sister Rose Marie Colasurdo Sister Donna Zwigart CONGREGATIONAL OFFICE OF MISSION ADVANCEMENT

Gregory Griffin 315.634.7085,

I hope Pope Francis and the examples of our sisters will inspire you to forgive those you feel have wronged you, to offer help to those in need and to care for all that you see outside your windows each day. May God continue to bless you with love in abundance.


Sister Caryn Crook, 315.751.6819 EDITORIAL OFFICE

Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities 960 James St., 2nd Floor, Syracuse, NY 13203 If there is a change that needs to be made, we want to do so. Please return your correct address to us, or contact Jodi Hagan by email at or phone 315.634.7015. In addition, let us know if we have misspelled your name, sent you more than one news magazine or if you want your name removed from our mailing list.

Sister Roberta Smith, OSF General Minister

and the Leadership Team

“For I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me ...” MATTHEW 25:35-36

Directional Statement

Franciscan VOLUME 4.3 • WINTER 2016

Rooted in the Gospel and energized by the Spirit of St. Francis and St. Clare, we seek to be women of vision living in right relationship with God, one another and with all creation.

Mission Statement Rooted in the Gospel we are sisters to all, serving with reverence, justice and compassion.

2 The Francis Factor: ‘Laudato Si’’ Strengthens Sisters’ Mission to Care for Our Common Home 16 The Francis Factor: A Reflection 18 The Holy Year of Mercy 20 Georgia Owens: Healed by the Power of Saint Marianne 22 Mission Advancement

The goal of Franciscan Spirit is to reflect what it means to live the Gospel as Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities in our everyday lives. The spirit of Franciscan life is best described as: a joyful attitude, simplicity of heart, giving praise and thanks and greeting all with peace. Our hope is that concepts like these will come alive in the people you meet in this publication we call Franciscan Spirit, and that you will be inspired to partner with us in our mission.

Award Winning Franciscan Spirit 2014 National Catholic Press Award: first place, general excellence, religious order magazines from the Catholic Press Association of the U.S. and Canada

28 In Prayerful Memory

2012 best in show, and best publication with a gift envelope awards from the National Catholic Development Conference

29 Upcoming Retreats and Events

On the Cover From Peru to Africa and throughout the U.S., the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities are committed to living the gospel and caring for all of God’s creation.

Franciscan Spirit is published three times a year. Printed on recycled paper using soy-based inks.

WINTER 2016 1


As Franciscan women, we were thrilled when Jorge Mario Bergoglio took as his papal name that of our beloved St. Francis of Assisi. We are even happier with the Holy Father’s popularity and the renewed attention he has brought to the teachings of this holy man who lived in the 13th century. Many people are surprised to learn how relevant St. Francis is today, with his call to live simply, to work for equality, to protect the planet and all creation, even to encourage Christian and Muslim to live peacefully side-by-side. But we have always known that following Francis’ example is to walk in the path of Christ — and that never goes out of style. Since our congregation was founded more than 150 years ago, our sisters have served those most in need, building hospitals and schools for immigrants and the children of immigrants, providing day care for the children of working mothers and tending the elderly poor. We continue that work today. We hope our stories of sisters caring for refugees, working to protect the environment, teaching children to resolve their differences peacefully and helping the homeless will inspire you to embrace the Francis Factor in your life.

The Francis ‘Laudato Si’’ Strengthens Sisters’ Mission to Heal Humanity and the Planet

t From left, Rehana Shash of Eritrea, Africa and Sister Beth Niederpruem, social worker at Vive, Inc.



Factor: p Mirwais Haja Ramadan of Afghanistan enjoys play time at Vive.

Rebuilding Lives: Refugees Receive a Warm Welcome Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. HEBREWS 13:2


hen Cecil arrived on the steps of Vive, Inc., a center for refugees in Buffalo, New York, he was broken in body and spirit. The microloan project he initiated to help his neighbors in Zimbabwe establish small businesses earned him the label anti-government activist. He fled his homeland to escape more illegal imprisonments and continued torture. Patience only wanted to protect herself and her two children from her husband’s physical abuse but her repeated requests for a divorce were always denied

by the Nigerian Registry of Divorce. When leaving the country became her only option, Patience, her daughter and son ended up at Vive. Ramson expected to return to Zimbabwe and use the training from the conference he was attending to mobilize people in the rural provinces to work against a corrupt government. But when a former government minister — one to whom Ramson had secretly supplied information — and his continued on page 4

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brother-in-law both died in separate suspicious car accidents, Ramson’s family and friends told him not to come back. He arrived on Vive’s doorstep with just a suitcase.

documents to ensure that all are in proper order. Gaining refugee status in the U.S. is considerably more complicated and can take anywhere from six months to five years.

Vive, Inc. was established in 1984 by the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities and eight other congregations of women religious. At the start, the sisters would invite refugees heading to Canada from Central America to stay in convents and region houses while they waited for an appointment with Canadian officials. Several years later, the sisters turned a convent into a refugee house and staffed it with volunteers. In 1991, they converted a former school on Wyoming Street in Buffalo into a shelter that can house as many as 118 people who are applying for asylum protection in the U.S. or who are waiting to enter Canada. “We’ve had over 95,000 people come through Vive. We get at least 2,000 a year, if not more,” says Sister Beth Niederpruem. “They come from all over the world. You name a country — a new country, an old country — and we’ve had them come from there.”

“Once they get their working papers, they will try to get out of the shelter but that depends on how much money they can make. You’re talking a good $2,000 you have to have in the bank to rent an apartment,” says Sister Beth.

At first, people found the shelter through word of mouth. “It seemed as if people told people, relatives told relatives, townspeople told townspeople. So the refugees would come in with a little slip of paper with the address written down,” Sister Beth says. “Now with the Internet and smart phones, people are finding us that way.” Separate immigration officers in New York City told Ramson and Cecil about Vive; Patience’s sister-inlaw in Canada gave her the address. For refugees looking to join blood relatives in Canada, a stay at Vive generally lasts one to three weeks. A legal expert at Vive reviews their 4 FRANCISCAN SPIRIT

Vive’s legal department begins by helping the individual determine if she or he meets the requirements for refugee status. If the individual is going to Canada, the legal department sends their information to Canadian immigration officials while others brief the individual on what he or she will encounter when they cross the border. “We tell them they are going to see people with guns, for example, because that’s what they’re usually running from,” says Sister Beth. For individuals wishing to stay in the U.S., Vive’s attorney either handles the case or refers the individual to Legal Services or pro bono immigration attorneys. They help parents enroll their children in school, assist adults in securing working papers and provide meals and clothing along with shelter. “Basically, it’s security and safety that we try to build,” says Sister Beth. As a social worker, her primary role is to help individuals who have fled significant abuse address post traumatic stressrelated issues. “We have rape victims who have been attacked eight or nine times. We’ve had people who have moved their children because they would be mutilated. There are people who have witnessed their families slaughtered.”

and then go back home to be the hero that I thought I was,” says Ramson. Meeting with Sister Beth one day, he broke down in tears. “She set me up with a psychiatrist and I had some sessions that helped,” he says. p Individuals find solace and hope at Vive, Inc., a center for refugees in Buffalo, New York.

For Cecil and Ramson, the sudden change in lifestyle and guilt over having left family behind added to their anxiety. “It’s quite amazing and quite disturbing when you are in trouble and you become homeless at the same time. The problems become overwhelming. At some point, you stop thinking. You cease to exist mentally. You become like a block. I was in that situation,” Cecil says. “At the same time I felt like a coward for leaving my family behind, for exposing them to things they weren’t supposed to go through. With the help of the sisters, they managed to mold me back into a certain shape, brought back my sanity.”

Ramson and Cecil are both working and living on their own but they continue to do whatever they can to help Vive. Patience’s children are both in school; her daughter recently underwent surgery to repair a hip that was broken when her father pushed her. Patience also is in school, preparing to be a nurse. “I thank God I’m here, I keep saying that every day,” she says. “I appreciate everything that is going on here at Vive. Everything has been going fine. I keep thinking, ‘how am I ever going to do it without Vive? They are here for us.’”

“I came here with all of five business suits. I parked my car at the airport. Now, I don’t have a car. This place is getting cold. I appreciate that I have food and a place to stay. But I did not escape. I was going to go to a conference

u Solieman of Eritrea, Africa savors a cookie.

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Caring for Mother Earth The universe unfolds in God, who fills it completely. Hence, there is a mystical meaning to be found in a leaf, in a mountain trail, in a dewdrop, in a poor person’s face. PARAGRAPH 233, “LAUDATO SI’”


ister Donna Zwigart’s love of nature developed from a childhood spent outdoors. “My father always had a garden, and I was always outside with him,” she says. Sister Donna also has always had a special place in her heart for those who are most in need. “I’ve always been for the underdog,” she says. “I am always thinking about those who have less.” She learned about the Catholic values of leadership and service from the Sisters of St. Francis, Sister Donna’s teachers at Mount Alvernia High School in her hometown of Millvale, Pennsylvania. Under God’s guiding hand, her love of nature, special love for the poor, and admiration of the Franciscan sisters led Sister Donna to become a Sister of St. Francis herself. Since then, she has spent decades working with the poor and caring for the environment. A degree in biology earned at Carlow College in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, gave Sister Donna an even deeper appreciation of the complexity of living things. From observing a flower to gazing at the sky, she marvels at the magnificence of God’s creation. “When I look at a flower and see all of its intricacies, I say ‘there has to be a mastermind who created 6 FRANCISCAN SPIRIT

this,’” she says. “In the evening I love to go outside and look up and see the beautiful stars and planets.” At this stage of her journey, and with Pope Francis’ encyclical, “Laudato Si’,” giving more attention to the Catholic Church’s role in caring for the environment, Sister Donna is devoting more time to her passion: caring for Mother Earth. She sees “Laudato Si’” as a source of hope. In clear, passionate language aimed at the entire global population, Pope Francis lays out the scope of the problem of climate change and the urgent need to address it. The encyclical’s subtitle, “On Care for Our Common Home,” reflects the human place within the ecological entirety of this planet, not separate from it. “In the web of life everything is connected,” says Sister Donna. “Every living thing has a right to exist in the best way it can exist, whether it is a human being, a frog or the air,” she says. She begins by caring for creation right in her own backyard. At the sisters’ Mount Alvernia campus, Sister Donna plants trees on a regular basis and recently welcomed a hive of honey bees. In 2014, she was instrumental in working with the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy to create two bioswales to prevent disastrous flooding in the low lying town of Millvale.

A Prayer for Our Earth

p In celebration of Arbor Day 2015, Sister Donna Zwigart helps children from Mount Alvernia Day Care and Learning Center plant a tree on the Mount Alvernia campus.

On a larger scale, she urges policymakers to act morally. Embracing her responsibility to advocate – to influence, shape and direct – Sister Donna says she is fulfilling the congregation’s mission of serving with justice and compassion, giving special attention to those who are poor and vulnerable. As a member of the Pittsburgh chapter of the Citizens Climate Lobby, Sister Donna testified at three Clean Power Plan marathon hearings hosted by the Environmental Protection Agency in Pittsburgh last fall. She warned federal environmental regulators that climate change and air pollution are adversely affecting public health, especially that of low-income communities. “Climate change is real and we need to do all that is possible to preserve our planet for all creation and for generations to come,” she said. She also serves on the board of directors of numerous local, regional and national organizations including Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light, a community of faith responding to climate change as a moral issue.

All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures. You embrace with your tenderness all that exists. Pour out upon us the power of your love, that we may protect life and beauty. Fill us with peace, that we may live as brothers and sisters, harming no one. O God of the poor, help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth, so precious in your eyes. Bring healing to our lives, that we may protect the world and not prey on it, that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction. Touch the hearts of those who look only for gain at the expense of the poor and the earth. Teach us to discover the worth of each thing, to be filled with awe and contemplation, to recognize that we are profoundly united with every creature as we journey towards your infinite light. We thank you for being with us each day. Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle for justice, love and peace. POPE FRANCIS, “LAUDATO SI’”

She likens the climate change movement to other rights movements. “The movement to end slavery or to secure women’s right to vote took many years and a lot of hard work by many people,” she explains. “Restoring our continued on page 8 WINTER 2016 7


planet from the effects of climate change is a similar thing.” A new World Bank report shows that climate change is an acute threat to low-income communities across the world and could push more than 100 million people back into poverty over the next 15 years. “We will need to act fast, because as climate impacts increase, so will the difficulty and cost of eradicating poverty,” said John Roome, senior director for climate change at the World Bank Group.

Sister Donna takes very seriously this report and Pope Francis’ encyclical. “We have a mandate to do everything we can to preserve the earth,” she says. While “Laudato Si’” minces no words in pointing out how humans have failed to protect the environment, it ends on a hopeful note, with the belief that humans together can make positive change. “Our own actions can help,” says Sister Donna. “Although they may seem small, it is important to remember all things start small and grow into something big,” says Sister Donna.

Caring for Creation, Caring for Children “We must make a great effort and take care of one another so as not to be a sad family; we must take care of the children … with that tenderness that Jesus taught us to have in caring for one another.” POPE FRANCIS



or a week in August, inner city children in Syracuse, New York begin their day with p Sister Margaret Patrick Fay, a bus ride and singing administrator at Alverna Heights the traditional camp song “Sacred Creation.” They also recite the Covenant of Care during which they commit themselves to care for and respect one another.


The bus delivers them to Alverna Heights Spirituality and Nature Center located east of the city and operated by the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities as a sacred place of retreat, renewal and recreation in the spirit of Sts. Francis and Clare. Offered four times each year, the children’s day camp gives inner city youth an escape from their urban setting and the opportunity to learn about the wonders of creation as well as their relationship with the earth and one another. One weeklong camp is offered in August for children between the ages of eight and 11, with an additional daylong camp for this group in February. Fall and

p Scenic vistas and a variety of living things make Camp Alverna a life-giving experience.

spring day camps are offered for children between the ages of 12 and 14. For children living in urban neighborhoods, opportunities for outdoor play and regular contact with the natural world often are limited. “The best thing for these kids is to get them into open spaces and get them involved in activities,” says Sister Margaret Patrick Fay, camp director and administrator for Alverna Heights. “Our goal is to give these children a safe, peaceful and nonviolent environment; a non-threatening week when they don’t have to worry about anything.” She also hopes the children will develop a love and respect of the environment and become good stewards of the Earth, and perhaps return to Camp Alverna and serve as future teen or adult volunteers. Sister Margaret Patrick divides the summer camp day into two sections. In the morning, there are four activities: nature crafts, earth care, swimming and imagine. “We always try to do something calming every day,” she says. Yoga is often offered during the imagine activity. In the afternoon, the children have a chance to swim again and participate in a special activity offered by a guest presenter from the community.

Sacred the land, sacred the water, sacred the sky, holy and true. Sacred all life, sacred each other; all reflect God who is good. LYRICS FROM “SACRED CREATION”

During Camp Alverna in February, Sarah Freedman, guest presenter from the Rogers Environmental Education Center in Sherburne, New York, taught campers how to snowshoe. “Many of these children don’t go outside in the winter because of the cold,” she says. “I wanted to show them a new way to experience the winter and now maybe they will be more willing to go out and do this on their own.” continued on page 10 WINTER 2016 9


t Sister Caryn Crook helps a young girl overcome her fear of birds at Camp Alverna.

“I love Camp Alverna,” says Sister Margaret Patrick. She lights up when she talks about the camp. “It’s the fun part of my job!”


How You Can Help Did you know that $50 will make it possible for one child in need to attend Camp Alverna this summer? To donate today, please visit Click on the “Support Our Mission” tab and specify that your donation is for Camp Alverna.

Creative experiential activities through the years have taught children how to identify trees and birds, make pottery, dance and cook. Children also have met and learned about reptiles and participated in a forest scavenger hunt. Using nets, they have spent hours catching pond animals and bugs and learning to appreciate them. “We try to incorporate as many different experiences as possible since this is all so new to the children,” says Sister Margaret Patrick. “This is a wonderful opportunity to get these children away from the city and have them come here and connect with the environment,” she says. Camp Alverna holds some fun things for grownups as well. 10 FRANCISCAN SPIRIT


hile many children are headed for warmer climates during the Presidents’ Week break, one group of kids from Syracuse, New York has an opportunity to have plenty of fun right in their own backyard thanks to Franciscan Northside Ministries’ (FNM) annual Peace Camp which is held that week. Established in 1999, by Sister Dolores (Dolly) Bush, director of FNM, the goal of Peace Camp is to give children in this North Side neighborhood hope by offering them a “positive environment where they can have as much attention as they need and have a great experience,” says Sister Dolly. This positive environment is particularly important amidst the findings of a September 2015 study by Paul Jargowsky at the Center for Urban Research and Urban Education at Rutgers University. Jargowsky found that extreme poverty continues to spread unabated out of Syracuse’s core to the city’s North Side. “In the environment of North Salina Street where we minister, it is very rare that there’s a family that’s a cohesive unit. In the best scenario, if it’s a single parent, they’re working. In the worst scenario if it’s a single parent, they’re very often the victim of violence, abuse, neglect themselves, and sometimes that cycle carries on,” says Sister Dolly.

t Sgt. Tim Stepien and his canine companion from the Syracuse City Police Department are among the favorite guests at Peace Camp.

p Sister Dolly Bush

At Peace Camp the Franciscan sisters attempt to break this cycle of violence. “When the kids are off for a week and don’t have anything to do, they’re just hanging around and even the simplest things can take a downward spiral quickly, so it’s just a safe environment, and it gives the parents a break.” Daily fun-themed activities led by Sisters Dolly and James Peter Ridgeo, coordinator of medical services at FNM’s Poverello Health Center, are designed to encourage respect, conflict resolution and courageousness to foster healthy relationships. In an effort to instill the value of peace, children listen to stories from the life of St. Francis of Assisi through beautiful storytelling. “One year Sister Miriam Arthur Sabel came and told a story, and she’s a very gentle soul and really quiet and I thought the kids would be really wild, but they were just in awe. They loved her,” says Sister Dolly. Children take the concept a step further by participating in activities that nurture peacemaking. These include workshops on conflict resolution, working cooperatively and envisioning a peaceful city. Children then create a craft to illustrate the theme of peace. Another part of the curriculum involves teaching kids important life skills in a fun and engaging way. For example, children use an inoperative telephone

to dial 911, and learn how to prepare for and respond to an emergency situation. A presentation on fire safety by a uniformed Syracuse city firefighter gives children a healthy respect of fire, smoke and the firefighters themselves. “He (firefighter) talks to them about how to get out of their house if it is burning,” says Sister Dolly. “He tells them not to be afraid of the various pieces of equipment or of the firefighters themselves.” Yoga sessions, games, candy making with Sister Jane Bourne of NunBetter Chocolates and performances by a magician and clown are specifically designed for having fun, while also providing healing and building self-esteem. “They are activities with a purpose to relieve stress and foster healthy relationships,” says Sister Dolly. Sister Dolly says being present to and responding to what children need in the moment is another aspect of the camp. “Even if their lives aren’t necessarily violent, or even if a parent is being the best parent they can be and the home is fairly stable, often times the kids are just lacking resources,” she says. In his encyclical on the environment, Pope Francis reminds us that caring for all of creation includes paying particular attention to the needs of young people. For children living in Syracuse’s Salina Street neighborhood, Peace Camp is about building community and providing hope for the future. “Peace Camp is great, and the kids love it,” says Sister Dolly.

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A Growing Ministry: Harvesting Fresh Food for People in Need All of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements and talents. PARAGRAPH 14, “LAUDATO SI’”


wo years ago, Sister Anne McNulty made a snap decision about what she wanted to do for her next ministry. “I was driving to Toronto with Sister Helen Hofmann and I saw all these empty farm fields and I just said out loud, ‘I want to be a farmer,’” she says. “I told Sister Helen I wanted to have a farm and grow vegetables to feed the poor.”

She knew little about farming, so Sister Helen suggested she spend p Sister Anne McNulty cuts a some time at Red Hill sunflower in order to dry the seeds for planting and Farm. Owned by the bird feeding. Sisters of St. Francis in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the farm provides for 120 people who own shares in the project as well as the sisters. The work-study program she did at the six-acre farm was everything Sister Anne had hoped for — and more. “It was like a whole new world opened up,” she said. “In the morning I would be up early and open the gates to the farm. It would be just


me, the crickets, sunshine and church bells — heaven!” It also was hard work. Sister Anne learned farming and irrigation methods and the importance of proper planning, including such details as which tasks to perform before the day becomes too hot and the sequence for most effective plant harvesting. Back in Syracuse, New York and filled with agricultural enthusiasm, Sister Anne first looked to start her farm project at the congregation’s nature center at Alverna Heights, but the fencing needed to protect crops from the wildlife made the cost prohibitive. She opted for a “minifarm” behind the home of several of the sisters and planted several varieties of potatoes and tomatoes, squash, radishes, beets, lettuce and beans as well as lavender, basil, oregano, rosemary, mint and scallions. As she had to adjust her plans for the garden’s size and location, Sister Anne also had to adjust her plans for sharing its yield. “I had thought to feed the poor and homeless, but the homeless don’t have refrigerators or places to cook,” she says. “And there are people in need where we don’t imagine — the nearby family

p Sister Anne McNulty gives Liz Haahr one of the last potatoes of the season.

that struggles to make ends meet each month; the construction workers in the house next door. Many people in need are right in our own backyard.” Sister Anne sent bags of goods to an inner-city parish with a large immigrant population; in return, they sent her gently used garden tools. In addition, Liz Haahr, menu coordinator at Francis House stopped by several times a week to select items to feed the terminally ill being cared for there. Sister Anne brought fresh vegetables to the food pantry which the sisters operate in Syracuse.

She readily shares the credit with the many sisters who helped plant, water and weed and offers thanks and prayers for her neighbor on the other side of the fence — a native of Italy who shared with her the knowledge he gained from years of gardening — and the figs from his prize trees. Sister Anne isn’t sure the current location is the right place, but she would definitely like to cultivate a larger parcel in the spring. “If it could be expanded to meet the needs of the poor, that would be my dream,” she says.

“And it made me happy,” she says. “It was creation centered and life-giving.”

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Protecting Sister Water: A Shared Responsibility Access to safe drinkable water is a basic and universal human right, since it is essential to human survival … PARAGRAPH 29, “LAUDATO SI’”


n the 13th century, St. Francis of Assisi gave praise to God for the gift of water in his Canticle of Creation. “Be praised, my Lord, for Sister Water, who is very useful to us, and humble and precious and pure.” Centuries later, in his encyclical “Laudato Si’,” Pope Francis reminds us of this same gift: “the earth and all that is in it, is our common home with whom we share life.” He goes on to say, “This sister [Earth] now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her.” Water is often taken for granted in the U.S. because it is easily accessible; however this vital commodity is in crisis. The World Bank and World Health Organization report that two billion people lack access to clean water and one billion people do not have enough water to meet their daily needs. Several sisters in the western Pennsylvania region took to heart Pope Francis’ call to care for the

p Sisters Mary Agnes Phillips, Margaret Ann Ufheil and Mary Theresa Leitem were among the sisters who attended the retreat focusing on water at Mount Alvernia.

earth by attending the workshop “Water: Sacred Source & Sustainer of Life” sponsored by the Catholic Sisters Leadership Council of Western Pennsylvania. Keynote speaker Sister Suzanne Golas, CSJP, who represents her congregation at the United Nations, focused on the spirituality of water, the water crisis and global and local responses.

“I am struck by the disparity that exists between the ‘haves and the have nots’ with regards to natural resources that are meant for all. I’ve learned that corporations with an abundance of water to produce a product are right next door to a slum residence where people have to walk miles and miles for a necessity of life. It is mind boggling to realize that wars in the future may be fought over water – not oil.” SISTER PATRICIA O’DONNELL 14 FRANCISCAN SPIRIT

Sisters who attended the workshop shared what they learned about the use and abuse of water with sisters in the region during a retreat day. The presentation included DVDs showing poignant scenes of the impact the water crisis has in our global community. Sister Janet Kramer said she was struck by the image of a little boy being given a drink of water out of a bottle cap. Scenes of arid wasteland, devastating floods, polluted lakes, privatization of water, and the impact this makes on humanity cannot be taken lightly. Sister Mary Ann Smith learned that “approximately 1.6 million people die annually from unavoidably consuming polluted water.” A typical U.S. lifestyle requires 100-150 gallons of water a day, yet in the poorest countries people use just 2.5 gallons a day to wash, clean and cook. Although we may not be able to change the global footprint, the sisters learned that it is possible to change our personal water footprint. “Wasting water, contaminating the world with plastic water bottles is something we can control,” says Sister Mary Meyer. Sister Marie Grace Blum says she is becoming more sensitive to how she uses water. “When washing vegetables at the sink, I keep a plastic pitcher handy to catch the water which I then use to water the house plants.”

NOT JUST A DROP IN THE BUCKET Typical U.S. lifestyle requires 100 - 150 gallons of water per day It takes

2,900 gallons

of water to make a single pair of jeans On average, it takes

2 - 6 gallons of water per minute for a shower

5 - 15 gallons to run the dishwasher

48 gallons to produce a bag of potato chips

400 gallons

to create a cotton tee shirt

32,000 gallons

to produce steel for one car

Perhaps if we thought of people in parts of Africa and Asia who walk an average of 3.7 miles each day to collect water, we would be more cautious in our use of water. In the end, we are each responsible for doing our part to protect our common home. WINTER 2016 15


FRANCIS FACTOR A Reflection by Sister Marise May / Korean Culture and Information Service, via Wikimedia Commons



hy after you?” Brother Masseo said to Francis of Assisi one day. “Why is the whole world running after you?!” Indeed it did seem that the people in the villages and towns in the Umbrian Valley of Italy in the 13th century were running after Francis. His words and his way of life so impressed and touched them that they gathered in large crowds wherever he was. We witness the same phenomenon today with Pope Francis. In every country that he has visited, large crowds gather to listen, to watch, to wonder. What is it that the people of Assisi in the time of St. Francis and today’s global population see in the saint and the pope with the same name? What is the “Francis Factor” that draws “the whole world” to run after them? The “poverello” of Assisi touched the hearts of the people of St. Francis’ day by distaining wealth and power to side with the little people, those who had no voice in their society and very little to sustain them. St. Francis’ compassion for the poor, the sick, the outcasts, those suffering in any way endeared him to the townspeople and provoked thought in the well-off nobility. Those who are drawn to Pope Francis are likewise attracted by his kindness and compassion. We are

brought to tears when he stops to kiss people with disabilities and embraces those on the margins of society. We cheer his efforts to live as simply as possible amid the luxury of the Vatican. Francis of Assisi woke up the world of his time by drawing attention to the beauty of creation, preaching the brotherhood and sisterhood of all living things as coming from the hand of the same heavenly Father. St. Francis is the patron saint of ecology and nature because he was the first to make us aware of the need to revere and care for God’s creation. His beautiful poem, the “Canticle of the Creatures” is sung in many Christian churches today. It has helped us to see the wonder of the natural world which gives praise to the Creator by its very being. It is the beginning words of this canticle that serve as the start to the Holy Father’s encyclical “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home:” “Praised be You, My Lord through all Your creatures.” As was his namesake, Pope Francis is a strong voice of support for Mother Earth, urging us to respect all God’s creation and to care for it. The 13th century saint was determined to live literally as Jesus lived. When asked to write a rule for a growing community of followers, Francis wrote: The Rule and Life of the Brothers is “to live continued on page 18

WINTER 2016 17

the Holy Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ.” Francis imitated Jesus so perfectly that he was given the wounds of Christ, which he bore on his body for the last two years of his life. Pope Francis also embraces a life centered on the Gospel, writing enthusiastically on the “Joy of the Gospel” for his first apostolic exhortation. And like his patron, Pope Francis urges his Church to evangelize; that is, to proclaim the Gospel. What is the key element that these two men named Francis have in common that so attracts us? It may be put into one word. The “Francis Factor” is love.

The Holy A Reflection by Sister Marcella Nachreiner


ope Francis has called for a Holy Year of Mercy which runs from Dec. 8, 2015 until Nov. 20, 2016. So what does that mean? What is mercy and how is it concretely practiced? Mercy is who God is. It is love’s other name. Mercy is forgiveness.

The Jubilee of Mercy has an official website in seven languages at

God is more interested in our future than in our past. He takes past sins seriously but never as the last word. God wants each of us to become the best person he wills us to be and this requires conversion — a change of heart. Genuine mercy believes God’s grace has the power to transform us. God does not owe us forgiveness. Nor does God’s mercy license us to continue to sin — it demands a response to go and from now on sin no more (John 8:11). God’s mercy motivates us to do better. God’s forgiveness is an easy thing to obtain. One needs only to ask. God forgives — he opens his loving arms and grants mercy. He gives love away. 18 FRANCISCAN SPIRIT

Year of Mercy We do not have to feel guilty over the reality of our human frailty. God is not going to sternly judge us. No, God is running down the road toward us, eager to wrap his arms around us and kiss it better. The enormity of God’s love, which is so vast it is beyond measure or comprehension, creates in us an awareness of the depth of our inadequacy. But that awareness does not trigger feelings of unworthiness. Rather it creates a sense of poverty which allows us to trust fully in God and willingly accept his bountiful love. Forgiveness is one of the greatest gifts of the spiritual life. It enables us to be released from the sorrows of the past and reminds us to forgive others without hesitation, without question. Without question is hard to do, which only illustrates more clearly God’s love. Forgiveness simply says that we will never put someone out of our heart. Jesus says “Be merciful, just as the Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:36) Our holy father St. Francis who was touched by God — filled by God, burned with a desire to help others believe in their goodness. He invites us today to rebuild our lives in the image of God, whispering in our ears ever so gently, God is waiting for your response. We believe Pope Francis’ and St. Francis’ mission is clear: help people find reconciliation with themselves, others and God. Day by day rebuild individual lives, communities and the world.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s Second Homily as Pope Francis Jesus has this message for us: mercy. I think — and I say it with humility — that this is the Lord’s most powerful message: mercy …. It is not easy to entrust oneself to God’s mercy, because it is an abyss beyond our comprehension. But we must! “Oh Father, if you knew my life, you would not say that to me!” “Why, what have you done?” “Oh, I am a great sinner!” “All the better! Go to Jesus: he likes you to tell him these things!” He forgets, he has a very special capacity for forgetting. He forgets, he kisses you, he embraces you and he simply says to you: “Neither do I condemn you; go, and sin no more” (John 8:11). That is the only advice he gives you. After a month, if you are in the same situation. ... Let us go back to the Lord. The Lord never tires of forgiving: never! It is we who tire of asking his forgiveness. Let us ask for the grace not to tire of asking forgiveness, because he never tires of forgiving. Let us ask for this grace.

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Georgia Owens: Healed by the Power of Saint Marianne t Georgia Owens visits the St. Marianne Cope statue at Kewalo Basin Park in Honolulu, Hawaii.


eorgia Owens’ first reaction to her 2014 diagnosis of stage four lung cancer was to forego any treatment.

“I figured fourth stage lung cancer. I didn’t want to end up like so many people, sick from all the chemotherapy,” Georgia says. But she did call Sister of St. Francis Anne Marie Saphara to ask for prayers. Georgia had become friends with Sister Anne Marie during a 2013 hospital stay that was unrelated to her cancer diagnosis. “We talked and we talked a lot about St. Marianne,” Georgia says. Sister Anne Marie suggested a trip to St. Anthony’s chapel on Court Street in Syracuse, New York, where St. Marianne’s remains were kept at the time, and Georgia agreed. “I went up and I touched (the reliquary) and I got this feeling over me, like the most peaceful feeling I’ve ever felt in my life. I started crying because it was just so emotional. And I turned to Sister Anne Marie and I said, ‘I’m going to be OK.’ I just got that feeling,” Georgia says. “And with that, I started treatment.” Georgia’s treatment protocol called for eight weeks of chemotherapy followed by radiation, delivered five days a week for six weeks. But she said the radiologist told her that it would 20 FRANCISCAN SPIRIT

be too dangerous to treat her because her x-rays showed cancer in both lungs, something of which Georgia had been unaware. Again, she thought about giving up but after more prayer, she moved forward with the chemotherapy. “After two weeks of chemotherapy, the cancer in my left lung was gone. There was absolutely nothing there,” Georgia says. The chemo never made her sick, she says, and the radiation left no marks. “(The doctors) couldn’t believe I had no burns on my body from the radiation. There was no scarring, no burns, no discoloration on my body,” Georgia says. “I attribute that to the fact that during the treatments, I had a holy card of St. Marianne and I kept it right on my chest. I kept her right with me all the time.” The scans following Georgia’s treatment showed that the cancer in the lymph nodes of her neck and the left lung were gone. The small spot remaining in her right lung was dormant.

“I truly believe that St. Marianne brought me through this. There is no doubt in my mind,” Georgia says. “Everyone is amazed by how well I have come through all this.” In September, Georgia and Sister Anne Marie traveled to Kalaupapa, on the island of Molokai in Hawaii, the remote peninsula where St. Marianne Cope cared for the patients with Hansen’s disease (leprosy). From the moment her feet touched the ground, Georgia said she felt that she was on “holy land.” “Every place we went, I could feel St. Marianne’s presence,” she says. “I walked where she walked, I was at her grave. I touched many of the things that she probably touched. It was absolutely amazing.” At one point, Georgia sat alone on the porch at the convent where St. Marianne lived on p Georgia Owens prays at Kalaupapa, trying to imagine the St. Marianne Cope what it was like when then memorial at Kalaupapa, Molokai, Hawaii. Mother Marianne and six sisters from Syracuse were caring for those who had been abandoned by everyone else. She said she felt a presence that is difficult to explain. “You just feel warmth. It’s almost like somebody holding you, hugging you. They’re not there but you feel it. You feel comforted but there’s nobody there. You just feel it,” she says. She says she returned to Syracuse “a different person,” someone who is more patient, less judgmental. She believes she has a mission — telling people to pray and never give up and to bring people closer to St. Marianne. “I think everyone should know what a wonderful person she was. She really was.”

Saint Marianne Cope A Sister of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities, Mother Marianne was canonized Oct. 21, 2012. She is the first Franciscan woman from North American to be canonized, and only the 11th American saint. A woman of great valor, this beloved mother of outcasts spent her early years in central New York where she served as a leader in the field of health care, education and of her own congregation. Responding to a call to care for the poor sick on the then Sandwich Islands, she devoted 35 years to caring for those afflicted with Hansen’s disease on Kalaupapa, Molokai, Hawaii. Mother Marianne’s faith and strong foundation of values; compassion, selfsacrifice, devotion, courage and service, as a Sister of St. Francis, supported her extraordinary actions that led her to canonization by the Vatican in 2012. St. Marianne continues to give hope to many people who are healed emotionally or physically through the power of prayer and her intercession. The mission of the Saint Marianne Cope Shrine & Museum is to spread that hope to many more people, giving them the opportunity to heal in her spirit. For more information visit WINTER 2016 21

Mission Advancement

Pax et Bonum Dear Friends,

peace and all good

“Are there any new sisters?” “What are the sisters (or a particular sister) doing now?” These are the questions I hear most often from friends of our congregation. For those of you who have journeyed with us over the years, you have seen our community mature and the landscape grow more challenging for communities of men and women religious in the U.S. Our sisters can no longer be identified by their clothing; fewer are present in the Catholic schools, hospitals, and other ministries that we once owned and operated; and we are moving from convents to housing more appropriate to our smaller numbers and older demographics. On the surface one may conclude that our congregation is diminishing significantly in numbers and presence…but what if we dig a little deeper? Our sisters; lay staff; Franciscan Associates; friends and donors carry forward our Franciscan mission of serving those in need wherever they may be with reverence, justice and compassion. Here are several examples: • Since 2004, we have welcomed 10 new sisters into our community, putting us in the top 10 percent of religious communities in the country in receiving new members. • Childrens’ heads and hearts are warm this winter thanks to Sister Alvera O’Grady and sisters at the Franciscan Villa in Syracuse, New 22 FRANCISCAN SPIRIT

York who knitted 200 hats to comfort children at Elmcrest Children’s Center and St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse, New York and Santa Rosa de Lima Montessori School in Quebrada Verde, Peru.

• The legacy of our St. Marianne Cope lives on thanks to people like Franciscan Associates Terry and Helen Scanlon who said “yes” to volunteering on Molokai in Kalaupapa, Hawaii where they lived and served alongside Sister Theresa Chow for three months. “Our Franciscan sisters who have lived in Kalaupapa and tended to the patients are forever in our hearts,” said Terry. • By developing a congregational stance against human trafficking, through the leadership of the Congregational Peace and Justice Committee, we are actively working to eradicate human trafficking by 2020 in the spirit of Pope Francis’ call. •

Congregational General Manager Gael Sopchak and Hearth Management LLC Chief Operating Officer Daniel Suits gave a joint presentation at the National Resource Center for Religious Institutes’ annual conference. The presentation — “Franciscan Villa — A New Collaborative Model for Community Living” — shared our community’s innovative partnership that resulted in the development of new living spaces for our sisters.

• Forty-two sisters, age 65 and under, representing all regions of our congregation met several times throughout 2015 to envision the future of religious life. The group will continue to meet in 2016 to discern our prophetic future.

• Spending vacation time doing volunteer work is something Cindy Adamowsky, congregational life enrichment and wellness coordinator has long committed to because she feels it is important to “give back.” Last year, Cindy spent her vacation volunteering at our Timau mission in Kenya, East Africa. Our sisters, currently represented by Sisters Joanne Gangloff and Bea Leising, have been serving impoverished families here for more than 30 years. • Sharing the Franciscan spirit with senior adults The Wartburg in Mount Vernon, New York is a wonderful opportunity for many of our sisters in the East Coast region. “Since the sisters have been here, there is such a sense of community,” said one lay Wartburg resident. In addition to caring for one another, sisters reach out and extend their joyful presence to their lay and religious neighbors. “I feel closer to my sisters than ever before,” said Sister Helen Paul Podesla. You don’t have to dig very deep to see that the community that we all know and love is not diminishing but transforming! Like Francis of Assisi, who invited the laity to journey with him, our sisters are welcoming all of us to share in their joyful service to God’s people. The “mission” of our sisters will live on for decades to come in each and every one of us willing to continue this journey with them. So ask yourself, “How can I be a part of this?” We are excited about the possibilities of your response!

Sister Catherine Noecker Begins a New Ministry


ister Catherine Noecker has joined our Mission Advancement team as sister liaison, southeast U.S. Based in Florida, she will provide stewardship and support to our growing and ever loyal friends and donors who live in the southeast U.S. You can contact her at This past summer, Sister Catherine Noecker completed her 27 year tenure as principal at St. Anthony’s Catholic School in Greenville, South Carolina. “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.”

Peace and all good,

Gregory J. Griffin Congregational Director, Mission Advancement WINTER 2016 23

Mission Advancement

Gift Planning:

Honor their legacy with one of your own


ift planning is an opportunity to meet your charitable goals through your estate — while helping ensure that the sisters can meet opportunities and challenges of the future.

You can make a gift from your estate through your will or trust. You can also use life insurance or gifts from your retirement plan during your lifetime and take advantage of income tax benefits.

JOIN THE LEGACY CIRCLE When you remember the sisters through your gift of estate or retirement assets, you will be recognized as a member of the sisters’ Legacy Circle. Members receive a certificate honoring their commitment and are recognized at special events held throughout the year. If our sisters have ever touched your life, you know their impact. And your planned gift to the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities will honor their legacy of service while securing its bright future. By establishing your own personal legacy, you can make possible vital support for any number of priorities and initiatives — such as vocations, retirement care, program and mission support.

HOW DO I BECOME A MEMBER? Every gift — large or small — is important. You don’t have to be wealthy to make a significant gift. Thoughtful gift planning offers many types of charitable gift arrangements that can benefit you, your family, and our sisters. Virtually all assets can be given, including cash, real estate and securities. You can also designate a specific dollar amount or percentage of your overall estate. Regardless of the method you choose, you can rest assured that your generosity will be felt for years to come. For more information about gift planning, please contact Greg Griffin at 4315.634.7085 or


How Your Gifts Support our Retired Sisters


he Sisters of St. Francis have adopted a holistic approach to life at all its stages that permeates our entire congregation. This commitment, called the Philosophy of Life, encompasses physical and emotional wellbeing, spiritual growth, relationships, creative expression, homelike environments, healthy living and quality of life. Individual, corporate and foundation gifts added to the quality of life for our retired sisters in 2015. Because you said “yes” to a gift to the Sisters of St. Francis, we were able to maintain our sisters’ wellbeing, promote their independence and increase their comfort in line with our Philosophy of Life commitment. We needed you, and you were there. Thank you! The generosity of our donors made it possible: New beds and chairs were purchased for the health unit at the Mount Alvernia convent in Millvale, Pennsylvania. We replaced old hospital beds with newer safer beds and we were able to purchase automatic lift recliner chairs so more of our sisters could maintain their independence. Your generosity allowed us to install two new boilers at St. Mary of the Angels in Williamsville, New York. This project was necessary to ensure that our sisters’ home remains safe and comfortable for years to come!

convent, adding to the safety of all our sisters, visitors, guests and those with whom we minister. Without your assistance, magnet door openers would not have been installed on each sister’s bedroom at Franciscan Villa, in Syracuse, New York. These door openers are crucial to the safety and comfort of the sisters living at Franciscan Villa, because each bedroom door is a very heavy fire door. Because you supported this project, we could help our more vulnerable sisters feel safer and less isolated. It also helps our mobility-impaired sisters access their bedrooms with greater ease. Your generous gifts allowed us to purchase 10 window air conditioning units, and one Nustep exercise machine for our sisters living at St. Francis convent in Manoa, Hawaii. These key equipment pieces help promote their health, comfort and safety. Providing our sisters a safe, appropriate home is our great joy. Thank you for partnering with us to care for them! Are you willing to say “yes” to supporting the retirement needs of our sisters? Please contact Gregory Griffin, congregational mission advancement director, 315.634.7085, to say “yes” to supporting our retired sisters.

Through your support, we repaired and fully upgraded the central elevator at the Mount Alvernia WINTER 2016 25

Mission Advancement

Become a

Franciscan Associate

Meet Our Partner

Mary Ann

Are You Spiritually Grounded in Your Everyday Living?

In Loving Memory of Richard J. Urbanski by His Family

A unique response may be the Franciscan Associate program. The program is an engaging way for women and men to pray, grow and serve with a religious community while maintaining their individual lifestyles.

o reads the sign outside a room at St. Mary of the Angels’ health care center in Williamsville, New York. Mary Ann Urbanski, a former laboratory technician, wanted to dedicate a room in memory of her late husband, Richard, in tribute to their 50-plus-years of marriage, and to the years she spent working and distributing Communion in area hospitals.

WHAT ARE LAY ASSOCIATES Celebrating the “universal call to holiness” of all baptized Christians, proclaimed by the Second Vatican Council and recognizing the gifts which the laity possess, the Sisters of St. Francis, like many other religious congregations, established an associate program. The sisters invite men and women to share in the mission of the Sisters of St. Francis and the Franciscan charism while continuing to focus on the path of their lives. Learn more and apply at become-an-associate


A few years ago she stopped by the Western New York region house chapel to pray and quickly realized, “This is my spot. It is so peaceful, and there is something very spiritual that embraces you when you come here. You can just feel the cohesiveness and love in the atmosphere.” Since then, she has become more and more involved with our sisters, and is an active participant in many of our celebrations and activities. A mother, grandmother and great grandmother, Mary Ann wants to help others, and feels very connected to our sisters. “You can’t beat the nuns!” she says. “They genuinely care about me and my family, and their Franciscan hospitality is so wonderful!” Mary Ann is one of our newest Franciscan Associates in western New York, volunteering to





p Mary Ann Urbanski becomes one of the newest Franciscan Associates in the western New York region.

support our sisters and to deepen and grow her spirituality in the love of Sts. Francis and Clare. She volunteers at special events, sponsors a child at our Timau Mission in Kenya, is becoming involved with our Adopt A Sister program, and is also a very loyal benefactor. “The more you give, the more that comes back to you.” she says. “I welcome the opportunity to become more involved. It means so much to me!” Thank you, Mary Ann, for being the kind and giving woman that you are. It makes a profound difference in the lives of many, especially our sisters.

Adopt A Sister A Prayer Companion Program Our Adopt A Sister program is a unique personalized response to those who hunger to have someone praying for them as they go through a divorce, endure a battle with disease, or are in the midst of a trying situation. It connects you with a specific sister who remains in a prayerful relationship with you. For more information, visit

WINTER 2016 27

In Prayerful Memory

Sister Mary Veronica DelVecchio

Sister Marie Therese Shankland

July 10, 1912 – September 8, 2015

January 15, 1921 – November 27, 2015

Teacher, Census Worker, Congregational Leadership Williamsville, New York

Registered Nurse, Nursing Instructor, Camp Director, Congregational Leadership Mount Vernon, New York

Sister Bernice Eib

Sister Elaine Stuthers

November 25, 1918 – September 15, 2015

May 12, 1929 – December 2, 2015

Teacher, Parish Minister, Candymaker

Teacher, Assistant Principal, Health Care Business Administration

Syracuse, New York

Millvale, Pennsylvania

Sister Helaine Frances Bultmann

Sister Miriam Van Hatten

January 10, 1924 – October 16, 2015

October 17, 1917 – December 4, 2015

Teacher, Principal, Candymaker

Teacher, Principal

Syracuse, New York

Syracuse, New York

Sister Eileen Burns

Sister Rosaire Kopczenski

September 25, 1943 – October 27, 2015

November 21, 1933 – December 14, 2015

Teacher, Religious Education Administrator, Pastoral Associate Mount Vernon, New York

Teacher, Campus Minister, Senior Adult Housing Administrator, Artist, Iconographer Millvale, Pennsylvania


To read the full text celebrating the life and legacy of a particular sister, please visit If you do not have Internet access, send your request with a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the editorial office.

Upcoming Retreats and Events



18 – 19 Flea Market

3 14th Annual Food & Wine Tasting

Scotus Hall at Mount Alvernia Millvale, Pennsylvania 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

St. Mary of the Angels, Williamsville, New York

Contact: Sister Karen Krebs

5 to 7 p.m.


This 14th annual event includes the ever popular “Nun-better” Bake Sale, silent and live auctions, entertainment and more.

Proceeds benefit Mount Alvernia Daycare and Learning Center

APRIL 20 “Eat, Drink, Pray” Food and Wine Tasting Celebration

8 Sisters of St. Francis, Millvale Golf Tournament Longue Vue Club, Verona, Pennsylvania Contact: Michelle Basista 412.821.2200, ext. 276 Proceeds benefit the mission and ministries of the Sisters of St. Francis.

$50 per person


Contact: Cynthia Munschauer 716.632.2155, ext. 687

19 Fairway to Heaven Golf Tournament


Cavalry Club, Manlius, New York Contact: Roxanne Sopchak 315.634.7026 Proceeds benefit the mission and ministries of the Sisters of St. Francis.

Franciscan Villa, Syracuse, New York 6 to 8 p.m. Join the Sisters of St. Francis for an evening of culinary delights and fine wines, finished off with live entertainment and a silent auction featuring gift baskets, restaurant certificates and more.

5 – 7 Camping Discernment Retreat

Allegany State Park, Salamanca, New York (western New York)

$50 per person

Spend a summer weekend with other women considering religious life who want to open their hearts to the presence of God in nature. Enjoy a blend of camping fun combined with reflective prayer and faith sharing.

Contact: Sister Caryn Crook 315.751.6819

Contact: Roxanne Sopchak 315.634.7026

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Proceeds benefit the mission and ministries of the Sisters of St. Francis to people in need. Tuesday, May 3 • 5 to 7 p.m. St. Mary of the Angels 201 Reist Street, Williamsville, New York 14221 Silent and live auctions $50 per person For more information call Cynthia Munschauer at 716.632.2155, ext. 687.

Wine Tasting Celebration

Wednesday, April 20 • 6 to 8 p.m. Franciscan Villa, Syracuse, New York

Join the Sisters of St. Francis for an evening of culinary delights and fine wines, finished off with live entertainment and a silent auction featuring gift baskets, restaurant certificates and more. $50 per person Contact: Roxanne Sopchak 315.634.7026