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VOLUME 3 • NO. 3

Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis


MISSION STATEMENT OF THE SISTERS OF ST. JOSEPH OF THE THIRD ORDER OF ST. FRANCIS Dedication to Jesus Christ involves us intimately in the liberating and reconciling Gathering Place

mission—to make God more deeply known and loved, and in so doing, draw all persons

is published to keep

to fuller and freer life.

the public informed Together with all our sisters and brothers

of the mission and

who strive for a more just world, we under-

ministry of the Sisters

take those activities which will promote the material and spiritual development of the

of St. Joseph of the

human family.

Third Order of St. Francis.

I really had fun with the theme of this issue—the Jubilarians as “light” in this world. I envisioned them beaming away in locations all across the country. Well, it was all Jesus’ EDITOR

idea. He was very clear that,

Reneta E.Webb, Ph.D., CAE


“I, the Light, have come into this world.”

(John 12:46)

You are the light of the world”

But He was equally clear that, “

(Matt 5:14)

Sr. Carlene Blavat Sr. Judith David Sr. Marygrace Puchacz Sr. MaryLou Wojtusik Sharon McElmeel


Forty-one sisters celebrated jubilees in 2002. Each one is the source of incredible brightness in enlightening the minds of the young, in bringing cheer and solace to those who suffer, in making a positive impact on the environment in sacred places, in building relationships with their sisters and with colleagues, and in leaving a glowing legacy wherever they ministered. Without exception, they are grateful for you. Your care, concern and support are keeping a steady stream of prayer on your behalf.

Get your sunscreen, because you’re invited now to bask in the

Sr. Mary Adalbert Stal Sr. Dolores Mary Koza Sr. Louise Szerpicki

PRODUCTION & LAYOUT Newcomb Print Communications/ The Printed Word

OFFICE Development Office P.O. Box 388129 Chicago, IL 60638-8129 Telephone: 1-773-581-7505 Fax: 1-773-581-7545 Web site: e-mail:

light of these Jubilarians and to feel the power of their prayer for you.

Reneta E. Webb

Copyright by the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis, Inc. Reproduction in whole or part without written permission is prohibited.

VOLUME 3 • NO. 3




75th Jubilarians

SSJ-TOSF Statement Opposing the War on Iraq

You Are the Light of the World

Christian-Islam Dialogue

In the News

So Let Your Light Shine


70th Jubilarians

The Light on a Lampstand

Sr. Benjamin Chrapczinski— Morning Journal

6 19

60th Jubilarians

Sr. Stephanie Ostrowski— Senate Apartments

Filled with Light


50th Jubilarians Sr. Janice Rosinke



Sr. Debra Ann Weina—Vocation Minister Editorial Board Christmas Angels Srs. Dominica Fick and Esther Romalke Order Blank



Sr. Kim Mulhearn and Sr. Shannon Fox Sr. Marcia Lambert



River Pines — Beside Restful Waters Shrine of St. Francis

From the Development Director 52 Perpetual Light 52

A Light for Revelation


25th Jubilarian

Let Perpetual Light Shine Upon Them


So Let Your Light Shine


he sisters celebrating their 75th Jubilee are doing what Jesus said.

“Your light must shine before

others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.�

(Matt 5:16)

They have a lifetime of good deeds of which we are

all recipients. Thank God!


Vol. 3 No. 3







Sister Bernice Ann Stronczek From her very first year of teaching in

It isn’t just the “doing” that marks the life of Sr. Bernice Ann, it’s the love

1927, it was obvious that Sister

and care that accompanies everything she does. A cadre of students

Bernice Ann Stronczek was a

and parents, co-workers and sisters in the congregation, will all attest

teacher to be emulated. She

to the goodness and joy with which Sr. Bernice Ann met every respon-

served at Sweetest Heart of

sibility. Much of this comes from the solid family life she enjoyed as a

Mary in Detroit, Michigan, for

child in the Bridgeport area of Chicago, Illinois, where she attended St.

three years, and then returned

Barbara School. Although much of her teaching career was spent in

to Wisconsin, teaching at St.

Wisconsin, she enjoys a legacy of people who love her even in her

Adalbert in Milwaukee. In between

retirement at St. Joseph Congregational Home in Stevens Point,

St. Stanislaus in Stevens Point and St. Ignatius in Milwaukee, she taught in the District Public School in Hofa Park, a rather new role for sisters at the time.

By 1951, she was superior and principal at St. Josaphat in

Oshkosh, Wisconsin. During this time, she earned a bachelor’s degree from St. Norbert’s College in De Pere, Wisconsin, and a Master of Education from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with additional post-graduate courses at the University of Dayton, Ohio. With all the teaching experience and a solid academic background, she became the Supervisor of Schools in the Green Bay Diocese in 1954, a position she held for 12 years. This was followed by ten years of “principal, teacher and coordinator” responsibilities at St. Joseph School in Stevens Point,Wisconsin, and St. Stanislaus in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In 1985, she retired to St. Joseph Congregational Home where she continued with tutoring and serving as Department Head of the Learning Center.


Sister Clementia Krolikowski Sister Clementia Krolikowski spent over 60 of her 75 years in religious life as a teacher. Her special skills were in the Business Arts. Students at Lourdes, St. Barbara and St. Mary of Perpetual Help High Schools in Chicago, Illinois, will best remember her near a typewriter or computer, surrounded by “business” displays, caring deeply about the progress and performance of each student.

Sr. Clementia was born in Strzelno, Poland, and by the time her family moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, she was the oldest of six children. She and her sister (Sister Mary Kinga) entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis on the same day, June 22, 1925. She began teaching in 1926 while she was still a postulant. Except for the year of novitiate which she spent in St. Joseph Convent in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, Sr. Clementia dedicated herself to the education of elementary and high school students, mostly in Chicago, Illinois. She received her bachelor and master degrees at De Paul University in Chicago. “I taught at Lourdes High School in Chicago for over 40 years. Teaching has always been my greatest joy!” says Sr. Clementia. “I still maintain contact with many of my students. Their friendship has been a treasured gift to me.” In 1990, she retired to the ministry of care and support service at Lourdes Convent in Chicago, Illinois, and in 2001, she moved to Immaculata Congregational Home in Bartlett, Illinois, where she now resides.







Vol. 3 No. 3


Faithful to the Lord in Firmness of Heart (Acts 11:23)

Sister Julia Blohowiak Where’s Eaton, Wisconsin, you ask? Well, it’s about halfway between Fond Du Lac and Manitowoc, but what really put it on the map is that Sister Julia Blohowiak was born and raised there. She graduated from St. Cyril and

high school at St. Joseph Academy, Garfield Heights, Ohio. She entered

Methodius school before she

the novitiate on August 10, 1927, and the following September began

entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of

teaching at St. Stanislaus in Meriden,

the Third Order of St. Francis in 1926.

Connecticut. After two years of novitiate, she continued her teaching

In 1927, she began a teaching career that was to last for 45 years. Her

career in Ohio, at St. Hyacinth,

first assignment was to St. Stanislaus in East Chicago, Indiana, where

Immaculate Heart BVM, and SS.

she spent five years in ministry. Then she moved back to Wisconsin,

Peter and Paul.

where she taught in various schools in Rosholt, Oshkosh, Indepen-

returned to Connecticut for the

dence, Stevens Point, Green Bay, Arcadia, Menasha and Pulaski. What is

next four years, before returning

remarkable about these years is the consistency with which Sr. Julia

to Immaculate Conception in

continued her love of the students and her commitment to quality

Canton, Ohio. The primary grades

In 1940, she

were her specialty as she served in

education, particularly at the sixth-grade level.

several other schools in Ohio and She was semi-retired in 1972 when she went to care for her aging moth-

Michigan. She prepared many children to

er. For the next 14 years, she served as a school librarian, receptionist,

receive the sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Communion, the

chauffeur and in-service to the elderly. In 1987, she retired to St. Joseph

occasions which she remembers with delight and joy.

Congregational Home, where she continues to provide support services in the household.

Sr. Leopolde had the opportunity to travel to Italy and to Poland at the time she celebrated her Golden Jubilee. Although several years have

Sister Leopolde Pieczynski

passed since then, she still recalls the sights of Rome and the rolling terrain of Poland.

How many children would a teacher teach in a 60-year time span? Sister She was teaching at Nativity BVM in Lorain, Ohio, when she retired. Leopolde Pieczynski has over 2,000 reasons to celebrate with joy the Retirement, however, is relative. What it meant in this case was that Sr. years that she spent as a teacher in Ohio, Connecticut and Michigan. Leopolde assumed the role of librarian for a year, and then became an English teacher to Polish immigrants and a part time sacristan. She conSr. Leopolde was born in Detroit, Michigan, and completed eighth grade tinued these responsibilities until she moved in 1995 to Marymount at the Seminary of the Felician Sisters. She entered the Sisters of St. Congregational Home in Garfield Heights, Ohio, where she currently Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis on June 28, 1925, and attended lives.

Sister Lambert Suski Sister Lambert Suski always knew she wanted to be a teacher. Even as a child, she would gather her brothers and sisters into her “classroom” and teach whatever lesson seemed important for that day. After she entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis in 1925, and armed with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in education, she applied her natural talents to elementary school teaching for 50 years. She recalls her early teaching experience with 76 first-graders at St. Mary of Perpetual Help School in Chicago, Illinois. The school was a “demon-



stration” school, with the pastor, Msgr. Thomas Bona, serving as Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese at the time. The best was expected and the best was given.

She continued her teaching profession at St. Roman, Chicago, Illinois; Our Lady of Czestochowa, Cicero, Illinois; St. Fidelis, Chicago, Illinois; and St. Stanislaus, East Chicago, Indiana. Sr. Lambert was the superior and principal, as well as eighth-grade teacher, at both Transfiguration School (1957-63) and St. Barbara School (1963-72). After five more years of teaching eighth grade, Sr. Lambert took on administrative and clerical work at Lourdes High School in Chicago, Illinois, where she was also a substitute teacher. She continued in this capacity until 1994 when she retired to provide convent services at Lourdes Convent where she now resides.


Vol. 3 No. 3







You Are the

Light of the



very sound and motion in the universe

changes the relationship of all creation.

When Jesus told us that we are the light

of the world, it was to help us be aware

of our responsibility to illuminate the

world. These sisters who are celebrating

their 70th Jubilee as Sisters of St. Joseph

of the Third Order of St. Francis are

keenly aware of Jesus’ words. Their lives

are true witnesses to the Gospel.

ister Agatha Kretowicz attributes her perseverance in


religious life to Mother Clara Bialkowski who encouraged her in times of need. What a privileged experience to have known

the co-foundress of the congregation and to have had that close a relationship with her!

When Sr. Agatha first entered the convent from St. Hyacinth Parish in Cleveland, Ohio, at age 15, she was able to use her artistic talents by assisting the drama teacher at St. Joseph Academy in creating stage settings for the school plays. She also developed dietary skills which she was able to put to use in the “hospitality” spirit of Mother Clara. People in Ohio and Michigan know that her concern and care were felt in the homes and kitchens of a number of parish convents. She was the heart of the home in Immaculate Heart in Cleveland, Ohio, providing dietary and food service. Most of her ministry was in Michigan, serving in parishes in Detroit, Flint, Baseline, Kalamazoo, Belleville and Warren. Her experience at St. Emeric School for Special Children in Cleveland, Ohio, was a turning point in her ministry. The concern and care began to take the shape of education for the children. This continued at St.

Sister Agatha Kretowicz

Germaine School in St. Claire Shores, Michigan, but most especially at St. Stanislaus Parish in Lorain, Ohio. It was there that Sr. Agatha established one of the first pre-school programs for four-year-olds in the Lorain area. She continued her teaching and tutoring ministry, along with responsibilities for church work, for nine years at Transfiguration Parish in Cleveland, Ohio, before retiring to Marymount Congregational Home where she now resides.

ister Anne Ozycz always took Jesus seriously. Even as a little


girl at St. Stanislaus in Meriden, Connecticut, she had her heart set on entering the Sisters of St. Joseph,TOSF. Two years after

she graduated from the eighth grade, she made good on that goal. On August 13, 1931, she arrived in Garfield Heights, Ohio, and attended St. Joseph Academy at Marymount. She was invested on August 10, 1932, and started her teaching career at All Saints in Flint, Michigan. “I always enjoyed teaching,” Sr. Anne said, “and preparing children for the sacra-


ments. I had the opportunity to work with adults as well, until they became full members of the Catholic Church.” She served in several schools in Ohio and Connecticut before the next significant assignment. The years 1955 to 1972 were very interesting years to be working in a racially mixed environment in the south. It was during these years that Sr. Anne was teacher, principal and superior at St. Francis Mission in


Vol. 3 No. 3

Greenwood, Mississippi, a school that had very humble beginnings.

When the SSJ-TOSFs first went to Greenwood, they found a former nightclub called the Blue Moon which was to serve as the first church, two-room school and temporary convent. Resources were always tight, but even here, Sr. Anne put her trust in God and hundreds of children benefitted from a solid education.


ven as a little girl

at St. Stanislaus in Meriden, Connecticut,

she had her heart set on In 1972, Sr. Anne returned to Connecticut where she served

entering the Sisters of

at St. Stanislaus in Bristol, St. Casimir in Terryville, and her home parish of St. Stanislaus in Meriden, as teacher, librarian, and religious educator. Sr. Anne carried her librarian skills into

St. Joseph, TOSF. Two years after she graduated

her retirement at Marymount Congregational Home in Garfield Heights, Ohio.

from the eighth grade, she made good on that goal.


ndrew and Mary Jasina knew their daughter was very talented, and Sister Mary Beata Jasina proved them right. She completed eighth grade at Sweetest Heart of Mary in

Detroit, Michigan, and entered the convent on July 26, 1930. After entering the novitiate in 1932, she began teaching at St. Stanislaus in Bristol, Connecticut. Following her novitiate, she continued her studies toward her bachelor’s degree at the Sisters College of Cleveland, Ohio, and completed it at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. She brought her expertise to Marymount High School in Garfield Heights, Ohio, teaching social studies, math, French and Polish, before going to St.Thomas High School in Detroit, Michigan. It was at St.Thomas High School that, as a math teacher, she took additional courses in Industrial Arts in order to teach drafting to the coed student body. Sr. Beata introduced Drafting as an elective in the Art Curriculum. She donated her artistic talents to design covers for the secondary Math and Religion curricula. She wrote articles for the publication of the Michigan Council for Social Studies (MCSS). In 1969, she was elected Assistant Provincial of the Marymount Province. She then assumed the duties of Sister Mary Berchmans, Provincial, who died unexpectedly. Sr. Beata then returned to Michigan as a teacher at Regina High School in Harper Woods. She continued this ministry for 17 years, during which time she also served on a Committee of the National Catholic Education Association (NCEA) for the evaluation of Regina High School. Beginning in 1991, Sr. Beata continued at Regina High School as Library Assistant. With the wealth of knowledge about the high school, she established the archives for the school, while serving as substitute teacher and computer room supervisor. In 2001, the convent of Regina High was closed and Sr. Beata moved to Marymount Congregational Home to provide support services for the sisters in Garfield Heights, Ohio.


he parishioners of Little Flower Parish in Cleveland, Ohio, shared


the pride of Jacob and Eva Surma when Cecilia Surma joined the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis on

February 15, 1932. After her investing on August 10, 1932, she began her teaching ministry at Sweetest Heart of Mary in Detroit, Michigan. She was equipped with a Teacher’s Certificate and continued her teaching at St. Stanislaus in Bristol, Connecticut, and St. John Cantius in Cleveland, Ohio.

It was soon obvious that Sr. Cecilia was called to serve the sick, the elderly and the poor. Her R.N. from St.Vincent Hospital School of Nursing in Toledo, Ohio; the B.S.E. from St. John College in Cleveland, Ohio; her M.S. in Nursing Education from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.; and her Certificate in Geriatric Nursing were a solid preparation for the huge contribution she made to St. Joseph Hospital in Meridian, Mississippi and to Marymount Hospital in Garfield Heights, Ohio. She was Nursing Instructor at St. Joseph Hospital, and served as Vice President of the Hospital Board. In 1970, she was named “Nurse of the Year” in Meridian, Mississippi. She was Director of Nursing Services at Marymount Hospital and, in 1952, organized the School of Practical

Sister Cecilia Surma


She expanded her responsibilities to include Nursing

Orientation, Discharge Supervisor, and Discharge Planner. Sr. Cecilia continued her care for the sick and the elderly when, in 1991, she was nurse and consultant for the retired sisters in Clare Hall, Garfield Heights, Ohio. After ten years, she retired to Marymount Congregational Home where she continues her care for the sisters, body and soul.

ister Cecilia Zwolak has a “rainbow” personality. Teaching


ability, leadership, dedication to Gospel living, musical talent, love of the sick and poor, attention to detail—all these are the

rainbow of gifts that Sr. Cecilia has used in service of God’s people.

Her talents have made her successful in several different ministries. She started out as an organist when she was just a postulant in the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis, at St. Hedwig Parish in

Sister Cecilia ZWOLAK

Cleveland, Ohio. She had just recently arrived from her home town in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but adjusted quickly to a new life and ministry. After being invested on August 10, 1932, she began her career as a teacher at St. Hyacinth School. She spent 18 years in elementary education. Sr. Cecilia completed her Bachelor of Science degree at Ursuline College and her master’s degree at the University of Detroit in biology and education. With that, she began teaching Biology at Marymount High School in Garfield Heights, Ohio. She went to Regina High School


Vol. 3 No. 3

in Harper Woods, Michigan, in 1957, and to St. Thomas High School in Detroit, Michigan in 1963. In 1964, Sr. Cecilia was called to St. Francis Mission in Greenwood, Mississippi, as principal, teacher and superior. During this time, she developed her musical talent and became a church organist. She returned to Marymount High School in 1967.


eaching ability, leadership,

After 38 years of teaching, when most people would be planning for retirement, Sr. Cecilia planned for a new profession. She was certified as a medical tech-

dedication to

Gospel living, musical

nologist and worked at Marymount Hospital in the laboratory as a Medical Technologist. She continued in that capacity for 26 years. Sr. Cecilia still uses her musical talents as a substitute organist at the Marymount

talent, love of the sick and poor, attention to detail—all these are the

Congregational Home where she is retired.

rainbow of gifts that Sr. Cecilia hen Sister Corfilia Pinski finished eighth grade at


has used in service of God’s people

Immaculate Conception School in South Chicago, Illinois, in 1929, she entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of

the Third Order of St. Francis. Following her novitiate, she began her teaching ministry at St.Adalbert Parish in Milwaukee,Wisconsin. In 1938, she came to Chicago, Illinois, and taught English at Lourdes High School. It was quickly apparent that English was her specialty subject. One of her students asserts,“Sr. Corfilia taught me how to do research, how to write a term paper, and how to appreciate beautiful prose and poetry. It is a gift for a lifetime!”

In 1964, Sr. Corfilia attended the University of Ottawa to complete her master’s degree and her doctorate. Her intellectual prowess was demonstrated by the doctoral thesis she wrote in the French language. She was a college professor from 1966 to 1971, teaching at Immaculata College in Bartlett, Illinois, and St. Francis College in Joliet, Illinois. She then returned to Lourdes High School as an English teacher until 1980 when she retired, assuming services in the Ministry of Care at Lourdes Convent. In 1985, she moved to the infirmary at Immaculata Congregational Home where she now resides.


he Eucharistic table and the dining room table were cared for


by Sister Mary Daniel Sutula with the same reverence and care. Many sisters learned their culinary skills from Sr. Daniel,

whether in Ohio, Michigan or Connecticut. Sr. Daniel’s story starts in Bristol, Connecticut, where she was born and where she attended grade school at St. Stanislaus. When she was 15 years old, she entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis and was invested on August 10, 1932. She began her ministry in dietary and food service at St. Hyacinth in Cleveland, Ohio. The kitchen quickly became the most popular room in the convent.

After a few more years in convents in Ohio, Sr. Daniel assumed the responsibilities of food service at Marymount Convent in Garfield Heights, Ohio. It was here that she worked with many sisters, especially Sister Zita Marie Slusarczyk,

in learning the skills of

organization and food preparation. Except for two years at Regina High School in Harper Woods, Michigan, Sr. Daniel spent 25 years at Marymount Convent. In 1967, she went to St. Stanislaus Parish in Meriden, Connecticut, as pastoral Minister to the Elderly and as


homemaker. She ministered in the same way at Holy Angels Parish in Meriden. After 24 years, she moved to Rocky Hill, Connecticut, still involved in Eucharistic ministry, and caring for her brother priest.


taught children, grades one through four, in a small rural school several miles from Stevens Point,” said Sister Emily Ligas as she was recalling her first appointment at St. Casimir’s in Stevens

Point, Wisconsin, after her novitiate in the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis. She entered the convent from St. Adalbert Parish in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1929 and began teaching in 1933. “The teaching itself was not much of a problem, but keeping the rest of the class well occupied with seatwork certainly was! There was no con-

Sister Emily LIgas

venient way of duplicating material,” she explained,“but I have used several ‘inventions’ since that time.”

Sr. Emily has the knack of capitalizing on resources and providing a superior service wherever she is. And the state of Wisconsin is better for it. She taught in a number of schools in Stevens Point, Independence, Milwaukee, Racine, Junction City, Krakow and Eaton, where she also served as organist, school principal and superior. After over 50 years of teaching, she retired to St. Joseph Congregational Home where she now


Vol. 3 No. 3

resides, providing prayer ministry and support services.

he Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis arrived


in Puerto Rico in 1962. Sister Ernestine Jastrzemski was the principal of the school in Lares where all subjects were

taught in Spanish except math, religion and spelling. New place, new assignment, new language—a challenge for sure! The challenges up to this point were almost predictable. Sister Ernestine was born and raised in Fancher, Wisconsin. After she graduated from eighth grade at St. Mary’s in Fancher, she entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis in 1929. She began her teaching career at St. Fidelis Parish in


Chicago, Illinois, and then returned to Wisconsin, where she taught in Milwaukee, Antigo, Stevens Point, Menasha and Hatley. She heard God’s call to serve in missionary work and left for Puerto Rico in a great act of trust.


efore you, O Lord, our lives. What good a life if it is not

After six years as principal and teacher at San Jose school in Lares,

given away?

Sr. Ernestine went to Jayuya, Puerto Rico, where she began seeking out and nurturing leadership for the local parish. “One such visit,” she explains, “was high in the mountains, reached only by jeep. In Puerto Plata, I found a treasure —a school with grades one and two, but where no child could read. No teacher cared to teach there.” Sr. Ernestine applied to the school board for the position and asked them to send all the children, grades one-four, who couldn’t read. “I went up to the empty school. I was greeted by 33 youngsters, ages five to 13. There was no transportation, so I decided to get a cot and sleep in the classroom.” The dedication and effort that made the school a success was recognized by the Puerto Rican government. Sr. Ernestine was awarded the Manuel A. Perez Award in recognition of educational services rendered over and above the call of duty.

With the situation at Puerta Plata vastly improved, Sr. Ernestine looked to other areas of need. She returned to Lares to work among the poor in a Day Care Center for the Elderly. In addition to her ministry at the Day Care, she helps in the local parish by visiting the parishioners and preparing them for the sacraments of Confirmation and Marriage.

Truly, Sr. Ernestine lives out the challenge of the congregation’s Apostolic Creed: “Before you, O Lord, our lives. What good a life if it is not given away?”

t is interesting, the twists and turns that life will take when you’re


following the Way. Ask Sister Florence Mary Wilczewski. It

started happily in Cleveland, Ohio, where she was born and

raised. She graduated from St. John Cantius in 1930 and, the following July, entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis. She entered the novitiate and the teaching profession in 1932 at Nativity BVM in Lorain, Ohio. In 1934, she went to St. Francis Parish in Detroit, Michigan, and two years later returned to Cleveland to attend Sisters College. She was back in the classroom in 1938, and continued to teach the elementary grades for the next 19 years in Michigan and Ohio.

Her bachelor’s degree in education was only the beginning of additional course work in science and in administration. She earned her M.A. in Guidance and Counseling at the University of Detroit which prepared her for her impact on the Michigan high schools of Regina, Sweetest Heart of Mary, St.Thomas the Apostle, and Aquinas where she served as Biology teacher and guidance counselor. “I participated in the planning and formation of the new Aquinas High School in Michigan,” Sr. Florence Mary says. “The Sisters of St. Joseph,TOSF, and three Dominican sisters

Sister Florence Mary Wilczewski

staffed the school. It was very exciting to be at the forefront of this educational venture.” Sr. Florence Mary dedicated 20 years to high school work before the next phase of her ministry took shape.

In 1977, Sr. Florence Mary became the Associate Chaplain at Marymount Hospital in Garfield Heights, Ohio. She taught anatomy classes to the nursing students in Mississippi, but pastoral care was the main focus of her ministry. “I worked in Pastoral Care at Marymount for 15 years,” Sr. Florence Mary recalls. “I enjoyed working with the patients, being a Eucharistic Minister and a sacristan. I am so grateful that my experiences in religious life and my education equipped me to deal with people of many races, ages and faiths. During these years as pastoral minister, it was a joy and privilege to work with the sick, the broken, the needy and the poor.” Sr. Florence Mary is now retired and living at Marymount Congregational Home in Garfield Heights, Ohio.


uring these years as pastoral miniSter, it was a joy and privilege to work with the sick, the broken, the needy and the poor.


Vol. 3 No. 3

rom the first day of my convent life,” Sister Mary Inviolata


Pieczynski says, “I delved into the mystery of God. Trusting Him, I put everything in His hands.” She was 14 years old when

she entered the convent from St. Thomas Parish in Detroit, Michigan. She attended St. Joseph Academy in Garfield Heights, Ohio, and was invested on August 10, 1932. That sense of trust and strong faith vision accompanied her entire ministry as homemaker in the SSJ-TOSF convents, starting at All Saints in Flint, Michigan, and continuing over 30 years in convents in Ohio, Connecticut, Mississippi, and Michigan.


During this time, it was apparent that Sr. Inviolata was talented, not only in dietary and food service, but also in art and music. When she moved to Marymount Congregational Home in 1969, her ministry turned to Creative Arts. She produced watercolor and oil paintings which were sold to support the retired sisters. The Gift Shops at Marymount congregational Home are successful, in large part, due to the work of Sr. Inviolata. She continues to contribute art pieces to the inventory, while providing other support services at Marymount Congregational Home.


t’s nice to know people who have the ability to meet successfully the situations that life presents. “I am grateful to Jesus,” explains Sister Josephine Kubek, “who has strengthened me

through all the 70 years of my religious life.” Her life with the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis began on July 13, 1930. She had just graduated from eighth grade at St. John Cantius in Cleveland, Ohio, where she was born and raised by Joseph and Mary Kubek. After her investing on August 10, 1932, and two years after her novitiate, she gracefully met the challenge of quality teaching at Immaculate Heart of Mary in Cleveland, Ohio. After 25 years of teaching in Michigan and Ohio schools, Sr. Josephine became principal and superior of St. Francis School in Detroit. Having fulfilled that role so well, Sr. Josephine was assigned as Superior of the house at Marymount Convent, which at that time was the Provincial home in Garfield Heights, Ohio. In 1966, she became a high school teacher as well as directress of aspirants (young women who were entering the congregation). Sr. Josephine carried over her leadership and teaching abilities to other schools in the Ohio and Michigan area, and even spent a year at Colegio San Rafael in Puerto Rico, where she taught English. In 1982, she once again became coordinator at the provincial home in Garfield Heights. She then returned to Immaculate Heart of Mary in Cleveland, the very school where 50 years earlier she had begun her teaching career. This time, however, it was in the role of providing school services, and, after a few years, Sr. Josephine became a tutor in the school and the parish sacristan.


t is with a grateful heart that I thank the Lord for making my 70th


Jubilee in religious life a time of rejoicing and remembering,” said Sister Marcelline Zblewski. Indeed, there is much to remem-

ber and rejoice over.

Sr. Marcelline entered the SSJ-TOSFs from

St. Mary’s in Fancher, Wisconsin, where she grew up. It was 1931, and the congregation was already 30 years old and dedicated to the ministry of teaching. So was Sr. Marcelline. She began teaching at Immaculate Conception School in South Chicago, Illinois, and then at St. Roman’s in Chicago. In 1943, she went to Wisconsin where she spent the next 40 years teaching in schools in Racine, Milwaukee, Stanley, Krakow,Arcadia, Junction City, Amherst and Stevens Point. As Sr. Marcelline explains, “I had the joy of working in a number of city and country schools. I enjoyed teaching children in the lower grades, preparing them for their First Communion, and training the altar boys to serve at the sacrifice of the Mass.” Along with her teaching responsibilities, Sr. Marcelline also spent some 30 years in sacristy duties.

Retirement means different things to different people. Sr. Marcelline fills her days at St. Joseph Congregational Home with a variety of support


services that keep the home humming. You may find her in the kitchen or laundry, but most likely at the sewing machine. “Being the only ‘mender’ for the sisters,” she says, “I spend many hours at the sewing machine, repairing the sisters’ attire and enjoying my days.”

t’s been 70 wonderful years during which life takes on its own


tempo and the divine rhythm plays out each day. So it is in the life of Sister Michaeline Badarzynski. She was born in 1916 in

Cleveland, Ohio. Her parents, John and Wanda, presented her for baptism at Sacred Heart Parish where she was also confirmed. At the age of 14, she entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis and prepared to continue the hymn of her life as a teacher and organist. She began at St. John Cantius Parish in Cleveland, Ohio. Over


the next 40 years, she taught in elementary schools in Ohio, Connecticut and Michigan in the middle and junior high grades. She was an organist, choir director, principal and music teacher. She worked with the Golden Agers Club at St. John Cantius for 14 years and organized several trips for senior citizens. “I am so grateful to God,” said Sr. Michaeline, “for the organizational skills that I was able to use to help people of various ages and backgrounds, and for the talent in music and art that made each day beautiful.”


Vol. 3 No. 3

In 1973, Sr. Michaeline retired from teaching, but maintained her


ministry as church organist, supporting liturgies in local parishes as well as at the Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa, located on the campus of Marymount Congregational Home. During the 25 years as organist, Sr. Michaeline also provided care for the infirm sisters.

am so grateful to god‌ for the talent in music and art that made each day beautiful.

She is now retired and resides in Clare Hall on the Marymount campus, Garfield Heights, Ohio.

ister Mary Placida Kinnick provided daily bread in many


ways. She was born in Haugen,Wisconsin in 1909, and entered the Sisters of St. Francis of St. Clare of Rice Lake in 1932. She

had a natural talent in providing dietary and food services, a talent she applied to health care at St. Joseph Hospital in Rice Lake, Wisconsin. The same attention and care was given at the Servite Monastery in Chicago, Illinois.

In 1964, she returned to Rice Lake, Wisconsin to work in the Altar

SISTER Mary Placida Kinnick

Bread Department, baking hosts for use in Eucharistic celebrations. Three years later, she was part of a historic event when her congregation merged with the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis. She and 31 other sisters received the new garb and new constitution of the SSJ-TOSFs. There was some adjustment to new faces and surroundings, but the spirit of both congregations was grounded in the Rule of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis. In that spirit, Sr. Placida continued her ministry for 20 years, providing altar bread for parishes throughout the United States. In 1984, she retired to household and support services at Immaculata Congregational Home in Bartlett, Illinois. She is now in the Francis Hall Infirmary.

Sister Placida Kinnick, second row, right end.

he headlines in the November 23, 1956, edition of the LaCrosse


Register announced “Busy Housewives Turn Typists.” And there was Sister Sponsa Rozga pictured as she taught the funda-

mental keyboard skills. She was prepared with a B.S. in Commerce from De Paul University in Chicago, Illinois, and a Master of Education from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She used these talents as a Business teacher at St. Joseph Academy and at Maria High School in Stevens Point,Wisconsin.

Leaders are easy to spot and it wasn’t long before Sr. Sponsa was elected Provincial Secretary (1948-54), then Mistress of Postulants (195562), both positions at St. Joseph Provincial Home in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. She was then elected Fourth General Councillor and General Secretary (1962-68) at the General Motherhouse of the congregation in South Bend, Indiana. Her business skills continued to be utilized as treasurer at St. Joseph Home and Hospital in River Falls, Wisconsin. In 1976, she went to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to serve as Secretary at Marquette University. She returned to Stevens Point in

Sister Sponsa Rozga

1980 where, for five years, she was bookkeeper for the coordinator of St. Joseph Congregational Home.

Sr. Sponsa has a talent for theater. Her enthusiasm for fine arts and literature was always contagious. As one of her students described, “I was one of the St. Joseph Academy girls who flourished under Sister Sponsa’s gracious play-directing. It was through the experience she provided that I found my own self-confidence, my love of theater, and eventually a career—first, for 16 years as a director of 32 plays in high schools and then for 29 years of university teaching of dramatic literature.”

In the early 1980s, the Motherhouse in South Bend was sold and the congregation’s archives were moved to Stevens Point.

Sr. Sponsa

worked as a secretary for the Archives, even after her retirement in 1985. She continues to provide support services at St. Joseph Congregational Home, surrounded by a wide circle of friends who are always remembered in prayer.

ister Stephanie Ann Grzybek will make you smile. There’s


a sense of joy about her that is contagious. “I entered the congregation from St. Francis Church in Detroit, Michigan, at

the age of 14, on August 15, 1931,” said Sr. Stephanie Ann. “On August 10, 1932, a group of us (32) were invested. Some were sent to teach; a


Vol. 3 No. 3

few others and I remained at the convent to make our novitiate year under the directorship of Sister Mary Hilaria. After profession, I was sent to St. Stanislaus School in Meriden, Connecticut. I was awed by the lifestyle of the sisters with whom I lived. They were so hard working and serious about their religious life, their teaching and their relationships. They were ready and willing to be all to all.”

Sr. Stephanie Ann spread her joy across the continental United States, teaching in schools in Connecticut, Ohio and California. “These were years devoted to personal education and degrees, teaching from grade

SISTER stephanie Ann grzybek

two to grade eight, working in church, attending conventions and meetings,” as she describes it. “There was even a trip to Europe with Sister Daniel Sutula. We joined a group of college students from Oakland (California) and with Sister Thomasine and Sister Lydia, we experienced unforgettable surprises, from getting lost on the canals in Venice, to


was awed by the lifestyle of the sisters with whom I lived. They were so hard

admiring the Eiffel Tower, to visiting the Vatican and the Holy Father, Pope Pius XII.”

working and serious about their religious life, their

Life continues to be good, even in retirement, as Sr. Stephanie Ann

teaching and their served Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Garfield Heights, Ohio, visiting the elderly. She then assisted with services in Clare Hall for the sisters who required assisted living. Sr. Stephanie Ann now lives at Marymount

relationships. ThEY were ready and willing to be all to all.

Congregational Home in Garfield Heights, Ohio.

ister Valerie Mushinski’s warm personality was surely influ-


enced by her “warm” beginnings in Bremond, Texas, where she was born in 1913. On the 4th of July in 1931, she entered the

Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis and dedicated her life to the service of her sisters. Following her novitiate, she devoted herself to food service at St. Adalbert Convent in Milwaukee,Wisconsin. From there, she applied the same skills at several convents in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Colorado. In 1946, she came to Chicago and added church work, seamstress, office clerk and chauffeur to her list of services. In the mid 1950s, Sr. Valerie expanded her skills to include teaching kindergarten, and then teaching at Lourdes High School. “My gift to the congregation is to provide the services that are most needed wherever I am,” said Sr.Valerie. “I am so grateful to God, that I am able to develop and provide the skills that are called for in each situation.” Sr.Valerie remained in the Chicago area except for the four years she spent in Houston,Texas, in ministry to the elderly. She is now living at Immaculata Congregational Home in Bartlett, Illinois.

SISTER Valerie mushinski

The reason for putting a light on a lampstand, as Jesus explained, is so that others may see the good works and glorify the Father in heaven. And a good reason it is, to highlight the talents and gifts of the sisters who are celebrating their 60th Jubilee.


Vol. 3 No. 3

before investing day, when I would become a novice—it was the Feast of

Sister Augusta Krueger

the Sacred Heart—I gazed out the window at a most beautiful sunset and

For 40 of her 60 years in religious life, Sister Augusta Krueger has been

deeply felt the closeness of God.”

providing culinary delights for the sisters at Immaculata Congregational Home and for the people in the surrounding area of Bartlett, Illinois.

The closeness to God spilled over in her teaching, starting in the

Her cheese cakes are famous, and her love for the work she does,

elementary grades in schools in Illinois, Nebraska and Michigan. She


completed a Master’s Degree in English from De Paul University in Chicago, Illinois, with subsequent courses in journalism at Marquette

Sr. Augusta was born and raised in the

University. This prepared her for teaching English in high school and for

Bridgeport area of Chicago, Illinois. She attend-

the responsibilities of producing the yearbooks at Lourdes High School,

ed St. Barbara school and entered the Sisters

St. Barbara High School and St. Mary of Perpetual Help High School, all in

of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis

Chicago, Illinois. “Getting the students to think deeply and clearly through

in 1941 when the nation was deep into World

the written word was important work,” she asserts. She attended Wayne

War II. She developed her food service and

State University for a certificate in Archival Administration, which led to

dietary skills in convents in Illinois, Indiana and

her role in establishing the archives of the Sisters of St. Joseph, TOSF, in

Colorado. “I had many exciting experiences,” she

South Bend, Indiana, a position she held for five years.

says, “when we opened a new parish, St. Anthony, in South Bend, Indiana. Another ‘first’ was the opening of St. Jude Parish in South

In 1978, Sr. Christine began a ministry in pastoral care. “Working with

Bend. However, my most memorable ‘first’ was the opening of the con-

hospital patients on a personal level at difficult times in their lives is a great

vent at Immaculata Congregational Home. I have ministered here since

opportunity to bond with them,” she says, describing her experiences. “I

the very beginning of the building and campus in 1962.”

can share the burden, the challenge and the joy of journeying with them through life.” Sr. Christine continues her pastoral servic-

In addition to the food services, Sr. Augusta creates crafts for the con-

es as a hospice chaplain in Bartlett, Illinois.

vent gift shop and for the annual Craft Fair. She contributes an enormous amount of energy to the semi-annual Bake Sales, generating, for example, 500 dozen kolaczki for each event. All the while, she makes it


look easy. “It gives me much joy,” she says,“when I can be of service to


others, knowing that I follow in the footsteps of Jesus.”


Sister Christine Nowak


Sister Christine Nowak is making a difference in the lives


of so many people in so many ways.


It began when she was born in 1923 of Joseph and Elizabeth Nowak. She


was baptized Eleanore at St. Joseph Parish in Chicago, Illinois, and attend-


ed St. Joseph school. When she completed high school in 1941, she entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis. “One of the most moving experiences of my dedicated life as a teacher, community activist, hospital chaplain, congregational home manager, and in retirement a parish and hospice volunteer was an evening at the very beginning of my life as a sister,” said Sr. Christine. “Just


Sister Jeanne Noel Novak

Sister Laura Nowakowski

Organist, elementary school teacher, librarian, spiritu-

Walking into the pre-school classroom for four-year-olds at St.

al formation director, media specialist, high

Stanislaus in Meriden, Connecticut, tells you immediately that this

school teacher, archivist, manager of Siena

teacher knows what she is doing. The room is brightly decorated; the

Prints—so, who has all these capabilities?

children are happily learning; the parents are smiling. The parish is so

Sister Jeanne Noel Novak. Celebrating her

fortunate to have a sister/teacher who is knowledgeable, skilled, and,

60th Jubilee is the celebration of life’s oppor-

yes, fun. Sister Laura Nowakowski has been in this ministry since 1995.

tunities. It started in Detroit, Michigan,

Her story starts in that same setting in 1919 when she was born in

where Sr. Jeanne Noel was born and

Meriden, and baptized in the very parish church in which she now

raised. Her parents, Albert and Josephine,

serves. She graduated from St. Stanislaus grade school in 1932, but it

were parishioners at Sweetest Heart of Mary

wasn’t until 10 years later that she entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of

Parish and it was there that Sr. Jeanne Noel graduated

the Third Order of St. Francis, and was invested on August 10, 1942.

from the eighth grade. On September 3, 1941, she entered the Sisters

During her first years of teaching in Connecticut and in Ohio, she com-

of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis, and was invested the fol-

pleted her B.S. in Education at St. John’s College, Cleveland, Ohio, and

lowing August. With a B.S. in Education from St. John College in

continued her teaching ministry mainly in Ohio and Michigan until 1972.

Cleveland, Ohio, Sr. Jeanne Noel began her teaching ministry at St. Mary

During this time, she also earned an M.A. from Villanova University. She

School in Kalamazoo, Michigan. She also served as church organist.Then

returned to Connecticut, teaching in Bristol and Terryville until 1977.

she went to St. Thomas High School in Detroit, Michigan, where she

It was a natural transition when, in 1977, Sr. Laura

taught English. With a Master’s degree in Library Science, she became

focused on pastoral ministry. For years, she had

the librarian at Regina High School in Harper Woods, Michigan. In 1962,

been guiding children in Christian living and

she came to Marymount High School as librarian. She continued minis-

preparing them for the sacraments. Her min-

tering at Marymount High School as she assumed the responsibilities of

istry at Ss. Peter and Paul in Wallingford,

Assistant Director of Aspirants. In 1969, Sr. Jeanne Noel spent a year at

Connecticut, included religious education as

the House of Prayer in South Bend, Indiana, before returning to

well as other parish services. Sr. Laura served

Marymount Convent to work with young women as they prepared for

as pastoral minister until 1995, which brings

religious life. She resumed her position as librarian at Marymount High

us back to her pre-school classroom in

School, even as it was changing names, becoming Trinity High School in

Meriden, Connecticut. A happy place to be, indeed.

1973. The role expanded to “media specialist” for the school in 1988, a role that continued for 11 years. In 1999, in addition to her role as archivist at Trinity High School, Sr. Jeanne Noel became the manager of

Sister Lydia Mergel

Siena Prints, a card and art piece business supporting the retired SSJ-

“My greatest gift is my vocation to the religious life which gives me an

TOSF sisters.

opportunity to develop a deep and meaningful relationship with the Lord. The privilege of daily Mass and time for prayer is, and always was, very precious to me.” There you have it. This is the underpinning of Sister Lydia Mergel’s life. “TO MY GOD,TO MY COMMUNITY, TO MY FAMILY AND FRIENDS: ‘I HAVE LOVED YOU WITH AN EVERLASTING LOVE. I HAVE CALLED YOU AND YOU ARE MINE.’ (JEREMIAH 13:3)”


Vol. 3 No. 3

Her life began in Hamtramck, Michigan, in 1923. She attended St.

College in Cleveland. The years of teaching were a treasured time, but

Bartholemew School in Detroit, and when she graduated, she entered

after 30 years of educating children, Sr. Mary Ann prepared for her next

the congregation and was invested on August 10, 1942. She had the gift

ministry to the elderly. She took classes in Applied Gerontology and, in

of hospitality and wonderful culinary skills. The sisters at St. Joseph

1997, began working at Broadview Multi-Care Center and Harbor Side

Convent in Cleveland, Ohio, and Marymount Hospital and Marymount

Nursing Home in Garfield Heights, Ohio.

Convent in Garfield Heights, Ohio, can tell you what a great homemak-

Coordinator. She is presently providing home health care for the elderly

er Sr. Lydia is. Sr. Lydia served in these convents until 1962 when she

in the Cleveland area.

She served as Activities

and Sister Thomasine Antenucci were assigned to the residence of Bishop Floyd Begin of

“One of the most memorable and exciting experiences I have had was

Oakland, California. “We didn’t know any-

when I climbed the mountain where our Lady appeared at Medjugore in

one except the Bishop when we arrived in

Yugoslavia”, said Sr. Mary Ann. “The joy of being in the place where our

Oakland,” explained Sr. Lydia, “but it didn’t

Lady appeared is still very clear in my mind, and I often reflect on it.”

take long before we met many outstanding people in the diocese, local government, and the local church.We formed friendships that made our 12-year stay a very happy one.”

In 1976, Sr. Lydia went to

Regina High School in Harper Woods, Michigan, as homemaker and dietician, providing food service for the school cafeteria as well as for the sisters’ convent. Although Regina Convent was closed at the end of the school year 2002, Sr. Lydia still resides in Michigan, providing food service at Regina High School.

“To my God, to my community, to my family and friends,” she quotes from Jeremiah (13:3), “I have loved you with an everlasting love. I have called you and you are mine.”

Sister Mary Ann Rakoczy


“As I reflect on the past 60 years of my religious life,” says Sister Mary


Ann Rakoczy, “there are two gifts that stand out amongst many. First,


my faith which sustained me through the happy and difficult times. It has helped me to see in others all the goodness they have to offer, challenging me to become the kind of religious whose works and


actions reflect the gospel. Second, the students to whom TO BECOME THE KIND

I have ministered inspired and challenged me to put forth my best effort, helping them, in turn, to become the best that they could be.”


Sr. Mary Ann taught at St.Therese School and St. Monica in Garfield Heights, Ohio, and at Sacred Heart of Jesus in Cleveland, Ohio. She had received her Bachelor and Master degrees in Education, with special certification in reading, from St. John

“If your eye is clear,” Jesus said, “your whole body will be filled with light.” The faith vision of these sisters celebrating

their 50th Jubilee is tempered by witnessing

profound changes in the world and in the Church

over the last several decades. They are poised

to face the 21st century as women of light.


Vol. 3 No. 3

Sister Colette Wilczynski Sister Colette Wilczynski attended St. Fidelis grade school and two years at St. Stanislaus High School in Chicago, Illinois, before she entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis. In 1953, after a year of novitiate, she began teaching at Immaculate Conception, Chicago, Illinois. This was the beginning of 48 years of joyful ministry to God’s children through education. She served in schools in Chicago, Addison, and Bellwood in Illinois; and in East Chicago, Indiana. In 1974, she became Director of Religious Education at St. Peter Damian in Bartlett, Illinois, where she remained for 14 years.

With her B.S. in Education from Quincy College, and M.A. in Education/Library Science from Chicago State University, she advanced her education earning a Certification as a Massage Therapist and Infant Massage Instructor at the Chicago School of Massage Therapy. She applied these skills at a local hospital for 10 years. Sr. Colette also ministered for 16 years at Bartlett Learning Center, a special education school serving children, ages 3-21. She was a reading teacher and librarian.

In 2001, she became the On-Site Project Manager for Clare Oaks, a continuing care retirement community being developed on Immaculata Campus in Bartlett, Illinois.

Sister Francis Therese Woznicki “I consider myself a ‘bridge vocation,’” says Sister Francis Therese Woznicki.“In my generation, life has been transformed by Vatican II, space flight, atomic and nuclear warfare, globalization and technology. In God’s providence, this has affected my spirituality, ministry, lifestyle, world-view and relationship with creation.”

Sr. Francis Therese graduated from Marymount High School in Garfield Heights, Ohio, in 1949, and entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis on August 22, 1951. Her first years of ministry began as a high school teacher of Science and English. After her final vows, she was sent to Rome for studies at Regina Mundi, the first Pontifical Institute of Theology for Women in the world, established by Pope Pius XII. She was privileged to be present at the solemn opening of Vatican Council II and witness the international gathering of bishops, cardinals and primates of other denominations. She knew she was witnessing an event that would leave an indelible mark

“When I first read in the biographies of Francis of Assisi and Therese of Lisieux that they were both inspired to ‘return love for (God’s) love,’ that became my call, too!”

on history. With this education and experience, Sr. Francis Therese was appointed to be on the first formation team at Immaculata College to work with the young women who were entering the congregation. By 1968, having been elected to congregational leadership, she was working with the Research Committee of the newly formed Franciscan Federation and was appointed as one of a four-member retreat team of Franciscans called “Tau in Pilgrimage,” formed for the renewal of Third Order Franciscan spirituality. By 1976, she was the first woman to receive an episcopal appointment as Associate Director of the Diocesan Retreat House, and in 1980, was the only religious woman member of the Committee for Priestly Renewal, which led to planning for and personal involvement in Emmaus Renewal for Priests. Care for her mother in years of failing health and training in hospital chaplaincy prepared her for the unexpected call to manage and minister at the Malachi House of Hope for the terminally ill homeless. In 1989, Sr. Francis Therese became a pastoral minister at Ascension Parish in Cleveland, Ohio, where she established several new ministries: bereavement, nursing home visitation, parish nurse service, housing for the elderly, seminars on prayer and spirituality, and AIDS awareness ministry. In 1996, she founded and became co-direc-

Sister Francis Therese Woznicki

tor of the Franciscan Center in Garfield Heights, Ohio, which is a resource center for Franciscan spirituality and a place for spiritual seekers, for prayer, renewal of heart of outreach to those in need.

Reflecting on the amazing turns life has taken since her birth in 1932, Sr. Francis Therese sees it as the unfolding of the call we all receive in baptism. As she says, “When I first read in the biographies of Francis of Assisi and Therese of Lisieux that they were both inspired to ‘return love for (God’s) love,’ that became my call, too! Little did I know that one does not learn to love, one discovers the ability to do so, and, in some way, dies in the attempt. Then, by God’s grace, little by little, we are resurrected in the spirit of the only person who ever loved God totally: Jesus, the Christ.”

Sister Mary John Szudarek Sister Mary John Szudarek was 26 years old when she entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis from Immaculate Heart of Mary in Cleveland, Ohio, on August 25, 1951. She attended St. John College before she began her teaching ministry at Ascension Parish in Base Line, Michigan. She continued teaching at schools in Michigan and Ohio, until her leadership qualities were applied to being the coordinator at Marymount Convent in Garfield Heights, Ohio. In 1981, she returned to the classroom for 10 more years. “The past 50 years as a Sister of St. Joseph, TOSF, have been truly blessed and challenging,” says Sister Mary John. “My desire was to serve wherever the need was the greatest. I was a teacher for practically 40 years which brought me great peace and joy.”


Vol. 3 No. 3

Sr. Mary John was instrumental in bringing so many people to a deep commitment to God. While she was a classroom teacher, she prepared children for the sacraments. “Even when I no longer was teaching on a daily basis, I taught religion to public school children on Sundays,” she explains, “I worked with adults, conducting classes for converts, which was a ‘first’ for SS. Peter and Paul Parish as well as for me. I am most grateful for being able to share faith and hope with God’s people. I am also grateful for the bonds of love and commitment that I can share with my sisters, helping me to deepen my relationship to the Triune God.” Her loving relationship to her sisters still holds strong as she provides support services at Marymount Congregational Home.

Sister Leona Augustyn “The Sister with the Big Heart” the headline said. It was an article in The Grand Island Independent in Nebraska, written when Sr. Leona celebrated her “50 years of compassion and service.”

Sister Leona Augustyn began her commitment to Gospel living even when she was being raised in Loup City, Nebraska. Her parents worked the farm, living close to the rhythms of nature. Leona entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis on September 5, 1949 and, after graduating from Lourdes High School in Chicago, Illinois, was invested on August 10, 1952. She began her teaching ministry at St. John Bosco in Hammond, Indiana. During this time, she was pursuing her B.A. in Music Theory which she was awarded from De Paul University, Chicago, Illinois. In 1966, she moved from the Chicago area to St. Josephat Parish in Loup City, Nebraska, which is the parish where she was baptized and confirmed as a child. She became Diocesan Supervisor of Education in Grand Island, Nebraska in 1972. After two years, she returned to Bellwood, Illinois, to serve as principal of St. Simeon School.

Having earned her master’s degree in guidance and counseling from the University of Nebraska in Kearney, she directed her energy to pastoral ministry. She served in St. Leo Parish in Gordon, Nebraska; St. Ann Parish in

“The love and prayerful support of my sisters, my family and friends, have made it possible for me to do the work that I have been able to do.”

Lexington, Nebraska, and St. Joseph Parish in Broken Bow, Nebraska. She now serves at St. Leo Parish in Grand Island, the first sister to serve as Pastoral Minister at the cathedral parish for the Grand Island Diocese.

“All of you have touched my life, and I hope I have touched yours,” Sr. Leona said at the parish Jubilee celebration. “You are all precious in the eyes of the Lord, and you are precious in mine as well. The love and prayerful support of my sisters, my family and friends, have made it possible for me to do the work that I have been able to do, and I promise to continue my commitment to make God more deeply known and loved.”

Sister Leona Augustyn

Sister Kathleen Koltis Jesus always accepted his dinner invitations. If, say, Martha and Mary’s dinners were anything like Sister Kathleen Koltis’, one can see why. Sr. Kathleen has been in the business of food and dietary service most of her life. She learned the skill during her early years in the congregation from Sister Renata Sluzinski, a Sister of St. Joseph, TOSF, who taught Sr. Kathleen, not only the culinary skills, but also the importance of prayer and community living.

The adjustments to community living came easily for Sr. Kathleen. She is the youngest of 14 children, raised on a farm in Thorp,Wisconsin. She graduated from St. Hedwig’s School and entered the convent the following September. She was invested on August 10, 1952, and, following her novitiate, began her ministry of food service and dietary management at St. Peter Parish in Stevens Point,Wisconsin. After serving in convents and schools in Stevens Point, Milwaukee, Menasha and Thorp, she expanded her service to include cooking and housekeeping for the Neuman Parish and then at the Christian Brothers Residence in Stevens Point.

In 1989, she moved to

Minneapolis, Minnesota, as Food Service Director at De La Salle High School. “I always liked to work with the elderly,” Sr. Kathleen says.“Just a smile or a ‘Good Morning’ means so much.” The opportunity to minister to the elderly opened at Leader Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Madison, Wisconsin, where Sr. Kathleen served for five years before moving to her current position in food service at St. Mary Day Care Center in Madison.

“Having the privilege of traveling to Rome and Assisi opened up a new appreciation of St. Peter, St. Francis and St. Clare,” explains Sr. Kathleen. “I always loved St. Peter, his being so close to Jesus and yet so human. That same humanity came through clearly with Sts. Francis and Clare, as we walked the same roads and prayed in the same places as they. It was an unforgettable experience. The trip happened in 1997 and the memories are as fresh as yesterday.”

“As I share my life with others in community and in ministry, I realize how much closer I am to God,” says Sr. Kathleen. “At this time of Jubilee, I am filled with gratitude to God who has guided me into grace-filled situations that I would not have ventured on my own. And I thank God for all the loving people who are woven in the tapestry of my life.”

”I thank God for all the loving people who are woven in the tapestry of my life.” Sister Kathleen Koltis 27

Vol. 3 No. 3

Sister Theresita Spychalla Sister Theresita Spychalla knows how to transform an ordinary task into a blessed gift. It was probably something that she learned as a child while she was attending St. Hyacinth’s School in Antigo,Wisconsin. She entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis in 1950 and began her novitiate on August 10, 1952. Her assignment to St. John the Baptist in Menasha, Wisconsin, began her ministry in dietary and food service. “To serve Christ in others has always been my goal,” says Sister Theresita. “I always tried to provide delicious meals for the sisters who spent their days teaching children. Along with shopping for the food, preparing it and serving it in an appetizing way was my everyday aim. Wherever possible, providing a listening and understanding ear also gave me an opportunity to serve others.” Not only were the sisters beneficiaries of Sr. Theresita’s care, so were the tuberculosis patients at River Pines Sanatorium where Sr. Theresita managed the food service for five years.

In 1977, her ministry changed. She provided home care for the elderly in Antigo,Wisconsin, doing the household chores and providing bedside care, which evolved to include her parents, whom she nurtured through hospice care. As of 1998, Sr. Theresita is retired, living in Antigo, Wisconsin, and continuing her volunteer services.

“I always tried to provide delicious meals for the sisters who spent their days teaching children…whenever possible, providing a listening and understanding ear also gave me an opportunity to serve others.” Sister Theresita Spychalla

Sister Virginia Jakusz Gladys Jakusz was there to see her daughter, Sister Virginia Jakusz, celebrate her Golden Jubilee. How proud a parent must be to mark such a significant milestone! Gladys and Leo raised their daughter in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, where Virginia attended St. Peter School. She entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis in 1950, and was invested on August 10, 1952. After two years of novitiate, she began her teaching career at St. John the Baptist Parish in Menasha, Wisconsin. She excelled as a math teacher, especially in the upper grades, but she also touched the lives of many younger children in the various Wisconsin schools in which she taught in Stevens Point, Menasha, Green Bay, Thorp and Pulaski. She served as principal at Sts. Peter and Paul in Duluth, Minnesota, and then at St. Hedwig in Thorp,Wisconsin.

Sr. Virginia is now at St. Jude School in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Sisters serving on an elementary school teaching staff have become a rare commodity, so Sr. Virginia, the only sister on staff, is greatly appreciated. Her enthusiasm undoubtedly has something to do with it. Every year turns out to be, as she expresses it, “one of my best teaching years, and I love it!”

“I am very grateful to God for my vocation,” says Sr.Virginia, “and for the many opportunities I’ve had during these past years to be an instrument of God, spreading His love and care to others.”

Every year turns out to be, as she expresses it, “one of my best teaching years, and I love it!” Sister Virginia Jakusz


Vol. 3 No. 3

How is the mystery

of God revealed?

By the turn of events,

by the stirring of the soul,

by things dawning on us—

each of these casts light

on the working

of the Spirit.

In turn, it makes

each of us light for

revelation, just as is this

25th Jubilarian.


Sister Barbara Krakora Who would have guessed that this sweet child

the novitiate for a day because of a snowstorm. I called the

would some day be teaching grade school at St.

radio station when the storm grew severe and had the closing

Boniface School in Oak Harbor,

announced every hour.”

Ohio? That is precisely the path that the life of Sr. Barbara Krakora has taken.

God has a way of making dreams come true, especially with a


modicum of effort on our part. Sr. Barbara supplied the

grew up in Cleveland,

energy to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary

Ohio, graduated from

Music from Springhill College, Alabama, and a Master of

high school, and moved to Medina,

Arts in Scriptural Theology from Ursuline College,

Ohio, to groom and train horses for

Cleveland, Ohio. She also holds a teaching certificate for all

sulky racing. God was at work, and

subjects in grades one-eight. She spent three years teach-

the thought of religious life was strong.

ing in Ohio before she went to St. Francis School in

Sr. Barbara entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of

Greenwood, Mississippi.

the Third Order of St. Francis, in September 1976, only a year after she became a Catholic.


For 10 years, she dedicated

herself to providing a quality education for students in one of the poorest parts of the city. She also became Director of

received the sacrament of Confirmation and began her novi-

Religious Education at St. Francis Parish, assuring that children

tiate the following year. “1977 was not a banner year for young

were firmly rooted in God, and prepared for the sacraments.

women entering the novitiate. I was the only novice that year

She tutored adults, raising the literacy level of older Americans

and one of the first novices to take classes with the diocesan

through her reading program. In 1998, Sr. Barbara moved to

seminarians at Borromeo Seminary (Cleveland, Ohio),” explains

Lakeside-Marblehead, Ohio, where she teaches fourth and fifth

Sr. Barbara. “I’m sure that I was the only novice to shut down

grades at St. Boniface School in Oak Harbor.

“I am most grateful for this community of sisters. After 25 years, I still marvel at the patience, the love, the respect and the support that I have always felt from my SSJ-TOSF family,” says Sr. Barbara. “I know that I have become and continue to be my best self because of the holy and faithful women in this community who have nurtured, sheltered, challenged and been there for me.”


Vol. 3 No. 3

hese sisters celebrated


their Jubilees with the

sisters, and with family and friends

during this past year. Being women

who were filled with light during their

lifetimes, they now enjoy perpetual

light shining on them.

Sister Mary Mansuetta Waliczek “I

In how many Masses, over a 50-year


span, would an organist participate, ORGANIST, TAUGHT

given at least one Mass a day? It’s probably safe to say that Sister Mary


Mansuetta Waliczek, as teacher and GRADES,

organist in several Wisconsin parishes from 1927 to 1977, sang Eucharistic


praises over 20,000 times! WORKED WITH

Sr. Mansuetta was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, and entered the CHILDREN TO PRESENT

Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis from St. Mary SCHOOL PLAYS,

of Perpetual Help Parish. She began her novitiate on August 9, 1927, the same year she began her teaching career at St. Stanislaus School


in Arcadia,Wisconsin. In 1977, she moved to Cicero, Illinois, continuing SACRISTAN—

her ministry as teacher and organist. “I was an organist, taught intermediate grades, taught music, worked with children to present school



plays, worked as a sacristan—so many things filled my days,” Sr. Mansuetta said. She continued on at St. Mary’s when, in 1985, she began to teach part-time and assumed the full-time responsibilities of sacristan


for the church.

In 1993, she moved to Immaculata Congregational Home in Bartlett, Illinois. At first, she was able to provide various support services in the convent, but as her health failed, she was moved to the infirmary where she passed away on September 19, 2002.


Vol. 3 No. 3

Sister Mary Robert Nowak Sister Mary Robert Nowak had “fine art” fingers.

She could sew,

crochet, knit, and create beautiful pieces of tapestry. Many of her works of art are still in the chapels and churches where she served in Cleveland, Ohio; Stevens Point, Wisconsin; East Chicago, Indiana; Cheyenne Wells, Colorado; and Chicago, Illinois.

Sr. Mary Robert was born in East Chicago, Indiana. She was baptized at St. Stanislaus Parish where she also attended grade school. She entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis in 1931 and began her novitiate in 1932. In 1934, she began as a teacher at St. Peter’s Parish in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. For almost 20 years, she ministered as a teacher in schools in Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana. Sr. Mary Robert also provided administrative services at Lourdes High School in Chicago, Illinois. Students remember her special care and quick smile, making a trip to the school office far less demanding. In the following years, Sr. Mary Robert was a sacristan, seamstress, and producer of stunning crafts. She integrated these skills with her Ministry of Prayer while she resided at Immaculata Congregational Home, remembering all of God’s people with each stitch. It was at the congregational home that Sr. Mary Robert’s earthly life came to an end on October 16, 2002.











Sister Julianna Stencel Sister Julianna Stencel defies summarizing. Right from her birth in St. Francis, Wisconsin, the middle one of nine children, she was destined for greatness. Even when she was a child, Sr. Julianna recalled, “While other children were out playing, my best friend and I used to listen through the keyhole of the chapel to hear the sisters pray. Even then, I felt there was something wonderful about the prayer of the Franciscan sisters.” She entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis on July 5, 1931, when she was 17 years old.

She prepared for a teaching ministry with degrees in Spanish and Latin: a bachelor’s degree from Cardinal Stritch College and a master’s degree from Marquette University, both in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She began teaching at St. Joseph Academy in Stevens Point,Wisconsin, in 1946, just at the time when, in order to keep their accreditation, the school was required to add physical education to the curriculum. Sr. Julianna donned tennis shoes and a whistle to accompany her P.E. Certificate, and was out on the gym floor refereeing games and teaching tumbling. In 1952, Sr. Julianna was asked to become Directress of the aspirants and postulants, guiding young women in their orientation to religious life, and in 1953, moved to South Bend, Indiana, to become Directress of the interprovincial novitiate at the General Motherhouse. Her desire to serve in the missions was fulfilled in October of 1964, when she left for Puerto Rico to become teacher and principal at the newly opened school of Santa Gema in Vistamar. Four years later, she returned to Stevens Point, Wisconsin to teach Latin, Spanish and Religion at Maria High School. Then life became even more exciting. In 1970, Sr. Julianna went to Saltello, Mexico to study the Spanish language and heritage for her master’s degree. There, she taught and tutored English as a Second Language at the Iberian-American Institute. From 1973 to 1984, Sr. Julianna was called upon to serve her own congregation, first as Directress of Retirement and then as a Regional Director, forming part of the Provincial Team in Stevens Point,Wisconsin. During this time, she was one of the original organizers of the Central Wisconsin Committee for Hispanics, a team which serves the Hispanic Community throughout


Vol. 3 No. 3

Wisconsin. This team provided for liturgy in the Federal Prison, Oxford, Wisconsin, and also at the various migrant worker camps in the state. From 1984 to 2001, Sr. Julianna’s “hats” varied from Volunteer Worker with/for Hispanic People, Diocese of LaCrosse; Spanish Teacher; Tutor at St. Joseph Learning Center; Teacher of Advanced Spanish, Lincoln Center; Prison and Jail Ministry; Social Services; Spanish Teacher, Senior Citizens; Staff Assistant to Hispanic People. All of this began when she was 70 years old.

In 1986, Sr. Julianna served on a special delegation of 26 women from across the United States to travel to El Salvador during its civil war. “The delegation,” she explained,“was organized to be another kind of presence— not a military or political presence—but a presence of hope and compassion.” The delegation escorted villagers from their hiding places in the mountains back to their rightful places, at home in the valley; they made visits to a prison, a refugee camp and an orphanage; they were able to present financial help from the U.S. to a priest who was working for the Salvadoran poor; and they participated in prayer with Christian base communities. The trip lasted from November 19 to December 6, but it was a lifetime of memories.

Sr. Julianna was awarded a plaque of appreciation from the Federal Prison in Oxford,Wisconsin, as well as the Brother James Miller Award for “outstanding ministry to migrant workers and Hispanics” from the LaCrosse Diocese.When Sr. Julianna was 87 years old, she retired to St. Joseph Congregational Home in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, where her health failed and she entered eternal life on August 14, 2002.




Sister Regina Klimczak Sister Regina Klimczak knew how to get things done. Her gentle spirit, her dedication to her mission and



ministry were exceeded only by her total commitment to Gospel living. She


was born in 1911 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She was 20 years old and


had already attended high school and business college when she entered the



Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis. She was invested on August 8, 1932. Following her novitiate, she taught for five years at


Assumption BVM in Pulaski, Wisconsin. She moved to Chicago, Illinois, where she completed a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from De Paul



University. In 1942, Sr. Regina returned to Stevens Point, where she became the principal of Maria High School, as well as a business teacher.


She was elected as fourth Councillor and Procurator of the St. Joseph Province for a six-year term. All the while, she was completing a Master


in Education from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She became the principal of the school at SS. Peter and Paul in Independence,


Wisconsin, and then turned her talents to the health care field. In 1961, she became the superior and administrator of St. Joseph Home and


Hospital in River Falls,Wisconsin. Holding a Certificate of Public Health Administration from the University of Minnesota, she continued with St. Joseph Home and Hospital for 14 years, until she became the Assistant Provincial in 1975 at St. Joseph Convent in Stevens Point. She served a term as president of the Wisconsin Hospital Association, Northwest Area, and held a Fellowship from the American College of Hospital Administrators. From 1978 to 1989, she shared her talent, joy and quick smile to staff and patients at St. Joseph Hospital of the Plains in Cheyenne Wells, Colorado, where she served as Special Projects Coordinator, Administrative Assistant and Pastoral Associate. Throughout her life, people always remembered Sr. Regina as warm and loving. Administrative roles never dimmed the welcoming joy she spread wherever she was. She continued pastoral services at Sacred Heart Church in Cheyenne Wells from 1989 until 1992, when she retired to St. Joseph Congregational Home, providing support services and a loving heart to all her sisters. She entered eternal life on July 21, 2002.


Vol. 3 No. 3

Social Justice

he Central Board on behalf of the


WHEREAS, the Leadership Conference of

acts of war, and the U.S. Federal law which

entire congregation of the Sisters of

Women Religious have resolved to use every

prohibits assassination of foreign leaders.

St. Joseph of the Third Order of St.

means to oppose military intervention in Iraq,

Francis released a statement, October 2002,

including letters to President Bush, appropriate

The Sisters of St. Joseph, Third Order of

opposing military intervention in Iraq and

Cabinet members, and Members of Congress;

St. Francis oppose military intervention

called upon leaders to settle any disputes using


in Iraq and call upon our leaders to settle

peaceful means.

any disputes using peaceful means. WHEREAS, the United States Conference of

“Looking at our Franciscan tradition, Catholic

Catholic Bishops states that “given the prece-

Iraq is more than Saddam Hussein. It is a coun-

just war theory, and international law, we can-

dents and risks involved, we find it difficult to

try of 25 million people. It includes civilians

not keep silent as our country heads toward a

justify extending the war on terrorism to Iraq,

who would be at risk for death in any military

preemptive strike on Iraq,” stated Sister

absent clear and adequate evidence of Iraqi

confrontation. We cannot in good conscience

Dorothy Pagosa, Social Justice Director for the

involvement in the attacks of September 11th

support such a risk.

congregation. “Right now we see the call for

or of an imminent attack of a grave nature.”;

peacemaking and reconciliation as a fitting


response in a world caught up in violence and vengeance.”

We will continue to pray for wisdom for our leaders, leaders in the Middle East including

WHEREAS, a United States invasion of Iraq

Saddam Hussein, and peace in our world. In

would be a clear violation of international and

the spirit of St. Francis, who subjected himself

U.S. law, especially Article 2 of the UN Charter

to the Sultan when all were claiming the

which forbids the threat of force against the

Saracens as evil, we pray for the day when we

WHEREAS, our Franciscan tradition calls us to

territorial integrity or political independence of

are connected by our similarities rather than

be peacemakers and reconcilers in this world;

any state and requires its members to settle

separated by our differences.


their international disputes by peaceful means,

The congregational statement reads:

the Pact of Paris which renounces aggressive

Social Justice

Islam Christianity:


Two Faiths and One God

September 11, 2001. It is still a chilling memory of lives lost. It still challenges us to the Franciscan ideal of peacemaking. Sister Francis Therese Woznicki, together with Sister Jean Ehasz, of the Franciscan Center in Garfield Heights, Ohio, initiated a Christian-Islam dialogue which took place on Saturday, June 22, 2002, at Marymount Congregational Home in Garfield Heights, Ohio. There were more than 20 people present, representing both the Muslim and the Christian faiths. Prior to this interfaith exchange, a study group had been meeting for six sessions, guided by the book Islam and Franciscanism: A Dialogue, essays written by Muslim Imams and Franciscan Friars. The monthly series began in January and continued through June 2002. It was most appropriate to culminate the series with one-on-one dialogue between Christians and Muslims. With the collaboration of Suna Aziz at the Grand Mosque in Parma, Ohio, Sr. Francis Therese hosted the event in St. Joseph Hall of the congregational home. The entire occasion was rooted deeply in Franciscan tradition. In the thirteenth century, in spite of the hostile climate of the crusades, St. Francis of Assisi was received by Sultan Malik El Kamil in a manner which truly honored the God in whom each believed. The same mutual respect was evident as the dialogue began with readings from the Quran and from Christian Scriptures. Each group shared faith insights with each other, and both groups addressed the questions: • •

Do you see any good that has come after 9/11? What concerns you? What does “peace” mean in your tradition?

The dialogue concluded with the group’s responses to “What blessings do you ask of God for our world?” and with reciting St. Francis’ Prayer for Peace. The group representing the Muslim faith presented a gift of baklava, enjoyed by the entire group, and a framed art piece, the Names of Allah, which is hung in a place of honor in the Franciscan Center.


Vol. 3 No. 3

Sister Benjamin Chrapczynski

Helping Young and Old The Morning Journal of Lorain, Ohio, featured Sister Benjamin


Chrapczynski in the “Friends and Neighbors” section on August 25, 2002, commending her for her volunteer activities. “At age 76,” the article stated, “Sister Benjamin devotes as much as 40 hours a week


helping others learn how to read through the S.T.A.R.S. (Senior Teaching and Reaching Students) program and individual tutoring ses-


sions, helping the bedridden with caregiving and even helping a Polish-born


woman gain her U.S. citizenship.” BEDRIDDEN WITH

Her teaching skills were honed early on. Sr. Benjamin began teaching when she was


18 years old. She taught fourth grade and had 72 children in her class. Excellence in teaching was always important to Sr. Benjamin. She continued to attend classes, even beyond the bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Detroit. She took graduate courses at St. John’s College, Cleveland, Ohio and Spanish


courses at Ursuline College, Cleveland. The students she taught in the schools in Michigan and Ohio can attest to the quality education received from Sr. Benjamin.


“After I retired, I wanted to come back to my home town and give my service. I decided to teach catechism


classes at St. Stanislaus, St. Peter and St. John’s churches (Lorain, Ohio),” said Sr. Benjamin. She visits the sick and elderly in private homes and nursing homes several hours a week. And then there’s the tutoring. Sr. Benjamin has her private store of energy, and there’s something suspiciously holy about it.

Sister Benjamin tutors twins, Justin and Joshua Gtuing, 7, in their Lorain home. (photo by Ross Weitzner.)

Sister Stephanie Ostrowski

Neighbor, Friend, Sister by Sister Cecilia Zielen

The atmosphere at the Senate Apartments was electric with excitement and anticipation on the afternoon of February 17, 2002.This was the day the residents of the Senate and Prete Apartments were gathering to pay tribute to Sister Stephanie Ostrowski, who would soon be retiring FOR ALMOST 16 YEARS,

from her ministry there. Sister Stephanie began her ministry at the Senate and Prete Apartments on December 22, 1986, as an Administrative Assistant. One of her


responsibilities in this capacity was to collect the monthly rent from the senior residents which was pro-rated according to each individual’s income. The following year she became the Assistant Manager. After completing all the required courses, she became a Certified Occupancy Specialist for Housing in 1995. From 1996 until 2002, she was the manager of these two facilities.The Senate and Prete Apartments, subsidized by


HUD, provide low-income housing for seniors.The Senate Apartments consist of 240 units with over 300 residents.The Prete Apartments house over 90 residents in 75 units.


In her various leadership roles, Sister Stephanie was animated by the Mission Statement of the Sisters of A SPIRIT OF GENEROUS

St. Joseph,TOSF: “Dedication to Jesus Christ involves us intimately with his liberating and reconciling mission— to make God more deeply known and loved and, in so doing, draw all persons to a fuller and freer life.” Day by day, Sister Stephanie put this mission into practice


by fostering quality of life for the residents and helping them form a community. This was an ongoing challenge


because the seniors were a diverse group of religious, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds. Sr. Stephanie accommo-


dated this by posting all notices for residents in English, Russian and Korean.



Vol. 3 No. 3

Sister Stephanie implemented an “Open Door Policy”, by which the residents were welcome at any time to meet with her or any of the staff members. Together with the staff, she tried to help the residents grow in self-esteem and to be as independent as possible. When someone became sick, others would give their love and support as needed. Sister Stephanie believes that some residents lived longer in this environment because they were happy and lived with dignity. Annually, Sister Stephanie organized a major fund-raiser which financed numerous activities for the seniors, such as a St. Joseph Table and a 4th of July celebration.The fund-raiser provided the means to rent a city bus which took residents shopping on a regular basis. It is not surprising that Sister Stephanie was awarded numerous certificates of recognition for excellence in managing various aspects of housing for seniors. The Retirement Party was a grand celebration of gratitude for Sister Stephanie’s love and dedication to the people with whom she ministered. Sister Stephanie’s family members, the Sisters from her local community, and civic leaders were also present for this occasion.There was music, singing, balloons, flowers, tributes, poetry and food—all expressions of the people’s gratitude and love. Some of their comments were:

“Sister Stephanie understood me. She played fair with everybody.” “The Senate Apartments are one of the best subsidized buildings in Chicago.” “Caring for people came through in all you (Sister Stephanie) did.” For almost 16 years, Sister Stephanie journeyed with the people of Senate and Prete Apartments in a spirit of generous self-giving, coming as neighbor, friend and sister to each person she met.

Sister Janice Rosinke and the

Diocese of Rockford Sister Janice Rosinke is making a difference in the Diocese of Rockford. H E R I N S I G H T S I N TO

Her insights into the ministry and direction of the diocese come from the T H E M I N I S T RY A N D DIRECTION OF THE DIOCESE COME

fact that she has given over 25 years of service to the Rockford Diocese as a pastoral minister and pastoral associate, beginning at St. Mary Parish in DeKalb, Illinois, to St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in Crystal Lake, Illinois, and currently at St. Lawrence Parish in Elgin, Illinois. Her contacts and experience have prepared her for the invitation she received to serve on the


Pastoral Council of the Diocese of Rockford. The Pastoral Council consists of 30 members presided by Most Rev. Thomas G. Doran, D.D., J.C.D.,


Bishop of Rockford, and the Council Chairman. They meet quarterly and advise the bishop on matters concerning the diocese. Sr. Janice’s role is to


represent the wisdom of the 262 women religious of the diocese, and to bring forward issues surfaced by them. Further, Sr. Janice represented the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis at the Fourth Synod of the Diocese of Rockford (the Third Legislative Synod) held on September 13, 2002. The synod, with approx-


imately 130 representatives from the diocese, is called periodically to address specific diocesan issues that require the input of the vicars, lay representatives, clergy, and men and women religious. The last Legislative


Synod was held in 1958. Many of the legislative norms of the diocese needed to be reviewed and revised in light of the advances in technology over the last several decades. The last Pastoral Synod was held in 1975 to address the spiritual life of God’s people.


The Diocese of Rockford, established on September 23, 1908, is a PA S T O R A L

community of 371,322 Catholics located in11 northern Illinois counties, covering 6,457 square miles. It includes 105 parishes. Both the Diocesan

A S S O C I AT E .

Pastoral Council and the Diocesan Synod are advisory groups to Bishop Doran to fulfill their mission of being “called by the Father through Baptism to be the new people of God. United in faith and relying on the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit, we have access to the redeeming love of Jesus, the Christ, and are called to share in his mission to proclaim the reign of God in Word, Sacrament and Service,” a mission to which Sr. Janice is soundly committed.


Vol. 3 No. 3


Sister Debra Ann Weina V O C AT I O N M I N I S T E R

Sister Debra Ann Weina knows how to nurture life, which, of course, makes her perfect as a vocation minister. In that capacity, Sr. Deb will be a resource and companion for those young women who are seriously considering the life of a Sister of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis. She states, “It is an honor to walk with a new generation of Franciscan women who will shape the future of the congregation.” “Sr. Deb is deeply Franciscan,” says Kathleen Riley, a friend and colleague. Reflecting on Sr. Deb’s work with rehabilitating wildlife, Ms. Riley continues,“For her, all of creation is one. She is energized by compassion and creatures trust her.” Sr. Deb has a Veterinary Certification and has worked in a local vet clinic, working to rehabilitate animals who were injured by natural causes or intentional violence. Her love for animals is one expression of her spirituality which is solidly rooted in Native American tradition. In addition to the spiritual formation of the congregation, Sr. Deb had an Ojibway mentor who opened the wonders of a creation-based spirituality that paralleled the way of SS. Francis and Clare. “Time for contemplation is necessary, sorting out ever more deeply the answers to the question, ‘Where am I going?’” says Sr. Deb. She does a lot of her contemplating in her kayak. “First, I work my way upstream, battling the current and working very hard. Then I give myself over to the water and float downstream. It’s a metaphor for life. Giving myself over to the Lord, the Giver of life, allows things to unfold as they should.” Sr. Deb is from Two Rivers, Wisconsin, a little town of 13,000. From the age of six, she knew that she would be a sister. She recalls seeing a sister and saying, “Someday I’ll be just like you. Will I find Jesus there?” “I think Jesus found you,” the sister said. Those were prophetic words, but it wasn’t until a high school retreat that Sr. Deb was to realize her dream. Something kept coming back to her about being a sister. After investigating several congregations, Sr. Deb entered the Sisters of St. Joseph, TOSF, on August 15, 1978. She worked as a teacher’s aide while also working in support


Sister Debra Ann Weina V O C AT I O N M I N I S T E R

home care for Portage County Human Services. In 1989, she was campus minister at the Newman Catholic Center in Oshkosh,Wisconsin. For eight years, she was the Coordinator of Religious Education at St. Peter’s Parish in Oshkosh. She was a lab technician for a year at Cleanwater Testing, Inc. in Appleton, Wisconsin, before beginning her work at Wolf River Veterinary Clinic in New London,Wisconsin. Her mother was an organist, which explains how Sr. Deb got her love and skill for music. She plays guitar and sings with the Franciscan Chords, a music group of the Sisters of St. Joseph,TOSF. She does liturgical dance to enhance the special occasions of the congregation. In her position as Vocation Minister, her main role will be mentor for the women seeking information about the congregation and accompanying them on the journey to precandidacy. She will also be the contact for high school and college career fairs, attend the “Come and See” weekends, work with parishes in their vocation efforts, and prepare and provide information about the congregation. Jesus found Sr. Deb, and, lucky for the women who are considering the SSJ-TOSF lifestyle, so did the congregation.

“First, I work my way upstream, battling the current and working very hard. Then I give myself over to the water and float downstream. It’s a metaphor for life. Giving myself over to the Lord, the Giver of life, allows things to unfold as they should.”


Vol. 3 No. 3


The Editorial Board O F G AT H E R I N G P L A C E Behind the scenes is a group of very insightful, creative women, guiding the publication you are now reading. On September 7, 2002, the Editorial Board met in Chicago, Illinois, to lay the plans for the 2003 editions of the magazine. The responsibilities of the Editorial Board are: • To assure that the mission of the congregation is faithfully represented in the publication; • To maintain, in the publication, the positive image of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis; • To select themes and features annually that would be of interest to the external public; • To review the previous year’s issues of the publication for clarity, interest, timeliness and meaning (relevancy to the intended audience).

The individuals, Charter members of the Board serving for three full years before staggered replacements are made, are pictured below: Sharon McElmeel, Des Plaines, Illinois Sister Marygrace Puchacz, Concord, California Sister Jeanne Conzemius, Central Board Liaison, Rice Lake,Wisconsin Reneta Webb, Editor, Chicago, Illinois Sister MaryLou Wojtusik, Forestville, Connecticut Sister Carlene Blavat, Stevens Point,Wisconsin Sister Judith David, Chicago, Illinois Thank you for your creativity and insights in making this a quality magazine!



Angels are winging their way across the miles. You have an opportunity for Christmas gifts right here! Sister Dominica Fick and Sister Esther Romalke are using their artistic skills for Siena Prints, an art enterprise of the Sisters of St. Joseph,TOSF, to support the retired sisters. The process happens in a bustling workroom in Garfield Heights, Ohio. The angels come in a variety of colors and have custom decorations. They stand approximately eight inches Sister Dominica Fick

tall and can be used for Christmas or to commemorate other special events. If you would like to discuss some special orders, you can call Sr. Dominica at (216) 429-1769 or send an e-mail at

Sister Esther Romalke


Vol. 3 No. 3


Christmas Angels SISTER DOMINICA FICK & SISTER ESTHER ROMALKE Both Sr. Esther and Sr. Dominica are used to organizing and handling things. They both recently retired from their positions as coordinators at Marymount Congregational Home, Sr. Esther after nine years and Sr. Dominica after 13. One can only imagine the responsibilities of providing the daily needs of 40 sisters living in the congregational home, including hospitality, maintenance, health needs, regular meals and the like. It’s no wonder the sisters living at Marymount had a “thank you” banquet in their honor. And here they are, providing wonderful Christmas angels for you. The angels are $15 each plus $3 postage and handling. This is your opportunity to order the angels by mail:

Name Address City



Please check your preference of color: ❏ Blue ❏ Yellow ❏ Pink ❏ White ❏ Violet ❏ Green ❏ Peach Please send ___________ angels at $15 each plus postage and handling

= $ _________________ = $______3.00________

TOTAL = $ _________________

Please make checks payable to Siena Prints and send your order to: Sister Dominica Fick 10807 Wadsworth Avenue Garfield Heights, OH 44125-2267 You may also place orders by calling (216) 429-1769 or by e-mailing


SSJ-TOSF Novices Sister Shannon Fox With joy, the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis welcomed Sister Shannon Fox into the novitiate on Saturday, July 27, 2002, at Marymount Congregational Home, Garfield Heights, Ohio. While Sr. Shannon was working on her Bachelor’s Degree in psychology, she was discerning God’s call to religious life and considered various religious communities. Following graduation, Sr. Shannon joined Americorp and served in that organization for two years. It was during this time that Sr. Shannon met Sr. Anne Maslanka at Marymount Hospital and shared her interest in religious life. Sr. Anne invited her to attend the “Come and See” weekend being held at Marymount Congregational Home in Garfield Heights, Ohio. The “Come and See” events were beginning that very evening. Without hesitation, Sr. Shannon packed a bag and began her discernment process. Meeting the sisters and experiencing the SSJ-TOSF spirit was a happy ending to her search for a religious community. She knew she had come home. Sr. Shannon is now a Canonical novice and for nine months will participate in the Common Franciscan Novitiate now located in Joliet, Illinois.

Sister Kimberly Mulhearn On Saturday, August 3, 2002, Sister Kimberly Mulhearn became a novice of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis. The ceremony, held at Immaculata Congregational Home in Bartlett, Illinois, not only began her canonical year of novitiate, it also passed on for a time the position of “youngest sister in the congregation” at age 21. Sr. Kim began her vocational quest while she still attended Lourdes High School in Chicago, Illinois. She was greatly influenced by her religion teacher, Sister Josita Krzeminski. As part of her outreach experience at Lourdes, Sr. Kim participated for two summers in Appalachian Exchange, a program providing volunteers and opportunity to minister to the needy in Tennessee while experiencing the Appalachian culture. During these weeks, Sr. Kim also experienced the SSJ-TOSF spirit through contact with Sister Barbara Hathaway, a nurse practitioner in northeastern Tennessee and Sister Jean Sonsalla, Director of Appalachian Exchange.


Vol. 3 No. 3

After Sr. Kim graduated from Lourdes High School, she continued her discernment of a SSJ-TOSF vocation as a Pre-Candidate and a Candidate. During this time, she was employed and also began her education toward becoming an elementary teacher. Now that she is a novice, Sr. Kim joins Sr. Shannon in the Common Franciscan Novitiate in Joliet, Illinois.

Perpetual Vows Sister Marcia Lambert On Sunday, August 11, 2002, Sister Marcia Lambert professed perpetual vows as a Sister of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis at St. Joseph Congregational Home in Stevens Point,Wisconsin. Sister Marcia, formerly of Johnson City, Tennessee, became acquainted with the congregation through a friend who was also a friend of Sister Linda Szocik, an SSJ-TOSF working in Virginia at the time. Shortly after they began correspondence, Sr. Marcia, having completed her degree in Social Work, began working with the elderly in the mountains of Tennessee. This provided an opportunity to meet and begin a cooperative ministry with Sister Jean Sonsalla, then Director of Catholic Charities in the Five Rivers Deanery of northeastern Tennessee, and Sister Barbara Hathaway, nurse practitioner in the same mountain area. Sr. Marcia attended a “Come and See” weekend sponsored by the SSJTOSF Vocation/Formation Commission. Though she was only an inquirer, she felt God’s call and began the discernment process. This included Pre-Candidacy, Candidacy, participation in the Common Franciscan Novitiate, and, in 1999, profession of temporary vows. The discernment “journey” brought Sr. Marcia to the profession of perpetual vows on the feast of St. Clare, August 11, 2002.


“Near Restful Waters He Leads Me...”


re you looking for a quiet place where you can get away? Spend time with God? Focus in dialogue with your colleagues? This is it! The River Pines House in central

Wisconsin is waiting for you. River Pines House is located on the shores of the Wisconsin River in Whiting, Wisconsin. The house serves individuals or groups seeking a quiet, hospitable place for rest, retreat, prayer, reflection and leisure. It is also used by gatherings such as school staffs, church or parish committees and other support groups. Persons or groups may come for a few hours, a day, several days or even a week. River Pines is owned by the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis and has the characteristic aura of hospitality that is the hallmark of the congregation. Besides its eight bedrooms (four singles and four doubles), River Pines also has a full kitchen (the guests provide/prepare their own meals/snacks), a small chapel, a living room with a fireplace, a dining room and a screened porch. It is handicapped accessible with an outdoor disability ramp and deck. It is surrounded by pine trees and inviting grounds, and is a stone’s throw from the Wisconsin River.

The original building was built by Dr. Franklin Walbridge in 1912. Dr.Walbridge was a colleague and shareholder with Dr. Thomas H. Hay and Dr. Hoyt E. Dearholt, founders of the River Pines Sanatorium. When he passed away in 1929, the “brick house” became part of River Pines Corporation, and eventually was sold to the Sisters of St. Joseph,TOSF.

It’s a wonderful facility. The fees are modest. Check it out! For information and reservations, contact: Sister Florence Domka St. Joseph Congregational Home 1300 Maria Drive Stevens Point,WI 54481 Phone: (715) 344-2830 Fax: (715) 344-2380 E-mail:


“Holy Ground, Shrine of St. Francis” Garfield Heights, Ohio


f every rain drop is a blessing, the ground that is now the Shrine of St. Francis in Garfield Heights, Ohio, is truly hallowed.

About 300 people gathered with Bishop A. Edward Pevec in a downpour of rain to dedicate the area just outside of Trinity High School, placing the statue of St. Francis in its designated spot and blessing 374 bricks, each inscribed with the name of a Sister of St. Joseph, TOSF, who began and/or served at Trinity High School (previously St. Joseph Academy, then Marymount High School). “On one level, we are gathered here this evening to dedicate a shrine in honor of St. Francis and to bless some bricks,” said Sister Shawn Lee,

president of Trinity High School. “On another level, we are gathered to say ‘thank you’ for the past. Thank you for all of the Sisters of St. Joseph, TOSF, who gave a part of their lives to the founding, progress and development of this school, whether it was at St. Joseph Academy, Marymount High School, or Trinity. And thank you for those alumni and friends whose companionship has blessed the journey of these years. On still another level, we are gathered to ask the blessing of God upon our future endeavors as we re-commit ourselves to the mission with which we have been entrusted.” The person who guided the idea from inception to reality was Dr. Patrick Riley, faculty member of Trinity High School as well as faculty in the graduate school of Ursuline College, Cleveland, Ohio. Dr. Riley has completed 25 years of service to Trinity High School and embodies so much of the spirit of the school and the SSJ-TOSFs. “He is a wonderful mix of academic pursuit and hands-on work,” said Sr. Shawn. “He is a theologian and a laborer, and loves both equally. Both are the gift and the legacy he has given to Trinity High School for the past 25 years.” The sun now shines brightly on the St. Francis “piazza,” a splendid monument to the legacy of the past and the promise of the future.


Vol. 3 No. 3

“to make God more deeply known and loved…” Dear Friends, 9/11 is still a searing memory. The recent economy has not been kind. In spite of the difficulties, we thank God for what is, and continue on. We pray, we renew, we learn, we grow and most importantly, we continue on ever stronger in our commitment to carry out our mission and ministry… “to make God more deeply known and loved…” This fact becomes more evident as we read about the lives and ministries of our 41 Jubilarians of 2002. We pray that God will continue His blessings upon them and all of us. We thank God for each one of you and ask His special blessings and protection upon you and your families, our partners in ministry. Sincerely, Sister Denise Seymour

Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis Development Office P.O. Box 388129 Chicago, IL 60638-8129 Phone: (773) 581-7505 Fax: (773) 581-7545 e-mail:

Sister Denise Seymour

Sister Valerian Lechowicz

Sister Dorothy Kurzawa

Sister Alverna Sobczyk

Born into this life: September 26, 1919 Born to eternal life: September 8, 2002

Born into this life: April 2, 1909 Born to eternal life: September 19, 2002

Born into this life: November 21, 1912 Born to eternal life: October 31, 2002

With dedication and love, Sr. Valerian ministered as a teacher. Peace emanated from her person and her smile was for everyone.

Through Sr. Dorothy’s hands and constant life-giving service, convent homes in Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan were sources of hospitality and nourishment.

Sister Alverna was a superior teacher of high school Spanish and Home Nursing and also a model of care and concern for those who were sick and unable to care for themselves.

River Pines House is located on the shores of the Wisconsin River in Whiting, Wisconsin. The house serves individuals or groups seeking a quiet, hospitable place for rest, retreat, prayer, reflection and leisure. It is also used by gatherings such as school staffs, church or parish committees and other support groups. Persons or groups may come for a few hours, a day, several days or even a week.

It’s a wonderful facility. The fees are modest. Check it out! For information and reservations, contact: Sister Florence Domka


St. Joseph Congregational Home 1300 Maria Drive • Stevens Point,WI 54481 Phone: (715) 344-2830 Fax: (715) 344-2380 E-mail:


Sisters of St. Joseph,TOSF Development Office P.O. Box 388129 Chicago, Illinois 60638-8129

Volume 3 No 3  

VOLUME 3 • NO. 3 Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis