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VOLUME 5 • NO. 1 • 2004

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 is published to keep

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

the public informed of the mission and ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the

Together with all our sisters and brothers who strive for a more just world, we undertake those activities which will promote the material and spiritual development of the human family.

Third Order of St. Francis.


characteristic of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis that has been dominant throughout their history is the capacity to make the daring decisions, to move ahead even

when surrounded by uncertainty, to push the envelope of ministry and trust the Way under their feet. This lifestyle is not for the faint of heart.

Yet thousands of women have chosen the SSJ-TOSF spirit. They proclaim without hesitation,

“We accept the power within us to shape and determine our lives with responsibility, integrity, and fidelity to the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the spirit and life of the Sisters of St. Joseph, TOSF.” (Statement of Direction, #3)

EDITOR Reneta E.Webb, Ph.D., CAE

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

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

PRODUCTION & LAYOUT Newcomb Marketing Solutions/ The Printed Word

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

In this issue of Gathering Place you will meet some of the sisters who continue this tradition of creating new streams of ministry. They have the daring to create examples for the People of God, showing them where works of love and mercy are most needed. May we all hear God’s call this clearly! 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.

Table of


VOLUME 5 • NO. 1 • 2004



In the News

Mission and Ministry



Joan Chittister, OSB, reminds us, “Religious life was never meant simply to be Sisters’ Treatment Group Home

a labor force in the church: it was meant to be a searing presence, a paradigm of search, a mark of human soul, and a catalyst to conscience in the society in which it emerged. Religious simply did what was not being done so that

Vocation/Formation 26

remain constant and faithful to mission.

Sr. Margaret Kalina


others could see the need and do it, too.” One can change ministries and still


Streams of Ministry


A key trait of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis has always been the ability to move ahead, push the envelope, while

Letter from Sr. Denise Seymour

grounded in faith and a Franciscan spirit. The ministry of the congregation was led by noble women of the past who moved the congregation into

Perpetual Light Sr.Valerie Michalec Sr. Cornelia Skora Sr. Elizabeth Piechowiak Sr. Michaeline Oleszkiewicz Sr. Esther Kedrowski Sr. Donatille Ramut Sr. Mary Margaret Majewski Sr. Cecilia Surma


different levels of education, health care, missionary activity, special education, pastoral ministry, houses of prayer and “those activities which will promote the material and spiritual development of the human family.”

Some of Today’s Streams of Ministry Sr. Anne Joseph Crookston —Director of Detention Ministry, Diocese of Orange, California Sr. Barbara Hathaway —Nurse Practitioner, Mountain City,Tennessee Sr. Dorothy Monikowski —Mission Development Associates, Chicago, Illinois Sr. Helen Skrzyniarz —Public School Superintendent,Westbury, Connecticut


Jesus formulated some ver y clear mission statements for his disciples:

Repent and believe the Good News. Go and preach the Good News.


Love one another as I have loved you. Set your hearts on the kingdom first. Treat others as you would like them to treat you. Renounce yourself, take up your cross and follow Me. Sell your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven, and come follow Me. I have given you an example that you may copy what I have done for you. Do this in memory of Me.

he statements are global, transcending time and place. They don’t elaborate on the details


of how the mission will be carried out, or what the implications would be of committing oneself to that goal. Mission statements describe the horizon. They tell us where we are going.

They provide the rationale for what we are doing and how we live. They are the articulation of the meaning of our lives and the way we live them.

Sometimes our mission is not conscious and articulated, but there is an energy that powers our lives, nonetheless. This reality was the starting point for Ira Progoff when he launched his Intensive Journal Workshops in 1966. “Within each of us,” he stated, “is an underground stream of images and recollections that is nothing more or less than our interior life. All of us are living out certain patterns, and we need to discover what these patterns are in order to fulfill our true purpose in life.” Progoff suggests that daily meditation and journal-keeping is one way to discover and articulate the true meaning of our lives. It is the discovery of our operative mission.


Vol. 5 No. 1

The depth and quality of one’s perceived mission determines the depth and quality of the meaning that floods into life’s activities. There is a classic story of unknown origins that illustrates how different each person’s

Within each of us is an underground

“mission” can be. It tells of a sojourner who came upon three individuals working with stone. The traveler asked the first worker, “What are you doing with these stones?” The worker quickly responded, “I am a stone

stream of images and

cutter and I am cutting stones.” While that was one person’s view, the sojourner proceeded to ask the

recollections that is

second worker, “What are you doing with these stones?” The worker thought for a moment, then responded, “I am a stone cutter and I am trying to make enough money to support my family.” Having received two

nothing more or less

different answers, the sojourner was curious to find out what the third worker had to say. “What are you

than our interior life.

doing with these stones?” he asked. The third worker rested his chisel, and stood for a moment deep in

All of us are living out

thought. “I am a stone cutter,” he replied, “and I am building a cathedral!”

certain patterns, and Each of us has a mission, something that floods our lives with meaning. The mission motivates and energizes.

we need to discover

It keeps us reaching in the direction of the goal. Once discovered, persons with similar life missions tend to

what these patterns

draw together and support each other. The spiritual energy of common commitment binds these groups into a notable presence.

are in order ot fulfill our true purpose in life.

When St. Francis knelt in prayer in the chapel of San Damiano, he heard the voice of Jesus challenge him, “Francis, rebuild my church.” It was Francis’ mission statement, which initially he took quite literally. He was not aware of all the details and ramifications of that statement, nor of the historical shapes it would take through the centuries. Persons who responded to the same purpose in life banded together in a common Franciscan lifestyle. The mission remains the same today, and yet, every generation finds a new way to give it life.

The Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis have a mission statement that permeates everything they do:

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 fuller and freer life. Together with all our sisters and brothers who strive for a more just world, we undertake those activities which will promote the material and spiritual development of the human family.

While the mission of a person or a group may transcend time and place, it always takes some form in time and space.

—Ira Progoff Intensive Journal Workshops 1966

ministry A mission spills over into streams of ministry. Thomas O’Meara, O.P. in his book “Theology of Ministry” says that there are six characteristics of ministry:

“Ministry is: (1) doing something (2) for the advent of the kingdom (3) in public (4) on behalf of the Christian community (5) which is a gift received in faith and baptism, and which is (6) an activity with its own limits and identity within a diversity of ministerial actions.”

When Jesus described the Last Judgment in Matthew’s gospel, it was quite clear that it was based on “doing something.” There is always some public, observable dimension to ministry. “You gave me to eat ... you visited me ... you comforted me” (Matt. 25) Even though the things of which Jesus speaks seem very “earthy,” they are done for the advent of the kingdom. By the very act of being public, ministry assumes a response in a geographic and historical context. Ministry powered by the same mission will look different in the United States than it does in Afghanistan. The call of hunger and thirst, of nakedness and imprisonment, will be shaped by circumstances. For this reason, O’Meara refers to “activity with its own limits and identity within a diversity of


Vol. 5 No. 1

ministerial actions.”

The SSJ-TOSFs have captured the “here-and-now-ness” of ministry in their own mission statement “undertaking those activities which promote the material and spiritual development of the human family.” When the

The SSJ-TOSFs have captured the

congregation was first founded, the ministry took a unified form of educating immigrant children, as the circumstances shaped it. Through the years, the ever-evolving streams of ministry multiplied and enriched the


original mission. The very diversity of ministerial actions gives witness to the faithfulness of those who

of ministry in their own

embody the SSJ-TOSF mission.

mission statement “undertaking those activities which promote the material and spiritual development of the human family.”


inistry M OF

Let the children

The history of the Sisters

come to me, and do not hinder them,

for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.� —Luke 18-16


Vol. 5 No. 1

of St. Joseph of the

Third Order of St. Francis is a marvelous evolution of mission into ministry.

he first stream of ministry coincided with the founding of the congregation. The mission was

“What will happen

plucked directly from the Gospel in true Franciscan spirit: “Let the children come to me, and

to the children?”


do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” (Luke 18-16) As Mother

The mission and

Mary Felicia Jaskulska framed it when faced with a generation of immigrant children who were without teachers, “What will happen to the children?” The mission and ministry were clear. The

ministry were clear.

congregation took the challenge of the classroom as its founding ministry. Bishop

The congregation took

Messmer, who served as bishop of the Diocese of Green Bay in 1901, stated

the challenge of the

that the new community was “to assume the work in small and poor schools

classroom as its

... this is the special object of founding this community.” In addition to the

founding ministry.

six schools that were immediately staffed by the sisters and candidates in September 1901, plans were made for St. Joseph Academy to be established on the property of St. Joseph Convent in Stevens Point, Wisconsin.The cornerstone was laid May 20, 1902, and the educational presence of the sisters was felt in Stevens Point and throughout the Midwest. From the very beginning, the sisters were dedicated to superior quality teaching, preparing teachers in the best practices of the times.

They were leaders in educational innovation, and students experienced the loving dedication that the sisters had to the learners’ total development. Twenty years after its founding, the congregation expanded its educational ministry to include high schools. The streams of educational ministry continued even as Catholic schools pooled their resources and worked together across congregational, sociological and geographic boundaries. The Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis still have a strong dedication to education. Over the last 103 years, the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis staffed 124 parish elementary schools and 10 high schools across the United States.

Mother Mary Felicia Jaskulska

The stream of educational ministry continues with sisters now serving in parish schools, colleges and universities, religious education programs, day care programs and public schools.

God speaks to us in events and inspirations, in people and places. The tuberculosis outbreak in the 1920s called forth new streams of ministry in healthcare for the SSJ-TOSFs. When several sisters were stricken with the disease, the Domek,“the small house” originally used by the founding sisters in Stevens Point,Wisconsin, became a sanitorium where the patients stayed while recovering. In 1929, with a decision of Mother Mary Sylvester Retkowski and her council, St.Theresa Convalescent Home in Denver, Colorado, was purchased by the congregation. It had been the suggestion of Sister Mary Seraphine Wenta to purchase a home that could be used to care for sick sisters, especially those suffering from tuberculosis. It seemed like a small beginning, but it paved the way for the purchase of River Pines Sanitarium in 1938, staffed by Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis who were already professionally prepared as nurses and x-ray technicians.“The Report to the General Chapter of 1940” included data on the membership of the congregation which reflected the ministry trends. There were 884 sisters of whom 670 were teachers, 157 homemakers, 9 hospital personnel (including 6 registered nurses) and 48 students. There followed a time of expansion of the healthcare ministry with The “Domek,” Stevens Point,Wisconsin

St. Joseph Hospital in Meridian, Mississippi, (1945-1978) serving those not welcome in the “white” hospital; Marymount Hospital in Garfield Heights, Ohio, (1945 to the present) in response to an acute shortage of hospital facilities in the southern portions of

God speaks to us in events and

Mother Mary Sylvester Retkowski

Cuyahoga County; Sacred Heart Hospital in Loup City, Nebraska, (1945-1978) the town’s only hospital; Divine Infant Hospital, Wakefield, Michigan, (1946-1979) serving a small mining community in northern Michigan; St. Joseph Hospital of the Plains, Cheyenne Wells, Colorado, (1947-1988) the only hospital in Cheyenne County;


St Joseph Home and Hospital in River Falls,Wisconsin, (1961-1975) providing healthcare in the local commu-

in people

nity for the first time; and St. Joseph Hospital and Nursing Home in Rice Lake,Wisconsin, (1966-1969) acquired

and places.

with the merger of the Sisters of St. Francis of St. Clare of Rice Lake. The Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis continue to provide healthcare in hospitals, clinics and nursing homes across the United States. Their care extends especially to the needy, those who would otherwise not receive medical attention.


Vol. 5 No. 1

Special education and services to the developmentally challenged began modestly enough at St. Emeric Special School in Cleveland, Ohio, with two SSJ-TOSFs responding to Bishop Begin’s call in 1961 for volunteers to serve the needs of the mentally retarded in the Cleveland diocese. Marymount Rehabilitation Services opened in 1967 at Marymount Convent in Garfield Heights, Ohio, as a work training program for mentally challenged adults. In 1968, the

St.Therese Convalescent Home, Denver, Colorado

Bartlett Learning Center was established in Bartlett, Illinois, beginning as a day care center and a school for the educable mentally handicapped. It continues today as Clare Woods Academy and Cupertino Home, a residential facility for

The purchase of

adults. The Sisters Treatment Home was opened in 1971 in

River Pines

Two Rivers, Wisconsin, as a care center for severely handi-

Sanitariam in

capped children. From 1974 to 1986 Koinonia Homes, Inc,

1938, was staffed

located in Cleveland, Ohio, provided guided group living for handicapped






by Sisters of


Developmentally Disabled, Inc., is actually two not-for-profit

St. Joseph of the

organizations headed by a Sister of St. Joseph, TOSF, located

Third Order of

in San Francisco, California. The project started in 1974 and

St. Francis who

today serves over 1,600 clients. Chiara Home was established in 1993 in South Bend, Indiana, to provide tem-

were already

porary relief for caregivers of children or adults in need of spe-


cial attention. The stream of special education and services to the developmentally challenged is healthy and alive today.

prepared as nurses and x-ray

When Mother Mary Dionysia Plucinski had an audience with Pope John XXIII on January 8, 1962, he said, “God will bless your community with a substantially greater increase in the number of religious vocations when the community undertakes staffing of foreign missions.” Mother Dionysia called for missionary volunteers and, by the summer of 1962, eight sisters left for Puerto Rico where they staffed schools in Lares and in Quebradillas. The following year, four more sisters went to Jayuya, PR. This


was the beginning of yet another stream of missionary ministry for the congregation. In 1964, the Sisters of St. Joseph,TOSF, extended their ministry to Tahuantinsuyo just outside of Lima, Peru. Since 1964, eleven sisters have served in that area, four of whom are currently there in Gospel presence. There are plans for a program of integration into the congregation to be established in Peru so that women who wish to become sisters can pursue their Mother Mary Dionysia Plucinski

studies in their cultural environment. One sister has been serving in South Africa since 1984. What started out as a teacher/consultant role evolved into the establishment of the Franciscan Institute in Jeppestown, SA. Another sister began her ministry in Brazil with a medical boat, Esperanza, which traveled the Amazon River, dispensing care of body, mind and spirit. Since the early 1960s, the sisters have ministered in many parts of the world: on a hospital ship off the cost of Ecuador, in Vietnam during the war, in Poland teaching English as a Second Language, to migrant workers, minority groups, places on or off the mainland. The Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis are there to serve the minores, God’s “little ones,” with love and care.

The 1960s were a significant time of change, beginning with the Vatican II Council, the assassination of a president, the Vietnam war, walking on the moon, the Civil Rights movement and the profound changes that hapMother Mary Benjamin Golubski

pened in the lifestyle of vowed women religious. Mother Mary Benjamin Golubski led the congregation through the integration of the Sister Formation Movement, the changes in the outer wear of the sisters, the merger of the Franciscan Sisters of Rice Lake into the SSJ-TOSF community, the Community Self Study and Evaluation and the beginning of the revision of the congregation’s constitution. For the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis, the Chapter of 1968 will be a milestone event. It was the end of Mother Benjamin’s term as Superior General and it was at this time that the streams of ministry became a torrent.

During the presidency of Sister Josephine Marie Peplinski, ministry became a matter of each sister’s discernment. One of the congregation’s Statements of Direction says, “We accept the power within us to shape and determine our lives with responsibility,


Vol. 5 No. 1

integrity, and fidelity to the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the spirit and life of the Sisters of St. Joseph.” The sisters accepted the challenge, and moved into ministries that had not previously been seen in the congregation.The multiple streams of ministry were still true to the congregation’s mission to make God more deeply known and loved, and engaged the sisters in those activities which promote the material and spiritual development of the human family. Sisters moved into retreat work,

Rice Lake merger

food pantries, social work, prison ministry, alternative schools, migrant workers, houses of prayer — wherever the “power within them” led.

This same spirit permeates the congregation today. There are sisters leading the way into new ministries that were not previously in the fabric of the congregation. The sisters heed the words of Sr. Joan Chittister:“The fact is that religious

When each sister

life was never meant simply to be a labor force in the church. It was meant to be a searing presence, a paradigm of search, a mark of human soul, and

discerns the ministry

a catalyst to conscience in the society in which it emerged. Religious sim-

path to which she

ply did what was not being done, so that others would see the need and do it, too.” Or as Gandhi put it,“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Sister Josephine Marie Peplinski

Today, when each sister discerns the ministry path to which she is called, the fundamental questions guide her:

is called, the fundamental questions guide her:

How can I make God more deeply known and loved? What activities will promote the material and spiritual

How can I make

development of the human family?

God more deeply known and loved? What activities will promote the material and spiritual development of the human family?

St. Francis’ Prayer before the Crucifix in San Damiano A l l h i g h e s t , g l o r i o u s G o d , c a s t yo u r l i g h t into the darkness of my heart. G i v e m e t r u e fa i t h , f i r m h o p e , p e r f e c t c h a r i t y and profound humility with w i s d o m a n d p e r c e p t i o n , O L o r d , s o t h a t I m ay d o w h a t i s t r u ly yo u r h o ly w i l l . A m e n .

Jesus spoke of fountains of living water within us springing up to eternal life.

For over a century, the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis have plunged their hands deeply into living water, creating new streams of ministry.

The sisters you will meet in this issue of Gathering Place carry on the spirit of those who went before them, but in new places and new ways.


Vol. 5 No. 1

“I was in prison, and you came to me.” (Matt. 25:36) Sister Anne Joseph Crookston


ister Anne Joseph Crookston goes to jail every day. Actually, to any one of twelve places of detention that are in the Diocese of Orange, California, which covers the 10th largest jail system in the United

States. “The Orange County jail system constitutes the third largest inmate population in the state (of California) and the tenth largest in the nation, and is the number one overcrowded jail of the nation’s largest jail systems,” states the Orange County Fact Sheet. Sr. Anne Joseph is the Director of Detention Ministry for the Diocese of Orange and sees to the spiritual needs of the inmates in Orange County. No small task. Every week, she arranges for 65

“I never imagined I’d

services in the adult detention facilities conducted in either

be doing this, and now

English, Spanish, Vietnamese or some combination thereof.

I couldn’t think of

There are another 12 services in the juvenile facilities each week. She organizes approximately 50 Bible study groups each

doing anything else.”

week and provides for over 100 one-on-one visits to the prisoners during a week. She oversees an office staff of 5, and 327 volunteers. And she goes to jail every day.

“I never imagined I’d be doing this,” said Sr. Anne Joseph, “and now I couldn’t think of doing anything else.” Sr. Anne Joseph — Sr. AJ — is from Kalamazoo, Michigan. She is the oldest of fourteen children, so she knows a little bit about community living. She attended St. Mary School in Kalamazoo where the Sisters of St. Joseph,TOSF, staffed the school. “I knew on May 5, 1957, that I would be a sister,” states Sr. AJ. “Sister said that whatever we ask from God on our First Holy Communion day, God would grant. That was my request.” Indeed, it happened. On September 7, 1969, Sr.AJ arrived at Marymount Convent in Garfield Heights, Ohio.

Sister Anne Joseph Crookston (continued) “The community has given me Life... change... challenge ... acceptance. As soon as I walked into the convent, I knew I was home,” said Sr. AJ. When her novitiate was completed in 1972, Sr.AJ began her ministry in healthcare as a medical technologist. At first she served at Marymount Hospital in Garfield Heights, Ohio, and then Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati. In 1975, she went to St. Joseph Hospital in Meridian, Mississippi, where she met Sr. Dolores Mikula who was working as a chaplain at the hospital. They both moved to Santa Monica, California, in 1978, to work in St. John’s Hospital. After ten years, Sr.AJ’s ministry took a turn. She was out of the medical lab and into pastoral ministry, campus ministry and religious education which included adjunct professorship at Marymount College. While working with teens and young adults, one of Sr.AJ’s proudest moments was the successful and safe transport of over a thousand “youth” from California to the celebration of 1993 World Youth Day in Denver, Colorado, and back.

“The community has given me life… change… challenge… acceptance. As soon as I walked into the convent, I knew I was home.”

In her current position, Sr.AJ works for two rather large organizations, the Catholic Church and the State Penal System. She reports directly to Bishop Soto, and works within the structures of all twelve detention facilities in Orange County. Balancing the accountability within both systems is part of the challenge of her ministry. She collaborates with related agencies, Catholic, governmental and interfaith, to further the well-being of the incarcerated, both juvenile and adult. She works to lead the staff and empower the volunteers. She is office administrator and organizer. She maintains statistics regarding the programs of detention ministry. She oversees the formulation and disbursement of the department’s budget. There’s a lot under the “Director of Detention Ministry” umbrella.


Vol. 5 No. 1

Sister Anne Joseph Crookston (continued) There is no doubt, however, where Sr. AJ draws her strength. “It’s where I find Jesus,” says Sr. AJ when asked about going to jail almost every day. In addition to that strong motivation, she also has other sources of strength. The community of her sisters supports her, specifically Sister Dolores Mikula who has worked with Sr. AJ since they served together at the hospital in Mississippi. Sr. Dolores is now retired from hospital chaplaincy, and works two days a week in the office of Detention Ministry.

In addition to the

support from her sisters, Sr. AJ also does needlepoint. “I find it very relaxing watching a design take shape,” says Sr.AJ. Then there is the feedback she gets from the inmates. Sr. AJ spends several hours a week in direct ministry to the inmates, in addition to her responsibilities as Director. “The main thing is to let them

“The main thing

know that someone cares. They made mistakes and must know that they are responsible to society for that. But they are still human beings, loved by God, and it’s important that they know that, too,” reflects Sr.AJ. She gets thank you notes from the inmates because Sr. AJ delivers on her beliefs.

is to let them know that someone cares. They made

Sr. AJ recalled that when she began to work in the jails, she had her first experience of being screened before entering the facility. She had to remove her shoes before walking through the metal detector. “I remembered

mistakes and must

the story of Moses, and God’s command to remove his

know that they are

shoes because he was standing on holy ground. That’s the

responsible to society

way I think about the ministry to the prison inmates. Together, we come into the presence of God and stand on holy ground.”

for that. But they are still human beings, loved by God, and it’s important that they know that, too.”

“I was sick, and you visited me.” (Matt. 25:37) Sister Barbara Hathaway


ister Barbara Hathaway provides healthcare for the residents of

Mountain City, Tennessee, population 2,383. She is a Registered Nurse with a Master’s degree, a certified Family Nurse Practitioner and a Clinical Nurse Specialist in Adult Psychiatry and Mental Health. She ministers in a part of the country where healthcare is under-served. She is employed by East Tennessee State University (ETSU) and works at Extended Hours Clinic located in the Johnson

Sister Barbara and “Spikey” the buff Polish rooster

County Health Center.

A typical day in the life of Sr. Barbara is anything but typical. It usually starts out with time at the Clinic,

She is the Clinic’s

catching up on paperwork,

specialist in pain

keeping patient charts up to

management which


She sees patients by

appointment and as walk-ins.

means treating pain

The Health Center has an

with compassion while

Emergency Room and a two

using care not to

bed “hospital” facility in addi-

contribute to the severe substance abuse

tion to exam rooms and space for the doctors who rotate in from Johnson City, some 70 miles away. Sr. Barbara also

problem in the community.

works regularly with students who are studying various forms of healthcare, specifically rural healthcare, at ETSU.


Vol. 5 No. 1

Sister Barbara Hathaway (continued) She is the Clinic’s specialist in pain management which means treating pain with compassion while using care not to contribute to the severe substance abuse problem in the community. Following a full morning at the Health Center, Sr. Barbara sees a full schedule of inmates at the Johnson County Jail. She initiated the healthcare program at the jail when she noted that none had existed there. She provides physicals when persons first arrive at the facility and sees patients who request medical attention for ongoing care. Given that the incidence of mental illness in jail population in general is very high, Sr. Barbara uses all her training in the treatment of psychosocial disorders to address the needs of those whose behavior brought them to the jail in the first place, and now must deal with the monotony of incarceration. Sr. Barbara moves from the jail environment to her home visits with marvelous grace.

The distances

between the Health Center and homebound patients can be prohibitive, and sometimes life-threatening. Sr. Barbara makes home visits motivated by concern and love. “Living and working in a small town is a very different existence than the big city. Here

“Living and

everyone knows everyone. It’s like an extended family. Someone you see in the clinic might appear in the jail. The relative of a staff member might be the one who paints your house. Lives criss-cross in a variety of ways. The heart of ministry in Mountain City is a matter of a presence that makes a positive difference,” explains

working in a small town is a very

Sr. Barbara. In an area of the country where the population of Catholics is 1-2%, the presence of a Catholic Sister does make a difference. Sr. Barbara is a “presence”

different experience

at St. Anthony de Padua Church in Mountain City. Her father is a deacon who extends his ministry to the

than the big city.

prisons in the area. Sr. Barbara’s parents, Pat and Don, are active in Peace and Justice. Add into Sr. Barbara’s day

Here everyone

other kinds of ministry that might include some financial counseling for a family, or a visa for a struggling illegal. It

knows everyone.

may be serving on a panel for the National Association for Mental Illness, or caring for the family pets. Put it all together and you will have made the circuit of Sr. Barbara’s “typical” way of life.

It’s like an extended family. ”

Sister Barbara Hathaway (continued) Sr. Barbara is the oldest of the six children of Pat and Don Hathaway. She was born in Lansing, Michigan, and raised in Rochester, New York. She attended nursing school at the University of Rochester, New York, and earned her master’s degree from the University of Minnesota. She became a Head Nurse at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. She was drawn to a life of service, particularly in the healthcare field. When Barbara was 35 years old, she entered the Rochester Franciscans who, years ago with Drs. Charles and William Mayo, founded the clinic. Sr. Barbara completed the initial formation with the Rochester Franciscans, but then discerned that this was not the way that God was calling her. Still committed to a

“I try to meet the needs of those who would otherwise

Franciscan way of life, she contacted the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis. It is truly the Gospel living of Francis that Sr. Barbara lives out daily. In her own words, “I try to meet the needs of those who would otherwise be neglected.”

be neglected.”

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

Reception into the Novitiate of Rochester Franciscans


Vol. 5 No. 1

“Go and repair my house.” Sister Dorothy Monikowski


ister Dorothy Monikowski helps groups and individuals create a readiness and opportunity for growth and excellence. The San Damiano experience of St. Francis resonates deeply with Sr. Dorothy. Christ

spoke to Francis in the chapel of San Damiano, Italy, telling him,“Go, Francis, and repair my house because it is falling into ruin.” At first Francis took that command literally, but soon found that the “repair” was not as tangible as bricks and mortar. Repairing the vision, repairing the spirit, is a more profound process. It is a process to which Sr. Dorothy commits herself completely.

Repairing the vision, repairing the spirit, is a more profound

Her ministry is organization development. Her organization is Mission Development Associates (MDA) located in Chicago, Illinois. Sr. Dorothy has been working with church related groups through MDA since 1992. The

process. It is a

data speaks for itself. During the last twelve years, Sr. Dorothy facilitated:

process to which Sr. Dorothy commits

• 25 General or Provincial Chapters - Eighteen of these meetings have been with congregations of women religious and seven with men’s congregations

herself completely. • 85 Assemblies or Community meetings - Seventy-eight have been with congregations of women religious, and seven with men’s congregations; some meetings extended several days; some groups held three or four assemblies a year • 21 Leadership Groups of In-Service or leadership development • 4 Major Strategic Planning Efforts - a variety of clients (Religious congregations, University, National Organizations) ranging in time from one to four years • 6 Dioceses - In-service for clergy, diocesan and pastoral councils and various commissions and offices • 3 Reconfigurations, both mergers and consolidating - The merging of congregations; the creative reconfiguration of congregational structure • 4 Social Service Groups - Planning, in-service and leadership training • 9 Education Groups - Elementary to Secondary to University level: faculty in-service, staff issues, teaching and strategic planning

Sister Dorothy Monikowksi (continued) Her clients have included over eighty organizations located in 20 states. How can one even begin to perceive

“Vision is the art

the huge impact that Sr. Dorothy’s work has had on organizations across the country? What is the value of

of seeing things

clarifying organizational vision, of developing skills, of opening avenues of communication? One of Sr. Dorothy’s

invisible.” Her work

posters states,“Vision is the art of seeing things invisible.” Her work may be “invisible” but people know that

may be “invisible” but

the process is happening.

people know that the It was a beautiful path to the present ministry. Sr. Dorothy was born in Chicago, Illinois, on February 17, 1943,

process is happening.

the only child of Frank and Genevieve Monikowski. She was raised in a very happy, loving, and close-knit family with aunts and uncles and cousins all living in the same north side neighborhood. She attended St. Hedwig Grade School and then went to Josephinum High School, Chicago, Illinois. One of her friends in high school was thinking about entering the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis. In the effort to dissuade her friend from making that decision, Sr. Dorothy persuaded herself to enter religious life. Amazing, how God works. After graduating high school and working for a while at the Board of Trade, she entered the congregation on January 8, 1961. From 1964 to 1974 Sr. Dorothy was a teacher in schools in Illinois and Indiana. The last three years, she was principal of St. John the Evangelist School in Streamwood, Illinois. In 1974, Sr. Dorothy served in Provincial Administration at Immaculata Convent in Bartlett, Illinois, with the responsibility of Ministry and Education. During this time, she began to offer workshops in Values Clarification to her sisters, to groups within the Archdiocese of Chicago, and to other congregations. It was a natural step for her then to work for the Archdiocese as a resource for teachers. In 1982, Sr. Dorothy was once again in Provincial Administration. When her term was complete, Sr. Dorothy went back to school. While she already had a bachelor’s degree from Loyola University, Chicago, and a master’s degree in Educational Administration and


Vol. 5 No. 1

Sister Dorothy Monikowksi (continued)

The faculty and staff of Stritch College

Supervision from Concordia College in River Forest, Illinois, she felt called to pursue the field of organization development. She graduated with a M.A. in Organization Development from Loyola University in 1988 and went to work for the Archdiocese of Chicago as Associate Director of Planning. This was during a time when Cardinal Bernardin was faced with the necessity of mergers and closings effecting more than 40 parishes and schools in the Archdiocese. “Go and repair my church” took on extraordinary meaning.

Out of this context emerged Mission Development Associates which has been Sr. Dorothy’s ministry since 1992. She is the first Sister of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis to work exclusively in the field of organizational development. In the spirit of St. Francis, Sr. Dorothy has dedicated herself completely to rebuilding the Church wherever she finds it.

The Indian Provincial Leadership of the School Sisters of St. Francis

Provincial Chapter, Sinsinawa Dominicans National Federation of Priest’s Councils

She is the first Sister of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis to work exclusively in the field of organizational development… and in the spirit of St. Francis,

Christian Brothers

Sr. Dorothy has dedicated herself completely to Merger of two congregations, Aston and Ringwood

rebuilding the Church wherever

St. Gertrude Parish Council

she finds it.

“I needed to learn and you instructed me; unsure, and you guided me.” Sister Helene Skrzyniarz


ister Helene Skrzyniarz is a Superintendent in the public school district of Auburn, Connecticut. She came to that administrative level in 1996 and was the first woman religious in the United States to hold such a

position. As soon as you meet Sr. Helene you know why. She is high energy, brilliant, very organized and extremely down-to-earth. When she answers the phone, she summarizes her attitude and her ministry with,“Hello, this is Dr. Helene, how can I help you?”

Her time belongs to the faculty, staff and students in her care.

Sr. Helene moves from

Every time the phone rings, or an e-mail message comes through,

one issue to another

there is a new issue with which to deal—academic improvement;

with equanimity and

increasing literacy and performance scores; the budget battle for the district; the student who made death threats in the school; a

brilliant leadership.

mysterious rash that broke out on the students in one particular school; teacher turnover statistics; a photo-op at the new high school; a pay hike for teachers; the break-in at the District offices; creating a no-smoking environment on school grounds; the commencement address; the finance committee meeting; the newly published calendar being promoted by the National Honor Society — it’s enough to make one’s head spin. But Sr. Helene moves from one issue to another with equanimity and brilliant leadership.


Vol. 5 No. 1

Sister Helene Skrzyniarz (continued) Sr. Helene showed signs of brilliance even when she was growing up in Meriden, Connecticut. She attended St. Stanislaus School where the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis were teaching. They were her model. At the age of 12, she entered the congregation to follow the foundress’ love and concern, “What will happen to the children?” While moving through the stages of integration into the congregation, Sr. Helene completed high school at Marymount High School in Garfield Heights, Ohio, and graduated cum laude from St. John College with a bachelor’s degree in Education,1964. She earned her master’s degree in math at the University of Detroit, 1969; attended the Gabriel Richard Institute, 1974; was voted Outstanding Educator of America in 1975; and before she earned her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction from Boston College in 1984, became a member of Phi Delta Kappa and Alpha Sigma Nu (National Jesuit Honor Society).

I am motivated From 1960 to 1974, Sr. Helene taught in elementary schools in

by the thought

Ohio and Michigan. The quality of her teaching was exemplary and, in 1974, she became an instructor at St. John College,

that I can make

preparing other teachers for the profession. It was during her

a difference in

teaching years that Sr. Helene and Sr. Claire Cejer joined talents.

the lives

Not only had they both been on the faculty of SS. Peter and Paul School in Garfield Heights, Ohio, they continued to work together, leading summer workshops for teachers. They attended Boston College (BC) together in 1981 and when they graduated in 1984, both became instructors at BC. Sr. Helene broke new ground in 1986 when she became the first woman administrator in the Middleborough Public Schools where she served as Director

of the students.

Sister Helene Skrzyniarz (continued) of Curriculum, Instruction and Testing. After four years, she became the Assistant Superintendent of the East Providence School Department in Rhode Island. “I am motivated by the thought that I can make a difference in the lives of the students,” said Sr. Helene. The people of Rhode Island sensed that, and in 1991, Sr. Helene became the Superintendent of Administration, East Providence, where she served until 1994. She returned to

“There is a bond

Connecticut as Superintendent of Schools for Regional School District No. 16, Beacon Falls and Prospect. Sr.

of caring in the

Helene has a deep commitment to helping people, to making the world better for her having been here. “I like

Sisters of St. Joseph

the ‘fixing’,” she says. She continued her “fixing” in 2002, when she became Superintendent of Schools, Amity School District No. 5, Connecticut. Sr. Helene recently accepted a position as Superintendent of Schools in

of the Third Order of

Auburn, Connecticut, which will begin July 1, 2004.

St. Francis that is a tremendous support

“There is a bond of caring in the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis that is a tremendous

for ministry.

support for ministry. It strengthens the Franciscan call to rebuild the Church, each of us in our own way,” says

It strengthens the

Sr. Helene. She is rebuilding, effecting policy, setting direction, and raising the bar of excellence in the education of tomorrow’s leaders.

Franciscan call to rebuild the Church,

One other thing. There is a huge collection of dragons in Sr. Helene’s

each of us in

office which you might wonder about. She was born in the Chinese

our own way,”.

year of the Imperial Dragon, 1940. It started small, but the collection has grown through gifts and recognitions over the years. And she has never forgotten that “Some days the dragon wins.”


Vol. 5 No. 1

Wisconsin Treasures On December 17, 2003, Sister Irmina Bula and Edmund Antoniewicz were recognized as Wisconsin Treasures. The recognition came from Stephanie Klett, the host of Discover Wisconsin Television and Radio. The criterion for being selected for this honor is that the person, group or organization epitomizes Wisconsin at its best. The sisters were featured in a broadcast of DW Radio.

For thirty-one years, Srs. Irmina and Edmund have been caring for severely handicapped individuals at the Sisters’ Treatment Group Home in Two Rivers,Wisconsin, a not-for-profit organization supported by the Manitowoc County Department of Social Services. The children receive therapy treatments in the home from Occupational, Physical, Speech and Inhalation Therapists as well as assistance from child care workers. The sisters are there daily, caring for the residents. The interviewer asked the sisters how they relax in such an environment, how often do they take a vacation. Their answer surprised the interviewer. “We don’t,” they said. “Our work is our vocation and our vacation.” Since the founding of the Sisters’ Treatment Group Home, over eighty residents have received care from the sisters and the staff.

No question that they are Wisconsin Treasures.



Sister Margaret Kalina n March 13, 2004, Sister Margaret Kalina was received as a novice in the Sisters of St. Joseph of


the Third Order of St. Francis. Sr. Marge is no stranger to the congregation. She was an Associate for 22 years prior to her becoming a candidate in 2003.

Sr. Marge was born in Gary, Indiana. However, her family moved to Griffith while she was still very small, so her memories are mostly of attending St. Mary’s school and growing up with her six sisters and brothers in that Indiana city. Her family moved again, this time to Valparaiso. It was there that, after graduation, Sr. Marge began her career in banking. After ten years in banking in Valparaiso, she moved to a similar position in Madison, Wisconsin, advancing later to VP in the Trust Department. All the while, she was active in her parish, St. Ignatius in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin. She volunteered her services there as an “all round wonderful person.” She was secretary, bookkeeper, member of the RCIA team, substitute teacher and and helped with whatever projects needed attention. During this time, she worked with Sr. Jean Sonsalla who became sister and friend to Sr. Marge. The relationship with Sr. Jean brought Sr. Marge into the Associate Relationship where she became more familiar with the SSJ-TOSF Franciscan way of life. Having been that close to the sisters over the years, attending community gatherings and participating in prayer and study, Sr. Marge made her relationship with the sisters even stronger. She became a candidate in 2003, and in 2004, Marge became Sister Marge.

As part of the ceremony of reception into the congregation, Sr. Marge received, first, the SSJ-TOSF pin, “the emblem of this community as a sign of the beginning of your formal incorporation into this Congregation.” (Rite of Admission into the Novitiate) Sr. Marge also received copies of The Constitution, The General Directives of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis, and The Rule and Commentary of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis. These are the guiding documents for her continued integration into the SSJ-TOSF community, as well as the foundation for her emerging way of life.


Vol. 5 No. 1

Dear Friends,


he Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis strive continuously to keep the founding spirit alive by reaffirming our commitment to all God’s people by trying to serve those most in need. Knowing that our social structures today do

not always meet the needs of those whose lives may be filled with despair, injustice, confusion or spiritual emptiness, our sisters seek creative and innovative responses to the cry of all God’s

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:

people as you may have noted as you read about a few of the ministries of our sisters. Truly, the streams of ministry run in many directions.

Our sisters response to the call of God’s people is possible because of you, our partners in ministry. Your prayerful and financial support gives the encouragement and will to keep the vision and mission always before us and we thank you deeply. It is a blessing to walk with you on our journey to the Father. Our prayers are always with you. Sister Denise Seymour

Peace and all good!

Sincerely in Christ,

Sister Denise Seymour, SSJ-TOSF Director of Development


Vol. 5 No. 1

Sister Mary Valerie Michalec Born to this life: February 1, 1913 Born to eternal life: December 5, 2003 After 40 years as teacher and librarian in Michigan, Connecticut and Ohio, Sr.Valerie served with grace and joy as medical librarian for 31 years.

Sister Esther Kedrowski Born to this life: June 11, 1916 Born to eternal life: January 29, 2004 Inspired by St.Therese, Sr. Esther “scattered flowers” as she taught children in all the grades, preparing them for the sacraments and serving God’s people in whatever way she could.

Sister Cornelia Skora Born to this life: June 1, 1916 Born to eternal life: December 6, 2003 Teacher, organist, artist, Sr. Cornelia gifted the People of God in the Wisconsin area with her love and dedication.

Sister Donatille Ramut Born to this life: June 1, 1916 Born to eternal life: March 7, 2004 A sister to all in every sense of the word, Sr. Donatille spent 54 years in the field of education in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.

Sister Elizabeth Piechowiak Born to this life: December 6, 1917 Born to eternal life: December 21, 2003 Ohio and Michigan were blessed with the ministry of Sr. Elizabeth, teacher and musician, who lived her life as a celebration.

Sister Mary Margaret Majewski Born to this life: September 14, 1911 Born to eternal life: March 13, 2004 A registered nurse, Sr. Margaret provided service and leadership in a dedicated ministry in the field of healthcare.

Sister Michaeline Oleszkiewicz Born to this life: March 25, 1918 Born to eternal life: January 15, 2004 The children, parents and parishioners experienced the power of Sr. Michaeline’s gifts of teaching in Indiana, Illinois, and Colorado.

Sister Cecilia Surma Born to this life: September 20, 1915 Born to eternal life: March 28, 2004 Sr. Cecilia was called to serve the sick, the elderly and the poor as a nurse and healthcare educator.

The Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis are hosting a weekend for women who are interested in religious life

AUGUST 6, 7 & 8, 2004 St. Joseph Congregational Home 1300 Maria Drive • Stevens Point,WI 54481

Share Name: Address:

City, State, Zip: Phone:

R.S.V.P. to Sister Debra Ann Weina at (715) 341-8457 or e-mail:

If you enjoy reading about the good works of the sisters in Gathering Place, share the word with someone you know! We would be very happy to extend a free subscription to the person(s) you recomend. Please complete the information to the left, and send it to : Reneta E. Webb, Editor, Gathering Place, P.O. Box 388129, Chicago, IL 60638

Imagine the possibilities for your retirement at Clare Oaks! A full-service retirement community coming soon to Bartlett, Illinois, sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis

A Community For Mind, Body & Spirit Information Center 775 West Bartlett Road • Bartlett, IL 60103 (630)372-1983 • (800)648-1984 Fax (630)372-2868


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

Volume 5 No 1 2004  

VOLUME 5 • NO. 1 • 2004 Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis

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