Two sisters leave positions as directors of faith formation

Sister Lois Barton, CSJ, said she feels called to a different ministry — one that involves spiritual direction and retreats.

June 30 marked the last day of Sister Lois’ ministry as Regional Director of Faith Formation in the Southern Region, a post she held for the last 10 years.

“I have mixed emotions,” said Sister Lois. “I’ve worked with a wonderful staff, an excellent group of women. It’s been a privilege to serve as director.”

Prior to serving at the Faith Formation Office, Sister Lois taught French at Seton Catholic Central High School and served as director of religious education at St. Anthony of Padua in Endicott and Most Holy Rosary in Maine.

“It’s such a privilege to be in ministry,” Sister Lois said. She said she is happy that her community is allowing her to embark on the new ministry. “It will be a lift for my community because it will help us financially,” Sister Lois said.

Through her new ministry, Sister Lois will provide spiritual guidance to people in the Southern Tier. “I’m looking forward to creating ways to help people develop their spirituality,” she said. “Helping them helps me to grow in my spirituality.”

Sister Lois said she has enjoyed offering a mentoring program for the training of spiritual directors at the Spiritual Renewal Center in Syracuse for the last five years. “I love the one-on-one interaction with people,” she said.

Andrea Schaffer, administrator at the Southern Region Resource Center, will assume Sister Lois’ position as director.

Sister Lois offered some advice to Schaffer. “Keep on doing the great work that the staff has been doing,” she suggested. “Enjoy the position and be available to the people.”

Sister Germaine Hilston, CSJ, retired June 30 after serving 15 years as Regional Director of Faith Formation in the Northern Region and catechesis for people with disabilities throughout the diocese.

“It’s been a very good experience,” said Sister Germaine. “I’ve worked with some wonderful people, wonderful priests and I’ve had a very good rapport with people. I’ve done a lot of teaching, but my best experience was teaching catechism to adults.”

Sister Germaine, a native of Albany, taught in schools in the Syracuse and Albany Dioceses for over 20 years. Her years of ministry also include serving as regional director of religious education for Columbia County, pastoral associate at St. Francis de Sales Parish in Troy and director of religious education at St. Joseph’s in Troy.

Connie Armstrong, former DRE at St. Mary of Mount Carmel – Blessed Sacrament in Utica, will assume Sister Germaine’s position.

Sister Germaine advised Armstrong to take lots of time to know the people that she will work with and serve. “If she does that, then she will find that she will have a good rapport with them,” she said.

With retirement, Sister Germaine said she would have more time to enjoy reading, volunteering, relaxing and spending time with her family. She will relocate to Albany in September to be with her family.

Sister Katie Eiffe, CSJ, Director of the Office of Faith Formation, offered some advice to the new regional directors. “Remember: The commission the Risen Jesus gave his followers was to ‘Go and make disciples,’” said Sister Katie. “Everything that we do should reflect that mission. Always keep in mind that our offices exist to enable parishes to be communities of disciples. The definitive aim of catechesis is to put people not only in touch, but also in communion, intimacy with Jesus Christ. Our ministry is a gift and a privilege. We are first and foremost disciples and our role is to enable others — children, teens and adults — to become disciples of the Risen Lord Jesus.”

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