2014 Sister Jubilarians

Each year the Diocese of Syracuse honors religious sisters who are celebrating milestone anniversaries. Here, the Sun profiles this year’s jubilarians and their years of dedicated service.

80 Years
   Sister Mary Roger Lemke, OSF, is celebrating 80 years as a Sister of St. Francis.

   Born in Utica in 1916, Sister Mary Roger’s home parish was St. Joseph Church. Having been taught by the Sisters of St. Francis in grammar school, she entered the Sisters of the Third Franciscan Order (now the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities) Sept. 8, 1933; was invested May 24, 1934; and professed final vows Aug. 20, 1936.

    Sister Mary Roger served as a teacher at numerous schools in the diocese, as well as in Hawaii and New Jersey. In the diocese, she taught at St. Mary in Baldwinsville, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Utica, St. James in Syracuse, Immaculate Conception in Fayetteville, Holy Family in Fairmount, St. Joseph in Utica and Our Lady of Sorrows in Vestal. She taught many subjects and students, but said she liked English best and enjoyed teaching the older students. Sister Mary Roger also served as a religious education teacher at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Liverpool. She retired in 1988.

   Sister Mary Roger will celebrate her jubilee with her fellow jubilarians and her community.

70 Years
   Sister Ruth Esther Sherman, OSF, is celebrating 70 years of religious life. Born in Afton, N.Y., she attended St. Paul’s Church in Hancock, N.Y., after she and her family converted to Catholicism when she was a young girl. She entered the Sisters of the Third Franciscan Order Feb. 2, 1944; was invested Aug. 22, 1944; and professed final vows Aug. 17, 1949.

   Over her many years of service, Sister Ruth Esther served in a variety of capacities and communities in New York, Hawaii and Peru. In the Diocese of Syracuse, she taught at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Utica and the Convent High School in Syracuse. She also taught for many years in schools in Hawaii. Sister Ruth Esther served for several years at Franciscan Adult Day Care before retiring in 2004.

   Sister Ruth Esther spent a total of 16 years as a missionary in Peru, which she called her “heart’s desire.” In Paramonga and Pativilca, she worked in parish ministry; helped found clinics; taught mothers about childcare, sanitary practices, and disease prevention and treatment; began a group of Franciscan associates that still exists today; and ministered in the aftermath of an earthquake in 1970. “The Lord was working through me to get things done,” Sister Ruth Esther recalled. “I loved the people.”

   She will celebrate her jubilee with her fellow jubilarians and her community.

60 Years
   Sister Mary Ellen Curtin, CSJ (Sister Marie Adele), is celebrating 60 years as a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet.

   Sister Mary Ellen was born in Syracuse and was a member of Our Lady of Solace Parish. After graduating from Cathedral Academy, Sister Mary Ellen entered the novitiate of the Sisters of St. Joseph on March 19, 1954 and professed final vows on Aug. 15, 1961. She received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a master’s degree in education, both from The College of Saint Rose, Albany, and pursued studies in theology in New York, Florida and California. She taught in schools in the Syracuse and Albany Dioceses, including in the Syracuse Diocese: St. Anthony’s School and Blessed Sacrament School, Syracuse, and Blessed Sacrament School, Johnson City. Sister Mary Ellen also served as a pastoral associate in Blessed Sacrament Parish, Johnson City, and in St. Mary of the Lake Parish, Skaneateles; as director of religious education for the Cayuga Team Ministry in Auburn; and as spiritual director and staff member at Aquinas House, Syracuse; Kirkridge in Bangor, Pa.; The Priory in Chestertown, N.Y.; Still Point House of Prayer, Stillwater, N.Y.; the Spiritual Renewal Center, Syracuse; and SpiritEarth, Saugerties. In addition, Sister Mary Ellen served the Sisters of St. Joseph as regional superior, novice director and associate director. She presently resides in Skaneateles.

   Sister Mary Ellen reflects on her six decades as a blessed and enriching gift: “I have loved being a Sister of St. Joseph these past 60 years. It has given me a meaningful way of life, where I have grown in unifying love of God, neighbor and Earth and where I have been able to use my gifts in service of others. I have been greatly enriched by all the people and opportunities I have encountered during these years.”

   Sister Ruth Cecilia Dowd, CSJ, is celebrating 60 years as a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet.

   Born in Seneca Falls and raised in Rome, Sister Ruth was a member of St. Peter’s Parish. After graduating from St. Aloysius Academy, Sister Ruth entered the novitiate of the Sisters of St. Joseph on March 19, 1954, and professed final vows on Aug. 15, 1961. She received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from The College of Saint Rose and a master’s degree in reading from SUNY at Albany. Sister Ruth taught in schools of the Syracuse and Albany Dioceses, including in the Syracuse Diocese: St. Agnes School, Utica; Christ the King School, Endwell; St. Mary’s School, Clinton; St. Peter’s School, Rome; and St. Patrick’s School, Syracuse. In addition, Sister Ruth served as parish minister and director of religious education in St. Peter’s Parish, Rome, and St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Syracuse. Sister Ruth presently resides in Syracuse where she is a pastoral associate in St. Patrick’s Parish and a homework counselor at the Jewish Community Center.

   Sister Ruth is filled with gratitude when she thinks about her vocation. “Celebrating 60 years as a Sister of St. Joseph causes me to reflect with gratitude for the sisters and priests who encouraged and supported me through the years. Also, the community has helped me to bring to fruition all that was instilled in me by my mother, a great love of Mass and Eucharist and the opportunity to prepare children for their First Sacraments. Shalom.”

   Sister Mary Farrell, OSF, is celebrating her 60th anniversary as a Sister of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities.
   A native of Camden, N.J., she attended St. Joseph’s Pro Cathedral in East Camden. She entered the novitiate Sept. 1, 1953 and professed final vows Aug. 17, 1959.

   Sister Mary Farrell holds a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in religious studies. She has served in numerous ministries throughout New York, New Jersey, Virginia and Washington, DC, including five years in catechetical ministry, 22 years in teaching, 23 years in religious education and parish ministry, six years in administration and two years as a receptionist.

   Asked why she joined the Sisters of St. Francis, Sister Mary Farrell said, “I received all of my grade school education from the Syracuse Franciscans — I admired their simplicity, their warmth and their spirituality. That is why I left New Jersey and came to this community.”

   Sister Mary Daniel Golembiewski, OSF, is celebrating 60 years as a Sister of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities.

   Sister Mary Daniel has served as a teacher and a principal, as a pastoral minister at St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center in Syracuse, and as director of The Franciscan Place, a chapel and gift shop located at Destiny USA in Syracuse.

   Sister David Marie Kelly, OSF, is celebrating 60 years as a Sister of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities.

   Sister David Marie was raised in Syracuse and her home parish was Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church. She entered the novitiate on Feb. 1, 1954 and professed final vows on Aug. 17, 1959.

   Sister David Marie has a master’s degree in education from the State University College at Oswego. She served as a teacher at St. Joseph’s School in Syracuse; St. Francis School, Gloversville; St. Mary’s School, Utica; St. Joseph’s School, Cohoes; St. Matthews, East Syracuse; Immaculate Conception, Fayetteville; and at St. Anthony Regional House at Jolenta Convent.

   “I became a Sister because I admired the Sisters at Assumption School which I attended from 6th to 12th grade. I was inspired by [the sisters’] dedication,” stated Sister David Marie.

   Sister Blanche Marie Messier, OSF, is proud to celebrate 60 years as a Sister of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities.

   Sister Blanche Marie was born in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and her home parish was St. Cyril and Methodius, where she also attended Catholic school. Her family later moved to a farm in Camden and she attended St. Patrick’s Church.

   Born with a hearing disability, Sister Blanche Marie was accepted at the New York State School for the Deaf in Rome, N.Y. She later attended Camden Central School. Upon graduation, she began working as a nurse’s aide at Rome City Hospital. “I thought I was in heaven in those days,” stated Sister Blanche Marie. “I enjoyed the work and we were trained well by the nursing graduates from St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center.”

   Sister Blanche Marie entered the novitiate on Aug. 17, 1954 and professed her final vows on Aug. 17, 1959. She was given the religious name of Sister Martin de Porres, and began teaching second grade at St. Matthew’s in East Syracuse. Due to concerns regarding her hearing, she left teaching after three years and went to work at the Convent School library at the Sisters’ of St. Francis Motherhouse. It was at the convent school library that she received a nickname from a small child who couldn’t say her name properly: “Sister March on the Porch.”

   In December 1997, Sister Martin de Porres changed her name to Sister Blanche Marie in gratitude to the Blessed Virgin Mary for keeping her under protection since she was a child.

   Following her work in the library, Sister Blanche Marie became involved in the St. Marianne Cope shrine, where she conducted tours and handled administrative work. “When we received the blessing of a computer at the shrine I was as happy as happy could be,” said Sister Blanche Marie.

   Reflecting on the past 60 years, Sister Blanche Marie is grateful to God for all His blessings. “It’s been a heavenly life. I love what God has done,” she said.
  
   Sister Michael Marie O’Brien, OSF is celebrating 60 years as a Sister of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities.

   A native of Baldwinsville, Sister Michael Marie entered the order on Sept. 1, 1953 and took her final vows on Aug. 17, 1959.

   She earned a bachelor of science degree from Oswego State University and a master’s degree in English/History from Scranton University.

   Sister Michael served many schools as a teacher, including St. Paul’s in Whitesboro; Our Lady of Angels in Albany; St. Agnes in Syracuse; Immaculate Conception in Fayetteville; St. Therese, St. Matthews and Assumption Church in Syracuse; Our Lady of Sorrows in Vestal; St. Joseph in Camden, N.J.; Bishop Cunningham High School in Oswego; and Maria Regina College and St. James in Syracuse.

    Sister Michael Marie also taught religion in Oradell, N.J. and in 2001 she was selected as the community archivist for Central N.Y. Franciscans.

   “The Christian values that sustain me in life came from my parents and the great women who went before me,” stated Sister Michael Marie. “I am so grateful for my religious life,” she said.

   Sister Miriam Arthur Sabel, OSF, is celebrating 60 years as a Sister of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities.

   Sister Miriam was born and raised in the city of Syracuse. She was baptized, received her First Holy Communion, was confirmed and celebrated her 25th and 50th jubilees at Assumption Church.

   Sister Miriam entered the novitiate on Feb. 1, 1954 and professed her final vows in Aug. 1959. “My mother and father were so happy when I entered the convent. I chose the Sisters of St. Francis because they had taught in our school and I wanted to serve the Lord in any way I could,” stated Sister Miriam.

   Interested in serving as a teacher, Sister Miriam studied and graduated from Medaille College in Buffalo with a degree in elementary education and received her permanent teaching certification from State University College at Oswego.

   Her first teaching position was at St. Joseph’s in Utica followed by Our Lady of Sorrows in Vestal, St. Margaret’s in Mattydale, St. Mary’s in Baldwinsville, Assumption Academy in Syracuse, and Holy Trinity in Syracuse. Sister Miriam also taught remedial reading to older students and adults at the sisters’ Motherhouse before retiring to Jolenta Convent. She plans to celebrate her jubilee with her two sisters, one of whom is also a Sister of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities. “I want to celebrate this beautiful life the Lord gave me,” said Sister Miriam. “It’s a life that I thank the Lord for each day.”

   Sister Colette Walter, OSF, is celebrating 60 years as a Sister of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities.

   A native of Fairmount, Sister Colette’s home parish was Holy Family. She entered the novitiate on Sept. 1, 1953 and professed her final vows on Aug. 17, 1959.

   Sister Colette has a master’s degree in education from Oswego State and served as a teacher at St. Anthony in Utica; St. Margaret’s in Mattydale; Our Lady of Good Counsel in Endicott, both as a teacher and as principal; St Anthony High School in Long Beach, Calif., as a teacher; and St. Barbara’s School in Santa Ana, Calif., as principal. In 1985, Sister Colette studied in Rome, Italy, and then returned to the Syracuse Diocese to serve as formation director for the order before going to serve at Francis House, a home for terminally ill patients.

   When asked why she chose the order of Sisters of St. Francis, Sister Colette said, “I entered the Sisters of St. Francis because of an invitation from three of our sisters while I was still attending CCD [religious education] classes at Holy Family Church in Fairmont. I remain at Sisters of St. Francis because, through my vows, I am able to give my life totally to God, thus serving God’s people in a way that gives me freedom to continue my journey giving God’s love and peace to others.”

50 Years

   Sister Paula Matthew Browne, CSJ, celebrates 50 years as a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet.

   Sister Paula was born in Johnson City and was a member of St. Patrick’s Parish, Binghamton. After graduating from St. Patrick’s High School, she entered the novitiate of the Sisters of St. Joseph on Aug. 6, 1964, and professed final vows on Aug. 4, 1973. Sister Paula received a bachelor’s degree in English from The College of Saint Rose and a master’s degree in studio art from SUNY at Binghamton (Harpur College). She taught in schools in the Syracuse and Albany Dioceses, including in the Syracuse Diocese Rome Catholic High School and Broome Consolidated Schools in Binghamton. For the past 36 years, Sister Paula has been a full-time artist and writer who has been commissioned throughout the United States to create wooden sculptures and wood reliefs. In addition, one of Sister Paula’s books, The Indigo Wizard: The Awakening Tales, is a winner of the prestigious Mom’s Choice Award, an international honor which is the benchmark of excellence in family-friendly media. Sister Paula Matthew presently lives in Windsor where some of her work is on display at The Spiritual Center.

   Sister Paula Matthew reflects on her jubilee: “As I look back on 50 years of being part of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet, it is with awe and gratitude. Being part of something greater than myself has opened me to new levels of awareness and consciousness. My hand is on my heart to our founding sisters.”

   Sister Lisa Cirillo, CSJ, is celebrating 50 years as a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet.

   Born in Baltimore and raised in Wappingers Falls, N.Y., Sister Lisa entered the novitiate of the Sisters of St. Joseph on Aug. 6, 1964, and professed final vows on Aug. 6, 1970. She received a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in English, both from The College of Saint Rose. For the first ten years of her life as a Sister of St. Joseph, Sister Lisa taught in schools in the Syracuse and Albany Dioceses, including in the Syracuse Diocese St. Francis de Sales High School in Utica. In 1976, she began her service in parishes when she was a pastoral minister at St. Francis de Sales Parish, Utica, for 18 years. Subsequently, Sister Lisa has served in pastoral ministry at the Church of St. Anthony, Chadwicks; and in her present ministry at both Sacred Heart/St. Mary’s Parish, New York Mills, and St. Anthony & St. Agnes Parish, Utica.  Sister Lisa lives in Utica.

   Reflecting on her Golden Jubilee as a Sister of St. Joseph, Sister Lisa is filled with gratitude: “I love being a CSJ, and I have come to love it more as its meaning has unfolded over these 50 years. I have been gifted in so many ways — by my Community, by the many people who have touched my life and by God who loved and called me here. My heart is overflowing with gratitude. All I can say is thank you.”

   Sister Helen Dolores Hart, CSJ, is celebrating 50 years as a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet.

   Sister Helen was born in Syracuse and was a member of St. Brigid’s Parish. After graduating from St. Lucy’s Academy, she entered the novitiate of the Sisters of St. Joseph on Aug. 6, 1964 and professed final vows on Aug. 6, 1971. Sister Helen received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from The College of Saint Rose and a master’s degree in education from SUNY at Binghamton. In the Syracuse Diocese, Sister Helen taught at St. Paul’s School, Binghamton; St. John the Baptist School, Syracuse (administrator); and St. Thomas Aquinas School, Binghamton (administrator); in addition, she was director of development for Catholic schools in the Syracuse Diocese. In 1992, Sister Helen began her years in pastoral ministry when she served in St. Ann’s Parish, Manlius, and later in Holy Cross Parish, DeWitt. For the past nine years, she has been a quality-improvement specialist with Central New York Services, Inc. in Syracuse.
 

  Of her years in religious life, Sister Helen says: “My life during these past 50 years as a Sister of St. Joseph has been an incredible journey! I have run the gamut of ministries in the five decades. I have worked with brand-new babies and have been with a number of people as they complete their final homecoming. In other words, I have been blessed considerably, and it is my hope that I have added something to the faith journey of the people who have been a part of my life.”

  Sister Rosemary Hendry, OSF, celebrating 50 years as a Sister of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities, has found it extremely rewarding to serve as a religious. “I responded to God’s call to live my life as a Sister of St. Francis,” said Sister Rosemary. “It has been enlightening and more importantly, inspiring to keep learning more about the life and writings of St. Francis of Assisi.”

   Sister Rosemary grew up in Philadelphia, Pa., and was a member of Saint Veronica Parish. She was received into the novitiate on June 4, 1964 and professed her final vows on Aug. 15, 1971.

   Sister Rosemary earned a bachelor’s degree in education from D’Youville College in Buffalo and a master’s degree in theology from St. Bonaventure University.

   Sister Rosemary taught elementary and high school students in New Jersey and Syracuse. While in Syracuse, she served at St. Theresa’s School, St. Matthew’s School, The Franciscan Academy and St. Margaret’s School.

   Other areas of service include working as a receptionist at Zurbrugg Adult Medical Day Care in Riverside, N.J., and as director of religious education at St. Joseph’s in Danville, Pa., St. Agnes in Blackwood, N.J,. and St. Alphonsus in Hopewell, N.J. Four years ago, Sister Rosemary moved to Syracuse to serve in the vocation ministry of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities.

   Reflecting on her many years of service, Sister Rosemary said, “I responded to God’s call to live a life of poverty, chastity and obedience, ministering to the people of God. In return, God has blessed me in so many ways. I am humbled to have shared in the lives of so many people in my various ministries — people who have inspired me with their faith and by their lives of sanctity. I have certainly received the ‘hundredfold’ promised in the Gospels.”

   Sister Rosemary looks forward to celebrating her jubilee with her friends and Franciscan sisters in Syracuse, but also with her family and friends in New Jersey. “This celebration will be marked with the faith and flare characteristic of my Irish heritage. ‘Ye Saints of God, be with us in prayer and frolic!’” Sister Rosemary said.

  Sister Helen Hofmann, OSF, is celebrating 50 years as a Sister of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities. A native of Atlantic City, N.J., Sister Helen’s home parish is Holy Spirit. She entered the novitiate on Sept. 8, 1963 and professed her final vows on Aug. 15, 1971.

   After graduating from Holy Spirit High School in June 1963, she earned her associate’s degree from Maria Regina College in Syracuse, her bachelor’s degree in education from D’Youville College in Buffalo and a master’s degree in special education from the University of Bridgeport’s Puerto Rico campus.

   Sister Helen taught first grade at schools in Syracuse, Utica, East Syracuse, Florida, New Jersey, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. She taught from 1965 to 1967 at Holy Family School in Syracuse, 1967 to 1971 at St. Matthew’s School in East Syracuse, 1971 to 1975 at St. Peter’s School in Utica and 1975 to 1976 at Incarnation School in Tampa, Fl. She also taught at Corazon de Maia School and Academia Claret School, both in Puerto Rico, from 1976 to 1989. In addition, Sister Helen served at Saint Joseph School in Camden, N.J., from 1989 to 1990, Saint Joseph School in Hilo, Hawaii, from 1991 to 1992 and St. Matthew’s School in East Syracuse from 1993 to 1996.

   Sister Helen said she felt a calling to become a religious when she was in high school. “A deep sense of God’s presence in my life, the example of the sisters and my daily interaction with them was a positive influence on my saying ‘yes’ to God’s invitation,” she recalled. “He kept knocking at my heart. After all these years, I keep saying to myself, ‘With God, all things are possible.’” 

   Sister Helen has served her community as associate program director since 1996, served as community minister for the CNY region from 2005 to 2012 and was elected as general councilor in July 2012.

   Sister Helen will celebrate her jubilee with her community on September 13 at their new Community Region House at the Franciscan Villa in North Syracuse. “My family is also planning a celebration in New Jersey in August when I’m there on my home visit,” added Sister Helen.

   Sister Maureen Mastine, CSJ, is celebrating 50 years as a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet.

   Sister Maureen was born in Ogdensburg and was raised in Syracuse as a member of St. Vincent de Paul Parish. After graduating from St. Lucy’s Academy in Syracuse, she entered the novitiate of the Sisters of St. Joseph on Aug. 6, 1964, and professed final vows on Aug. 6, 1972. Sister Maureen received a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy from Russell Sage College in Troy, N.Y., and completed graduate studies in physical therapy at Mt. St. Joseph College in Cincinnati, Ohio. During her 50 years as a Sister of St. Joseph, Sister Maureen has worked as a physical therapist at Upstate Medical Center, Syracuse; St. Mary’s Hospital, Amsterdam; Clover Patch School, Schenectady; United Cerebral Palsy Association, Glens Falls; Emmaus House, Elberon, N.J.; and in Albany at Visiting Nurses Association, Stuyvesant Orthopedic Service and Albany Medical Center. Sister Maureen presently resides in Syracuse, where she is a teacher of preventative health.

   Sister Maureen’s heart is filled with gratitude as she thinks of her 50 years as a Sister of St. Joseph. “For me, being a CSJ for has been seeing God’s goodness over and over again in what has happened in my life and through the people who have been a part of my life. Celebrating jubilee is a way to say thank you publicly for God’s faithfulness, which has been made evident by my family, community and friends.”    

   Sister Paula Mayer, DC, is celebrating 50 years as a member of the Daughters of Charity. She said she was inspired by the love, joy and service to the poor shown by the Daughters of Charity when they taught her in high school. “I became a sister because I felt that God was calling me to this vocation,” said Sister Paula.

   She entered the novitiate on June 27, 1964 and professed her final vows on June 29, 1969. She said she renews her vows every year.

   Sister Paula is a native of Albany, N.Y., and her home parish is the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

   After earning a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in religious studies, Sister Paula ministered as an elementary school teacher for 45 years in Maryland, Virginia and Massachusetts. From 1983 until 1987, she taught at the Cathedral School in Syracuse. 

   Presently, Sister Paula serves as outreach director at Historic Old St. John’s Parish in Utica.

   To celebrate her anniversary, Sister Paula plans to take a brief trip with a friend and have dinner out with the sisters she lives with and her brothers. “And,” Sister Paula added, “I’ll have coffee and Danish pastries with my people at the Food Pantry.”

  Sister Maria Salerno, OSF, is celebrating her 50th jubilee year as a Sister of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities.

   A Syracuse native, Sister Maria’s home parish is St. Stephen’s. After graduating from Syracuse Central High School, she attended Le Moyne College – St. Joseph Hospital School of Nursing where she received a nursing diploma, earned a BSN, MSN and PhD in nursing from The Catholic University of America, a Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Certificate from The University of Rochester and completed course work in Museums and Archives and Digital Preservation at American Public University.

   Sister Maria entered the novitiate on June 4, 1964 and professed her final vows on Aug. 11, 1971.

   Sister Maria explained why she became a sister and why she chose the order of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities. “I believed that I was being called by God to become a sister who would minister and serve the sick and dying, as well as the indigent and needy of my brothers and sisters,” she said. “The initial spark of that calling was influenced by my contact with the Felician Sisters who taught release time catechism at St. Stephen’s during my elementary school days. I chose to apply to this particular congregation because of the admiration I had for the work and dedication of the Franciscan Sisters that I came in contact with while at St. Joseph’s School of Nursing and the guidance of Father Dunstan Mc Dermott, OFM Conv., who was my spiritual director.”

   Sister Maria has served in a number of places. From 1964 to 1968, she served as general medical surgical staff nurse and head nurse in pediatrics St. Elizabeth Hospital in Utica, as head nurse at Loretto Geriatric Skilled Care Facility in Syracuse from 1968 to1972, as nurse practitioner at the Community of Hope Health Center in Washington, DC. from 1984 to 2009, as a faculty member at The Catholic University of  America, School of Nursing in Washington,  D.C., from 1977 to 2009, as General Councilor to the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities in Syracuse from 2009 to 2012, as assistant archivist at the St. Marianne Cope Museum in 2014, as nurse practitioner at the Poverello Clinic in Syracuse in 2014, as an adjunct faculty member at The Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. in 2014 and served on the board of directors for Francis House in Syracuse in 2013.
   Sister Maria will celebrate her anniversary on July 26 with her family and friends in the Syracuse area and then, on September 13, she will celebrate with her congregation.

   Sister Mary Ellen Schopfer, CSJ, is celebrating 50 years as a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Sister Mary Ellen was born in Syracuse and was a member of St. John the Evangelist Parish. After graduating from St. John’s Catholic Academy and attending Mount Aloysius Junior College in Cresson, Pa., she entered the novitiate of the Sisters of St. Joseph on Aug. 6, 1964, and professed final vows on Aug. 6, 1971. Sister Mary Ellen received a bachelor’s degree in business education from The College of Saint Rose, a bachelor’s degree in home economics from SUNY at Plattsburgh, and a master’s of professional studies degree in home economics from Cornell University. Sister Mary Ellen taught in high schools in the Syracuse and Albany Dioceses, including in the Syracuse Diocese Notre Dame High School, Utica, and Rome Catholic High School. In addition, she served in pastoral ministry in the Albany Diocese, as regional director of religious education for the Eastern Region of the Syracuse Diocese and as a hospice chaplain in Utica. For the past 17 years, Sister Mary Ellen has served as a spiritual director with her office in the Heritage Health Center, Utica, the city in which she presently resides.

   Sister Mary Ellen reflects on God’s faithfulness and grace and the support of family, friends and community during her 50 years as a Sister of St. Joseph. “I feel blessed to be a Sister of St Joseph, accompanied by wonderful women throughout these years. The Spirit has guided me to live and happily minister to and for many students, staff members, parishioners, persons who were near death and their families, those engaged in spiritual direction, as well as women and men who have participated in groups, intended to draw us closer to God. I’ve had countless opportunities for spiritual growth as well as education for every field in which I have ministered. I am so grateful for God’s continual faithfulness and grace in my life and for my family who bless me with an outpouring of love and support.”

  Sister Roberta Smith, OSF, general minister of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities in Syracuse, is celebrating her 50th jubilee.

   A native of Pelham, N.Y., she attended St. Catherine’s Parish.

   Sister Roberta entered the novitiate in 1963 and professed her final vows in 1971.

   She earned a bachelor’s degree in communication and education, a bachelor’s degree in reading and a master’s degree in theology.

   Sister Roberta served as an elementary school teacher at St. Eugene’s School in Yonkers, N.Y., pastoral worker at St. Teresa’s in New York City, pastoral associate at Ascension Parish in New York City, director of religious education at St. Ursula’s in Mount Vernon, N.Y. and vocation director, councilor and general minister for Sisters at Hastings-on-Hudson. Beginning in 2004, Sister Roberta served as general council for the Sisters of St. Francis headquartered in Syracuse. In 2008, she was appointed general councilor and in 2012, general minister, a position she will hold until 2016.

   Sister Roberta said she became a sister because “I loved the Franciscan spirit and wished to be a part of that community.” She also said she was influenced by the love and example of the religious who taught her in school. 
 

  She plans to celebrate her anniversary on two different occasions. The first will take place on June 28 at St. Ursula’s in Mount Vernon, N.Y. and the second will be held on September 13 at the Franciscan Villa in North Syracuse.

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