Celebrating religious jubilarians

70 years

Sister Raphael Fulwider, OSF, is marking 70 years as a Sister of St. Francis. She entered the novitiate in 1946. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from Syracuse University and her master’s from the College of New Rochelle.

   Sister Raphael taught in schools in Hoboken, N.J., and Albany, N.Y. She went on to teach Art at Maria Regina College on the campus of the Franciscan Motherhouse. During her years in ministry, Sister Raphael not only shared her talent in art with her students but also shared it with her sisters in community.

   With a true artistic heart, Sister revels in the many colors in nature. In her room in the Franciscan Villa where she now resides, the pictures depicting the beauty of nature that she has painted mirror the scenes that she can see from her windows. This connection with God’s beauty is probably what makes Sister Raphael such a happy, welcoming personality. She also loves her cards, especially pinochle, which she will play any time she can.


Sister Mary Celestine McCann, OSF, celebrates 70 years as a Sister of St. Francis. A native of Camden, N.J., she attended the Convent School in Syracuse. She entered the novitiate in 1946 and began teaching in 1948. Over 51 years, Sister Mary Celestine taught in schools in Hoboken and Camden, N.J.; Albany, N.Y.; at Holy Trinity School and St. Daniel School, both in Syracuse; and at St. Mary’s School in Utica. She taught a variety of elementary grade levels over the years, but spent the majority teaching kindergarten and second grade, she said.

   Sister volunteered at Stella Maris in Skaneateles for 22 summers before relocating there in 1999 and serving as a hospitality minister. Today, she resides at the St. Mary Chapel House in Baldwinsville, assisting in St. Mary’s Parish and St. Mary’s Academy as needed.

   Taught by the Sisters of St. Francis in school, Sister Mary Celestine said that beginning in third or fourth grade, she’d say she wanted to be a sister. She was supported in her vocation by everyone in her family and the sisters at school, noting especially her eighth grade teacher.

   Reflecting on her years of religious life, Sister Mary Celestine says she is “so grateful to God for all the wonderful blessings and graces he has given to me. Even before I entered the convent, I was blessed with beautiful family where the faith was simple but it kept us close to God.”

   On discerning a call to religious life, Sister advises “stay close to our Lord and especially his Blessed Mother. Give  yourself to him to use in whatever way he wants…. Just be open.”

   “No matter what vocation you’re in, we serve God by just being his instrument of love and peace and compassion,” she added. “Take each day as it comes and do your very best.”