Celebrating religious jubilarians

Sister Helen Palermo (Sister Anne Zita), CSJ, is celebrating 70 years as a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Born in Syracuse and a member of Blessed Sacrament Parish, she entered the novitiate of the Sisters of St. Joseph on March 19, 1947. Sister Helen received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in reading, both from The College of Saint Rose.

   Sister Helen was a teacher for 54 years in schools of the Syracuse and Albany Dioceses, including in the Syracuse Diocese St. Mary’s Home and St. Patrick’s School, Binghamton; St. Mary’s School, Oswego; and St. Vincent de Paul’s School and St. Ann’s School, Syracuse. In addition, she taught for BOCES and the ABC Learning Center in Syracuse and was a teacher for the homebound in the Syracuse Public School System. Sister Helen presently resides at Blessed Sacrament Convent, Syracuse.

   In thinking of her jubilee, Sister Helen reflects, “I can’t believe I have lived long enough to celebrate 70 years in the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph! It means so much to think of God’s faithfulness to me all my life as well as the love and support of so many family members, friends and the hundreds of persons whom I have had the privilege of serving.

   “My heart is filled with gratitude that God has blessed me with the gift of a vocation to religious life as well as the physical and spiritual gifts to live through seven decades! I think of my parents who gave me the gift of baptism and who nurtured my growth in faith. I think of so many faithful sister-friends: Sisters Annamae Kenny, Joan Sauro, Barbara Kuczynski, all the sisters I live with at Blessed Sacrament and so many more. All I can say is a great big ‘thanks’!

   “I have seen so many changes in religious life and the Holy Spirit is always there guiding us. To any woman thinking of becoming a Sister of St. Joseph, I would say to listen to Jesus’ call in the Gospel to follow Him and focus also on Jesus’ promise that He will always be with us! It’s true!

   “To be alive and well at age 90 and to be marking 70 years as a Sister of St. Joseph is an amazing gift from God. There have been ups and downs, for sure, but what a wonderful journey it has been!”


Sister Marie Bernadette Wyman, OSF, celebrating 70 years as a Sister of St. Francis, is a native of South Dorset, Vt. She entered the Sisters of St. Francis of the Mission of the Immaculate Virgin (Archdiocese of New York) in 1947 and professed final vows in 1952.

    Graduating from Manhattan College (Bronx, N.Y.), Sister Marie Bernadette later earned master’s degrees in social work and modern languages from Fordham University and a master’s degree in theology from St. John’s University (Queens, N.Y.).

   During her 70 years of religious life, Sister Marie Bernadette touched many lives in her various teaching ministries and especially at The Mission of the Immaculate Virgin (Mount Loretto, Staten Island) where she served in child care (1970-1972); and later was executive assistant (1978-1980); director (1980-1982); and was appointed by Terence Cardinal Cooke as executive director (1982-1990). Sister Marie Bernadette also ministered at St. Francis Hospital (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.) as Director of Mission Effectiveness and later ministered in the Pastoral Care Department. She was Director of Religious Education at St. James the Apostle Church (Port Ritchie, Fla).

   Sister Marie Bernadette was elected General Minister of her community in 1992 and re-elected as General Minister in 1995. Appreciating her Franciscan vocation, she pioneered the vision of enlivening the community’s Franciscan heritage. So she was delighted that on July 11, 2004, three New York State-based congregations of Franciscan sisters — the Sisters of St. Francis of the Mission of the Immaculate Virgin (Hastings), the Sisters of St. Francis Third Order Regular (Buffalo), and the Sisters of the Third Franciscan Order (Syracuse) — united to form a new congregation: the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities.

    In 2014, Sister Marie Bernadette moved to the Diocese of Syracuse to live with sisters she has known along her journey, as well as some she is getting to know.