Celebrating religious jubilarians

Sister Monica Zmolek, OSF, is celebrating 70 years as a Sister of St. Francis, having entered the order in 1947. The eldest of 11 children, she was born in Iowa and graduated from Notre Dame Academy in Omaha. She earned her bachelor’s from the University of Dayton Extension in Hawaii and her master’s from Manhattanville in New York.

   Sister Monica taught in Hawaii for 15 years, served as director of religious educations in locations throughout Central New York and Massachusetts, and served two terms of leadership in her community. She also served as a parish minister at Immaculate Conception Church in Fayetteville, which she now does part-time. In this ministry, she works with bereaved families. “It’s wonderful to be able to do something for somebody in pain,” she said, and to allow them to know that somebody is with them on this painful journey.

   Sister Monica said she first thought about a religious vocation when she made a retreat in high school, and she was ultimately drawn to the Sisters of St. Francis because she wanted to work on Molokai. She was able to spend time working there in the summers when she wasn’t teaching, caring for the blind. It was “an experience that I was most thankful for,” she said. She is grateful to her parents “for instilling a deep love for the Lord in us and the desire to do something in return.”

   It’s hard to believe she’s marking 70 years, she said, “but it’s a real joy to think that I was able to be in this community that long and work with others who also were very giving and gifted.” To a young woman discerning a call to the religious life, she advises, “If you feel called by the Lord, go happily, cheerfully” and with hope and joy.


60 years

Sister Rose Bill, MFIC, is celebrating 60 years as a Missionary Franciscan Sister. Like her brother, Msgr. Ronald Bill, who is celebrating his 60th year of ordination, she grew up in a loving and faith-filled family. Her family inspired Sister Rose in everything she has done and accomplished, and she was taught from an early age the importance of ministering to those in need.

   Sister Rose, a native of Liverpool, N.Y., was a member of Our Lady of Pompei Parish. She entered the Novitiate at Chestnut Hill, Mass., on Sept. 8, 1954, and was professed on Aug. 12, 1957.

   She holds a bachelor’s degree from Fordham University, an MA in French Literature from Assumption College, a CAS in Educational Administration from Oswego State, and an MA in Theology from St. Michael’s College. She also studied at the Sorbonne on scholarship from the French Embassy. She did her CPE training at United Health Services in Binghamton, N.Y.

   Sister Rose has authored and illustrated two children’s books. The Flower Lady shows children how to turn a negative experience into a positive one. Her second book, The Cookie Lady, teaches children to reach out to others, serve them, and bring them God’s love, and teaches them about the importance of kindness and compassion.

   Sister Rose taught at Our Lady of Pity School in the Bronx; St. Clare High School in Roslindale, Mass., and Mt. Alvernia High School in Newton, Mass. She became principal and DRE at St. Charles Borromeo School in Syracuse, and later, principal at Our Lady of Pompei School, Syracuse. Subsequently, Sister Rose served two terms on her community’s leadership team. For the past 29 years she has been a Pastoral Associate at Holy Cross Parish, DeWitt.

   Looking back, Sister Rose said, “This 60th anniversary isn’t so much about my vocation, my call, my life of service. That is part of it certainly, but not the main part. This jubilee most of all celebrates God, His call, His faithfulness, His mercy, and His overwhelming Love. These gifts have been the anchor of my personal and my religious life, and a magnet drawing me ever closer to God and His people. He has been the compass that guides me and has kept all things both good and bad in perspective.”