Sister Maryann Argus, OSF, is marking 50 years of religious life.
A native of East Syracuse and St. Matthew’s Parish, Sister earned her bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Catholic University and her master’s in secondary education, mathematics major, from SUNY Oswego. She is a CompTIA A+ Certified Hardware/Software Technician — the first religious woman to earn that certification, she said — and a Microsoft Office Trainer and Microsoft Office Master.
Sister Maryann’s teaching career began with teaching catechetics to children at Hancock Air Base. She went on to teach at St. Peter’s, Riverside; St. Rose of Lima, North Syracuse; St. Paul,’s Whitesboro; Notre Dame, Utica; All Saints, Syracuse; Bishop Ludden, Syracuse; Oswego Catholic High; and Christian Brothers Academy in Syracuse, where she has served for 26 years.
Sister Maryann said she had never thought about teaching at all when she entered the order, but that’s where she was needed. Her superior told her “God will provide,” she recalled, “and he did!” On the other hand, she had always wanted to become a Franciscan sister. She got her love of animals and nature from her father, she said, and then she learned about a saint called Francis. Her teachers at St. Matthew’s were sisters, she said, and “that’s what I wanted to be from whenever I can remember — the whole focus was to become a Franciscan sister.”
Reflecting on her jubilee, Sister Maryann said “it doesn’t seem to be 50 years,” and noted one of the biggest challenges she faces “is to set aside the work and the technology and get the time for just quietly being in God’s presence.” She schedules time to unplug — and encourages others, especially young discerners, to do the same. For those discerning, she advises “unplugging and taking the time to listen to what God says… You will know, because your heart will speak to you: ‘This is what I have to do.’”
Sister Lois Ann Barton, CSJ, is celebrating 50 years as a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. A member of St. Matthew’s Parish in East Syracuse and a graduate of St. John’s Catholic Academy, Sister Lois entered the novitiate of the Sisters of St. Joseph on Aug. 12, 1967. She received a bachelor’s degree in French from The College of Saint Rose and a master’s degree in French from Middlebury College.
Sister Lois began her religious life as a teacher of French at Catholic Central/Seton Catholic Central High School, Binghamton. She also was director of religious education at St. Anthony’s Parish, Endicott; resource center administrator and director of religious education for the Southern Region of the Syracuse Diocese; and a spiritual director. In addition, Sister Lois served the Sisters of St. Joseph as director of candidates and temporary professed. She is presently program director at The Sophia Center for Spirituality in Binghamton.
Sister Lois remarks on the many persons who have served as her mentors in religious life: “When I look back over my 50 years of religious life for influences on my vocation, I have to go even further: back to my parents and the Sisters of St. Joseph, both in Boston and Syracuse, whose love for God and care for me has been an organic element of my entire life. I must add as well the wonderful Sisters of St. Francis at St. Daniel’s School in Lyncourt who took me into their hearts as a junior high ‘transplant’ and gave me a deep love for all things Franciscan.
“As a person who entered the convent in 1966 on the cusp of monumental change in religious life, I could not have conceived of the shifts that would form congregational decisions and opportunities over five decades. Gratitude is the thrust of my life as I look both back and forward. I see now the workings of the Spirit in all the ministries I have been graced to exercise, learning all along what it means to be part of the ‘Congregation of the Great Love of God,’ striving to love all persons without distinction. This has been possible for me through the example of so many amazing women who have lived the life before me and with me in local community, on committees and boards, at annual gatherings and in our many celebrations. I have learned also from ministry partners, our lay associates and others who show me the love of God in daily life.
“Facing now an unprecedented diminishment in numbers, I am gratified to look to our younger sisters whose hope for and love of this life has not diminished. They are now my teachers about willingness to engage in change for the good that can come of it and the challenge that can make us strong. I would recommend this life to anyone whose heart is calling her to reach out to the ‘dear neighbor’ in moving the world toward unifying love.”