Sister Pamela Conte, OSF, is celebrating 50 years as a Sister of St. Francis. She grew up in Jeannette, Pa., moving to Syracuse at 14. She attended the Convent School for high school, meeting the Franciscan sisters there and entering the community after graduation.
Sister Pamela holds degrees in education, pastoral ministry, counseling, and psychology. Her service has included the ministry of education (as Sister Mary Joy) at St. Mary’s, Minoa; St. Margaret’s, Mattydale; Our Lady of Sorrows, Vestal; St. James, Syracuse; and St. Peter’s, Riverside, N.J.; pastoral ministry at Immaculate Heart of Mary, Liverpool; the care and support of the sisters in Syracuse and Mount Vernon; and counseling in Maryland and Virginia. In 2014, she became Regional Minister with the sisters in Mount Vernon. Since 2016, she has served on her congregation’s Leadership Team in Syracuse.
Reflecting on her 50 years of religious life, Sister Pamela says the words that come to mind are gratitude, wonder, joy, and Alleluia. “I am really grateful for all the wonderful people I’ve been able to minister with and find God in,” she said.
To a young woman discerning a call to the religious life, she advises: “Spend time in prayer every day, listen to what the Spirit is saying within you, and look for the Holy Mystery everywhere.”
Sister Mary Melanie Jaworski, CSSF, is celebrating 50 years of religious life. Born in Syracuse, she attended and graduated from Sacred Heart School, where she was taught by the Felician sisters.
“That certainly influenced my life,” she said. “As I experienced and witnessed their life of dedication and caring for us, it inspired me to be like them,” she said, not only as a sister but also as a teacher.
She grew up in a wonderful family and parish, she said, and was “blessed to have parents who always encouraged me and led me to participate in all the activities of the parish and of the school.” The sisters, the life of the parish, and her family are what have brought her to this time of celebrating 50 years as a religious sister, she added.
Sister Melanie has taught in schools in Buffalo, Salamanca, Olean, Binghamton, and Cheektowaga; she served as principal in three schools in Buffalo; and in 1992 returned home to serve as principal at Sacred Heart School — a great grace, she said. Today she serves in parish ministry and as catechetical leader at the Basilica.
Special experiences during her time at the Basilica include traveling to Italy for the canonization of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII and to Poland, where she was able to visit the motherhouse where her order’s foundress’ remains are.
It’s hard to believe it’s been 50 years, Sister Melanie said. “I’m very grateful for the experiences of meeting people [and] ministering alongside people,” including sisters, priests, laypeople, Felician associates, she said. “It’s a gift; it’s a grace,” she added.
To a young woman discerning a vocation, her advice is to pray, spend time with sisters in their community and ministry, and “hold on to that thought and follow through with it.”