Sister Bernice Eib, OSF, is happy to be celebrating 80 years as a Sister of St. Francis. “I like everything Franciscan,” she said. Her home parish is St. Peter’s in Riverside, N.J. She made her final vows in 1939, after she was inspired by her first grade teacher to enter the religious life. “We thought the sisters were ‘Mrs. God,’” said Sister Bernice. “And, I thought ‘the Franciscan order was where it was at.’”
Sister Bernice, known for her patience and kindness, used these attributes in her teaching career. She taught grades 1-12 in Hawaii for 36 years after teaching at St. Joseph’s School in Utica and Assumption School in Syracuse. “Children are the same all over,” commented Sister Bernice. “They are full of fun.”
Sister Bernice also retired from the NunBetter Chocolates and Custom Gift Baskets enterprise, where her duty was to affix labels to items offered for sale. She presently enjoys working crossword puzzles.
Sister Bernice offered some words of wisdom to young women who are discerning a call to religious life. “Stick with it,” she advised.
Sister Dolorosa Lenk, OSF, is celebrating 75 years as a Sister of St. Francis. A native of Utica, her home parish is St. Joseph’s. Sister Dolorosa felt a calling to the religious life when she was in second grade. “I had a wonderful teacher that I emulated,” she said.
Sister Dolorosa said she felt that she was born a Franciscan because a good number of her family members were Franciscans. “It seemed that it was part of my life,” she explained.
She entered the Franciscan Order in 1939. She hasn’t regretted the decision. “I love the peace of it,” she said. “I don’t have to worry about anything. God will take care of it.”
Sister Dolorosa earned her bachelor’s degree in humanities from Le Moyne College and a master’s degree in French from the College of Saint Rose in Albany. She continued to study French at L’Universite Laval in Quebec and at the La Sorbonne in Paris.
Sister Dolorosa taught high school French for 43 years in Syracuse, Oswego and Hawaii. She said she enjoyed teaching. “It was the satisfaction of giving them [students] something to build on,” explained Sister Dolorosa.
After retiring from teaching, she served in administration at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital’s education and volunteer departments. She also worked at NunBetter Chocolates and Custom Gift Baskets, curling ribbons to be placed on packages.
Sister Dolorosa is an avid reader and enjoys crossword puzzles, sewing and walking. She has also traveled a great deal — to every continent, with Antarctica being the latest one she visited.
Sister Gladys Zimmerman, OSF, celebrates 75 years as a Sister of St. Francis. Her home parish is St. Anthony of Padua in Ohio. She came to Syracuse to attend the Convent School when she was 14, became invested in 1939 and graduated in 1945. “I feel as if I was born to be a Franciscan,” explained Sister Gladys when she spoke of receiving a calling to become a Sister of St. Francis. Many of Sister Gladys’ maternal and paternal relatives were involved with the Franciscan order including her mother, who was a Secular Franciscan, and her brother, who became a Conventual Franciscan. After becoming a Sister of St. Francis, Sister Gladys began teaching math at the elementary school level for over 20 years in various locations including Hawaii, Florida and New York; she taught high school math as well. She left teaching for a period of time to manage a government building for 14 years in Port Charlotte, Fla. before returning to the Syracuse area. “I was happy to be called to the Franciscan life,” stated Sister Gladys. Sister Gladys recently celebrated her jubilee with a party with family and friends in Ohio.
Sister Laurine McDonald, OSF, celebrates 75 years as a Sister of St. Francis. She was born Mildred McDonald in Hawaii and her home parish was St. Catherine’s in Honolulu. She attended elementary and high school in Hawaii and it was her intention to become a nurse and get married when she graduated high school. During the last week of school, as she was cleaning the windows and “looking out over God’s world,” a teacher asked when she was going to join the convent and mentioned a boat would be leaving for the States in just a few weeks. Sister Laurine decided to be on the boat and left Hawaii for Syracuse, entering St. Anthony’s Convent on Court Street, professing her final vows in 1945. She chose nursing as her ministry, working at St. Joseph’s Hospital assisting in the operating room with open-heart surgery, and was the first nurse to operate the heart and lung machine for the hospital.
She traveled extensively throughout her life, having been to Peru, Europe, Africa and every state in the U.S., with the exception of North and South Dakota and Alaska. Looking back over her decision to become a Sister of St. Francis, Sister Laurine stated, “I’ve been very happy and I wouldn’t change my decision for anything.” Her advice for young women who are considering a life as a Sister of St. Francis is to “Stick with it. If I could do it, anyone else can too.”
Sister Mary Nicholas Amodio, OSF, is celebrating 70 years as a Sister of St. Francis. She professed her final vows on August 16, 1950.
Sister Mary Nicholas, besides serving as a teacher, has been involved in a variety of ministries, spreading the good news of God’s word to others. She served in the Syracuse Diocese for 65 years. Sister Mary Nichols, reflecting on what she considered her greatest blessing while serving in the diocese, said, “I loved working with the priests and beautiful people in the diocese, but one of my greatest joys and blessings was teaching the Life in the Spirit Seminars, as it brought people into a closer relationship with Jesus.”
Sister Mary Gertrude Dumas, OSF, is celebrating 70 years as a Sister of St. Francis. Her home parish is St. Mary’s in Champlain, N.Y.
Sister Mary Gertrude made her final profession of vows on August 16, 1950.
Sister Mary Gertrude served as a nurse at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Utica, St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse and at the Mercy Rehabilitation Center in Auburn. She served in the Syracuse Diocese for 40 years. “My greatest blessing while ministering in the Syracuse and any other diocese was being a nurse,” she said. “I was able to care for the sick in hospitals and nursing homes. Doing this ministry didn’t depress me because I was able to see Jesus in everyone and in everything I did. I was with Jesus through these people all day and I felt very blessed.”
She serves as Prayer Minister at the Franciscan Villa, where she resides.
When Sister Mary Gertrude is not engaged in prayer or ministry, she enjoys being outdoors on sunny days, fellowship with her Sisters and singing. She is well known for her beautiful smile, gentleness and her love of the color pink.
Sister Gwendolyn Larkins, OSF, is celebrating 70 years as a Sister of St. Francis. She is currently serving as a Prayer Minister.
Sister Gwendolyn’s home parish is St. Peter’s in Riverside, N.J. She took her final vows on August 16, 1950. She spent five years serving in hospitality in Rome, Italy. She taught elementary school and music to high school students for 32 years in the Syracuse Diocese. She considers teaching children her greatest blessing of all.
Sister Gwendolyn said when she is not engaged in prayer or ministry, she enjoys the companionship of her fellow Sisters.
Rosaire Anne De Mare, CSJ, celebrates 60 years as a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. She was born in Rome and was a native of St. John the Baptist Parish, and a graduate of St. Aloysius Academy.
Sister Rosaire Anne entered the novitiate of the Sisters of St. Joseph on March 19, 1955, and professed final vows on August 6, 1962. She received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in educational psychology, both from The College of Saint Rose, Albany. For nearly 50 years, Sister Rosaire Anne served in schools of the Albany and Syracuse Dioceses as teacher, administrator, principal and library media specialist. In the Syracuse Diocese, she taught at St. Lucy’s School, St. John the Baptist School (administrator) and St. Ann’s School, all in Syracuse; St. Agnes School, Utica (principal); and St. Peter’s School, Rome, where she was library media specialist and vice principal. Since 2005, Sister Rosaire Anne has ministered in St. Peter’s Parish, Rome, as bookkeeper, pastoral associate and administrative assistant.
Of her years as a Sister of St. Joseph, Sister Rosaire Anne commented: “Sixty years in religious life has been a wonderful privilege. Serving the people of God as a teacher, principal, and now as a pastoral associate has been a blessing to me and I hope to the people with whom I have come in contact. I am so grateful to the many Sisters of St. Joseph on whose shoulders I stand, and I know their example and dedication have inspired me to be a good religious.
“Being a Sister of St. Joseph has enriched my spirituality and blessed my relationships with the sisters in my community. Our congregation is based on the Ignatian spirituality ‘with an orientation toward excellence, tempered by love, peace and joy.’ My life is one of serving the needs of the ‘dear neighbors,’ conscious of the poor in a special way. The Eucharist is the center of our life, the locus and focus of all that we accomplish. Therein is my strength!”
Sister Harriet Hamilton, OSF, celebrates 60 years as a Franciscan Sister of Allegany. Sister Harriet felt called to become a Sister of St. Francis after attending St. Bonaventure.
She has been in education for 52 years, serving as an elementary school teacher, high school teacher and a principal for 28 years for both Catholic and public school children. The National Catholic Education Association and the National Association of Elementary School Principals honored her for distinguished service in 1997. After retiring in 2008, Sister Harriet became a pastoral associate for St. Mary’s Parish in Cortland.
“When I think it’s been 60 years, it’s quite a surprise,” laughed Sister Harriet. “I think I am proudest of the children I taught, and the people I worked with over the years.”
Sister Anne Horrigan, CSJ, is celebrating 60 years as a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. She is a native of St. John the Evangelist Parish and graduated from St. John’s Catholic Academy.
Sister Anne entered the novitiate of the Sisters of St. Joseph on March 19, 1955 and professed final vows on August 6, 1962. She received an associate’s degree in library science from Maria Regina College, Syracuse; a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from The College of Saint Rose, Albany; and a master’s degree in reading, also from The College of Saint Rose.
For 54 years, Sister Anne has served in schools in the Syracuse and Albany Dioceses, including in the Syracuse Diocese: St. Patrick’s School, Utica; St. Paul’s School, Binghamton; St. Anthony of Padua School, Endicott (administrator); Blessed Sacrament School, Johnson City; and St. James School, Johnson City, where she was teacher, librarian and computer specialist for 31 years.
Of this milestone in her life, Sister Anne comments: “Reflecting on my 60 years as a Sister of St. Joseph brings to mind the word awesome. Jubilee to me suggests a time to give to and receive joy, laughter, comfort, forgiveness, and love from all those with whom I have shared life over these 60 years. To be a Sister of St. Joseph at this time and place in history is both challenging and exciting. It has been awesome to celebrate jubilee in this time proclaimed by Pope Francis as the Year of Consecrated Life!”
Sister Martha Vincent Larkin, CSJ, is celebrating her 60th anniversary as a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. She was born in Syracuse and raised in Rome. Sister Martha was a member of St. Peter’s Parish, Rome, and a graduate of St. Aloysius Academy.
Sister Martha entered the novitiate of the Sisters of St. Joseph on March 19, 1955, and professed final vows on August 6, 1962. She received a bachelor’s degree in social studies from The College of Saint Rose, a master’s degree in history, also from Saint Rose, and a master’s degree in theological and pastoral studies from LaSalle University, Philadelphia, PA. For 28 years, Sister Martha taught in schools in the Syracuse Diocese, including St. Patrick’s School, Syracuse, and St. John the Evangelist School, New Hartford. Since 1985, Sister Martha has been a director of religious education (DRE) in parishes in the Albany and Syracuse Dioceses, including in the Syracuse Diocese St. Bartholomew’s Parish, Norwich, and St. John the Evangelist Parish, New Hartford, where she has served as DRE for the past 20 years.
Sister Martha sees this anniversary year as a time of connectedness and gratitude. “In our community, we celebrate jubilees in March, the month when winter is losing its grip and the promise of spring is in the air. How fitting!
“Jubilee is a time to celebrate past victories, mourn our losses, and connect with old friends and new. The many cards, notes and greetings have been and are a great source of joy for me. It has renewed in me the spirit that once prompted me to choose a life in a community of love and service to God and others.
“Jubilees renew and strengthen our connectedness with one another and with the dear neighbor. May the good energy of jubilee compel in all of us a new gratitude to God for what is past and a new spring of hope for what is yet to be!”
Sister Noreen Joyce, OSF, celebrates 60 years as a Sister of St. Francis. She spent many years in the Syracuse Diocese teaching at elementary and secondary schools within the community and also became a Licensed Practical Nurse and worked with young people at the Hillbrook Detention Center. She feels her greatest blessing being a Sister of St. Francis has been the gift of working with young people and helping mold, guide and counsel their minds and hearts.
Sister Mary Obrist, OSF, is celebrating 60 years as a Sister of St. Francis. Her home parish is Assumption in Syracuse.
Sister Mary credits the impression made on her by the Sisters who taught her at Assumption School for her decision to become a Sister of St. Francis. She entered the novitiate in 1954. “I’m happy about the decision,” she said. “It’s good to be with people who value you. We have something very special.”
Sister Mary served as an X-ray technician and in administration at St. Joseph’s Hospital for many years. “I never left — I’m on the board at St. Joseph’s now,” she said.
Sister Mary earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Le Moyne College and a master’s degree from the University of Notre Dame. She enjoys reading in her spare time.
Sister Rose Ann Renna, OSF, is celebrating 60 years as a Sister of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities.
Sister Rose Ann holds a diploma from the St. Elizabeth School of Nursing in Utica, a bachelor’s degree from SUNY Oswego and master’s degrees in nursing and liturgical music, both from the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.
Throughout her years o
f ministry, Sister Rose Ann has served as a nurse, teacher and administrator, including as the vice president for mission at St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center in Syracuse. She is currently a professor at St. Joseph’s Hospital College of Nursing.
Sister Helen Ann Charlebois, IHM, is celebrating 50 years as a member of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
A native of the diocese, Sister Helen Ann first attended St. Margaret’s Parish in Mattydale; after several moves between Philadelphia, Syracuse and Binghamton, her family settled in Syracuse, where they attended Most Holy Rosary Church.
Sister Helen Ann is a graduate of Most Holy Rosary High School and later earned degrees in history, home economics and counseling and a certification in administration, all from Marywood College in Pennsylvania.
Sister Helen Ann said her first thoughts about a vocation to the religious life came to her as a young girl in Philadelphia, where she attended Catholic school for the first time. “I remember sitting in the classroom, looking at the sister who was teaching, and saying, ‘Someday I’m going to be like her,’” Sister Helen Ann recalled. Then, as a student at Rosary, those thoughts returned. Though she had applied to nursing school, “there was this nagging thing that said, ‘If you don’t enter the convent, then you’re never going to know if that was for you or not.’” She professed her first vows June 27, 1965.
Sister Helen Ann said she “fell in love with education. It’s the only thing I want to do.” She has served as both a classroom teacher and a school administrator, teaching students from second grade to seniors in high school in locations including North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Idaho, Rhode Island and Syracuse. She has served as principal of Cathedral Academy at Pompei since 2011.
To a young woman discerning a call to religious life, Sister Helen Ann says, “Go for it.”
“I’ve had a full life, I’ve had a life that’s made it possible for me to reach out to others that never would have been possible in any other form. What I really appreciate is the relationship I’ve been able to establish with my God — which I think if I had not lived this life, that would never have happened,” she said.
Sister Lucy Flaherty, MFIC, is celebrating 50 years as a Missionary Franciscan Sister of the Immaculate Conception.
A native of St. Cecilia’s Church in Solvay, Sister Lucy said she “always kind of knew” she had a calling to religious life; she can even remember exactly where she was sitting in the church when she knew she was being called. “We were having an evening of reflection at St. Cecilia’s for young adults and had exposition of the Blessed Sacrament,” she said. “I just knew that I couldn’t prolong it anymore.”
She also knew she would join the order of sisters who ministered at St. Cecilia’s. “I wanted to be with our sisters, I wanted to do what they did,” she said.
Sister Lucy spent nine years teaching, and went on to study administration at St. John’s University. She spent 28 years as a principal in schools all over the diocese and the country, including in Illinois, New York, Georgia and New Jersey.
She later served as pastoral associate at St. Cecilia’s and ministered at the Dorothy Day House women’s shelter. Sister Lucy currently serves in the Human Development ministry at St. Margaret’s Church in Mattydale, assisting those in need corporally and spiritually and working on the Christ Life evangelization team.
To those discerning a vocation, Sister Lucy said, “I believe that if you really feel as though you have a call to religious life that you do.
“You need to pray, you need to ask God to keep telling you which way to go and giving you the strength and wisdom to do it,” she added.
Sister Ida Gregoire, RSM, is celebrating her golden jubilee as a Sister of Mercy.
Sister Ida grew up in Cohoes, N.Y., a member of St. Joseph’s Church there. She entered the Sisters of Mercy in 1965, following high school. She later went on to earn her bachelor’s degree from SUNY College of Technology at Utica/Rome and her master’s degrees in nursing and social work from Syracuse University.
Sister Ida said she had “a very Catholic upbringing” and an admiration for religious sisters. In high school, a Sister of Mercy took an interest in her, asked if she’d ever thought about becoming a sister and encouraged her to think about it. Though initially unsure, as a senior Sister Ida interviewed with and was accepted by the Sisters of Mercy.
She became a nurse in 1969 and spent nearly 20 years in public health. Among her many varied ministries, she has served as an educator for the Arthritis Foundation and as a nursing supervisor and social worker at the Jewish Home. She is currently assessment coordinator at Francis House in Syracuse and works as a trained hypnotist. She also volunteers each year with her order in Belize.
“God is center for my life. God is my life and I think God directs me every day,” Sister Ida said, reflecting on her past and future years of religious life. “I think the openness of saying, ‘God, wherever you want me to be, that’s what I’ve got to do today,’ – it’s amazing what you do discover.”
“I’ve been very happy,” she added. “I know I’m on the right track…. I don’t know what next year will bring me. I’m looking forward to the next 50!”
Brother Joseph Jozwiak, FSC, is celebrating his golden jubilee as a De La Salle Christian Brother.
Brother Joseph grew up in Detroit, Mich. He attended Catholic schools there, taught by the Felician Sisters in elementary school and by the Christian Brothers in high school.
Brother Joseph attributes his vocation in part to the Felician Sisters. As a young altar boy, the sisters would tell him he’d make a wonderful priest, he recalled, and the parish priests reinforced that. As he entered high school, Brother Joseph felt called to be a teacher. He became familiar with the Christian Brothers and their teaching ministry, and a number of Brothers encouraged him to consider religious life. In his senior year, Brother Joseph went to a “come and see” weekend with the Brothers. “That weekend it was like God hit me in the head,” he said. “It was right then I knew this is where I belonged. When I left that retreat, I knew this is where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do. It was like an epiphany. It was just like a bolt of lightning from heaven came down. ‘This is it! This is what I want!’ The rest is history.” He entered the Christian Brothers in 1965, following high school.
Brother Joseph went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in English literature from the Catholic University of America, a master’s degree in education/psychology from California Lutheran University and a master’s degree in private school administration from the University of San Francisco.
Brother Joseph’s ministry has included various positions at the LaSalle School in Albany and De La Salle Collegiate High School in Michigan. He served as the assistant provincial for the New York Province of the Christian Brothers from 2005 to 2009, when he became principal of Christian Brothers Academy in Syracuse, a position he currently holds.
Brother Joseph’s advice to young people discerning a vocation is to remain attentive to God’s calling and to follow your heart. “If people are attentive to hearing God’s call and they follow their heart, God will lead them in lifestyle and life vocation that God wants them to be in…. Talk with people who have embraced that vocation and followed their heart. God will take care of the rest.”
Sister Patricia Larkin, OSF, is celebrating 50 years as a Sister of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities.
Sister Pat grew up in Fulton, a member of Immaculate Conception Parish there. She holds a bachelor’s degree in math from the Catholic University of America, a master’s in social work from Hunter College, a certificate in religious formation from St. Louis University and a certificate in spiritual direction through the Spiritual Renewal Center in Syracuse.
Sister Pat said she first thought of being a sister during a religion class her sophomore year. “I immediately told God he was crazy,” she said, laughing. God continued “nagging,” she said, and as a senior she decided to pursue the Franciscan order. She recalled being in chemistry class, where the Franciscan sister was teaching the students how to make soap. The sister began talking about the Franciscan’s work in the inner city of Hoboken, N.J., where the smoke from trains dirtied laundry on the lines. Sister Pat knew then that she wanted to minister to children with the Franciscan order.
Sister Pat served as a teacher for 11 years. She has also ministered as a social worker with homeless youth at Covenant House New York, chaplain at Syracuse University’s Newman Center, co-director of the Franciscan Retreat Center in Hastings-on-Hudson and co-director at Stella Maris Retreat Center in Skaneateles. She has served her order as formation director, council member and region minister. She currently serves as co-director of the Franciscan Associates in the Central New York Region.
To those discerning religious life, “Try it,” Sister Pat said. “If you feel that, give it a try. It can’t hurt. You might stay!” she added with a laugh.
Sister Patricia McNally, CSJ, celebrates her 50th anniversary as a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Born and raised in Syracuse, she was a member of St. Lucy’s Parish and graduated from St. Lucy’s Academy.
On August 6, 1965, Sister Patricia entered the novitiate of the Sisters of St. Joseph and professed final vows on August 6, 1972. She received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from The College of Saint Rose, Albany, and a master’s degree in religious education from St. Michael’s College, Winooski, Vt.
Sister Patricia taught at schools in the Syracuse and Albany Dioceses, including St. Anthony of Padua School, Syracuse, and also served as a director of religious education in the Albany Diocese. For the past 27 years, Sister Patricia has ministered in the Utica-Rome area in the following capacities: for ten years with Catholic Charities as associate director of parish services in Utica and as counselor and outreach worker in Rome; and for the past 17 years at the Thea Bowman Day Care Center as kitchen manager and receptionist, her present position.
In reflecting on her golden jubilee as a woman religious, Sister Patricia said: “Being a Sister of St. Joseph for 50 years has enabled me to live among and serve those most in need. Living in community has strengthened my love of God and has allowed me to share this love with others.”