Each year, the Diocese of Syracuse honors women religious who are celebrating milestone anniversaries. Profiles of jubilarians and their years of dedicated service follow. Look for more jubilee celebrations in upcoming issues of the Sun.
Sister Emeline Schneider, OSF
Sister Emeline Schneider is celebrating 80 years as a Sister of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities.
Born August 28, 1923, in Camden, New Jersey, Sister Emeline entered the community Sept. 8, 1940, and made her final profession in August 1946.
Sister Emeline ministered in education as a teacher and administrator for schools in Syracuse,
Utica, and Albany, New York; Lorain, Ohio; Long Beach, California; and Tampa, Florida, from 1942 to 1991. She holds permanent certifications in Ohio and Florida.
Sister Emeline ministered to parents and served as a substitute teacher while living in Little Flower Convent in St. Petersburg. She volunteered in St. Paul Parish in St. Petersburg from 2009 to 2016 before relocating to Syracuse.
Sister Emeline said a favorite part of her ministry was teaching English as a second language to a variety of priests, students, and neighbors.
To a young woman discerning a call to religious life, Sister Emeline said, “You have to have a tremendous love of God, give your whole heart and soul, accept whatever comes along as God sends it to you, and have a deep love of all humankind.”
Sister Jean Canora, OSF
Sister Jean Canora is celebrating 70 years as a Sister of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities.
Born in 1932 in Hackensack, New Jersey, Sister Jean entered community in 1951 and made her final profession in 1956.
As a licensed practical nurse and later a registered nurse, Sister Jean’s ministry was devoted largely to health care in numerous communities. She served at hospitals in Staten Island, Poughkeepsie, and Beacon, New York; Hawaii; and South Dakota; she was a school nurse at St. Joseph Indian School in South Dakota; and she worked with Catholic Charities for seven years developing programs for care ministry to seniors throughout the Archdiocese of New York. Sister Jean holds certificates in Pastoral Bereavement, Pastoral Studies, and Alcoholic Studies, and certification from the National Association of Catholic Chaplains.
“I love people,” Sister Jean said. “I loved working with kids. I’ve had a tremendous amount of wonderful experiences.”
Sister Jean moved to Syracuse seven years ago to begin a new mission at the St. Marianne Cope Shrine & Museum. Sister Jean has a great devotion to St. Marianne and loves offering tours and taking prayer requests from callers to the shrine, a part of her ministry she sees as a fulfillment of her life dedicated to working with people.
Sister Jean said she has always felt blessed in her years of religious life, and to young women discerning a call, she offered this advice: “All of my ministries have been inspired in some way or another…. If they are open to whatever God wills for them, they have to say yes. I always took Mary, our Blessed Mother, as the example. At the Annunciation she said ‘yes’ … There were many rewards for her but there was also a lot of sorrow. So you have to be ready to know that life brings sorrow and it brings joy… But I always felt very, very, very blessed in whatever I did.”
Sister Jeremiah Collins, OSF
Sister Jeremiah Collins is celebrating 70 years as a Sister of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities.
Sister Jeremiah was born in Rochester, where her home parish was Holy Apostles. She entered community in September 1950 and made her final profession in August 1956.
Her first ministry was in social work at St. Mary’s Parish in Baldwinsville. She also served as a teacher at St. Daniel School in Syracuse, Assumption School in Syracuse, and Oswego Catholic High School, where she also was a vice principal.
She served community as Secretary General and Assistant General Minister from 1977 to 1991, then worked with the sisters at Loretto Convent in Syracuse and in the Generalate business offices. She retired in 2019.
Sister Jeremiah said all of her ministries have been interesting and life-giving, and to a young woman discerning a call to religious life, she said, “You must feel it [a vocational call] within you and decide to make the sacrifice or not.” Sister Jeremiah said she has a great respect for parents raising children and advises that in whatever vocation you choose, make God your friend. Quoting a favorite prayer, she noted, “Time flies/All must die/Think of the end/Make God thy friend.”
Sister Monica Agnes Nortz, CSJ
Sister Monica Agnes Nortz is celebrating 70 years as a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet.
A native of Syracuse, Sister Monica was a member of Blessed Sacrament Parish and graduated from St. John’s Catholic Academy.
Sister Monica entered the novitiate of the Sisters of St. Joseph on March 19, 1951, and professed final vows on Aug. 15, 1958.
She received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the College of Saint Rose and a master’s degree from Marquette University.
Sister Monica spent a summer at Xavier University of Louisiana studying Black Catholic Theology. She studied Black Spirituals under Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration Thea Bowman, whose cause for sainthood is now under consideration. “In taking that course, it was a life-changing experience,” Sister Monica said.
For some 35 years, Sister Monica served in the ministry of education as a teacher and principal in the Syracuse and Albany Dioceses, and was assistant to the superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Syracuse. Of her time in the field of education, Sister Monica said, “I loved every minute of it and I’m grateful for the wonderful people with whom I worked.”
Vatican II opened the door to new ministries for Sister Monica, and she found a need to work with families in crisis, she said. She worked for Catholic Charities in Syracuse as the longtime director of the Dorothy Day House shelter for women and children and as a parish coordinator for refugee resettlement. She later worked with the Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State, with the Rural & Migrant Ministry of Oswego County, and was an outreach worker at St. Ann’s Parish in Manlius.
Now in retirement, “I was given the gift of following the Spirit wherever it sends me,” Sister Monica said, and she volunteers with Unity Acres, a house of hospitality for homeless men in Oswego County, and L’Arche Syracuse.
Reflecting on her 70 years in religious life, Sister Monica said, “The call to enter the Sisters of St. Joseph has been a profound blessing. The words of the spiritual ‘We’ve Come This Far by Faith’ say it all: ‘I’ve come this far by faith/Leaning on the Lord/Trusting in God’s holy Word/He’s never failed me yet.’
“Together for the past 70 years as a Sister of St. Joseph I have grown deeper in prayer to have no fear in following my journey regardless of where it would lead and the courage to speak boldly when justice calls.”
Quoting the spiritual “God Has Smiled on Me,” Sister Monica said: “He has set me free/God has smiled on me/He’s been good to me.”
Sister Ann Marie Ball, CSJ (Sister William Ann)
Sister Ann Marie Ball is celebrating her 60th anniversary as a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet.
Sister Ann Marie was born in Syracuse and graduated from St. Anthony of Padua Grade School and High School. She entered the novitiate of the Sisters of St. Joseph on March 20, 1961, and professed final vows on Aug. 6, 1968.
Sister Ann Marie received a bachelor’s degree from The College of Saint Rose and a master’s degree from SUNY at Cortland. She taught in schools in the Albany and Syracuse dioceses, including St. Vincent de Paul School in Syracuse. She also served in parish ministry and religious education at Our Lady of Peace Parish, Syracuse; St. Therese Parish, Syracuse; St. Mary’s Parish, Jamesville; Holy Cross Parish, DeWitt; and Immaculate Conception Parish, Pompey.
Sister Ann Marie presently resides at All Saints Parish in Syracuse, where she volunteers and also visits the sick. Additionally, her ministry has included serving as an attendance clerk at the YMCA in Fayetteville, where she was also present to members and staff, listening to and praying for them.
As she celebrates her 60th jubilee, Sister Ann Marie feels blessed and grateful for the many years of her ministry. She is particularly grateful for the love and support of family, friends, and community that enabled her to live what she was called to be, living “unifying love,” the charism of the Sisters of St. Joseph.
Sister Donald Corcoran, OSB Cam.
Sister Donald Corcoran is celebrating 60 years as a Camaldolese Benedictine.
Sister Donald was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota; her home parish was St. Thomas the Apostle in Corcoran, Minnesota, the town named for her great-grandfather.
Sister Donald entered the Benedictines in 1959, made first vows in 1961, and made final vows in 1966. She holds a PhD in Theology from Fordham University. While studying in New York, she lived for one year at the Catholic Worker and knew Dorothy Day very well; she is now on the board of the Dorothy Day Guild.
She has taught at St. Louis University as well as for more than 30 years in the diocese’s permanent diaconate program.
Sister Donald is co-founder of Transfiguration Monastery in Windsor, where she currently ministers, a part of the Camaldolese Benedictine Congregation.
“The most rewarding part of my life as a consecrated religious has been simply living the spiritual richness of Benedictine life,” Sister Donald wrote in an email to the Sun, and as she marks this anniversary, “I am filled with gratitude for God’s many blessings.”
Her advice to a young woman discerning a call to religious life? “Pray for guidance. Truly seek God.”
Sister Mary Ann Fetcho, CSJ (Sister Catherine Stephen)
Sister Mary Ann Fetcho is celebrating 60 years as a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet.
Born in Syracuse, Sister Mary Ann was a member of St. Brigid’s Parish, where she attended grade school, and later graduated from St. Patrick’s High School.
Sister Mary Ann entered the novitiate of the Sisters of St. Joseph on March 20, 1961, and professed final vows on Aug. 6, 1968.
She earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from The College of Saint Rose and Permanent School Administrator and Supervisor Certificate from Manhattan College; she also pursued additional studies in clinical-pastoral education at St. Peter’s Hospital, Albany.
Sister Mary Ann taught in schools in the Albany Diocese and served as principal of St. Peter’s School, Rome. After working for several years as a chaplain at St. Clare’s Hospital, Schenectady, Sister Mary Ann returned to the Syracuse Diocese, where she was administrative assistant at St. Francis Social Adult Day Care in Syracuse and pastoral associate at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Liverpool. Sister Mary Ann presently resides and ministers in the Liverpool area.
Reflecting on her jubilee, Sister Mary Ann wrote: “As I celebrate 60 years as a Sister of St. Joseph, I find myself reminiscing about a 60-year journey that provided me with so many blessings.
“As a member of a religious community, I have found myself sharing with other women a life rooted in prayer and lived out in service to the dear neighbor.
“As a teacher and principal, I had the joy of educating students and assisting parents with the responsibilities associated with children.
“In my 11 years as a hospital chaplain in a Catholic hospital in Schenectady, I shared the joys and sorrows of individuals as they faced life’s cycle of birth, sickness, and death.
“After 11 years as a hospital chaplain, I returned to my hometown of Syracuse. Here I came full circle, bringing all I had learned in previous ministries to the people of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Liverpool.
“As I reflect over my 60 years as a Sister of St. Joseph, I am filled with gratitude first to my parents, who gave me and my siblings a wonderful faith-filled foundation which resulted in my responding to God’s call as a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet.”
Sister Mary Alice St. John, CSJ (Sister Florence John)
Sister Mary Alice St. John is celebrating 60 years as a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet.
Born in Oswego, Sister Mary Alice was a member of St. Paul’s Parish and graduated from St. Paul’s Grade School and Oswego Catholic High School.
Sister Mary Alice entered the novitiate of the Sisters of St. Joseph on March 20, 1961, and professed final vows on Aug. 6, 1968.
She earned a bachelor’s degree from The College of Saint Rose and spent the first 15 years of her religious life teaching in schools of the Albany and Syracuse dioceses, including St. Mary’s School, Oswego; Blessed Sacrament School, Syracuse; and St. Anthony’s School, Endicott.
After her years in the ministry of education, Sister Mary Alice worked for Howard Taylor & Company, Rochester, in computer services/research, and for Rochester Mental Health Extension as a case manager.
In 1990, Sister Mary Alice began her service in parish ministry as director of religious education at Sacred Heart Parish, Cicero, and later as director of religious education, pastoral associate, and director of faith formation in St. Joseph’s Parish, Oswego.
Sister Mary Alice presently resides in Oswego and ministers as an ecumenical outreach volunteer, coordinated an ecumenical women’s group, facilitates small prayer groups, and helps minister to the sick.
Reflecting on her 60th anniversary as a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet, Sister Mary Alice wrote: “My heart is filled with gratitude for the journey, challenges, and people I have encountered. I continue to hold each person in my daily prayers, asking God’s love and blessings on them and their families.”
Sister Sharon Ann Whellahan, CSJ (Sister John Michael)
Sister Sharon Ann Whellahan is celebrating 60 years as a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet.
Born in Oswego, she was a member of St. Mary’s Parish and graduated from St. Mary’s Grade School and Oswego High School.
Sister Sharon entered the novitiate of the Sisters of St. Joseph on March 20, 1961, and professed final vows on August 6, 1968.
She earned a bachelor’s degree from the College of Saint Rose and certification in school administration from Manhattan College. She studied Reading Education at SUNY Oswego and Theology at Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
In the Syracuse Diocese, Sister Sharon taught at Blessed Sacrament School, Syracuse, and St. Lucy’s School, Syracuse, and was principal at St. John the Evangelist School in New Hartford.
In 1981, Sister Sharon began her work in parish ministry in St. Therese’s Parish, Syracuse, where she served as pastoral minister and director of religious education. She was later a pastoral associate at St. Ann’s Parish, Syracuse; an outreach worker for Rural & Migrant Ministry in Oswego County; and, from 2003 to 2017, pastoral associate at Historic Old St. John’s Parish in Utica.
Sister Sharon currently resides in Clinton and serves as a part-time pastoral care minister at Mohawk Valley Psychiatric Center in Utica and as a volunteer at St. John’s.
Reflecting on marking her 60th jubilee, Sister Sharon wrote: “I can still remember the day when I ‘fell in love’ with God. I was in my early 20s and that is when I felt God’s love and invitation to religious life. The invitation was not what I expected but I am happy I responded ‘yes.’ Sixty years ago does not seem possible. They have been years of blessings and joy.
What a gift it has been to be a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet and experience the joy and love of my CSJ sisters. They have nurtured and supported me throughout these many years.
I have been privileged to serve God’s people in a variety of ministries and these have given me joy and opportunities I never imagined I would have. Many times I have been able to be with those experiencing great sorrow or loss. It was my presence, not my words, that brought comfort and I have learned from and grown through all of these experiences.
I am filled with gratitude for my vocation, my CSJ community, and the loving, faithful presence of God in my life each and every day of these past 60 years.”
Sister Margaret Patrick Fay, OSF
Sister Margaret Patrick Fay is celebrating 50 years as a Sister of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities.
Born in Syracuse, she entered community in 1970 and permanently professed in 1976.
Sister Margaret Patrick earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the Catholic University of America and a master’s degree in biology from The College of St. Rose. She also holds a New York State Teaching Certificate for Grades 7-12, biology, chemistry, earth science, and general science.
She ministered as a teacher at Assumption and Bishop Ludden Schools in Syracuse and St. Francis School in Hoboken, New Jersey. For 12 years, Sister Margaret Patrick ministered as the Administrator for the Alverna Heights Spirituality and Nature Center in Fayetteville, where she initiated a day camp. For some 20 summers, she served as a coordinator at Family Nature Camp at College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, Sister Margaret Patrick was a substitute teacher at Immaculate Conception School in Fayetteville; she hopes to return to that work in the fall. Working with children of many ages, from 3- and 4-year-olds to high school students, has been the most rewarding part of her ministry, she said.
Sister Margaret Patrick advises young women discerning religious life to “pray about it, what God’s calling them to. When they’re ready to start discerning, work on it — really pray and look into different communities” and contact members of the community “to get a real feeling for what the community is about.”
Marking 50 years of religious life is overwhelming, Sister Margaret Patrick laughed. “It’s hard to believe it’s been 50 years, because in my head it doesn’t feel like 50 years! The time has gone so quickly,” she said. “God has been so good to me. All these 50 years, I’ve been fortunate to be in great ministries and live with great sisters.”
Sister Bernadette Joseph Kurpris, OSF
Sister Bernadette Joseph Kurpris is celebrating 50 years as a Sister of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities.
Sister Bernadette Joseph grew up on a small dairy farm in Brookfield, New York, where she learned a respect for all creation. She entered community in August 1970.
She earned degrees from the Catholic University of America and the University of Scranton. She holds a permanent New York State Teacher Certification and a religious certification from the Diocese of Syracuse.
Sister Bernadette Joseph’s entire ministry has been in education. She has taught at St. James, Holy Family, and Holy Trinity schools, all in Syracuse; St. Mary’s School in Kirkville; and St. Paul’s School in Whitesboro. Since 1984, she has taught at St. Mary’s Academy in Baldwinsville; she currently teaches sixth grade. Sister Bernadette Joseph counts working with students and families as the most rewarding part of her years of ministry.
“Religious life is not dull!” she said, reflecting on the many places and ways she has ministered over the years. To a young woman discerning a call to the religious life, she says, “God is a God of surprises. Trust is a must.”
Sister Rose Casaleno, CSJ
Sister Rose Casaleno is celebrating 25 years as a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Born in Somerdale, New Jersey, her home parish was St. Ephrem’s in Bensalem, Pennsylvania. She graduated from Bensalem High School.
Sister Rose entered the novitiate August 15, 1996, and professed final vows August 19, 2001.
She earned a master’s degree in Social Work from Syracuse University and a Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies from St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry in Rochester.
Sister Rose has ministered as a child and family therapist, youth minister, and Diocesan Youth Director in the Diocese of Ogdensburg; as a therapist at the Parsons Child & Family Center and a pastoral associate for youth ministry in the Diocese of Albany; and in youth ministry and college campus ministry in the Diocese of Syracuse. She is currently the Director of the Newman House at Binghamton University.
Reflecting on her 25th jubilee, Sister Rose wrote: “I have enjoyed all of my ministry experiences in the different dioceses; I have made many friends and have touched many people’s lives. God has given me many blessings and joys wherever I have been stationed. I have loved serving the people of God, especially our young people who have been a part of my ministries. Helping people to meet God in a deeper, personal way gives me such reward. It has truly been a gift for me to walk along with a variety of people from the North Country to the Capital Region to here in the Southern Tier. The journey has been exciting. I am grateful to the Sisters of St. Joseph of Watertown and especially to my community, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. I am looking forward to the many more years that I have to serve the people of God.”
These profiles were compiled through phone and email interviews, archive materials, and provided material. Photos of jubilarians were provided by the congregation’s Communications Office, Sun archives, or the jubilarian. The Sun extends special thanks to Sister Rosemary Hendry, OSF, and Rochelle Cassella for assisting with interviews of several Franciscan sisters, and to Sister Laura Bufano, CSJ, for assisting with gathering profiles of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet.