Sister Kathleen Osbelt, OSF, died May 4, 2022, at Francis House, the home for the terminally ill that she had founded in 1991 in Syracuse.
Sister was born in Syracuse, to Roy M. and Anna Mae Osbelt. She was 71 years of age and had been a Sister of St. Francis for 52 years. She grew up as a member of Holy Trinity Parish and after graduating from Assumption Academy in June 1968, entered the Sisters of St. Francis in September of the same year. In June 1969 Kathleen was invested with the habit of St. Francis and received the name of Sister Ann Mathew.
Sister received a bachelor’s degree in education from Marywood College in Scranton, Pa., and a master’s degree in pastoral ministry from Boston College. In May 2001, Le Moyne College awarded Sister Kathleen an honorary doctorate for outstanding compassion and service to the terminally ill.
She began her ministry of service to others as an elementary school teacher in New York and New Jersey. After this she returned to Syracuse as Pastoral Minister at St. Joseph Hospital Health Center followed by a four-year term as General Secretary for the Sisters of St. Francis. At this point in her life, Sister felt strongly called to the ministry of caring for the terminally ill and comforting the families of those who love them.
In 1991, she founded Francis House, a ministry in which she lovingly worked for 32 years. Sister Kathleen also worked in Community Service as the Director of Franciscan Sponsored Ministries and later as Coordinator of the Franciscan Villa Construction. She was a Pastoral Minister at All Saints Parish in Syracuse, and finally was Resource Center Coordinator for her beloved Francis House.
Kathleen’s ongoing compassion for the terminally ill inspired her to work as a member of the Aids Housing Coalition, while also being in regular contact with people who manage three of the Subsaharan Hospices. In addition, Sister was engaged in the ministry of preaching in local parishes, giving public presentations on Franciscanism and other spiritual/religious matters, spiritual direction and serving on the Franciscan Pilgrimage Staff.
Some of Sister Kathleen’s awards include the Syracuse Post-Standard Woman of Achievement; Governor’s Award to Outstanding Women; Catholic Charities Bishop’s Medallion; Eckerd Salute to Women National Award; 2003 Women of Distinction for NY State 50th District honor; 2003 Northeast Community Center Northside Hall of Fame; and 2005 Northside Walkway of Fame. Furthermore, she found delight in being Grand Marshal for the Syracuse St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Sister will be remembered for her responsiveness to the needs of her community and the Church, her creative spirit, her ability to relate to others on all levels, love of life, prayerfulness, graciousness, grand sense of humor, deep appreciation of her Franciscan Vocation and her spirit of thankfulness for God’s gifts.
Sister was predeceased by her parents and one sister, Joan Montague, and three brothers-in-law, Robert Revere, James Montague and John Bonoffski. She is survived by the Sisters of St. Francis; two sisters — Patricia Revere and Janet Bonoffski and several nieces, nephews, great and grand nieces and nephews.
A private Mass of Christian Burial was to be held at the Franciscan Villa. A recording of the Mass will be available on Edward J. Ryan and Son Funeral Home’s Website after her services.
A public wake was held May 10 at Immaculate Conception Church, 400 Salt Springs Street, Fayetteville, NY 13066. Mass was to be celebrated there at 10 a.m. May 11, with burial to follow at Assumption. Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities, Congregational Development Office, 225 Greenfield Pkwy., Suite 208, Liverpool, NY, 13088.