CAZENOVIA — St. James Parish in Cazenovia is fortunate to have Director of Youth Ministry Sister Rose Casaleno, CSJ, on board. With a long history of working with youth, both as a behavioral health therapist and as a youth minister, Sister Rose brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to her ministry.

   A perfect fit for the position, Sister Rose finds her calling to serve young people gratifying. “They give me energy and joy,” she said. “I love to see them when they have an ‘aha’ moment.”

   Sister Rose said she engages with the youth by attending their sporting events and by visiting the National Catholic Youth Conference every year. She finds the investment of her time to be  worthwhile. “They [young people]are our greatest asset,” she remarked.  

   “My goal is to be faithful to the eight components of youth ministry — advocacy, evangelization, pastoral care, leadership development, prayer and worship, community life, catechesis and justice and service,” she said.

   Sister Rose began ministering at St. James in August 2013, after former Syracuse Diocesan Director of Religious Education Sister Eileen McCann, CSJ, recommended the position to her. Until that time, she had been serving as Youth Minister for the St. Edward the Confessor Catholic Community in Clifton Park, N.Y. She also served as Youth Director of the Diocese of Ogdensburg from 2003 to 2005. In addition, Sister Rose has held numerous positions as a child and family therapist throughout the years.  

   As part of the service and justice component of youth ministry, Sister Rose has facilitated a monumental service project for the teens at
St. James. For the last two years, the group has traveled to the Vincentian Youth and Young Adult Center in Philadelphia, Pa., on their winter school break. The young people serve in many ways at the center — the after- school programs, the soup kitchen and the rehabbing of old homes. “The experience is great for them because even though we do things right in our own back yard, it also gives them a picture of the larger world as well,” commented Sister Rose.

   Teens get another look at communities outside of Cazenovia when they cook and serve meals to the Samaritan Center in Syracuse three times a year. “I’ve tried to engage them in a big service component,” said Sister Rose. Other projects include helping out with St. James’ Brunch with St. Nicholas and collecting candy at Halloween to send to college students. Sister Rose also fosters fellowship by providing social events for the teens.

   Sister Rose’s other duties at St. James include serving as director of Confirmation and as a religious education teacher. She also serves in the campus ministry at Cazenovia College.

   Currently, Sister Rose is pursuing a master’s degree in pastoral care at
St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry through a satellite program at Le Moyne College. She earned an associate’s degree in social work from Mater Dei College in Ogdensburg, N.Y. and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work from Syracuse University.

   Sister Rose was 33 years old when she took her final vows on  Aug. 19, 2001. “I always had a sense that I wanted more,” she recalled. “I felt like something was missing.” Sister Rose had completed the Faith Formation program and was an active volunteer in her parish’s youth ministry.

   Sister Rose said she was attracted to the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet  because the order is dedicated to providing hospitality and serving the needy. “I thought they were strong women and they were faithful and worked for justice,” stated Sister Rose.

   Sister Rose said she enjoys many things about being a Sister of St. Joseph. “I love community life. And prayer life is such a privilege,” she explained. “I like doing things for people and being with people who are in need. My heart is open.”

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