In honor of National Catholic Sisters Week March 8-14, and in conjunction with the Year of Consecrated Life, the Sun asked readers to submit personal reflections on how a special sister influenced his/her life.

The response was so overwhelming that we chose to create a two-part tribute series. The first set of letters in the series ran in the March 12 issue. Below is the second set of letters in the series. Please note some letters have been edited for space and clarity. Thank you to all who participated!

Sister Theresann Gehringer, DSMP
Submitted by Denise Pedercini
  This past summer I was fortunate enough to become employed at Holy Family Parish in Syracuse as the Director of Faith Formation. I was lucky enough to have a seasoned staff that offered kind advice and guidance as I tried to learn my job and the awesome responsibility of teaching children about our faith.
   Sister Theresann Gehringer’s title in the Faith Formation office is Assistant Director yet, she is so much more than that. She always comes to work with a smile on her face and her love of the Lord shines brightly from it. She is always available to listen and comfort me when things get hectic. This past fall, during Faith Formation registration, in which over 700 students registered, Sister remained calm and supportive and was a role model for me. Sister continues to be a role model for all. Her quiet trust in the Lord is evident and I have learned so much from her example.  
   I feel honored to work with Sister and blessed to have her in my life.

Sister Bernadette Joseph Kupris, OSF
Submitted by Kate Janczyk, 12, student at St. Mary’s Academy, Baldwinsville
   When I walked into school on the first day of sixth grade I knew that this was going to be a great year. Sister Bernadette (or “Sister” as everyone calls her) was my teacher this year and I was so excited I could burst. Sister was always in a good mood and if you were having a bad day sister always found a way to make you smile.
   One thing that Sister really changed in me was my relationship with God. I always thought that God was too big and too good for me. Sister changed that. She taught me that God was my best friend and he would always be there for me and love me no matter how much I messed up.
    I was going through some rough times, friend problems, choosing my next school, and every other problem that a 12-year-old girl has to face. I always felt bad about myself and how I looked. I finally let Jesus take charge. Over time my friends and I made up and I chose a school. I could not have done it without God and Sister. God is now my best friend. I still fight with my friends and I’m not perfect, but I feel much better about myself and I don’t think I could have done any of it without Sister. So thank you Sister for all you have done to help me.

Sister Bernadette Joseph Kupris, OSF
Submitted by Michael Berger, 11, student at St. Mary’s Academy, Baldwinsville
   Wow, I can’t believe it. A teacher who has great passion for history. This is awesome, I thought to myself. I can’t believe it! I got the world’s best history teacher ever! I was thinking about my new history teacher, Sister Bernadette Joseph Kupris.
   Sister (as my classmates and I like to call her) was the fifth grade social studies teacher. You see, I already had a passion for history, but Sister made me love it even more. When she taught me history, she put so much emotion, character and humor into reenacting historic events that they came alive in my mind. I could see the skirmishes at Lexington and Concord. I could see the attack on Fort Sumter. I could see the rebellion on the streets of colonial America. I could see it all!
   Sister is a wonderful, exciting teacher at St. Mary’s Academy and we are proud to have her here. Thank you Sister for everything you do for us!

Sister Bernadette Joseph Kupris, OSF
Submitted by Matthew Marsallo, 11, student at St. Mary’s Academy, Baldwinsville
   Sister Bernadette is my teacher at St. Mary’s Academy. She is one of the best teachers I’ve ever had. I feel very grateful that I am able to have Sister as my teacher for the last two years.
   Sister teaches in a very fun sort of way. She always has little reminders to help us remember important facts. For example, she may use a song or rhyme for something special. My favorite subjects are religion and social studies. Those are definitely the best subjects she teaches us. There was a lot I didn’t know until I came to Sister’s class.
   Sister always has a great time teaching. She never has a bad story to tell! Our whole class says the rosary daily before every religion class. I think that has influenced our class a lot this year. Everybody seems to understand what Sister teaches. If we don’t, there is always a great explanation by Sister.
   Sister has influenced my life a lot. Because she has such a passion for teaching, she keeps me very interested in class. She has given us so much advice that will help us in middle school. I don’t think anyone in Sister’s class will be worried about moving up into larger schools and bigger grades.
   So far I’ve had an awesome year in sixth grade. I hope it continues for the rest of the year. In our class a great memory always ends with Sister Bernadette.

Sister Bernadette Joseph Kupris, OSF
Submitted by Claire Siddall, 12, student at St. Mary’s Academy, Baldwinsville
   I have known Sister Bernadette all my life. She was in our parish since before I was born. But the first day of sixth grade, when I walked through her classroom door, I knew that it was going to be a great school year.
   Sister has always been there for me. If anybody has a bad day, she tries to change that. When I went into the sixth grade, I had a little bit of trouble with a couple of people I know. Sister was the one who straightened things out. She really showed me how to center my faith and focus on Christ. Even if Sister Bernadette doesn’t feel very good, she always has a big SMILE on her face.
   Sister Bernadette is the best religion teacher that I could have. She really changed the way that I looked at Jesus and what he did. Sister taught me that I can, and always will have a close relationship with God. In the beginning of the year, she taught us about the rosary. Now, we say a decade every day.
   Sister Bernadette Joseph is the best teacher I have ever had. I wish I could have her as my teacher and mentor for the rest of my life. So THANK YOU Sister for all you have done for me and my classmates.

Sister Nicolette Vennaro, OSF
Submitted by Aaron Nuzzo, 9, student at Blessed Sacrament School, Syracuse
   Sister Nicolette has a lot of patience.  She takes her time when teaching my class. One day I was stuck on a science problem. I tried and tried to get the right answer but I was lost. Sister came over and showed me how to find the answer in my textbook. Also, Sister Nicolette uses her own time every Tuesday and Thursday after school to help us prepare for New York State Testing. Finally, and this is my favorite: Sister took us to the Pumpkin Farm for Halloween.
   Sister is an energetic, caring, compassionate and loving individual.  She is my favorite!

Sister Nicolette Vennaro, OSF
Submitted by Anna Kuehner, 9, student at Blessed Sacrament School, Syracuse  
   I am blessed to have Sister Nicolette as a teacher, musical director and a role model. Sister Nicolette is a kind and patient teacher. She encourages me to do my best. When I make a mistake she will help me to fix it. She teaches me about God’s love for me.
   Sister Nicolette also directs the musicals at my scho
ol. She is a talented artist. She spends her free time designing and painting the scenery we need. Somehow she gets 75 children to learn their lines, songs, and dances. She teaches us how to work as a team.
   Sister Nicolette is my role model. She lives her life by loving and caring for others as a Sister of Saint Francis. She has shown me how to love my neighbors as God has loved me. By doing this, she has inspired me to join the Sisters when I grow up.          
   Thank you Sister Nicolette for all you do!

Sister Nicolette Vennaro, OSF
Submitted by Sophia Schultz, 13, student at Blessed Sacrament School, Syracuse
   What Sister ran a marathon in Hawaii? What Sister’s drama program was invited to be on Broadway? That’s easy, it’s Sister Nicolette Vennaro, OSF. Sister Nicolette has influenced so many people including myself. She taught me how to act, write, and so many more skills and abilities that helped me find my passions and hobbies. Sister is a fun-loving, humorous, happy, and a caring person to all she encounters. She is a hero and a best friend that always helps us learn and love in ways we have never thought of before.
    Acting has been a passion of mine ever since kindergarten, and Sister Nicolette sparked that passion for me. I will never forget the advice she gave me when I got the role of “Alice” in Blessed Sacrament’s performance of Alice in Wonderland, to use emotions and speak out. It may not seem like a lot, but this advice helped pave the way for the rest of my acting career. When I got the role of Alice, I was a shy, quiet fourth grader who never really let myself show the outgoing version of me. Sister taught me how to express my emotions through acting and taught me to speak up. For the next, four years I applied these skills to my other theater roles and used them to show the world a different me. To this day, I still act and love to do it. Without Sister, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
    Sister Nicolette Vennaro helps, loves, and cares for everyone she comes across. She has inspired and taught my community so many things. The best words to describe her are “living saint”, for that is how so many others and me view her. Sister Nicolette leaves an impression on your heart that you will never forget. God has put this extraordinary woman on the earth to help the well being of our community and the world around her!

Sister Nicolette Vennaro, OSF
Submitted by Sofia Finn, 9, student at Blessed Sacrament School, Syracuse
   Sister Nicolette inspires me to be a teacher someday, just like her. I hope someday I will be as good to God as she is. She is kind to everyone. She respects God and everyone on earth. I think Sister Nicolette is a great teacher and a great nun. Sister has been teaching for fifty years! She is an amazing person! Sister Nicolette is like a superhero and her master is God. That is why Sister Nicolette inspires me to be a great teacher just like her!

Sister Joana Baidoo, IHMMC
Collaborative effort submitted by the following students from the Sudanese Community who attend Cathedral Academy School at Pompei: Naywel Ayiel, 10; Achab Ater, 10; Akunjok Arop, 10; Arich Marial, 10; Wol Aman, 10; Kual Bak
   We are speaking on behalf of our Sudanese Community, the parishioners at our church, St. Vincent’s, and all our friends and family when we say how much we all love Sister Joana. She is the nicest person ever. She helps us in so many ways that we could never even list them all but we want to try so we can let everyone know how wonderful she is.
   She helps us with everything. With schoolwork, with our religion, with our problems, she helps us spiritually, academically, emotionally, financially and socially.
   She helps and guides us in getting into the schools we go to, first CAP and then onto the Catholic Junior High and High Schools. She even helps with going to college. She is always sure that we have school supplies and that our homework is done. She tutors all our age levels. She works hard on the Junior High Summer education program at St Vincent’s.  
   She organizes all our Sunday school activities and sacraments. She takes the little kids during Mass and does activities with them to help them understand and enjoy what the Mass is about. Then they present Father with what they did during the Mass. These are the kind of things that she does to make everyone feel like they are part of everything. She is real good at that! She has a daycare for the little ones during Mass and during special events and other times when it’s needed so our parents can enjoy what we are all doing.
   Easter is coming so we will start practicing for the Stations of the Cross. We all have a part and do it for the parishioners to see. She always has us act it out so we understand it best.  
   She works with our parents and youth minister to provide our basketball program, movie nights and so much other fun activities. She brings in an African Dance program to teach us dancing.   
   She always encourages us to help in all the events and activities at church and our community that she is always a big part of, like the Lenten Fish Fries, Garage Sale, Spaghetti Supper and Pancake Breakfasts. She helps the older kids to get all their service hours done. She even drives them to the places they need to go to. She drives all of us to places we need to go to so we don’t miss out.
   She organizes so many fun activities for all of us, like Bible School in the summer and Camp Laverne — we all love going to Camp! We go during the spring break and then a week in the summer. It’s such a great place. We always have a special day at the end of the week to celebrate like water fun day. She always makes sure we do something special every Friday during the week too with Bible School like going to the zoo or other field trips.  
   She helps us with food and clothes and always makes our holidays real special. There are always special masses at the holidays that include all of our families thanks to sister. At Christmas she organizes a Christmas party for all of us and brings us all gifts.
   She helps bring her family and friends here from Africa and when any of them come they visit us and share stories. They are all so nice like her.
   Our parents say that Sister is always there when we need her and that is the real truth. No matter what we need she helps us in every way possible.
So you asked for a Sister who has influenced our lives… as you can see Sister Joana has influenced many, many lives in so many great ways. We love you Sister and thank you for all you do for our families. We appreciate all that you do for us!!! We thank God for you!!!!!!

Sister Alvera O’Grady, OSF
Submitted by the First Grade Class at Holy Family School
   We love sister because she is…
A – Awesome
L – Loving
V – Very Good and Helpful
E – Excellent
R – Really Special
A – Angel
Sister Helen Ann Charlebois, IHM
Submitted by the Third Grade Class at Cathedral Academy at Pompei; Kimberly, second grade; and Patrick, sixth grade
S – Special
I – Is a great principal
S – She’s the Best
T – Tough and Strong
E – Excellent
R- Responsible
H – Helpful
E – Eucharistic Minister
L – Loving
E – Earth is her Friend
N – Never breaks the rules.
   (Kimberly) I love Sister Helen because she always cares if our shoes are tied – she doesn’t want us to fall. She is kind and nice.
   (Patrick) I think Sister Helen is a really great part of our school. She supports our academics but also encourages us to reach all of our goals. Every year she encourages our school community to help raise money for St. Baldrick
’s when I am raising money. She reminds us to keep Jesus in our everyday life. I feel lucky to know her.

Website Proudly Supported By

Learn More