Congratulations to our 2017 Jubilarians
Following is the list of Sisters who will celebrated their Jubilee in June or2017. Please check back to read more about each of them in the upcoming months.
80th Anniversary of Reception
Sister Rose Spatny
75th Anniversary of Reception
Sister Agnes Marie Kovacic
Sister Barbarine Houdek
Sister Dominic Krivich
60th Anniversary of Profession
Sister Janet Rieden
Sister Faith Szambelanczyk
Sister Brigid Jacobs
Sister Teresa Noser
Sister Donna Marie Baier
Sister Sylvia Post
Sister Kathryn Stimac
Sister Rose Marie Surwilo
Sister Catherine Uchman
Sister Rita Mandella
Sister Maria Bui
Our 2016 Jubilarians
We celebrated Jubilee on June 11, 2016. We asked the Jubilarians to share some of their favorite memories and the meaning of the Franciscan life for them. Here are their stories.
80th Jubilarian – Sister Judith Kurry
Sr. Judith, originally from Saints Peter and Paul Parish and school in Chicago and from SFA Prep and the College of St. Francis for further education, shared that one of her special memories in ministry was helping the little kids at the Franciscan Learning Center. She was glad she could serve in that way. She enjoyed working with Sr. Margaret McGuckin and Sr. Carol Jander and especially enjoyed the programs performed by the children.
One aspect of living the Franciscan religious life that touches Sr. Judith is the part where we are meant to do things together.
60th Jubilarian – Sister Mary Jean Morris
Franciscan Religious Life: I think that I was born Franciscan! Both my parents were active members of the Secular Franciscan Order at Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church in Joliet, a parish staffed by Franciscan Priests, Brothers and Sisters, all of whom were very influential in my life. Saint Francis Academy in Joliet offered a greater exposure to the Joliet Franciscan Sisters. The Sisters encouraged confidence, creative thinking, Franciscan spirituality and prayer. My aunt was a Poor Clare Sister in Rockford, Illinois. As an infant, I was passed around a circle of Poor Clare so they could take their turns holding me and praying for me.
A profound aspect of Francis’ insight into Gospel values is explained in simple words by Margaret Carney, OSF and Thaddeus Horgan, SA; all qualities of Gospel life are counsels. “Littleness” is an absolute requirement for the Kingdom (mt. 19:14). The adult experience of this “littleness” or “childlikeness” before God is the joyful awareness that one is the subject of the pure love and favor of God.
A Special Memory: After serving for over 20 years in service to our Congregation, I was invited by the Glenmary Home Missioners to be the pastoral leader in a small rural Mississippi church. This church of Saint Luke was the only Catholic church in Calhoun County and was started five years before and had 30 Catholics. It was there that my enthusiasm for Inter-Faith ministry and my love for the poor was nourished. It was with Glenmary priests, brothers and co-workers that I received much experience, training and supervision. I learned to lead the congregation as a non-ordained minister in a Catholic Parish that had no resident priest. Father Tim Murphy came twice a month to celebrate Eucharist. Sunday celebration in the absence of a priest was the approved guideline for times when no priest was present and services were led by an appointed non-ordained minister like myself. Leaders like me were approved and welcomed by the Bishop. Volunteers from the 30 parishioners started a local food pantry, conducted religious education programs and summer bible school and took active parts in welcoming new Catholics through RCIA.
People from the town invited me to the Chamber of Commerce to give a talk about our Catholic Church and my life as a Catholic Sister. I was invited to help lead the Inter-faith services, especially at Thanksgiving and Patriotic events. Because there were people who wanted to prepare for future church ministry and there were no Catholic colleges in the diocese, we worked to bring in an extension program from New Orleans.
Another lay minister and I were trained as facilitators for the program. Within three years, eight people were ready for graduation with a Master’s Degree in Pastoral Theology. Several of these students traveled 150 miles roundtrip for each class. We nicknamed our church classroom Bruce Catholic University. My farewell from Bruce, after serving for ten years, was held at the United Methodist Church to accommodate the crowd.
Sixty Years…a lot of history, a lot of memories: Having completed two years of initial formation as a Joliet Franciscan, and two years of college at the College of Saint Francis in Joliet, I, (then Sister Mary Amata) professed my first vows in August of 1956.
Because of the need for teachers and the availability of a Cadet Teaching Certificate I began my first year of teaching at Saint Mary’s School in Des Plaines, Illinois. With a baby-boomer class of 67 second grade students, it was a teaching challenge and an adventure. College classes continued during the following ten summers. During this time I taught at various Catholic schools in Illinois and Ohio. Following studies at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, earning an MA in Religious Studies, I served as Director of Religious Education at Saint Michael Parish in Canfield, Ohio, for seven years until I was elected to be a member of the General Council for the Joliet Franciscan Congregation. After four years of Initial Formation ministry in Joliet, I then served at Sacred Heart Parish as a Pastoral Minister in Youngstown, Ohio, until I was called again to serve in Congregation leadership for nine more years.
My time as Congregation Leader saw increased connections with our Sisters in Brazil, involvement with the local and national levels of the Leadership Council of Women Religious and the Franciscan Federation along with the foundation of a Common Franciscan Novitiate in the Midwest. We did a thorough study of the Motherhouse building and made a decision to move forward with the option of its sale.
We had programs of renewal for the members, including Facing the Christ Incarnate and Critical Juncture. I came to a new level of understanding our Congregation and its members.
60th Jubilarian - Sister Joanne Marusa
A Special Memory: This year my niece reminded me in her Christmas card of a Greyhound bus trip I made to California over 40 years ago to visit my family. She signed the card: “Love to my sweet prayer walking Aunt.”
At the time of that visit she was about 12 years old. One day I said, “Marcie, let’s go on a prayer walk.” What surprises me is that she remembered after all these years!
Prayer walking, traveling, the journey, blessings given, blessings received, to and through many and varied ministries, has been a way to follow the two great Commandments recorded in Luke 25: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind and your neighbors as yourself.”
Franciscan Religious Life: I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, the oldest of five girls. The Sisters from Joliet, Illinois, were my teachers at our parish, St. Procop elementary and high school.
In those days we didn’t know much about different female religious orders or even know that there was such a word as “charism” as in Franciscan charism. The Sisters who taught us were just “the Sisters” who were part of the church to which we belonged.
During school years some of us did “church work” which meant cleaning the church and doing vigil lights (cleaning/scraping out wax). We did errands for the Sisters, sold candy at recess, sang in the choir, washed the many porch windows of the convent, joined the sodality and generally “showed up” when needed (early Franciscan Living).
I met the Franciscan Friars at St. Joseph Church in downtown Cleveland and joined the Junior Third Order of St. Francis (secular) through my Senior year in high school and the following year before joining the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis (Regular). Our Junior Third Order was very active with opportunities several times a week to get together for prayer, study, presence, service (middle Franciscan living).
I think that the Franciscan spirit/living nourishes personal qualities that are already present in each and every person and gives them a name such as Franciscan; attention to gospel living to the poor; hospitality; loyalty to the church; devotion to the Eucharist; devotion to our Mother Mary, etc. That is why Franciscan living has such a broad appeal to people of all walks of life and varied interests. In the peace prayer attributed to Francis he asks to be an “instrument,” a reflection of various aspects of God.
Francis said he had done what was his to do and set us free to do what we are called to do. In this way our differences come together in harmony and Franciscan living.
50th Jubilarian – Sister Patricia Skowronski
Franciscan Religious Life: I hope that I’ve been able to share the joy and simplicity of a very much loved saint with the many people I’ve had the privilege of working beside each day, sharing our “ups” and “downs” and giving one another support along life’s journey.
Personal Interest: A hobby I have enjoyed since I was a little girl is some type of needlework. My mother taught embroidery to me when I was in second grade and I’ve continued to enjoy doing this art form whether it be counted cross stitch or some other form of needlework. To create a work of art in this form relaxes and renews my spirit.
50th Jubilarian – Sister Margaret Noser
God calls us in so many different ways of missioning. My fifty years in religious life took me to so many different communities. It has always been a challenge and an adventure and each place helped me to grow into the next. My experiences in Kentucky then in Chicago helped prepare me for the adventure of Brazil. I was always graced with circumstances of being among the people who always became my teachers. At most of the places, I learned that you do not have to have much to be happy and wise. With God’s guidance and the inspiration of Francis, Clare and Mother Alfred, I came to know how to put myself into Jesus’ hands and let Him carry me. Living and sharing with our younger sisters in formation, I felt the loving and wise presence of the Spirit. Many times I did not know what to say but the Spirit was always with me. If things did not go well I knew that I needed to be more open. This is what these young women taught me. Being with them I knew I had to assume, with passion, our religious life.
This is what I feel is being Franciscan in the world today. As Francis learned through his experiences and was a presence of Jesus wherever he went, as Clare, even though she was cloistered, courageously struggled to make the world better and as Mother Alfred saw the needs of the times and acted, we too must be this presence of peace and love in a world where most people worry only about getting ahead. To be a sister to all those we meet and be a presence, that makes a difference, is the grace and adventure of Religious life today. I believe that we must be in the world but not of the world. Even in the darkness of these times, we can be the lanterns that light our lives, the lives of our sisters and brothers who surround us. It is God’s light that we reflect and together we will make the world a better place.