It was June 2014 when Sr. Frances Smalkowski jumped out of the airplane and plummeted over 12,000 feet, her parachute opening about mid-way to the ground – an act most don’t associate with Catholic sisters, unless, of course, one remembers the late 1960’s TV series, “The Flying Nun.”
I was once told that only in dreams do dreams come true. I think that it all depends on how much one desires to make their dream a reality. It’s hard for me to put my feelings and experience into words but, over a year ago, deep in my heart, I had this great desire to make God known, loved and served by ministering in the field of vocation formation.
"I really have a passion for life,” Sr. Janice Marie Blados said on one of those rare days when she had a few moments to pause and reflect on her ministry. “What drives me is the whole idea of encountering people and forming right relationships. My ministry allows me to do that.”
It was "Dress Down Day" at the school - no traditional Catholic school uniforms for the students on this day at the all-girls high school in south suburban Chicago. Yet, even in their jeans and t-shirts, the students conveyed respect in the words they exchanged with their teacher and in the whispers among themselves before the bell rang.
When she was in 3rd grade at St. Stephen's in Paterson, NJ, Ellen Zak first entertained the thought of becoming a Sister of the Holy Family of Nazareth (CSFN). "I was taught by them, and one of the Sisters I had really impressed me. Her name was Sister Martha. I wanted to be like her."
Working with children brings life and joy to Sister Anthony and this has been true all of her religious life. She finds joy in teaching them their lessons, manners and independence. She finds life in helping children develop positive attitudes, in turning around whatever negative attitudes they may have.
For some insights into Sr. Rose Marie O'Barski's ministry story - more than four decades in elementary education and 12 years in Province administration - it's helpful to turn to her vocation story.
At the beginning of my religious life, I learned that the sources of energy for any Nazareth Sister that enable her to carry out her ministry are prayer and Eucharist. If we don’t draw our energy from these, then we have nothing to give to the people we encounter every day.
When the Provincial Superior in Krakow asked Sr. Teresilla Kolodziejczyk and her friend, Sr. Antonina Gadacz, to go move to and minister in the U.S., they discerned their response together in prayer. Sr. Teresilla said, “We thought of our Mother Foundress who came to America with a small group of Sisters to start Nazareth there. Wherever we go, we will find Nazareth.” And so they did.
Electronic Media Coordinator (EMC), a title that seems mysterious to some, brings life and energy to Sr. Angela Szczawinska. In her role as Holy Family Province's EMC, Sr. Angela manages the province social media, which include the province website, Facebook page and YouTube Channel. To some, it might seem that such a role could get rather boring and repetitive day after day, but not to Sr. Angela.
At age 87, one would think anyone would be ready to sit and pray and read and enjoy whatever time God has left for her. Not our Sr. Roberta Garczynski.
Working with our "Wisdom Sisters" here at the Mount is in itself very life giving for me and, I hope, for those I care for and work with. The smiles on their faces, their expressions of sincere gratitude, faithfulness to their prayer life and attendance during our daily Eucharistic Celebration bring life to me in ways I cannot fully express.
She’ll tell you that she can no longer see, and that blindness has taken the light from her eyes, yet the light from within Sr. Ignatius Remian shines as bright as the noon-day sun. As she speaks, every word paints a thousand pictures. In quiet contemplation, she reposes on her bed, with her rosary enfolded around her weathered hands.
There is a comfort and gentleness about Sr. Ronald Wlodarczyk, a trust and grace that instantly puts one at ease. These God-given gifts make sense for someone who ministers as a Spiritual Director and journeys with individuals as they deepen their relationship with God.
My vocation to become a religious sister was destined long before I was born.