From February 1 through March 1, we invited our friends of Nazareth to share stories about Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth (CSFN) who inspired them as teachers, healers, mentors, guides and friends. Many people wrote to us through our website, email, and Facebook page telling us about the sisters who influenced their lives through the years.
For Catholic Sisters Week (March 8 – 14), we share with you the stories they told us. Some are edited for clarity and space. As you read these stories, we invite you to honor in prayer all the Catholic sisters currently serving around the world and to remember in prayer all the sisters who have gone before us as founders of schools and hospitals, as artists and activists, as leaders and spiritual guides and as friends to many.
I met Sr. Ann Marie in 2014 at St. Cornelius Parish [in Chicago] where we both worked. We started out as co-workers, but it was not long before she became a true and loyal friend. She always was quiet and humble but her love for life was so contagious, and she always had a smile on her face. Frequently she would remind me of all the blessings she received in her own life as well as those she received from her family, the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, and the community of St. Cornelius. I am so thankful she allowed me to walk her journey with her. Her lessons, insights, and the way in which she led her life will always remain a part of me. I truly miss her and when times get tough, I recall one of her special sayings: “Love requires a creative and concrete response…it is more than just good intentions.”
I was blessed to have attended Colegio Espíritu Santo [Puerto Rico], 1965-72. During those years I had numerous dedicated sisters as teachers: Sr. Teresita, Sr. Vera, Sr. Celeste, Sr. Ligouri. The one who made the most influence on me was Sister Rita. She taught me Advanced English and Journalism. She was in charge of the Cescript, the school newspaper, which I edited in my senior year. She instilled in us a love for English literature. She was an excellent teacher that we fondly remember!
All the sisters I had as teachers [at St. Stanislaus in New Haven, CT] taught faith and religion very well. As clergy I still think of things I learned from the Sisters. The sisters I had are all with our Lord. May they rest in Our Savior’s arms.
From Michele M Morrison Ditzel -- Sr. Stanislaus was my first grade teacher. She was a wonderful teacher. She remembered all of her students.
From Mandy Minnichbach -- She was my first grade teacher. She had a way of explaining things, like telling us we would have gold Atari games in heaven.
From Monica Beczkowski -- Sr. Stanislaus always said "Pray, pray, pray." She was a saint on earth and now in heaven!
From Stephanie Weisenborn -- My son’s first grade teacher. We loved her.
From Karen Gaydos -- Awww, my first grade teacher
From Amanda Nickoles Schmidt -- Sr. Stanislaus was an amazing lady. She is the reason I am a teacher today! #rolemodel
PRAISE BE TO JESUS! I learned this phrase in my formation years in [the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth] community at age 18. I was in Meadowbrook, PA, first for postulancy then for novitiate. Sometimes I remember my group vividly, like it was only a few years ago, and wonder where my spiritual companions are now. Sr. Honesta was our first spiritual guide.
I remember the giggles during grand silence at the noise of someone's deodorant squeeze bottle, then at the confession of faults being asked why were we laughing? Because of the sudden laughter, the person [asked] could barely get the response out. I am 78 now and I guess the passage of years has me wondering about life and missing those years. I remember Sr. Virginia Rozich, Sr. Rose McCormack, Sr. Mary Ellen Genova, Sr. Thaddeus Rajca.
I will never forget St. Mary’s [in Ambler, PA] as I knew it, but most of all, I will never forget (nor stop loving) all of the nuns of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, especially you Sister Helen (Grade 1) and Sister Chrisanne (Grade 8, pictured). You are all in my prayers!
Back in mid-September of last year, I had the privilege of taking a day trip to The Community at Holy Family Manor [in Pittsburgh] with a good friend of mine and classmate from first through twelfth grade, Rick Mleko. The purpose of our visit was to spend time with our seventh grade teacher [from St. Casimir in Lansing, MI], Sr. Florence Pawlicki, who was Sr. John back then in 1967. Although I’ve seen Sr. Flo on occasion over the years at St. Casimir’s annual church festival, I’ve always wanted to go see her at her home at the Holy Family Manor. I’m forever grateful I did!
We had a wonderful time during our short stay with Sr. Flo. We took her out to dinner at her favorite restaurant, Red Lobster, the first night we arrived. We then proceeded to a small, family-run ice cream shop that Sr. Flo spoke highly of for dessert! The three of us had ice cream cones that were delicious! Rick and I then stayed overnight at a motel down the road and attended Mass with Sr. Flo the next morning. Another blessing! Although it was brief, we made the most of it by sharing stories about our history with her back in seventh grade, and some regarding our eighth grade year. Of course Rick and I were model students! You could tell Sr. Flo was very proud of us as we sauntered around the campus, being introduced to many Sisters and staff at Holy Family Manor, one of us on each of her arms! It was special!
St. Casimir was blessed with many wonderful CSFN’s who all had their own way of teaching and administering discipline when needed, sometimes subtle, sometimes not so much, but always with the best intentions for the students personal growth.
Sr. Florence was “THE BEST” teacher one could ever hope for! She had a subtle way of getting the best effort out of her students. She didn’t have to raise her voice as others did at times. If the class was a bit rambunctious before she entered the classroom, all she had to do was stand up in front of class with her arms folded across her chest, without saying a word, until the students quieted down, which didn’t take long! She was kind and taught us to work hard, to become the best we could be. She was both our teacher, and, when needed, our friend. She was very easy to talk to. In fact, she had me seriously thinking about the priesthood for a while. As it turned out, I definitely didn’t have the needed credentials! At least, I didn’t think so. The point is, Sr. Florence was an inspiration to all who knew her and was loved by all, including myself. We may not have realized back then what she meant to us, but we sure do now! She inspired us and taught us all how to become better Christians and to carry on God’s work throughout our lives. Sr. Florence, you have succeeded! My prayers are always with you! God Bless!
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