Jubilarians – Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph

Jubilarians

Below are our sisters who are celebrating Jubilee in 2024. Jubilee is the name given to the anniversary year of a sister’s entrance into religious life. We congratulate all our Jubilarians on this milestone and their years of religious life! If you have any questions about a sister, please contact our Archives at archives@csjoseph.org.


Sister Ann Carolyn Gervais, CSJ

80 years

Founding Community of Nazareth

Sister Ann Carolyn Gervais was born on June 22, 1926, in Springfield, Mass. She first met the Sisters of St. Joseph while working as a nurse’s aide at St. Joseph Hospital after her family moved to Michigan. She entered the Nazareth community after graduating high school in 1944.

Sister Ann Carolyn spent her first 30 years in ministry as an elementary school teacher in schools throughout Michigan. In 1975, she was called to pastoral care and served at Borgess Hospital until 1988. She then became part of the RCIA team at St. Mary Parish in Kalamazoo while also helping out at the Nazareth center in a variety of ways: switchboard operator, receptionist, driver, clerical work, etc.

Sister Ann Carolyn currently resides at our Nazareth center in Kalamazoo and says her gratitude grows day by day for the blessings God has given her. “I am so grateful for my community, especially our RLC,” she said. “I am also thankful for all of the sisters with whom I have lived over the years, and the many opportunities for prayer, reflection, and learning. GOD IS GOOD, and the journey continues!”


Sister Margaret Ellen Isenbart, CSJ

80 years

Founding Community of Wichita

Sister Margaret Ellen Isenbart entered religious life from Sacred Heart Parish in Alva, Oklahoma, where she had received her Sacraments and elementary education. Secondary education was not required at the time, so she went to work doing domestic duties in nearby homes. When Sister Margaret Ellen was in her early twenties, her sister, Sister Agnes Mary, encouraged her to fulfill her longtime desire to become a teacher. She enrolled in Mt. St. Mary High School where she earned her high school diploma at the age of 27. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in education from St. Mary of the Plains College, and a Master’s degree in education from Kansas State Teacher’s College.

Sister Margaret Ellen served as both principal and teacher for 30 years in Catholic schools throughout Kansas, Oklahoma, and California. After retiring from teaching, she began pastoral care training at St. John’s Hospital (Springfield, Missouri), and put these skills to work for sixteen years at St. Joseph Hospital and Nursing Home (Del Norte, Colorado). Returning to Wichita in 1995, she served in family ministry and in Pastoral Care in Marian Hall for several years. Now retired, Sister Margaret Ellen resides at our center in Wichita where she enjoys needlework and making rosaries, and remains active in prayer ministry.

Two pieces of Scripture have held great meaning for Sister Margaret Ellen throughout her life. They are John 15:16: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you” and Jeremiah 29:11: “ ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for prosperity and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’ ”


Sister Marie Ursula Antczak, CSJ

75 years

Founding Community of Nazareth

Sister Marie Ursula Antczak entered the Sisters of St. Joseph in Nazareth, Michigan, in 1949 from St. Joseph’s parish in Irish Hills, Michigan. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in sociology and education. For fifty-five years, Sister Marie Ursula taught elementary students in Catholic schools throughout Detroit and Flint including St. Bernard (Detroit), St. Gertrude (St. Clair Shores), St. Cyril (Taylor), St. Agnes (Flint), Sacred Heart (Birch Run), and Immaculate Conception (Three Rivers). Her last ministry assignment was at St. Rose (Hastings) where she taught for 39 years. After retiring in 2007, she continued to live in the parish and teach religion classes once a week.

Now residing in Kalamazoo, Sister Marie Urusula enjoys visiting her sisters at Ascension Living Borgess Place, and delights in sending birthday cards to every sister and associate. She is grateful for her special women friends at St. Rose, who have been her companions for many years, and especially thanks God for their faithful love and support. She is reminded of her call and vocation as a Sister of St. Joseph in the words of John 10:10: “I have come that you may have life and have it more abundantly.”


Sister Caroline Benken, CSJ

(Sister M. Caroline)

75 years

Founding Community of Medaille

Sister Caroline Benken entered religious life from St. John Fisher parish in Newtown, Ohio, and professed vows in 1954.  She holds a Bachelor’s degree in education from Our Lady of Cincinnati College, a Master’s degree in education from Xavier University (Cincinnati), and a Master’s degree in theological studies from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley. Sister Caroline taught in Catholic schools in the Cincinnati area for 28 years at Guardian Angels (Cincinnati) and St. Mary of the Woods (Russells Point) and served as both teacher and principal at St. Thomas More (Withamsville) and Immaculate Heart of Mary (Cincinnati).

After teaching, Sister Caroline joined St. Francis Xavier (Cincinnati) as a pastoral associate, a position she held for 18 years. She was then elected to congregational leadership and served on the leadership team for eight years until retiring from active ministry in 2007. She currently resides at our center in Wheeling, West Virginia, where she is active in prayer ministry.


Sister Mary Clare Doebel, CSJ

75 years

Founding Community of Wichita

Sister Mary Clare Doebel entered religious life from St. Francis parish in St. Paul, Kansas. Her vocation to religious life was encouraged by the Sisters of St. Joseph who were her high school teachers. After her entrance to the community, Sister Mary Clare earned a Bachelor’s degree from St. Mary of the Plains College, and a Master’s degree from Emporia State Teacher’s College. She went on to teach in elementary schools throughout Kansas including in Newton, St. Paul, Parsons, Iola, Wichita, Derby, Pittsburg, and Hutchinson; and also in Ponca City, Oklahoma. She says she particularly loved instructing first and second graders, whose innocence inspired her to be a better person and teacher.

Sister Mary Claire retired from teaching in 2008 and moved to Mount St. Mary’s in Wichita where she served as sacristan in the community chapel for 10 years. She currently resides there and is active in prayer ministry which has brought her much joy. This time of reflection has revealed anew to her what it means to be a Sister of St. Joseph. As Sister Mary Clare puts it, “All for God, and me for God!”


Sister Dehra Elliot, CSJ

(Sister Mary Sheila)

75 years

Founding Community of Medaille

Sister Dehra Elliot entered the Sisters of St. Joseph from Holy Rosary parish in New Orleans, and professed final vows in 1954. She attended Loyola University where she received a Bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a Master’s degree in secondary education. Sister Dehra spent nearly thirty-five years in Catholic school classrooms teaching in New Orleans at Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, St. Rose of Lima, St. Anne, and St. Francis Cabrini. She also taught at other schools throughout Louisiana including St. Joseph (Baton Rouge), Sacred Heart/St. Ignatius (Grand Coteau), Sacred Heart (Norco), and Sacred Heart (Morgan City), where she also served as principal. Following her years as a classroom teacher, Sister Dehra continued in the field of education as a math teacher at Delgado Community college, as an adult education math tutor, and as a GED instructor. In addition to her years in the traditional classroom, Sister Dehra has also served as activities director at community health centers and residences.

Currently, Sister Dehra resides at our center in Wichita, Kansas. She says her greatest experience as a Sister of St. Joseph was the meaningful impact she made on her students, particularly 8th graders, who in turn brought great joy to her.


Sister Rita Lambert, CSJ

(Sister Mary Matthew)

75 years

Founding Community of Medaille

Sister Rita Lambert entered the Sisters of St. Joseph in New Orleans in 1949. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in education from Loyola University and a Master’s degree in religious education from Notre Dame Seminary, both in New Orleans. For 17 years, Sister Rita taught in elementary schools throughout Louisiana and Mississippi including St. Rose (New Orleans), Sacred Heart (Baton Rouge), St. Joseph Academy (New Roads), St. Ignatius (Grand Coteau), St. Mary’s (New Roads), and Our Lady of the Gulf (Bay St. Louis, Mississippi). Sister Rita also served as Religious Education Coordinator at Sacred Heart Parish (Morgan City), and Director or Religious Education at Our Lady of Divine Providence Parish (Metairie), and St. Mary’s Parish (New Roads).

Sister Rita currently resides at our center in Wichita where she is active in prayer ministry.


Sister Ann Terese Reznicek, CSJ

75 years

Founding Community of La Grange Park

Sister Ann Terese Reznicek entered the Congregation of St. Joseph in 1948 from Our Lady of the Mount parish in Cicero, Illinois, following graduation from Nazareth Academy in LaGrange Park. During her early years in the congregation, she received a Bachelor’s degree in English from Loyola University and a Master’s degree in special education from Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee. She later received a Master’s degree in educational administration and supervision from DePaul University in Chicago. Sister Ann Terese taught 1st and 2nd grade at St. Anthony (Chicago), St. Joseph Academy (La Grange), and St. Mary (Columbus, Mississippi) before serving as a reading consultant for the Catholic School office of the Archdiocese of Chicago. She then served as principal at St. Barbara (Brookfield) and at St. John Fisher (Chicago.)

Sister Ann Terese was elected to congregational leadership in 1972, serving first on the Congregation Council and then as President, assisting the community to navigate the changes in religious and ministerial life following Vatican II. When she left the leadership team, she joined St. Leonard (Berwyn) as a pastoral associate, a position she held for over twenty years. She also served as the Coordinator of Sisters for the LaGrange Park center.

Known for her deep devotion to friends and wisdom, she has touched many with her compassion and joy, especially her elderly mother, sister, and brother-in-law, for whom she cared throughout their illnesses. Since her retirement from full time ministry, Sister Ann Terese has remained active visiting the sick and elderly and through volunteer service and prayer ministry. She currently resides at our center in  La Grange Park and is grateful for times of prayer and sharing among those with whom she has lived and ministered.


Sister Connie Robles, CSJ

(Sister Consolata)

75 years

Founding Community of Wichita

Sister Connie Robles first encountered the Sisters of St. Joseph while attending vacation Bible school in Kansas. She wanted to be a sister since she was in the second grade and this desire moved her to volunteer to help clean her church every Saturday in preparation for Mass the next day. Her vocation was fostered by the sisters and priests of the parish, who would visit with her and her family. She entered religious life after high school from Sacred Heart parish in Arkansas City, Kansas, and went on to become an early elementary school teacher.

Sister Connie’s career in teaching took her to Catholic schools throughout Kansas, Colorado, and Oregon. During summer breaks, she assisted in the development of teacher’s talents as an arts and crafts instructor for educators at St. Mary of the Plains College. After 37 years in education, Sister Connie retired from teaching. She currently resides at our center in Wichita where she loves to cook and bake and share her treats with others, and  where she enjoys the gardens and is active in prayer ministry.


Sister Rita Marie Thissen, CSJ

75 years

Founding Community of Wichita

Sister Rita Marie Thissen entered religious life in 1949 from St. Patrick Parish in Kingman, Kansas. She attended St. Mary of the Plains College where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in elementary administration and later a Master’s degree from Kansas State University. An educator for forty years, she taught in schools throughout Kansas including Blessed Sacrament, St. Mary Cathedral Elementary, and St. Anthony (Wichita), St. Paul (Lyons), Sacred Heart (Pratt), Sacred Heart Cathedral (Dodge City), Mary Queen of Angels (Fort Scott), Immaculate Conception (Claflin), Sacred Heart (Arkansas City), St. Francis Xavier (Cherryvale), St. Mary (Derby). She also served as principal in St. Mary & St. Patrick (Parsons), St. Martin (Sunnyvale, California), St. Rose (Paso Robles, California), St. Patrick (Cedar Rapids, Iowa), and St. Mary (Ponca City, Oklahoma). During this time, Sister Rita Marie continued her educational and spiritual growth by attending workshops and seminars, a highlight being a Scriptural Tour through the Holy Land and Rome led by her brother, Father Kevin Thissen, OP.

Although she retired from the classroom in 1991, Sister Rita Marie continues to use her gifts as a musician whenever the occasion calls. In 2006, she volunteered to serve for a year in Malawi, Africa, teaching music to children. She also served as facility coordinator at the Spiritual Life Center in Wichita, coordinator for Marian Hall at Mount St. Mary Convent, and as a customer support specialist at Via Christi Mount Carmel Medical Center in Pittsburg, Kansas. She currently resides at our center in Wichita where she serves the community in a variety of ways as a driver for sisters, hospitality coordinator for center guests, and preparing the sacristy for Mass.

“My journey has reached to the four corners of the earth, which have memories of mountaintop experiences that surface beauty of all lands, sea and sky, of lifestyles, races, cultures and religions as a paradise’s cinema,” she said. “Friendship was, and is, a way of visitation where we claim our freedom and celebrate our gifts. Our friends assist us in becoming sons and daughters of the Father, brothers and sisters of the Son, and spouses of the Holy Spirit. The Heart of God plus our own heart equals the heart of all as one.”


Sister Dorothy Turk, CSJ

(Sister Mary Rosarie)

75 years

Founding Community of Cleveland

Sister Dorothy Turk entered religious life on September 8, 1948, from St. Vitus Parish in Cleveland. She taught elementary school for many years at schools throughout the Diocese of Cleveland including St. Clement (Lakewood), St. Wenceslas (Maple Heights), St. Francis de Sales (Akron), Immaculate Conception (Cleveland), and Immaculate Conception (Akron). Sister Dorothy spent more than fifteen years working in rural Appalachia, serving the poor as a pastoral minister, mission director, and parochial coordinator for parishes in Kentucky and West Virginia. She says this work was a blessing for everyone, including herself.

After returning to Ohio, Sister Dorothy began a new ministry in visiting the sick and elderly of St. Augustine and Prince of Peace Parishes in Barberton, Ohio. When she retired from active ministry in 2013, Sister Dorothy returned to Cleveland to reside at St. Joseph Center where she cares for the birds, flowers, and vegetables grown in raised bed planters, and the many indoor plants that enliven the hallways at the center. She participates in many other activities at the center including packing lunches for the poor for distribution by students at St. Edward High School, corresponding with donors, and participating in creative art classes.

Of her years as a Sister of St. Joseph, Sister Dorothy says she has found strength from sharing peace and joy, both among those with which she has ministered and with the Sisters in her community. She says, “I pray that these gifts continue to grow in my mind, heart, and actions.”


Sister Doris Vigneaux, CSJ

(Sister Mary Alfred)

75 years

Founding Community of Medaille

Sister Doris Vigneaux entered religious life in Wichita in 1949, and holds a Bachelor’s degree in education and a Master’s degree in religious education from Loyola University. Her career as a teacher began at St. Joseph’s Academy (Baton Rouge), and later taught in classrooms at St. Rose and St. Frances Cabrini (New Orleans), Sacred Heart (Baton Rouge), Guardian Angels (Cincinnati, Ohio), Our Lady of the Gulf (Bay St. Louis, Mississippi), Sacred Heart (Norco, Louisiana), and St. Thomas More and St. George (Baton Rouge). She served as principal at Our Lady of the Rosary (New Orleans) and religion coordinator at St. Rita (Harahan), Sacred Heart (Baton Rouge), and Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Belle Chasse). Following her retirement from the classroom, Sister Doris was active in community service in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, assisting with liturgical preparation and visiting the elderly and the homebound.

Sister Doris currently resides at our center in Wichita where she remains active in prayer ministry.


Sister Teresa Waner, CSJ

(Sister Daniel Marie)

75 years

Founding Community of Wichita

Sister Teresa Waner was raised in a big family full of music. Her father was a violinist, her mother taught her the piano, and Sister Teresa learned the trumpet and violin while at school. She entered the Sisters of St. Joseph in Wichita, Kansas, receiving the habit in 1949. She graduated from St. Mary of the Plains College with a Bachelor’s degree in education and holds a Master’s degree in education from Emporia State University (Emporia, Kansas). For thirty-five years, she was an educator teaching all elementary level grades and serving as principal at schools in Kansas and in California. Her best memories of the classroom are when she could incorporate her musical gifts into her teaching schedule. At one time, she had over 100 band students at Sacred Heart Cathedral School in Dodge City, Kansas.

Sister Teresa left teaching in 1986 to go back to school. She earned a second Master’s degree in liturgy from Santa Clara University in California. She offered private music lessons at a music studio she established at Mount St. Mary’s convent for thirty years. Meanwhile, she worked in the Liturgy office, preparing beautiful liturgies for the community and performing the organ for community events. She also began learning a new instrument, the oboe, and continues to supervise the preparation of liturgies at our center in Wichita.

Sister Teresa’s life has been full of music, and its importance has been paramount to her experience. She says music is, “the universal language of love. The restorative power of music has uplifted me in times of discouragement, as well as in times of success. The joining of music and liturgy has been a good combination fulfilling my love of God and neighbor.”


Sister Corita Ambro, CSJ

70 years

Founding Community of Cleveland

Sister Corita Ambro was received as a novice in the Congregation of St. Joseph in Cleveland in 1954, following her graduation from Saint Joseph Academy. She attended St. John College and earned a Bachelor’s degree in education, and later a Master’s degree in deaf education from Canisius College in Buffalo, New York. She taught second grade at schools throughout the Dioceses of Cleveland, including St. Aloysius (Cleveland), St. Bridget (Parma), St. Columbkille (Parma), St. Brendan (North Olmsted), and St. John (Lorain).

In 1970, Sister Corita became a parish minister at St. Augustine in Tremont, a position to which she was appointed to help the deaf community of the parish. Along with Father Joe McNulty, Sister Corita established multiple programs to assist those with physical, intellectual, and developmental disabilities, including mental illness. Some of the many programs she helped establish include St. Augustine Rainbow Camp for children with disabilities; the LINKS program, a social gathering for persons with mental illness; religious education centers for children with disabilities; a youth retreat program; home visitation and emergency response programs; and a home for youth with special needs in struggling families. She also established the first deaf choir in the United States.

Perhaps Sister Corita’s greatest contribution was helping to create the St. Augustine Hunger Center, which feeds tens of thousands of people each year. In addition to daily meal services offered both on-site and delivered to the homebound, the Hunger Center provides meals to thousands on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. Her work among the deaf and homeless also led her to develop six Alcoholics Anonymous groups at St. Augustine, a ministry and population Sister Corita holds dear.

In 2018, after forty-eight years, Sister Corita retired from St. Augustine. She now resides at St. Joseph Center in Cleveland and makes weekly trips to visit sisters in residence at Regina Healthcare Center in Richfield, Ohio. Reflecting on her life as a Sister of St. Joseph, she is grateful to all with whom she has ministered, saying, “God is so good! Oh, so good to me!”


Sister Connie Beiriger, CSJ

(Sister Mary Helena)

70 years

Founding Community of Wichita

Sister Connie Beiriger entered religious life from St. Francis Jerome parish in Center, Colorado and on March 19, 1954, received the habit of the Sisters of St. Joseph. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in elementary education from St. Mary of the Plains College, and a Master’s degree as a reading specialist from Cardinal Stritch College. She received her certification in administration from Emporia State College. Sister Connie served as a teacher in many schools throughout Kansas including Holy Savior and St. Anthony (Wichita), St. Andrew (Wright), St. Rose (Columbus), St. Francis Xavier (Cherryvale), St. Mary (Parsons), and St. Michael (Mulvane). She also served as both teacher and principal at St. Mary (Ulysses) and Holy Name (Coffeyville), and as principal at St. Patrick (Kingman).

In 1986, Sister Connie began a new career in parish ministry. Following eleven years of pastoral ministry to the parishes of St. Rose and St. Anthony in Wellington, Kansas, Sister Connie joined the staff of The Church of the Magdalen in Wichita as a Pastoral Associate. It was a position she would hold for twenty-three enriching years. She retired from this ministry in 2020 and has become an active and vital member of the Mt. St. Mary community in Wichita. Her years of ministry to the dear neighbor have energized her. She says that, “Being present and available are where my gifts are best used…Let us pray for one another as we say ‘yes’ to what God asks of each of us each day.”


Sister Frankie Dutil, CSJ

(Sister Marie Fidelis)

70 years

Founding Community of Nazareth

Sister Frankie Dutil first met the Sisters of St. Joseph while in the sixth grade at St. John Vianney School. She says her first visit to our Nazareth center in Kalamazoo, Michigan, was like finding a new home, and she knew it was where she belonged. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in French from Nazareth College and a Master’s degree in educational psychology from Eastern Michigan University.

For over twenty years, Sister Frankie taught in Catholic schools throughout Michigan including St. Joseph (Battle Creek), St. Augustine (Kalamazoo), St. Michael (Pontiac), St. Joseph (St. Johns), St. Joseph (Lake Orion), and Holy Family School (Grand Blanc), where she also served as principal.

Hearing the call to pursue her artistic talent, Sister Frankie earned an associate degree in art, specializing in graphic design from Mott Community College in Flint, Michigan, while working at St. Joseph Hospital (later Genesys Regional Medical Center). She learned to operate a printing press and joined the staff of St. Joseph Press and Ministry of the Arts in La Grange Park, Illinois. Along with graphic design and printing, Sister Frankie is also an accomplished watercolor artist. Her artwork is available on the Ministry of the Arts website and is shared and loved throughout the Congregation and worldwide.

Currently, Sister Frankie resides at our center in La Grange Park where she teaches retreat courses at The Well Spirituality Center in the meditative qualities of watercolor painting. She says, “The ebb and flow of water and paint is a lesson in learning to go with the ebb and flow of life itself.”


Sister Anita Germain, CSJ

(Sister Mary Anita)

70 years

Founding Community of Medaille

Sister Anita Germain entered the Sisters of St. Joseph in Crookston, Minnesota, from St. Anne parish in Somerset, Wisconsin. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in nursing from the College of St. Catherine. For many years, she ministered in rural northern Minnesota hospitals as a nurse and nurse anesthetist. She was an instructor in nursing at North Dakota State University from which she holds a Master’s degree in counseling. She also served in the Crookston Diocese as a pastoral counselor and chaplain in the 14 County area. When sabbaticals became an opportunity in the 1980s, she was introduced to wholistic medicine and healing, beginning a private practice of wholistic therapies.

With other religious, Sister Anita was a pioneer in alternative therapies, and sought to bring peace, love, and mercy to the lives of her clients. For over twenty years she practiced yoga, tai chi, therapeutic body massage, and acupressure therapy, and was instrumental in bringing these health modalities to religious communities in nearby states and throughout the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis. She was then able to touch many more lives as a staff member of the Sabbatical Religious Women’s Program serving sisters outside the U.S. and introducing them to the healing powers of wholistic practices.

Sister Anita currently resides at our center in Wichita where she enjoys times of quiet prayer, spiritual reading, art projects, and nature walks. Her favorite recollections of her life as a Sister of St. Joseph are her times spent in hermitages in Minnesota and Wisconsin, monthly associate/sister gatherings, caring for elderly and infirm sisters, and carrying out their final wishes after they have passed. She says she has witnessed great power in, “the dedication and willingness of religious community members to work all hours to care for those in need…along with the help, support, and love of our local associates.”


Sister Mary Hough, CSJ

(Sister Mariella)

70 years

Founding Community of Cleveland

Sister Mary Hough entered the Sisters of St. Joseph from St. Ignatius parish in 1953, and received the habit the following year. A graduate of Saint Joseph Academy, Sister Mary pursued a bachelor’s degree in education at St. John College, and a Master’s degree in educational administration at Kent State University. She spent nearly forty-five years as an educator & education administrator, teaching elementary school in the Cleveland Diocese at St. Colman, St. Angela Merici, St. Aloysius, St. Vincent de Paul, and St. Clement (Lakewood), where she served as principal for an additional twelve years.

Sister Mary became certified by the National Association of Catholic Chaplains in 1994 and branched out to a new ministry as the director of Pastoral Care at St. John West Shore Hospital (Westlake). There she collaborated with hospital chaplains to provide a pastoral presence for patients across denominational lines. Her experience as an educator served her well in this role, as she also had the opportunity to mentor student chaplains as they learned to care for the spiritual needs of those in a hospital setting. Following her work in hospitals she served as the St. Joseph Center’s pastoral minister and coordinator of sisters for ten years until 2013. She remains in service to the community by preparing Petitions for Sunday liturgies and reading Scripture at Mass weekly. Since retiring from active ministry, Sister Mary has found joy in writing correspondence to family, friends, and congregational donors. She also enjoys reading, watching movies, listening to music, attending activities at the center, and watching Notre Dame football.

Sister Mary’s work is dedicated to bringing meaning, purpose, and hope to all those whom she encounters. She values all of her ministry experiences, and is “forever grateful for God’s call, the grace to respond, and the continued Graces of each day.”


Sister Agnes Lero, CSJ

(Sister M. Francis Joseph)

70 years

Founding Community of Wichita

Sister Agnes Lero entered religious life in 1954 from St. Francis parish in St. Paul, Kansas. She earned a Bachelor’s degree from St. Mary of the Plains College, and taught in a number of Catholic schools throughout Kansas, Oklahoma, and California. Her ministry assignments include St. Mary’s Cathedral School (Wichita), Sacred Heart Cathedral School (Dodge City), St. Mary (schools in Derby, Fort Scott, and Ponca City, Oklahoma), Holy Savior (Wichita), Sacred Heart (Arkansas City), and St. Anne (Wichita). She also served as Director of Religious Education at St. Felicitas parish (San Leandro, California) and at St. Martin (Sunnyvale, California).

After teaching for thirty-six years, Sister Agnes transitioned to a different role at St. Patrick School (Chanute), where she served as school librarian and multimedia specialist. In addition to teaching. Sister Agnes says that while she enjoyed her time teaching, her special joy was working with computers. She has been honored as a distinguished teacher by the Wichita Diocese and was recognized for her long service to Catholic education by St. Patrick School.

In 2013, Sister Agnes retired from teaching to assume the role of caregiver for her sister until her death. She currently resides at our center in Wichita where she says she finds joy in being in the outdoors and gardening. Her favorite passage of Scripture is 1 Corinthians 2:9: “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard what God has prepared for those who love Him.”


Sister Gretchen Shaffer, CSJ

70 years

Founding Community of Wheeling

Sister Gretchen Shaffer, a native of Clarksburg, West Virginia, entered the Sisters of St. Joseph in Wheeling in 1954. After earning her Bachelor’s degree in education, she taught in seven Catholic schools in West Virginia and in Bristol, Virginia. She also served as a Principal at St. Francis Xavier and St. Agnes Schools. These experiences in administration led Sister Gretchen to her next ministry – serving at Good Shepherd Nursing Home in Wheeling, and at Catholic Charities West Virginia. During her time at Catholic Charities, Sister Gretchen was inspired by the social justice teachings of the Church. After reading the Appalachian Bishops’ pastoral letter, This Land is Home to Me, Sister Gretchen responded to an invitation from families in Mingo County, West Virginia, to help create a school. She partnered with Sisters Kathleen O’Hagan, SND, and Mary Margaret Pignone, SND, to make their dream a reality. After Big Laurel School opened, Sister Gretchen had the singular joy of returning to formal teaching. After twelve years, Big Laurel School (now Big Laurel Learning Center) expanded ecological education and experience programs with summer camps for youth and immersion trips for college students. Sister Gretchen currently resides in Kermit, West Virginia, where she continues to serve as informal keeper of the stories of West Virginia and resident storyteller at Big Laurel.


Sister Alicia Marie Weiskircher, CSJ

70 years

Founding Community of Wheeling

Sister Alicia Marie Weiskircher entered the Sisters of St: Joseph in 1954 from St. Vincent de Paul parish in Elm Grove, West Virginia. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in music education from Marywood College in Scranton, Pennsylvania. For over 25 years, Sister Alicia Marie served as a Catholic school teacher at St. Francis de Sales (Beckley), Blessed Trinity (Wheeling), St. Peter (Fairmount), St. Vincent de Paul (Wheeling), and St. Francis Xavier (Moundsville).

After leaving the classroom, Sister Alicia Marie continued to serve the parish of St. Vincent de Paul. In 1983, she was appointed bookkeeper and served as music minister. She also cooked for the priests assigned to the parish during their tenure. Sister Alicia Marie retired from parish ministry in 2008. Since retiring, she has served her community at Mt. St. Joseph in Wheeling by volunteering in the finance office and serving as sacristan and organist at liturgy.  Her favorite activities include working puzzles, planting a flower garden, doing latch hook crafts, and reading.

Her greatest joy in life has been her ability to make and share music by playing the organ for liturgies, singing in choirs, playing the guitar with students at school liturgies, or playing the piano for folk Masses. She finds inspiration in the passage from Micah 6: “To act justly, to love tenderly, and to walk humbly with your God.”


Sister Mary Clark, CSJ

(Sister Mary Ellen)

65 years

Founding Community of Wheeling

A native of New York State, Sister Mary Clark first entered religious life in 1959 with the Dominican Sisters of Hope in Newburgh, New York.  She holds a Bachelor’s degree in education from Mount St. Mary College and a Master’s degree in Special Education from the College of New Rochelle in New York. Following a three-year transfer process, she professed vows anew as a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Wheeling in 1987.

Sister Mary came to the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston in 1978 and served through its Office of Religious Education. She then provided pastoral ministry at St. Peter Parish in Fairmont, St. Patrick Church in West Union, St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Wheeling, and the L’Arche community in Erie, Pennsylvania. In 1997, she served in congregational ministries as Director of Vocations, Director of Associates, and Director of St. Joseph Center in Wheeling.  Having completed the Shalem Spiritual Direction Program in 1996, she also provided spiritual direction for retreatants.

Sister Mary is currently retired and resides at our center in Wheeling where she enjoys knitting and is active in prayer ministry.


Sister June Hansen, CSJ

(Sister Mary Clare)

65 years

Founding Community of Cleveland

Sister June Hansen’s vocation with the Sisters of St. Joseph began early when she attended school at St. Joseph parish in Strongsville, Ohio. There she met fellow classmate Priscilla Saxton, and both went on to graduate from Saint Joseph Academy in Cleveland before entering the novitiate. Sister June then attended St. John’s College, earning a Bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a Master’s degree in administration. She taught elementary school in several Cleveland-area parishes including St. Anthony of Padua, St. Rose, St. Clement, Holy Name, and St. Stanislaus. She also taught at Saint Joseph Academy and served as principal at St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Peter (Akron). Her time in Akron was eventful and instructive, and Sister June participated in many activities, including serving the parish council and serving pastoral councils with the Diocese as a staff consultant and steering committee member.

After retiring from teaching in 2002, Sister June found a second career as one of the community’s archivists alongside her cousin, Sister Pat Finn. She utilized her skills with research and computer design to create informative displays celebrating the history of the congregation and its members.

Currently, Sister June resides at Regina Healthcare Center in Richfield, Ohio, where she remains an active member of the Congregation, regularly attending art and reflection sessions, and is active in prayer ministry. She says the words, “Be still and know that I am God,” serve as her mantra, and added, “Not much else matters.”


Sister Judi Keehnen, CSJ

(Sister Joan Elizabeth)

65 years

Founding Community of Medaille

Sister Judi Keehnen entered the Sisters of St. Joseph in 1959 from Christ the King parish in Cincinnati, Ohio. She attended Kent State University earning a Bachelor’s degree in education, a Master’s degree in Industrial Arts, and an Education Specialist degree in Curriculum and Instruction. She also holds a Master’s degree in public history from Wright State University.

Sister Judi began teaching at McNicholas High School in Cincinnati as an instructor in mechanical drawing, home economics, and woodworking, and led many extracurricular activities. After nearly fifteen years at McNicholas, she began teaching at the college level, first in the technology department of Northern Michigan University, then as an instructor in engineering and aerospace technology at the University of Dayton. Upon receiving her Master’s degree in public history, Sister Judi began working at a number of cultural institutions, bringing history alive for the public. She has worked for the Smithsonian American History Museum (Washington, D.C.), the National Aviation Hall of Fame (Dayton, Ohio), and the Cincinnati Museum Center where she assisted in the coordination of the “Women in Spirit” touring exhibit, which featured the extraordinary contributions of women religious to American history. Since 2010, Sister Judi has served the community archives, and oversaw the McNicholas school archives.

After moving to St. Joseph Center in Cleveland, Sister Judi began volunteering in the Congregation of St. Joseph Archives. She also decorates the sisters’ community spaces for holidays, coordinates arts and crafts activities for the sisters, hosts a weekly crochet club attended by sisters, associates and Saint Joseph Academy students, and works on her own crochet creations. She recently completed an entire Nativity set of crocheted figures!

Sister Judi has spent her years of ministry as an educator and steward of history. She feels blessed to be part of a community that has given her the opportunity to explore her interests and talents, and to share those skills in a variety of ministries. When asked which of her ministries was her favorite, she paused. “The Smithsonian was my favorite, but my heart belongs to McNicholas.”


Sister Pricilla Saxton , CSJ

(Sister Mary Andre)

65 years

Founding Community of Cleveland

Sister Priscilla Saxton was taught by the Sisters of St. Joseph throughout her school days, first at St. Patrick School (Cleveland), then at St. Joseph School (Strongsville, Ohio), and Saint Joseph Academy (Cleveland). She entered the novitiate after high school and received the habit in 1959. An immediate need for infirmarians led Sister Priscilla to a career in nursing. She began working with the aged sisters at the Motherhouse in 1964 while earning her LPN license from Marymount Hospital. She continued her college education at St. John College in Cleveland, earning a Bachelor’s degree in education in 1973.

Sister Priscilla then began a career as an educator, teaching at St. Clement (Lakewood, Ohio), and at St. Rose and St. Mary (Berea, Ohio). While serving as Pastoral Minister at St. Peter (Akron, Ohio) she completed qualifications for a Certified Pastoral Education certification and went on to work in pastoral care at St. Vincent Charity Hospital. She has also worked as a nurse practitioner at Euclid Manor Nursing Home, Baldwin Manor Nursing Home, and St. Augustine Manor, all in the Cleveland area.

Sister Priscilla currently resides at St. Joseph Center in Cleveland along with her constant companion, Molly, a cocker spaniel who brings joy to all who live and work at the center.


Sister Pat Bergen, CSJ

(Sister M. Patricia)

60 years

Founding Community of La Grange Park

Sister Pat Bergen entered the founding community of La Grange Park in 1964 from St. Francis Xavier parish. She holds Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and Education from Rosary College, a Master’s degree in Pastoral Studies from Loyola University, and a Doctorate of Ministry from University of St. Mary of the Lake. She also has a certificate in Spiritual Direction and completed an internship in directing 30-day Ignatian retreats. After serving as a teacher in Catholic schools, Sister Pat’s ministry experience led her to work in the fields of adult faith formation, spiritual direction, and retreat direction. She has served on numerous boards and committees and served on both the La Grange Park Leadership Team and later on  the Leadership Team of the Congregation of St. Joseph.

Currently, Sister Pat leads initiatives supporting sustainability and the Laudato Si’ Action Platform within the Congregation. In addition, she promotes vocations and formation by helping others awaken to their oneness with God and creation, working with them to find ways to heal Earth through retreats, creative prayer, and ritual experiences. When not at work, she enjoys being outside gardening and hiking.

Sister Pat’s life is guided by the principle expressed in John 17:21, “That all may be One,” a sentiment she says, “Constantly offers opportunities beyond my imagination and evokes more of me than I ever realized possible. Love continually lifts me to recognize the sacred dignity of all creatures and bows me in reverence. Being caught up in this Unity of Love continually ignites the spirit of courage, humility, enthusiasm and joy in me as gift for the world. I love life and immense is my desire that all share in this joy.”


Sister Judith Brun, CSJ

(Sister Joanna)

60 years

Founding Community of Medaille

Sister Judith Brun entered the Sisters of St. Joseph following her graduation from St. Joseph’s Academy in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. She holds an undergraduate degree in Education and English from Dominican University, and Master’s degrees in education administration from Louisiana State University and private school administration from Boston College. She began teaching in 1972 and served as principal of St. Joseph’s Academy from 1979-2004. Under her leadership, the U.S. Department of Education awarded the school the Blue Ribbon National School of Excellence three times. In 1998, with great vision, she inaugurated a program to provide each faculty member and student with a laptop computer. The school was decorated again in 2002 with the Special Emphasis Award in Technology from the U.S. Department of Education.

Sister Judith has led numerous civic initiatives for the betterment of Baton Rouge, serving on boards and committees at the national, state and local levels. In 2006, as the founding executive director of Community Initiatives Foundation, Sister Judith focused on families displaced by Hurricane Katrina, sustaining that work until over 100 families not qualifying for FEMA assistance were housed. That understanding of poverty was the foundation for TakeCare, an initiative Sister Judith led to reduce generational poverty by focusing on mothers living in subsidized housing, which is still on-going in Scotlandville, Louisiana.

Reflecting on the inspiration for her work, Sister Judith says she was inspired by the strength and tradition of the sisters who came before her. “​As I began working with people displaced by Katrina, I recalled working with other sisters in New Orleans during Hurricane Betsy,” she said. “After that storm struck and we were safe, the first thought was to find ways to help others.”


Sister Doris Crinkey, CSJ

(Sister Mary Doris)

60 years

Founding Community of Wheeling

Sister Doris Crinkey entered the Congregation of St. Joseph in Wheeling in 1964 from St. Anthony parish in Bridgeport, Ohio. She holds Bachelor’s degrees in English and accounting from Wheeling College (now Wheeling University). She taught first grade at St. Francis de Sales School (Beckley, West Virginia) and at St. Francis Xavier School (Moundsville, West Virginia).

Sister Doris was then appointed treasurer for the Wheeling Congregation, a position she held for nearly twenty years before becoming director of the conservator program at Family Service of the Upper Ohio Valley in Wheeling. She later managed Bridgeport Manor, a HUD-subsidized apartment building for seniors. She then returned to accounting and teaching at Bishop Donahue High School (McMechen, West Virginia), and later ministered as parish accountant for St. Vincent de Paul Parish and School in Wheeling, and as a bookkeeper for the Visitation Sisters and the Marist Brothers in Wheeling.

Sister Doris has been a caregiver in many ways over the year. She served as a foster mother of three young girls, was her mother’s primary caregiver during her illness with Alzheimer’s disease, and served as on-call chaplain for the pastoral care department at Wheeling Hospital. She has also practiced spiritual and retreat direction and now provides reiki services at St. Joseph Retreat Center in Wheeling.

Currently, Sister Doris serves her community at our Wheeling Center in a number of capacities: driver, runner of errands, substitute receptionist, receiver of prayer requests, and more.

Philippians 3:7-14 was read at Sister Doris’s final profession of vows and has served as piece of wisdom that has guided her throughout her life. It concludes: “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”


Sister Frances Duos, CSJ

(Sister Allison)

60 years

Founding Community of Medaille

Sister Frances Duos entered the Sisters of St. Joseph in 1964 from St. Frances Cabrini parish in New Orleans. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Dominican Collage in education and a Master’s degree from Loyola University in religious studies. She taught seventh grade at St. Rita school (Harahan, Louisiana), and went on to teach high school at St. Joseph Academy (New Orleans), St. Joseph’s Academy (Baton Rouge), and St. Joseph Academy (New Roads). When she retired from teaching, Sister Frances continued to be an educator. As a pastoral minister in New Orleans, she taught catechism to adults returning to the Catholic faith. She later ministered as a teacher of adult literacy, working with a New Orleans program for those wishing to attain their high school diploma. Her years of active ministry also included preparing and serving meals at Catholic Worker House, and leading congregation gift committees to grant monies to non-profit organizations to advance their work among the poor and unhoused.

Sister Frances went on to work with the Spiritual Life Center in New Orleans, where she received certification in spiritual direction, and for many years counseled individuals one-on-one to deepen their relationship with God. Her own faith has been deeply affected by her worldwide travels. She spent a sabbatical year at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, which culminated in a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and the Holy Land, studying excavations and visiting the places Jesus walked. She was invited by the congregation to make the very first pilgrimage to Le Puy en Velay, France, to learn more about the founding of the Sisters of St. Joseph, and has travelled extensively with her family, including to Italy and Switzerland.

Now retired, Sister Frances resides at our center in Wichita, Kansas, where she enjoys community life, especially cultivating the raised bed gardens in the summer. A daily practitioner of Zen meditation, she is grateful for a life that has been full of challenges and adventures.


Sister Ileana Fernandez, CSJ

60 years

Founding Community of Medaille

Sister Ileana (Ily) Fernandez entered religious life in 1964. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in chemistry and mathematics and a Master’s degree in religious studies from Incarnate Word University (San Antonio). She also holds a Master’s degree in Christian Spirituality from Creighton University (Omaha). During her years as an educator, Sister Ily taught high school math and chemistry at St. Theresa’s Academy (San Antonio) and St. Louis Cathedral (New Orleans) before becoming director of religious education at Sacred Heart (New Orleans) and St. George (Baton Rouge.) She also served as a Sister chaplain and liturgy coordinator at St. Joseph’s Academy in Baton Rouge.

Sister Ily was involved in campus ministry for ten years at Louisiana State University. She also served as vocation director  and was on the formation team for the founding community of Medaille, and later for the larger Congregation, for over twenty years, mentoring young women as they discerned religious life. In 2012, Sister Ily began working at Charis Ministries offering spiritual retreats while also serving St. George parish once more as a pastoral minister and spiritual director.

Currently Sister Ily resides at our center in Wheeling, West Virginia where she offers directed retreats and spiritual direction at St. Joseph Retreat House.


Sister Bonita Janiszewski, CSJ

60 years

Founding Community of Nazareth

Sister Bonita Janiszewski entered religious life in 1964 as a Felician Sister of Livonia, Michigan, from St. Anthony parish in Toledo, Ohio. Her life’s journey brought her to the Sisters of St. Joseph in Nazareth, Michigan, who received her as part of the community in 1978. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in social science from Madonna College. She has served as a teacher at a number of schools throughout Michigan including St. Damian (Westland), St. Anne (Monroe), and St. Mel (Dearborn Heights). She served as both teacher and principal at St. John Vianney (Grand Rapids), St. Joseph (East Tawas), and St. Patrick (Portland).

After nearly twenty-five years as an educator and administrator in Catholic schools, Sister Bonita began working in parish and pastoral ministry. Her first assignment was at St. Patrick parish (Ida) where she served for seven years. She then brought her skills to her work among the sisters serving as a pastoral minister at Borgess Nursing Home and Borgess Gardens. She has also served in administrative roles at Dillon Complex and at the Nazareth Motherhouse.

Reflecting on her sixty years of religious life, Sister Bonita draws inspiration from the energy of unifying love that she receives from her community of sisters. She says she is “fearfully, wonderfully made,” and the sisters have made that possible through their hope for the future and the energy of the great love of God.


Sister Janice Landwehr, CSJ

(Sister Mary Janice)

60 years

Founding Community of Wheeling

Sister Janice Landwehr entered the Congregation of St. Joseph in 1964. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in elementary education from West Liberty State College. Sister Janice has taught in Catholic schools throughout West Virginia including St. Mary (Clarksburg), St. Patrick (Weston), Blessed Trinity, St. Vincent de Paul, and St. Michael (Wheeling), and was an original team member at Samaritan House offering educational services to incarcerated youth.

Sister Janice has served on the boards of various charitable organizations to advance health and human services in West Virginia. She was vice president of the Sisters of St. Joseph Foundation and served as co-executive director of the Sisters of St. Joseph Health and Wellness Foundation. In addition, she served as bookkeeper for the House of Studies in Wheeling and was on the board of directors for St. Alphonsus Youth Center and West Virginia Philanthropy. In addition to her work with these groups, Sister Janice also served the Congregation of St. Joseph on the prayer committee and was chair of the reconfiguration committee for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Wheeling. Sister Janice currently resides in Wheeling where she is a board member for St. John’s Home for Children, and continues to serve others in prayer and in action.


Sister Betsy Meagher, CSJ

(Sister Karen Marie)

60 years

Founding Community of Nazareth

Sister Betsy Meagher entered the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Nazareth in 1964 from St. Gertrude parish in St. Clair Shores, Michigan. The sisters were well known to her having had many as teachers from first through twelfth grades. They inspired her and she was moved by their love of children and joyful spirit. After entering, she earned a Bachelor’s degree in music from Nazareth College and a Master’s degree in music education from Western Michigan University. She taught in Catholic schools for ten years at Our Lady of Good Counsel (Plymouth) and St. Joseph (Kalamazoo), and later taught music education as a professor at Nazareth College.

Following her years in the classroom, Sister Betsy found a new ministry as a liturgical and worship coordinator. She served in this role in the Diocese of Gaylord, Michigan, at Nazareth College, and at Transformations Spirituality Center. She continues this ministry at our Nazareth center, which she says brings her great joy: to engage others in singing, praying, and enjoying worship of God and all of life. Sister Betsy also finds God in the natural world and enjoys hiking, nature walks, kayaking, and any other activities that allow her to breath in the outdoors.

Religious life has allowed Sister Betsy to thrive, and the passage Luke 6:38 resonates particularly with her experience as a Sister of St. Joseph: “…give and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”


Sister Rose Roberts, CSJ

(Sister Frederick Marie)

60 years

Founding Community of Nazareth

Sister Rose Roberts entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of Nazareth, Michigan from St. Patrick parish in Palms, Michigan. She felt God’s call to be a nurse, and healthcare was one of the principal ministries of the order. She holds her LPN degree from Kalamazoo Practical School of Nursing. After caring for the sisters and residents at the Fontbonne Home for a year, she went to Borgess Hospital where she served for forty-five years. During this time, she served in many different areas of the hospital, including surgery, neurology, geriatrics, obstetrics, gynecology and women’s health, and cardiac rehab.

Following a full career in healthcare, Sister Rose retired from active ministry. She currently resides at our Nazareth Center in Kalamazoo where she continues to be of service to the community by volunteering with the Advancing Mission and Partnerships Department, and other tasks as the needed.

Sister Rose is grateful for the changes and challenges religious life brings. She continues to be challenged by the congregation’s call to interculturality, integral ecology, religious life, and leadership. To meet these challenges, she encourages us all, “to be open to the Spirit and trust in God.”


Sister Mary Ann Sullivan, CSJ

(Sister Francis Eugene)

60 years

Founding Community of Medaille

Sister Mary Ann Sullivan entered the Sisters of St. Joseph in 1964 and professed final vows in 1972. During that time, she pursued her Bachelor’s degree in Education at Villa Maria (Erie, Pennsylvania) and Ohio Dominican University in Columbus, Ohio. She also holds a Masters degree in education from the University of Cincinnati. For forty years, Sister Mary Ann worked as an elementary school teacher in Catholic schools in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Louisiana, primarily teaching kindergarten through grade 2. Her favorite part of teaching young children was seeing the spark of recognition as they gained new skills and watching her students grow in confidence with their abilities.

Following her retirement from the classroom, Sister Mary Ann embarked on a new path in library and archive sciences. After serving as an archive assistant for the community for three years, Sister Mary Ann began employment in public libraries in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and in Cincinnati, Ohio. She was active in this work for over ten years.

In 2023, Sister Mary Ann moved to St. Joseph Center in Cleveland, Ohio. She has embraced many activities including weekly visits to the sisters living at Regina Health Center, serving in the sacristy, and caring for her rescue cat, Strayman. Sister Mary Ann is grateful for the experiences religious life has brought, including rich educational opportunities, relationships which have revealed God’s presence, and a prayerful life allowing her faith to grow in hope, love, and peace.


Sister Joanne Vallero, CSJ

(Sister M. Jeanne)

60 years

Founding Community of La Grange Park

Sister Joanne Vallero entered the Sisters of St. Joseph in 1964 from St. Anthony of Padua parish in Chicago, Illinois. After her entrance to the community, she earned a Bachelor’s degree in biology from Rosary College, and also holds a Master’s degree in educational administration from DeKalb University. As a junior high educator, Sister Joanne taught at several Chicago area schools including Mt. Carmel (Chicago Heights), St. Anthony (Chicago), Alexine Learning Center (La Grange Park), St. Paul High School (Chicago), St. Barbara (Brookfield), and St. Hugh (Lyons), where she also served as principal. As an educator, Sister Joanne loved being witness when ideas “clicked” for her students, and sharing her observations of her students’ developing gifts with their parents.

In 1986, Sister Joanne transitioned to pastoral ministry work, first at Holy Angels parish (Aurora), then later at St. Dennis (Lockport). During her twenty years of service to this parish, Sister Joanne coordinated service programs including a partnership with Habitat for Humanity, accompanying parishioners on trips to Mississippi to build homes for the poor. She served on the board of directors for Christ in the Wilderness, a hermitage retreat center sponsored by the Congregation of St. Joseph in Stockton, Illinois, where she enjoyed retreat experiences that affirmed her spirituality. She brought these gifts to sisters in community as coordinator of spiritual services at the La Grange Park Center.

Her favorite passage of Scripture is I Corinthians 13, which describes the active role love plays in ministry and in life: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres… And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”


Sister Agnes Weber, CSJ

(Sister M. Therese)

60 years

Founding Community of Wichita

Sister Agnes Weber entered religious life with the Sisters of St. Joseph in Wichita from St. Peter parish in 1964. She received her Bachelor’s degree in nursing education from Holy Name College in Oakland, California, and her registered nursing degree from St. Joseph School of Nursing, and went on earn a Master’s degree in Accountancy from Notre Dame University. She served in nursing and healthcare administration at several hospitals for more than forty years, including Halstead Hospital (Halstead, Kansas), St. Joseph Hospital (Wichita, Kansas and Ponca City, Oklahoma), Mt. Carmel Hospital (Pittsburg, Kansas), St. Ann’s Home (Oklahoma City), and St. Rose Hospital (Hayward, California).

Since 2000, Sister Agnes has been ministering to residents at Catholic Care Center in Wichita tending to the spiritual needs of residents, their families, and also to the center’s staff and volunteers. In addition to providing comfort in times of trouble, Sister Agnes says, “spiritual care also involves rejoicing with a person when they are happy and enthused about life, listening to what’s happening in their lives, expressing appreciation for the individual and what they bring to our community.” Sister Agnes currently resides at Mount St. Mary in Wichita, Kansas.


Sister Bernadette Dean, CSJ

50 years

Founding Community of Nazareth

Sister Bernadette Dean’s vocation was nurtured from an early age by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Nazareth, Michigan, who were her grade school teachers at St. Henry School (Lincoln Park). She entered the community from St. Cyril (Taylor) after feeling the call to religious life since her teenage years. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in religious studies from Siena Heights University. She then taught religious education at Sacred Heart school (Mt. Pleasant), and theology for nearly twenty years at Gabriel Richard High School (Riverview).

Following her years as a teacher, Sister Bernadette worked in formation for the Membership Development Office in Nazareth, and for the Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph Novitiate program. Through these experiences, she was able to help other women discover the sisters’ charism of unifying love. This message has always deeply resonated with Sister Bernadette and is at the core of her commitment as a woman religious. She has also led others to a deeper relationship with God as a spiritual director with Transformations Spirituality Center. She currently works with the Congregation of St. Joseph Information Technology department, assisting sisters and staff with their technological needs.

Sister Bernadette believes that religious life has helped her to, “value the things that really matter. This is the call that leads to whole-hearted living in our world. I celebrate this truth today as together, we live our call to unifying love in our world.”


Sister Pam Owens, CSJ

50 years

Founding Community of Cleveland

Sister Pam Owens grew up in a large family in Cleveland, Ohio. She felt a calling to religious life at an early age, in part because she had three aunts who were religious sisters and an uncle who was a religious brother. After graduating from the University of Cincinnati, she taught in Cincinnati public schools for several years before entering religious life. In 1974, she entered the Sisters of the Incarnate Word (the order her aunts had been a part of) and taught in various elementary schools in the Cleveland diocese, as well as serving as a director of religious education and a vocation director. Ten years later, Sister Pam transferred her vows to the Sisters of St. Joseph and taught at Saint Joseph Academy in Cleveland. Sister Pam later ministered as a youth minister, formation director, campus minister, and as a missionary in El Salvador during the difficult years of their civil war. Sister Pam says there is a part of her heart that remains with the wonderful people of El Salvador.

Sister Pam received master’s degrees in education and theology and a Doctor of Ministry degree, with a specialization in New Testament Scripture, which then led her to teaching theology to MA students who received their degrees from Barry University, FL, a ministry of the Adrian Dominican Sisters.

From Florida, she returned to the North and worked at St. Thomas More Student Parish in Kalamazoo. After 7 years and a sabbatical, Sister Pm accepted the position as Coordinator of Community Life at the Nazareth Center, where she currently ministers. Sister Pam says, “It is such an honor for me to walk with the sisters here. I am humbled and my heart is filled with gratitude as I continue to work on the “bumps” in my own life, continually being nudged by Divine Love.”


Sister Celeste Cotter, CSJ

25 years

Founding Community of Medaille

Sister Celeste Cotter has the unique distinction of being the first woman to profess final vows with the newly formed Congregation of St. Joseph following her entrance and formation with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Medaille beginning in 1997. She has a Bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy from Quinnipiac University (Hamden, Connecticut), a Master’s degree in reading from University of Bridgeport, a Master’s degree in pastoral studies from Loyola University, and a certificate in spiritual direction from Creighton University.

Prior to her entrance to religious life, Sister Celeste worked as an occupational therapist in school systems in Ohio, Texas, and Louisiana. Her early ministries were in faith formation in her parish as well as among those incarcerated in men’s maximum security prisons in Texas. As associate director for parish social ministry in the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, Louisiana, she coordinated diocesan support for Catholic Relief Services and Catholic Campaign for Human Development, as well as parish formation in Catholic social teaching. Sister Celeste’s efforts in disaster response included collaborating with agencies and volunteers to address the overwhelming needs of those from New Orleans and from within her own diocese in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and other major storms. She also initiated Catholic services in the juvenile detention facility as well as Terrebonne and LaFourche Parish prisons.

Sister Celeste has served the congregation as part of the first vocation ministry team, as liturgy coordinator for the La Grange center, and now as sacristan for Alexine Chapel for Nazareth Academy. She also provides spiritual direction, is a substitute teacher in the Diocese of Joliet, and participates in the La Grange Ministerium. She has served on the board of directors of Taller de Jose.

Sister Celeste currently resides in the Chicago area and serves on the board of Quinn Center in Maywood, Illinois. When asked where she finds joy, Sister Celeste said, “I find my greatest joy when I am on retreat, where my love of God and of nature come together and I have the time and the quiet space to listen attentively to the movements of God’s Spirit.”

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