Celebrating years of service
There are 12 members of the Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania, Ohio celebrating anniversaries of professed religious life in 2016. The service of these Sisters represents a total of 660 years of “living the Gospel in joyful servanthood among all people.”
Diamond 60 Year Jubilarians
Sister Myra Ciesielski
As a young religious, Sister Myra taught in grade schools in Minnesota, Ohio, and Michigan. In 1970 she was assigned to St. John the Baptist School in New Brighton, Minnesota as principal. In 1976 Sister became principal of St. Hedwig School in Toledo and in 1982 was assigned to assume that same role at Regina Coeli School.
In 1989 she left the education ministry to become the pastoral associate at Regina Coeli for six years and moved to St. Stephen Parish as pastoral associate for two years. Sister Myra was missioned in 1997 as the administrator of Rosary Care Center in Sylvania and, after three years, she fulfilled the role of the Director of Mission Integration until 2007. Her desire to serve God’s people took her to Minnesota where she worked in a mortuary as a grief counselor for several months and later greeted visitors as a receptionist at Catholic Eldercare Nursing Home in Minneapolis. Sister is currently a volunteer at River Village, a Catholic Eldercare facility in the Twin Cities.
As Sister Myra reflects on her 60 years of service to the people of God, she realizes that she has more life behind her than in front of her and she hopes to be able to continue to share the gifts that she has with others. In a recent written interview she wrote, “Without counting the cost or looking for self-gratification, I wish the things I do in the future will help to build up the kingdom so more people will know, love and serve God….I appreciate the support of family and friends, community and clergy who have helped me become the person I am today. God is good…I would like to continue being His chief witness!”
Sister Mary Ann Grzeskowiak
In her 60 years of ministry to the People of God, Sister Mary Ann served as a teacher in schools in Ohio, Minnesota and Michigan; as a principal in schools in Ohio; as a member of the General Council of the Sisters; and as a Social Outreach worker in organizations in Mississippi, Louisiana and Virginia. She currently volunteers at the Campus Ministry office at Lourdes University.
Reflecting on her life at this time of Jubilee, Sister Mary Ann sees her vocation as a Sylvania Franciscan as a Call…then a Shout…from God. After working in education for more than half her religious life, Sister felt called to peace and justice work and found herself in Haiti for a while and remembers taking part in the marches in Washington, DC and in New York City protesting the Iraq War.
Her favorite saying is “I believe; help my unbelief.” Sister presently goes about being a quiet presence while she searches for what is still hers to do. She says, “It has been a joyful ride these 60 years developing relationships across the land while walking the talk of the Gospel.”
Sister Pauline Kijek
As Sister Pauline reflects on her 60 years of ministry as a religious, she is aware that the roots of her vocation came from her first grade teacher, Sister Natalie, who impressed her so much she decided to be a Sister then and there. She spent 54 years as an elementary and junior high teacher in schools in Minnesota, Michigan and Ohio. Sister always felt that though she was the teacher, she learned a lot from her students. Sister Pauline is currently a volunteer caregiver and hopes she is an example of God’s love and compassion to the many people she encounters in her ministry.
The saying, “God is Good,” has been and continues to be a source of inspiration for the life and ministry of Sister Pauline. Her love of gardening, decorating the chapel, listening to classical music, working on puzzles, playing Scrabble and doing crafts are all signs to her of God’s love and goodness to her as she looks forward to whatever God has in his plan for her in the future.
Sister Donna Kordiak
Sister Donna has spent 45 years of her religious life in the ministry of education where she taught in elementary schools in Ohio, Michigan and Minnesota. In addition to her teaching duties, Sister wrote monthly articles for The Catholic Servant, a local newspaper, and conducted workshops for teachers and parents in parishes throughout the Archdiocese of St.Paul/Minneapolis. For the past 15 years, Sister has been involved in parish ministry at Holy Cross Parish in Minneapolis where she visits parishioners who are homebound, in nursing homes or in hospitals, brings them the Eucharist and prays with them.
As she reflects on her 60 years of religious life, Sister Donna says that she wishes to influence the spiritual lives of others as she continues to spread Franciscan Joy and offers her prayers for them. Her “take care and God bless” and “God knows” can be heard in her everyday conversations with the people she sees and shares her life in her outreach ministry.
Sister Serra Minier
For 27 years, Sister Serra taught in elementary schools in Michigan and Ohio. Sister’s teaching ministries include Our Lady Queen of Heaven in Detroit, St. Ladislaus in Hamtramck and St. Peter School in Huron, Ohio. The next 27 years in ministry were spent at Cardinal Stritch High School in Oregon, Ohio where she served as Registrar, and Attendance and Discipline Secretary. The past six years have been spent in secretarial work. Sister Serra is currently an assistant in the Congregational Offices and serves on various committees.
Seeing her lifelong commitment as one of continued ministry to God’s people, Sister Serra would like to be present to more people by volunteering at a soup kitchen, taking Eucharist to the sick, and devoting more time to her prayer life. She is very grateful to be a part of the Sylvania Franciscan Community and very proud of its 100 years of caring service to the people of God.
Sister Elizabeth Zielinski
In 60 years of ministry, Sister Elizabeth taught for 27 years in elementary schools in Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio. The next 30 years were full of a variety of ministries in Ohio when she returned to the Motherhouse to be sacristan, provider of transportation for the Sisters, nursing home aide and home health aide. She also worked as a parish secretary in Detroit. Sister spent many years ministering to the Sisters at Rosary Care Center and still accompanies the Sisters to their appointments.
As Sister Elizabeth reflects on her full life in religion, she feels especially blessed for the years she was sacristan at Our Lady Queen of Peace Chapel in Sylvania. She recalls the 130 miles she walked as a 13 year participant in the MS Walk as quite an accomplishment. Sister tries to live by the motto, “One day at a time,” and also tries to live with a positive attitude and greets others with a smile on her face, so she can be a shining light to others.
Golden 50 Year Jubilarians
Sister Ann Carmen Barone
As Sister Ann Carmen reflects on her 50 years in religious life, she is very aware of how God has used her many talents to help others. She spent 18 years in education, teaching in elementary schools, high schools and college. She served as Vocation Director for the Sisters for 11 years, was Director of Campus Ministry at Lourdes College and has been Vice President of Mission and Ministry at Lourdes University for the past 15 years. A ministry dear to her heart that has overlapped her other ministries for the last 30 years is that of musician, Liturgy Team member, Director of Liturgy at the Motherhouse in Sylvania and member of the Diocesan Liturgical Commission in Toledo. She feels that music and liturgy have allowed her to be part of so many special events for so many people and in turn have fed her spirit as well as the spirit of those she worked with and accompanied along the way.
Sister Ann Carmen’s personality exudes joy, peace, hope and energy, and she continues to share her gifts with students, faculty and staff at Lourdes University as well as with her Sisters in community. In a recent interview she wrote, “I have been praying litanies of gratitude since high school. I hope those litanies are reflected in the way I live my life. I am so grateful for being so loved by my parents and freed by them to be a Sylvania Franciscan. I feel blessed to have lived through such a profound time of growth and change in our community.”
The little girl born in Modica, Sicily, has enjoyed a life rich in friendships and life-giving experiences that cause her to exclaim with St. Paul, …to him whose power now at work in us can do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine—to him be glory. (Ephesians 3:20-21)
Sister Faith Cosky
Over the course of 50 years in religious life, Sister Faith served in a variety of ministries. She taught in elementary schools, was involved with early formation of the Candidates of the Order, served as the Director of Bethany House,(a long term shelter for abused women and children), and has been a hospital chaplain for the past 16 years. Sister feels that God gave her the desire to serve others in a variety of ways and she was always given the opportunity to match that desire.
As Sister Faith reflects on her 50 years of ministry, she feels that one of her most effective gifts is that of being a good listener. She hopes to continue to do just that as she lives out one of her favorite sayings, “People may forget what you said but they will never forget how you made them feel.” Sister promised at her profession 50 years ago to listen to her brothers and sisters and never shut her ears to them or to God. Sister Faith continues to live out this promise in her current ministry as a Chaplain at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Sister Magdala Davlin
In her 50 years of service to the people of God, Sister Magdala taught in elementary schools for five years and ministered as a nurse in hospitals and nursing homes for almost 43 years. After a short time as a coordinator of an inner city clinic and pastoral care director in a hospital, she returned to the Motherhouse where she currently is using and enjoying her artistic abilities as she assists with ceramic tile projects at Alverno Studio and pursues art classes at Lourdes University.
As she reflects on her 50 years of consecrated life, Sister Magdala believes that being a Sister is in its essence a special calling. She has felt called to serve and make a difference in the lives of people she meets just by her presence and her relationships. She considers her greatest accomplishment will be to get to Heaven and has prayed this prayer since she was a youngster—“Lord, make me a religious according to your own heart; meek, humble and obedient, a soul of meditation and of prayer; insensible to contempt, to injury, to earthly things and sensible only to Thy love and the goods of the Holy Spirit.” It is her life time work.
Sister Verona Kurtzman
In her 50 years of ministry, Sister Verona served in many different capacities. She has a knack for taking on new and challenging jobs with an uncommon sense of doing everything with great enthusiasm, with class and with joy. Her time in food service began with being a dietary aide and ended up as food manager of the Motherhouse cafeteria. Sister also served as housekeeper and cook for the retired Bishop Rehring in the 1970s and for Bishop Blair and the residents at the Chancery. Her years at Rosary Hall were spent in the dietary department, as a physical therapy aide, a nurse’s aide and enrichment assistant as well as caregiver for individual Sisters. Sister Verona also served in pastoral care and was a patient escort at a hospital in Steubenville, Ohio. Sister now resides in Rosary Care Center where she visits the other residents and takes part in the activities. She walks the campus as her health and the weather allows.
Sister Verona spent a few years in ministry in Washington, D.C. and her wish is to go back there to see the monuments that have been built since she was there. When asked about what else she would like to happen she says she would like the Sisters to wear an identifiable uniform (preferably a suit) and she would like to have learned how to play the violin. Sister Verona can be easily identified by one of her favorite sayings, “What I am before God that I am and nothing more.”
Sister Janice Marie Peer
Sister Janice’s 50 years of ministerial service includes teaching in primary and intermediate grades in schools in Ohio, Minnesota and Michigan. One of her greatest joys was being a high school theology instructor at Central Catholic High School and Notre Dame Academy in Toledo where the students were always an inspiration to her. Another ministry highlight in her life was as Children’s Worship Leader at Herman Kiefer Hospital for the Indigent Mentally Ill where she served on Sundays for seven years and found it to be a most blessed time in her life.
After serving as a classroom teacher, Sister Janice became Director of Religious Education for parishes in Detroit, Howell, St. Clair and Temperance, Michigan as well as in Toledo and Fremont, Ohio. Her love for families and the catechists with whom she shared the journey of faith formation was tremendous. She felt one of her most wonderful accomplishments as a DRE was the design and implementation of Emmaus Days for all religion teachers and adults growing in their faith.
Sister Janice was a member of the Toledo Diocesan Ecumenical and Interreligious Commission for eight years as well as a former deanery representative for catechetical leaders. She presently is ministering at Franciscan Care Center in Toledo and also offering adult faith formation sessions to various parishes. She has spent many summers volunteering as a worker on the Motherhouse grounds in Sylvania.
Sister Janice is a great animal lover, especially of felines, and is a member of Planned Pethood. Her love of creation extends to doing all she can to protect and beautify God’s world. Her parents and her teachers, especially the Sylvania Franciscans, have always given her a marvelous example of holy stewardship of all of creation.
To my Sisters, my friends, my family and my little cats—thank you for blessing me with your love!
Sister Fidelis Rubbo
As Sister Fidelis reflects on the 50 years of ministry she has had, she says that she enjoyed the variety and the challenges that were hers, first as a teacher for 11 years, a religious education coordinator for six years, a youth/campus minister for a combined nine years, a pastoral associate for six years, a pastoral administrator for 11 years and a missionary for 13 years. These varied ministries took her to places in Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, Louisiana, Mississippi, Michigan, Virginia and Haiti. In a written interview Sister Fidelis wrote, “I have enjoyed each of the ministries I have had, but highlights would include developing a youth ministry program for seven parishes in northeast Minneapolis, ministering in the home missions in the South for 16 years, being involved in peace and justice work wherever I was, being entrusted with the pastoral leadership of parishes in two dioceses and the ecumenical relationships that went with that, and being called to live and work among the poor of Haiti for 13 years.” She also was responsible for building a parish church in Virginia as well a house for the Sisters and a Guest House in Haiti.
No longer living and working in Haiti, Sister Fidelis continues to work with others to make the life of the Haitian people better. She recently helped care for her dying Mother and tends to her ailing sister as well as helping out with the Sisters in her community, wherever and whenever she can. She keeps before her the Scripture from Romans 8:38-39, “Nothing can separate us from the love of God,” and tries to show that love to others in her daily life.