Celebrating years of service
There are 11 members of the Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania, Ohio celebrating anniversaries of professed religious life in 2017. The service of these Sisters represents a total of 640 years of “living the Gospel in joyful servanthood among all people.”
Platinum 75 Year Jubilarians
Sister M. Dominica Niedbala
As a nurse, Sister Dominica often served as the director or supervisor of nursing in several hospitals in Ohio, Texas, Michigan and Nebraska. She also was an instructor in nursing at colleges in Ohio and Arkansas. For the past several years, Sister Dominica has shared her love of sewing and quilting with her Sisters at the Motherhouse. She says that community living is a “stitch” as she works on her quilts. Every stitch is a prayer for her Sisters and the families and friends in the various community ministries where she was privileged to serve over the past 75 years.
Sister M. Rose de Lima Kott
Sister Rose did indeed teach as she spent 42 years in teaching in elementary schools in Minnesota, Michigan and Ohio. She loved working with students and enjoyed seeing them grow and develop into good and caring young people. After teaching for so many years it was natural for her to become a librarian and AV coordinator at an elementary school. Her next ministry was that of switchboard assistant/coordinator at the Motherhouse of the Sisters. She did that for 14 years before she retired to Rosary Care Center and entered the Third Age Prayer Ministry which she continues to this day. Sister Rose enjoyed her hobby of crocheting and supplied the gift shop with her handwork for several years.
When one reflects on the 75 years that Sister Rose de Lima has been a Sister, one can only marvel at all that she has lived through as she grew along with the community and lived to celebrate the Centennial Year of the Sisters in 1916. Think about the many changes she has weathered in religious life, the classroom, the Church, the United States and the world and you would be impressed by how much our elders have had to be flexible and resilient examples for the rest of us. Thank you, Sister Rose de Lima for 75 years of faithful witness to the value and beauty of religious life.
Diamond 60 Year Jubilarians
Sister Adrienne Urban
Sister Adrienne has spent most of her 60 years of religious life in education.
She began teaching in elementary school and moved on to high school and college. More than half of her teaching was done at the college level where she taught biology, health, physiology, anatomy and physics. Sister Adrienne also spent some time as a core member of the community’s House of Prayer and as a Sacristan team member for the convent Chapel. These ministries often overlapped with her teaching load. She currently helps out in the Chapel where she graciously meets and greets the guests who come for services as well as helping out with behind the scene preparations for daily and Sunday Mass.
As she reflects on her 60 years in religious life, Sister Adrienne is grateful for the many opportunities she has had to share life with the Sisters and especially with her twin sister, Sister Grace Ellen, who is also a Sylvania Franciscan. She continues to live her Franciscan life by being kind and gentle and helpful to others. When asked what she still wants to accomplish in her life she responded, “The highest form of life is to glorify God…to make Him known everywhere, to help hearts to create room for Him.” She also quoted from Emmet Fox’s words on Love: “If only you could love enough, you would be the happiest and most powerful person in the world.”
Sister Kathleen Ottrock
Sister Kathleen has spent most of her 60 years in religious life teaching in elementary schools in Ohio, Minnesota and Michigan. She was often the organist and liturgist at many of the parishes where she taught. In her later years she also was a Spiritual Director.
Sister Kate, as she is familiarly known, hopes to be remembered for her sense of humor, her love of adventure shown through traveling and camping and her love of cats. One of her favorite quotations from Thomas Merton, “The very fact I want to do God’s will is sufficient for God,” seems to be her guiding light at this stage in her life as she continues to desire to do God’s will at all times. As she reflects on her 60 years in religious life, Sister Kate is thankful to God for the friends that He sent her who enable her to be the best person she can be.
Sister Patricia Simpson
She studied at the University of Detroit in Detroit, Michigan earning a B.A. in American History, English and French and later received a M.A. in English from the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa.
Sister Pat taught for twenty years in Catholic elementary and high schools in Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio. She also served as the Novice Director and Formation Director for the Sisters and was the Assistant Minister General and Councilor for the Community. Before retiring she was the Director and then Vice-President of Mission Integration for the Sisters’ healthcare system, Franciscan Services Corporation. She currently resides at Rosary Care Center in Sylvania where she enjoys sing-a-longs and continues to smile and greet people as a joyful presence among the residents and visitors.
Sister Ruth Margaret Peterson
Sister Ruth Margaret taught elementary and junior high classes in schools in Ohio and Minnesota for 40 years. While teaching, she also served as an organist at three different parishes for 30 years. She later worked at a Benedictine Spirituality Center and as the assistant and secretary in Faith Formation in a parish in Minnesota. Sister Ruth Margaret loves to read, bake and cook as well as design cards for All Good Things, the Sisters gift shop in Sylvania.
As she reflects on her 60 years in religious life, Sister Ruth Margaret recalls the saying by Julian of Norwich, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” She intends to continue to live out the Mission of the Sisters and live each day gracefully as she blesses God who called her to religious life as a Sylvania Franciscan.
Golden 50 Year Jubilarians
Sister M. Jordan Schaefer
Reflecting on her 50 years in religious life, Sister Jordan feels that her call to be a Franciscan Sister is her greatest treasure. Living simply with peace in relationship with God, family, community, and the people of God on this beautiful place called “earth” is for her, pure joy.
Sister Mary Ann Szydlowski
Sister Mary Ann’s 50 years of ministry has revolved around health care. She worked as an LPN and later as an RN at hospitals in Ohio, Michigan and Texas for 22 years. She earned an A.A. and B.A. degree from Lourdes College in Sylvania, Ohio. In the early 1990’s she became interested in Message Therapy and Polarity Therapy and worked at the Sophia Center in Sylvania until going into private practice. She currently works as a Licensed Massage Therapist and also does Hypnotherapy out of her office in Rosary Care Center in Sylvania.
As she reflects on her Golden Jubilee, Sister Mary Ann wants to continue to live the life of a Franciscan Sister to the best of her ability. She wishes to have a deeper relationship with God and to learn more about Francis and Clare and will have the privilege of going on the Assisi Pilgrimage this year.
Sister Nancy Ferguson
Sister Nancy feels that God has always opened doors to new opportunities in ministry when there was a need to be filled. Her favorite Scripture passage from Jeremiah 29:11, I know the plans I have in mind for you, plans for your welfare, plans for a future full of hope, has been a source of inspiration for her during her 50 years in religious life.
Sister M. Anthony Chrzanak
Sister St. Anthony’s 50 years in religious life had her participating in a variety of ministries from education to business to health care. She received an A.A. degree from Lourdes College in Sylvania, Ohio; a B.A. from the former Mary Manse College in Toledo, Ohio; a M.A. in Secondary Math Education from the University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio; and a M.S.A. degree in Financial Administration for Nonprofits from the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. She taught elementary and junior high students at schools in Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota and Louisiana. She worked as Associate and later as Assistant Treasurer in the business office of the Sisters in Sylvania. She then became the Residential Counselor at Boys’ Hope in Louisiana, a ministry that called forth gifts and talents she didn’t know she had as she mothered the many boys who came to the facility for guidance and help. Sister currently ministers at St. Joseph Regional Health Center in Bryan, Texas where she visits the elders and is a Spiritual Care Partner for a group of Associates of the Sisters in Texas.
When asked about her reflection on her 50 years as a consecrated religious, Sister St. Anthony says that she became a Sister because she wanted to make a difference in the lives of young people. She taught math to them but also emphasized their personal worth and God’s unconditional love for them. She continues to help people of all ages to realize and celebrate all that they are before God. She hopes to continue to be a joyful, caring person among God’s people and to do whatever God asks of her with joy and a song in her heart.
A scriptural refrain that is a favorite of hers is, “We are called to act with justice, we are called to love tenderly, we are called to serve one another, and to walk humbly with God.”
Sister Theresa Darga
Sister Theresa’s first 19 years of ministry were in education where she taught first grade in schools in Ohio, Michigan and Minnesota. She never thought she would stop teaching but when asked to become an elementary school principal she served in that capacity for 27 years in schools in Ohio, Illinois and Michigan. She enjoyed working with students and parents from all grade levels and serving as a mentor to the faculty and staff. Of her 46 years in education, Sister Theresa says, “Education will always have a special place in my heart.” She is currently serving as Assistant Congregational Minister for the congregation.
A highlight of her life as a Sylvania Franciscan was the opportunity to participate in an Assisi Pilgrimage where Franciscan spirituality came alive as she walked in the footsteps of Francis and Clare. As she reflects on her 50 years in religious life, Sister Theresa is grateful for the many people who have touched her life and the many opportunities given her as a Sister of St. Francis.