Celebrating years of service
There are ten members of the Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania, Ohio celebrating anniversaries of professed religious life in 2018. The service of these Sisters represents a total of 575 years of “Living the Gospel in joyful servanthood among all people.”
Platinum 75 Year Jubilarians
Sister M. Janeen Sobczak
She was one of seven children and her mother, who wanted to join the sisterhood in Poland, prayed that at least one of her daughters would become a nun. As a student of the Sylvania Franciscans, Sister Janeen admired her teachers and how happy their life in ministry made them and she knew that this was the life she wanted. She entered the Sylvania Franciscan community through Nativity Parish in Toledo in 1937 and made her first profession in 1943.
In her 75 years of religious life, Sister Janeen served the church in a variety of ministries. She taught English and Latin in elementary schools and high schools in Ohio, Minnesota and Michigan for 25 years and was a high school guidance counselor for 13 years. She enjoyed her students very much and is grateful for having had the opportunity to make so many lifelong friends.
She continued her ministry at the Sylvania Motherhouse in roles such as purchasing, central supply, transportation, receptionist and prayer ministry for the Sisters.
As she celebrates her 75th Jubilee, she continues her contemporary spiritual study, reads copiously, enjoys connecting with nieces and nephews on Facebook, is always up for a good pilgrimage and feels joyful to simply live life as a Franciscan as she continues to grow in the life of Jesus.
Diamond 60 Year Jubilarians
Sister Barbara Ann Borkowski
Her go-for-it attitude has kept Sister Barbara Ann in the classroom most of her 60 years of religious life.
She spent the years between 1958 and 2017 in the classroom, teaching grades first through eighth and delighting each school year with the new adventures and challenges it brought. Sister Barbara Ann has taught Jr. High at Notre Dame Preparatory and Marist Academy for the past 21 years, and before that she was a dedicated educator of hundreds of students in Ohio, Minnesota and Michigan Catholic schools, including O.L. Queen of Heaven School, St. Cunegunda School, SS. Peter & Paul School and St. Anselm School.
Sister Barbara Ann’s optimistic nature sees everything as possible and she knows the strength born from small acts of kindness. She shared this attitude with her Junior High students, often involving them in out-of-school projects to help the poor and needy in their community.
“As a Sylvania Franciscan, I want to live a life that is joy-filled, just and wise. I hope to continue showing compassion, doing good works, spreading The Gospel by my life, traveling light in my expectations, and leaving the outcome to God.”
Sister Eve Marie Korzym
Sister Eve Marie’s ministry began with education – a place where her delightfully dry wit served her well. She taught in Catholic schools in Ohio, Michigan and Minnesota. Later, she followed her passion for spiritual growth by serving as a Mid-Life Directions consultant, the SOSF Aspirancy Director, teaching religious classes, as well as working as a pastoral associate for 35 years. She served as the director of religious education for the Diocese of Gallup, New Mexico.
The thrill of her lifetime was when the community sent her to take part in a study program in Israel. There she studied Scripture, visited the places of the Old and New Testament and climbed Mt. Sinai.
As Sister Eve Marie reflects on her 60 years living religious life, she is grateful for this intentional community of Sisters and Associates who want to pray and live together. She continues to pray for the many needs in the world, the church, her community, friends and family.
Sister Jane Mary Sorosiak
During her ministry in education, Sister Jane Mary taught in elementary schools, high school and college. While teaching at St. Ann Parish School in Cincinnati, she earned her M.A. in English from Xavier University. Her most memorable and enjoyable years were spent teaching English and Art at Cardinal Stritch High School, Oregon, OH, while working on an M.A. in Art from Bowling Green State University.
After teaching art at Lourdes University for almost three decades, Sister Jane Mary now serves as the Director of Alverno Studio, which is located on the Sylvania Franciscan Motherhouse grounds and serves as a resource for Lourdes University students, faculty and community volunteers. She loves working with her volunteers where they share their thoughts and ideas on a variety of issues especially when they gather for Tea Time each day. One of her oft-quoted sayings is, “Slight imperfections indicate handmade articles—with emphasis on slight.”
The inspiration for her art comes from the Holy. Sister Jane Mary and her crew have designed, fired, glazed and installed dozens of small to large-scale religious-themed murals, as well as a rare historical Father Gabriel Richard Mural in Detroit’s Cobo Center. Currently Sister Jane Mary is working on a mural of St. Francis for St. Leonard’s in Dayton, while designing projects for two local installations.
Her favorite Scripture quotation from Psalm 63 gives some insight into her spirit: “In the shadow of your wings I rejoice…my soul clings to you, your right hand holds me fast.”
Sister M. Nathaniel Eisel
“I just love with all my heart being a Sylvania Franciscan,” Sister Nathaniel says. Her 60 years of vowed life has been filled with a variety of ministries to God’s people in hospitals in Ohio, Michigan, Arizona, Louisiana and Texas. She also served as supervisor of maintenance at the Motherhouse in Sylvania but the majority of her life in ministry has been spent in Texas, where she still gets a kick out of people’s reaction when she tells them she is a Franciscan from Sylvania, Ohio.
To know Sister Nathaniel is to know a woman who loves religious life, loves her ministry at the parish in Texas, and who continues to influence others by her joyful spirit. In her efforts to spread the Gospel by who she is and where she is, you can see the influence of her favorite Scripture piece, Psalm 23: The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I lack….
Sister Patricia Ann Taube
On the day of her final vows three years later, the sun came out. On August 10, 1961, “ the day I professed forever the answer to my Call for all to hear,” the chapel was beautiful and the sun was shining. “From now on, with a smile on my face, through rainy and sunny days, I would carry out the Mission of the Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania,” says Sister Pat.
From 1957 to 1966, she taught at Catholic schools in Ohio, Michigan and Minnesota before working as Director of Religious Centers in Toledo, Steubenville and Mansfield. In 1989, while completing courses in Clinical Pastoral Education, she served as a second corrections Chaplain at Mansfield State Prison and Director of Adult Ministry and Education at Resurrection Parish in Lexington, OH before becoming a student Chaplain in Huntington, W. Va. Once certified, Sister Pat ministered in the role of Chaplain in the American Hospital for Rehabilitation at St. Mary’s Medical Center and the Family Caregiver Physicians, in the Charleston/Wheeling Diocese. She found the work and community deeply rewarding.
In 2013, Sister Pat’s world changed. Her body’s response to a bacterial infection turned into Sepsis, which resulted in the loss of her limbs. She returned to Sylvania to heal at Rosary Care Center on the Motherhouse grounds.
As she healed, she listened for that special call. God’s plan was for her to assist others to answer their call. Now, as a Spiritual Director and Retreat Director, Sister Pat celebrates her 60th Jubilee and plans to live “one day at a time with my ear always to my heart.”
Golden 50 Year Jubilarians
Sister Judith Ann Zielinski
Always drawn to teaching, Sister Judy began her ministry in middle grade and Junior High classrooms at Regina Coeli and St. Hedwig’s schools in Toledo; St. John the Baptist in New Brighton, Minnesota, and Alter Elementary in Rossford before transitioning to secondary education at Cardinal Stritch High School in Oregon, OH. There she taught literature, creative writing, yearbook and basic TV production while earning a Master’s degree in Communication Arts during summer sessions at the University of Notre Dame. In 1981, after 13 years of teaching and with the degree work completed, she transitioned to full-time church communications. She created the first communications office in her Sylvania congregation, writing and editing The Poverello, the community’s newsletter; served as a member of the communications staff of the Diocese of Toledo; as communications Director for the Conference of Major Superiors of Men in Silver Spring, MD; and as Director of Radio-TV Programming at Family Theater Productions in Hollywood, CA. Since 2002, she has ministered as Director of Faith and Values Programming at NewGroup Media in South Bend, IN.
Over the years, Sister Judy’s ministry has included interviewing, feature writing and screenwriting, public relations, publishing, photography and television production in service of the US church and many congregations of men and women religious. She has written and produced television programs both nationally and internationally, traveling to eleven countries and 35 states, while earning two Gabriel Awards (the “Catholic Emmy”), a Signis International Catholic drama award and multiple Telly industry awards.
Sister Judy feels blessed by her years of teaching (still her favorite ministry!) and the many communication projects that have allowed her to share people’s Gospel stories of faith, struggle, commitment and witness. She credits her lifelong love of Franciscan spirituality, creativity, and “religious imagination,” instilled by her elementary Sister-teachers, as the bedrock for all she has offered others in ministry.
Today, her interests in baking, ethnic cooking, international and independent cinema, mystical spirituality, poetry, travel, the New Yorker Magazine and the New York Times crossword puzzles – all feed her soul.
“After 50 years, I am grateful for membership in this Franciscan community; my powerful, varied life experiences; and support from my Sisters, family, friends, and colleagues, past and present. The moments of grace in my life continue to well up without end.”
Sister Nancy Ann Surma
She made her first profession on August 10, 1968. Sister Nancy Ann taught Junior High through college before earning a PhD in Higher Education Administration and going on to serve at Lourdes University, University of Detroit-Mercy, Marywood College and Briar Cliff College.
Today her ministry is as V.P. of Mission Integration for Catholic Health Initiatives in Kentucky, where she shares the Franciscan charism of caring for creation and respect for all human dignity with her typical gentle, ever-thoughtful and down-to-earth style.
An enthusiastic cook, Sister Nancy Ann often invites friends over to try out her new recipes. She also enjoys being in nature, bird watching, reading, enjoying art and music and being active in her parish.
Whatever Sister Nancy Ann is doing, she does it with such a deep sense of peace that her closeness to God is felt by all. As she celebrates her 50th Jubilee, she says “I hope by my peaceful, accepting presence, I can continue to influence others as a Sylvania Franciscan, regardless of health, age or location.”
A favorite quote is from St. Bonaventure: “Seek the answer in God’s grace, not in doctrine; in the longing of the will, not in the understanding; in the sighs of prayer, not in research.. . Look not to the light but rather to the raging fire that carves the soul to God with intense fervor and glowing love.”
Sister Rosemarie Fredericks
Her ministry in education has spanned her 50 years of religious life. Sister Rosemarie taught CCD in St. Claude Parish in Mt. Clemens and taught third grade at the St. Raphael School in Garden City, MI before transferring to schools in Ohio in 1973.
In addition, Sister Rosemarie worked in the Motherhouse print shop, helped establish the Sylvania Franciscan Heritage Room and worked in Haiti to help the children suffering from malnutrition.
Sister Rosemarie is a woman of many interests. She loves baking, cooking, gardening, birdwatching and spending time at the lake with her family. Last year she attended the Sylvania Police Division Citizens Academy.
After 30 years of teaching Kindergarten at St. Joe’s in Sylvania, Sister Rosemarie will teach for one more year. She looks forward to spending time in service to the Sisters and the Sylvania/Toledo community.
Sister Rosemarie’s philosophy is reflected in her favorite quotes: Be the best version of yourself, and from St. (Mother) Teresa, “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” She looks forward to continuing to spend her life serving the Sisters and the Sylvania/Toledo community in new capacities.
Sister Sharon Havelak
When she was in the sixth grade, she remembers Sister Mary Ann giving a vocation talk and showing slides of the convent grounds in Sylvania. When she saw the Motherhouse, she somehow knew that was home.
Sister Sharon entered the congregation in 1965 and made her First Profession in 1968. She taught elementary school for nine years, spent many years as an instructor at Lourdes University, eight years in Congregational Leadership, serves as a contributing artist to All Good Things Art and Gifts and, since 2009, as its Director.
Her public artwork includes the stunning Canticle windows at Lourdes University, the Resurrected Christ at Resurrection Cemetery, Toledo, and the healing windows at St. Raphael Church in Garden City, MI.
Throughout her 50 years of religious life, Sister Sharon has taken an active role in leading justice and peace initiatives by working to end human trafficking, giving aid to refugees, ending the death penalty and caring for the earth.
She embodies the spirit of the Peace Prayer of St. Francis:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring love.
Where there is offense, let me bring pardon.
Where there is discord, let me bring union.
Where there is error, let me bring truth.
Where there is doubt, let me bring faith.
Where there is despair, let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness, let me bring your light.
Where there is sadness, let me bring joy.
O Master, let me not seek as much
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love,
for it is in giving that one receives,
it is in self-forgetting that one finds,
it is in pardoning that one is pardoned,
it is in dying that one is raised to eternal life.