There are 15 members of the Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania, Ohio celebrating anniversaries of professed religious life in 2021. The service of these Sisters represents a total of 825 years of “Living the Gospel in joyful servanthood among all people.”
Platinum 75 Year Jubilarian (First Vows, 1946)
Sister M. Josetta Konopka, OSF
Sister Josetta’s 58 years in the ministry of teaching sent her to elementary schools in Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, Maryland and Texas. She was even a teacher and a principal at the same place for a few years when it was necessary. Her bubbly personality, ready smile and great sense of humor helped her meet the many challenges of those years. A woman of boundless of energy even in her mid-life years, Sister Josetta had a great desire to join the Love Patrol in Aquin, Haiti where she worked with three-year-old children. Her charismatic personality helped heal their inner and outer wounds in three months. She was moved by this experience and considers it one of her richest experiences as a Sister. She now spends her days resting in the Lord and contemplating God’s many gifts to her during her long life.
Diamond 60 Year Jubilarians (First Vows, 1961)
Sister Dorothy Jayne Krupp, OSF
She taught in elementary schools in Ohio and Minnesota for 23 years, and then received an M.A. in Pastoral Ministry from Ss. Cyril and Methodius Seminary, Orchard Lake, MI. Sister Dorothy Jayne was in pastoral ministry for 25 years at St. Martin de Porres in Warren, MI, and at St. Michael’s in Monroe, MI. In addition to bringing the worship experiences at the parishes to the proper liturgical rites and roles, she worked with other parish departments coordinating Faith Formation at all levels. A co-worker said, “Sister Dorothy knew what worked and what didn’t work in parish life and gave us the tools to become active and fully participating members of this faith community and the Body of Christ.”
For the past eight and a half years, Sister has been involved in health care at institutions sponsored by the congregation. Currently she is ministering to the spiritual needs of the residents at Rosary Care Center and Our Lady of Grace on the campus of the Sisters.
Sister M. Ellen Cmiel, OSF
A highlight of her ministry was at Our Lady of Lourdes, a historic French Church on the banks of the Mississippi River in Minneapolis that drew people from all over the city in a close-knit diverse community. Throughout her 60 years as a Sylvania Franciscan, she continued her theological education, earning her M.S.E. at St. John’s College in Cleveland, OH, and participating in graduate programs such as the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, TX, and St. John’s University in Collegeville, MN.
She is grateful for the many years of ministry in Minnesota and the opportunity it gave her to be with family, including her twin brother John, and friends. Now, at the Sylvania Motherhouse, she is happy to be back where it all began, to continue to write poetry and to revisit places and memories as she anticipates God’s design for something new, the future unfolding, unknown.
Sister Julitta Campbell, OSF
“I am aware of all that lives in me still, nothing is lost, all the love and support, the challenges and difficulties that have shaped me, the people I’ve known and the places I’ve been. Over these 60 years as a Sylvania Franciscan a favorite Scripture passage that has supported my faith journey is ‘Glory be to God whose power working in us can do infinitely more than we can ever ask or imagine.’ (Eph. 3:20)
“I certainly could never have anticipated all the adventures in life and ministry when I first came to the convent. Where did I ever get the courage to say ‘yes’ to mission work in Zimbabwe, Africa? It is not so much what I did but that I was inserted into that environment to live among the Tonga people sharing in their lives and struggles. Of course, this can be said of all my ministries. Truly all has been God’s grace and blessings,” she said.
Sister La Donna Pinkelman, OSF
Her warm joyful smile served her well when she transitioned to pastoral care in hospitals in Steubenville, OH, and Canon City, CO, where she delighted in the beauty of the mountains. She returned to the Sandusky, OH, area as Director of Mission Integration at Providence Care Center before coming home to the Motherhouse to direct the Retreat Center and minister in spiritual direction. A prayerful and obedient Sister, she evoked the Holy Spirit’s help and strength wherever she went.
Sister La Donna is the author of two volumes of poetry, Franciscan Flowers I and II, which have been published and are available in All Good Things Art & Gifts. She continues to serve others through her prayer ministry at Rosary Care Center where she continues to be inspired by the knowledge that “with God, all things are possible.”
Sister Ritamary Pyzick, OSF
Sister received her Bachelor degree in Education from Mary Manse College in Toledo and Master’s degree in History at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN. Many years of her career were devoted to teaching (1960-1988) and she later transitioned to pastoral ministry. She has fond memories of her years at St. Raphael Parish in Garden City, MI. “They were such wonderful people, and always willing to help. I still keep in touch with many of them,” she smiled.
In 2014 Sister became a support staff member at Sophia Center and remains there today. “I hope to be in ministry at Sophia for a long time because I enjoy helping out and being with the other staff members,” she added. “People are often surprised to learn that I am 82 years old because when they look at my hair, it isn’t gray!” she said with a twinkle in her eye.
Golden 50 Year Jubilarian (First Vows, 1971)
Sister Antoinette Dudek, OSF
Sister Toni has dedicated her life to education, as both teacher and principal with a focus on and commitment to children with special needs. Her ministry in special education led her to work at the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) in Washington, D.C. Sister Toni was responsible for programs and workshops for teachers working with children with special needs. While working at NCEA she compiled many helpful skills and tools in a book titled, “Is There Room for Me?” which has been a precious resource for many special education teachers.
Looking back on these past 50 years, Sister Toni has been inspired by the writings of Thomas Merton and Helen Keller. A quote by Helen Keller found in Sister’s book, sums up Sister Toni’s lifelong philosophy and is very telling of her life at this time: “I am only one: but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. I will not refuse to do the something I can do.”
Sister Barbara Stallman, OSF
After graduating from St. Clare Academy and making First Profession, Sister Barbara taught middle school for six years at various parish schools in Toledo before going back to school to work on an undergraduate degree in Chemistry at the University of Toledo and a Master’s at St. Louis University. She spent six years teaching Chemistry at Lourdes College and then earned her doctorate from the University of Minnesota.
The past 33 years Sister has dedicated herself to sharing her own great wonder and awe at the beauty of the universe with her students in the Lourdes University Chemistry Department. She teaches not only the theory and practice of chemistry, but how to apply the knowledge to the world around them. She loves nature, reading and following the Minnesota Vikings and the Minnesota Twins. In the next chapter in her life as a religious Sister, Sister Barbara hopes to work with others to use scientific knowledge to find workable solutions for our environmental issues.
Sister M. Joy Barker, OSF
After making First Profession, Sister Joy taught kindergarten, first and second grades in Toledo, Detroit and the Baltimore area, spent two years in prayer ministry at the House of Prayer at the Motherhouse, served in parish and youth ministry and, since 2013, has served as a Chaplain at St. Clare Commons in Perrysburg. For the past two decades, Sister Joy has volunteered in prison ministry at the Milan Prison in Michigan, where, prior to COVID, she attended Masses and Communion service, Bible study and an annual Cursillo retreat that brought her and her brothers much joy.
Sister Joy is thankful for her family for their support and the many experiences she has had in her 50 years of religious life, from her life with her Sisters in community to her time spent in the classroom with first and second graders who called her ‘Mom.’ She is grateful for the parishioners who shared important parts of their lives with her, the years she was able to spend in prayer ministry and to the many wonderful seniors who have taught her how to grow old gracefully.
Sister Karen Daniewicz, OSF
She began her studies at the University of Minnesota for a Masters in Social Work with a focus on Gerontology, which she completed in 1996. After graduating she was a nursing home social worker, and by 1997 Sister Karen was hired as an intake social worker for Hennepin County in Minneapolis.
In the early years of her employment at Hennepin County she felt that her job was a perfect fit. “It was more than a feeling…it was a passion,” she said. In the midst of constant change, budget cuts, and restructuring, these words still ring true for Sister Karen. “I am proud to work for local government whose role is to provide a safety net to ensure that everyone’s basic needs are met—especially those who are the most vulnerable, poor, and disenfranchised. Being a Sylvania Franciscan working in local government is really living out the Gospel in joyful servanthood among all people…,” she added.
Sister Nancy Linenkugel, OSF
Although she wanted to attend St. Clare Academy, her parents asked her to attend the local public high school and then decide her vocation. A talented musician, she composed, orchestrated, and conducted the Rogers High School band processional march for her 1968 graduation. Sister Nancy has spent the last 50 years in energetic and creative service that included teaching, hospital administration and
She served as VP at St. John Medical Center in Steubenville, OH, as President and CEO of Providence Hospital in Sandusky, President of Chatfield College in Cincinnati and Chair of the Department of Health Services Administration at Xavier University. From 2008-2012 she served a four-year term as Congregational Secretary and Councilor for the congregation. Sister Nancy is principal cellist for the national orchestra Medical Musical Group, was inducted into the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame in 1999, elected to the National Board of Governors of the American College of Healthcare Executives and became a Life Fellow in 2011.
As she celebrates her Golden Jubilee, she thanks her community of Sisters for their acceptance, love, education and daily inspiration to live the Sylvania Franciscan mission.
Sister M. Keith Marcinak, OSF
Sister Keith received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Education from Mary Manse College in Toledo and taught school from 1971-1982. She then sought a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology from Anna Maria University in Worcester, MA.
“I spent 37 years doing psychotherapy with the mentally ill, alcoholics and drug addicts as a licensed counselor. God’s interventions into my life have taken place on a daily basis throughout the years. I felt His grace while working with the addicted and poor in spirit,” she said. Sister has published works on Alcohol and Grief Issues, Depression and Heroin Dependence, and other related topics.
Having left the counseling field in 2019, Sister Keith now volunteers with the Lourdes University Labre outreach project and enjoys working on her family tree and cooking.
Sister Rachel Nijakowski, OSF
Sister Rachel found her way to the convent through her elementary school years where she had Sylvania Franciscan teachers. Sister Kathleen Ottrock, OSF, was a great influence on Sister Rachel and her vocation. Sister admired the warm, friendly relationships all the Sisters had with the students at Our Lady of Lourdes School in Toledo, OH. Sister Rachel was an elementary teacher for nine years, taught at Lourdes University and worked on her Ph.D. in Psychology from Ball State University from 1988-1990 before founding the Sophia Center in 1993 when she received her Ohio Psychology License.
Forming Sophia Center from the start allowed Sister to create a team of professionals with the same passion for those who are seeking mental health treatment even though they are uninsured or underinsured. “I am blessed because the Sophia staff and board are committed and engaging groups of professionals.
“My greatest gift has been to serve in Leadership from 2012- 2021. I have had the honor of working with an outstanding team and have been able to lead the community in so many ways. Getting to know my Sisters better and walk with them on their life journeys has been a privilege,” Sister Rachel said.
Sister Sandra Rutkowski, OSF
She attended St. Stanislaus Kostka School in Wyandotte, MI, which is where she became acquainted with the Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania. Sister Sandra always helped the Sisters of St. Francis in cleaning the sacristy when she was in grade school. That’s how she got to know the Sylvania Franciscans outside the classroom and knew that she wanted to help children, and being a Sister of St. Francis was the right religious community for her.
She entered the Sylvania Franciscan community after high school and attended Lourdes College, Mary Manse College in Toledo, Wayne State University in Detroit and the University of Toledo. She was well educated and prepared to teach for 12 years, step in as principal when needed, and serve as an elementary school, high school and university librarian. For the last 18 years she has served as the Lourdes University Director of Library Services.
She cherishes her Pilgrimage to Assisi and is grateful for acquiring her Master’s degree in Library Science.
Sister Shannon Schrein, OSF
After 8th grade, Sister Shannon entered St. Clare Academy in Sylvania, OH, and began her lifelong dedication to God, education and community. She began her theological study while teaching grades 2-8 in Toledo, New Orleans and Minneapolis.
Since earning her PhD in Systematic Theology at Marquette University in 1995, Sister Shannon has served at Lourdes University as a Theology Professor, Department Chair, Master’s Program Director and the Graduate School Dean. She is the former President of the College Theological Society’s 900 members. She is the author of two books, many published essays and is a frequent guest on radio and podcasts.
A gifted musician, Sister Shannon’s rich voice and guitar are always welcome additions to community and family gatherings, including the Toledo Mud Hens where she’s sung the National Anthem more than a dozen times.
She served on the Leadership Council from 2016-2021. Sister is deeply grateful to her fellow Sylvania Franciscan Sisters for calling forth her gifts and walking with her in all the ministries God has called them to do.