Celebrating 825 years of service


There are ten members of the Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania, Ohio celebrating anniversaries of professed religious life in 2022. The service of these Sisters represents a total of 545 years of “Living the Gospel in joyful servanthood among all people.”

Diamond 60 Year Jubilarians (First Vows, 1962)

Sister Brigid O'Shea Merriman, OSF

60th Jubilee

Sister Brigid O’Shea Merriman was born during WWII in London, England where she began school at age four. Each day as she walked to St. Charles School, she would pass a bomb site on her way to class, which was the norm of the time. She moved with her family to Michigan in 1948.

After growing up in Garden City, Michigan, attending St. Raphael Catholic School where Sylvania Franciscans were her teachers and inspiration, she entered the Sisters of St. Francis convent in 1956, attending St. Clare Academy and making her first profession in 1962.

Prepared with a Ph.D. in Theology, she has taught over 25 different Theology courses at the college undergraduate and graduate level, at a seminary for 13 years and at Lourdes University for the last 18 years. She began her teaching career in elementary education, a career that has lasted 58 years. She continues today teaching at Lourdes.

“I always loved singing and have been in a choir since I was ten. The first one was a girls’ choir formed by my Sylvania Franciscan teachers. . . I knew the Franciscans loved music,” said Sister Brigid. In addition to her love for singing, Sister Brigid says she has always loved teaching too.

She treasures her life as a Franciscan Sister and wishes to continue sharing God’s love, to the best of her ability, through service to others.

Sister Carolyn Giera, OSF

60th Jubilee

“It was the mystery of Gods’ grace that after attending a Vocation Day in Junior High, sponsored by the Archdiocese of Detroit, I felt inspired to pray each night for the gift of a religious vocation. Through my interactions with, and attraction to, the Sisters of St. Francis in my grade school years, it seemed right and natural to join them in what I experienced as a joy-filled, dedicated way of life in service to God and God’s people,” says Sister Carolyn.

She made her first vows in 1962 and final vows in 1967. Sister Carolyn taught for nine years in elementary schools in Ohio and Michigan; was a school psychologist in Toledo and Minneapolis; taught part-time at Lourdes College; was a Religious Education Coordinator and Pastoral Minister in Minneapolis, MN; worked in the Sisters’ community formation program; was a County Prevention Specialist in Cassopolis, MI; served in Congregational Leadership for 12 years, four as Congregational Minister; and was Co-director of a Franciscan lay mission organization in Washington, DC. She currently serves as Transitions Coordinator for the Sisters.

Sister Carolyn has always been volunteering with marginalized people. She has been blessed in each encounter at Bethany House and Women Blessing Women in Toledo, with L’Arche residents in Alabama and Hurricane Katrina victims in Louisiana. Beyond our borders she experienced the love and graciousness of people in Haiti, El Salvador, Guatemala and Tanzania in Africa. Her most recent outreach was to refugees in southern Texas.

Sister Grace Ellen Urban, OSF

60th Jubilee

Sister Grace Ellen Urban became a Sylvania Franciscan because she admired St. Francis’ simplicity, love for all creation and his courage to let go of all his material possessions.

Her twin sister, Sister Adrienne Urban entered the convent earlier, and while it would be nice to be with her sister, she needed to discern her life’s work a bit longer before entering the convent. “I had worked in secular places during high school and college summers, and came to realize I wanted to do more with my life. . . to help people in whatever God was asking,” she said.

Sister Grace Ellen, a social worker by training, taught in Catholic elementary schools for 27 years. She also ministered as the Activities Director for three years at Rosary Hall with retired Sisters of St. Francis. For the last 30 years, Sister has been the Assistant Superintendent of Grounds and Shrines for the Motherhouse campus.

Sister Grace Ellen is especially grateful for the year she spent with Sister Betty going to the St. Louis Soup Kitchen in Toledo for one day, every week. She reports that it was a truly enlightening experience.
These days she continues her daily tending to the grounds and shrines and enjoys being helpful to others.

Sister Kathleen Casey, OSF

60th Jubilee

Encouraged by her teachers, Sister Kathleen Casey entered the Sylvania Franciscan community from Presentation Maplewood, MN parish in 1959 to attend St. Clare Academy. She made her first profession in 1962.

Her ministry in education spanned 50 years, teaching grades 3-6 in Ohio, Michigan and Minnesota. Her ministry expanded in 1983 when she served as Librarian and computer teacher for the St. Francis Education Center in Sylvania for five years. In 1992, Sister Kathleen began her mission in Minnesota, serving as a librarian for several schools and as a receptionist at St. Paul’s Monastery until 2018.

A talented cook and spirited hostess, Sister Kathleen loves a good gathering, from dinner parties to football game days. She was pleased to be able to bring her Sisters together for 20 years’ worth of fabulous July 4ths picnics at the lake. A bowling enthusiast, Sister also enjoys reading, jigsaw puzzles, traveling with her sister and visiting with people living in nursing homes. Sister Kathleen hopes to continue to live out her life as a caring and compassionate woman religious.

Sister Marge Zacharias, OSF

60th Jubilee

Sister Marge Zacharias came from a family with 13 siblings, and felt she had a call to be a missionary Sister. The Maryknoll Missionary Sisters really attracted her as did the Sylvania Franciscans, where one of her siblings, Sister Norbertine, was a member. She came to Sylvania and made her first vows in 1962 and final vows in 1967.

In her 60 years of ministry, Sister Marge taught in elementary schools in Ohio and Michigan for 13 years until her missionary zeal found her establishing the Interfaith Justice and Peace Center in Sylvania. She then served in missions in Recife, Brazil and Binga, Zimbabwe; and working at the U.S. Catholic Mission Association in Washington, DC.

To follow Sister Marge’s life is to follow a winding path through the world of peace and justice and work with the poor. She spent a year as a foster caregiver at El Ranchito de los Ninos, an orphanage in Los Lunas, NM, and she moved to Israel and attended the Tantur Institute in Jerusalem.

She has cared for her siblings who were experiencing serious health problems and accepted positions near them in Michigan. She was in parish ministry, and also served as a security guard at The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village in Dearborn, where she continued to use her pastoral ministry skills.

Sister Rita Jane Radecki, OSF

60th Jubilee

A daughter of St. Hedwig and St. Agnes parishes in Toledo, and an alum of Central Catholic High School, class of ’57, where she had the lead in “Call Me Madam,” Sister Rita Jane was drawn from an early age to become either a Sister – or an actress. She first became a cadet teacher, teaching at St. Vincent de Paul for two years before hearing God’s call and following the “happy Sylvania Franciscans” into religious life.

Sister made first profession in 1962 and continued teaching grades 1-8. In 1971, she transitioned to Religious Education, and served in diocesan, area and parish ministry in Toledo, Cincinnati, Columbus and Rockford, IL. “Those were exciting years,” Sister Rita Jane says. “Many new things developed after Vatican II, bringing in new religious education programs and involvement for all ages in parish life.”

In 2009, she transitioned again to Bryan, TX where she became a certified chaplain and served at St. Joseph Regional Health Center until 2019. Now at the Motherhouse, Sister provides pastoral care at Rosary Care Center, volunteers her time with the sick, cares for her sister and brother-in-law and offers her beautiful voice in song.

Sister’s faith and relationship with God reflects in her positive happy disposition. As she continues her ministry, she wants to keep learning, teaching in a new way, sharing her gifts and enjoying life.

Sister Roselynn Humbert, OSF

60th Jubilee

Sister M. Roselynn Humbert came to Sylvania in 1959 to begin preparation for becoming a Sister of St. Francis. Sister Roselynn wanted to be a Sister since the eighth grade but was encouraged to wait until after high school by her parents. When she met the Sylvania Franciscans at Toledo’s Central Catholic High School she was drawn to their openness. A Joliet Franciscan and a priest who brought a group of girls to visit the Sisters in Sylvania also influenced her call to religious life.

She made her first vows on 1962 and her final vows in 1967.

Sister Roselynn brings joy to whatever she does and has served in a variety of ministries, first teaching in Catholic elementary schools in Toledo and Sandusky, Ohio, in Minneapolis, MN and Detroit, MI. She later taught high school math and religion and was involved in youth ministry in Toledo and in Louisville, KY. She directed Religious Education at St. Joseph Parish and did Development work at Lourdes College both in Sylvania, at Siena Heights University in Adrian, MI and at David’s House in Toledo. She worked in pastoral care for the Adrian Dominican Sisters. Sister Roselynn currently serves as Director of Volunteers for the community and enjoys teaching card-making classes in Sylvania.

Golden 50 Year Jubilarian (First Vows, 1972)

Sister Laureen Marie Painter, OSF

50th Jubilee

Sister Laureen Marie Painter spent eighteen years in education as an elementary teacher and Religious Studies instructor at Lourdes University. She served in the Toledo Diocesan Vocations Office, volunteered as an EMT in Swanton, OH, and was the Co-Director of the Sylvania Franciscan Associate Program before obtaining a Master of Health Administration in 1991.

Serving in health care administration for 26 years, Sister Laureen was the Vice President of Emergency Services and Women and Children’s Services in Shreveport, LA, Chief Executive Officer for CHRISTUS Health West Central Louisiana, and Vice President of Mission Integration/Ethics/Spiritual Care in Mishawaka, IN.

Currently, Sister Laureen is at the Commons of Providence in Sandusky, OH volunteering in a ministry she believes is “fulfilling and sacred” as a resident visitor and Certified End-of-Life Doula. A CEOLD is a non-medical professional that provides physical, emotional, educational, and spiritual support for a person’s end-of-life care and their families.

Sister’s numerous years in health care administration led her to become a founding Board Member of Honoring Choices Indiana® – North Central (HCI-NC), a group that proactively engages adults in conversations with their loved ones and medical caregivers about their goals for a quality end-of-life experience and how they would like to be remembered.

Sister Paula Blevins, OSF

50th Jubilee

Sister Paula Blevins attended public elementary schools in Detroit, MI before coming to Sylvania for High School at St. Clare Academy in 1966. After making her first vows in August of 1972, she attended Lourdes Junior College and spent seven years in domestic and dietary services for her community.

Jefferson Technical College in Steubenville was the school where she trained to be a Medical Laboratory Technician, and later attended Franciscan University of Steubenville, obtaining a B.A. in Biology in 1995.

Through many of her training years, Sister Paula began working at St. John Medical Center in Steubenville in 1979 and after becoming a Certified Medical Technologist, she became the Microbiology Supervisor at St. John’s, now known as Trinity Health System. She was the supervisor from 1996 through 2018. Sister put patients first, even though the patients were unlikely to meet her. She felt that serving the sick is a continuation of the healing ministry of Christ. During these years Sister also ran seven Marathons and had the opportunity to participate in the Olympic Torch Relay, running one kilometer in Toledo for the 1984 Summer Olympics.

Outside of her lab work, Sister Paula has always enjoyed music in her life. She loves all kinds of music, plays the Clarinet and Saxophone and attends weekly band practices since the early 1980s. Back in Sylvania since 2019, she has found the Toledo Polish-American Band and performs with them regularly.

Silver 25 Year Jubilarians (First Vows, 1997)

Sister Barbara Vano, OSF

25th Jubilee

A Detroit native, Sister Barbara A. Vano was raised in St. Gerard Parish and, later, St. Michael Parish in Southfield. She worked as a Grad. Asst. at Wayne State University while earning a Master’s in Mathematics. From 1983-1994, Sister taught math and computer science at the Academy of the Sacred Heart in Bloomfield Hills, MI. She spent a year in volunteer ministry at Holy Rosary Parish in Houma, LA. Her experiences there combined with her strong friendships with the OFMs in Detroit modeled the importance of community and she felt God’s call.

Sister met the Sylvania Franciscans and, in 1995, entered their community of joy-filled women living the example of Francis and Clare, identifying prayer, liturgy, and community as the center of their life.

Sister Barb made first profession in 1997. From 1996-1999, she served as Program Director of St. Louis Helping Hands Soup Kitchen while also teaching math at Lourdes University. She began a full-time ministry at Lourdes University in 1999, first as a math instructor, then as a member of the IT Staff. In 2003, Sister earned a Master’s in Franciscan Studies from St. Bonaventure University. Sister became Director of Campus Ministry and Service Learning at Lourdes in 2005. In addition to coordinating various faith, fellowship and local outreach projects, she has led student groups on domestic mission trips and in Guatemala. She also serves as a staff member with Franciscan Pilgrimage Program, leading pilgrimages in Rome and Assisi. Sister transitioned to Lourdes University’s VP for Mission and Ministry and Director of Service Learning in 2020.

Sister Barb’s passion to live a life of service permeates her every interaction. She delights in working with students, creating a beautiful prayerful space as part of the Chapel ministry team, learning new things and spending time with her Sisters in Community.

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