Jubilarians 2023

Celebrating 825 years of service


There are 12 members of the Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania, Ohio celebrating anniversaries of professed religious life in 2023. The service of these Sisters represents a total of 725 years of “Living the Gospel in joyful servanthood among all people.”

Join the Jubilee Celebration Mass Virtually!  Click here at 11 a.m., Saturday, June 24 to follow the events live. 

Platinum 75 Year Jubilarian (First Vows, 1948)

Sister Geraldine Paluszak, OSF

75th Jubilee

Sister Geraldine, formerly Sister Mark, is a daughter of Nativity parish in Toledo. Sister fondly remembers her Sylvania Franciscan teachers both in class and out, as their joyful presence was part of the neighborhood. She encountered the Sisters again at the Motherhouse when she came with her family to visit her older sister, Sister Aloise. Inspired, Sister Geraldine soon answered her own call by attending St. Clare Academy and, in 1948, making first profession.
Sister earned a BA in biology and education from Our Lady of Cincinnati College and a MA in science and education from University of Toledo. Her ministry in education included six years at Immaculate Conception in MN, over ten years at St. Ann’s School in Cincinnati, teaching Microbiology at Central Catholic H.S. in Toledo, and consolidating two schools and then serving as principal of the combined school, Alter Elementary. She later ministered as Principal in St. Paul, MN before taking a CPE course and a Renewal experience in San Antonio, Texas. With this transition, her next call to Ministry was to help consolidate two hospitals in Brenham, Texas to become Trinity Medical Center. She served there as Director of Mission Integration and Chaplain for twenty years. She returned home to Sylvania to serve as Mission Integration Director at Rosary Care Center until her retirement in 2014.
Sister Geraldine’s cheerful presence at Our Lady of Grace Hall is a blessing and she is well known for her joyful gentle spirit and quiet wisdom. She cherishes this time in her life spent in prayer and reflection, connecting with family and friends and time for her somewhat noisier mission: cheering on her favorite athletic teams at Lourdes University and Notre Dame.
Sister Geraldine recently completed a memoir titled “Stories of My Life,” which was a gift from her great niece, Jen. Her hope for the future is to continue to be an authentic Sylvania Franciscan – faith-filled, loving, gracious, having a positive spirit, filled with gratitude, helpful and accepting the goodness of others.

Diamond 60 Year Jubilarians (First Vows, 1963)

Sister Brenda Rose Szegedy, OSF

60th Jubilee

Sister Brenda Rose Szegedy (formerly Sister M. Roselinda), inspired by the Sylvania Franciscan Sisters who taught her as well as the faith of her own family, entered the convent from Our Lady Queen of Heaven School in Detroit, Michigan. She taught for 22 years in elementary schools in Ohio and Michigan. She served for eight years in congregational ministry, companioning those in initial and on-going formation and those in Associate relationship with the community.

From 1985 until 2022, Sister Brenda Rose was active in retreat ministry and spiritual direction at various spirituality centers in Ohio, New York, Florida and Minnesota. During the past 14 years, she served on the preaching team with the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate at Christ the King Retreat Center in Buffalo, MN.

In September, 2022 Sister retired to the Motherhouse to share her gifts among her Sisters and others in the surrounding area as spiritual companion and retreat minister.

She believes with an ever-deepening conviction that each person’s unfolding story is sacred because God is in every aspect of it. A scriptural verse that impacts her daily life and ministry is, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Ps 46:10)

Sister Brenda Rose enjoys walking in nature, reading, offering hospitality and celebrating the simple things of life with friends. She is filled with gratitude for the gift of her vocation and for the gift of sisterhood in her Sylvania Franciscan Community.

Sister Carol Hoffman, OSF

60th Jubilee

Sister Carol Hoffman, (formerly Sister M. Dismas), entered the Sisters of St. Francis, Sylvania, Ohio in 1960 from St. Clement Parish in Toledo. She made her first vows in 1963.
While studying as an undergraduate at Bowling Green State University, Sister Carol became involved with the Newman Club Catholic Ministry on campus and realized her vocation.
Sister Carol spent 50 of her 60 years in religious life in the ministry of education. She taught mostly first grade in elementary schools in Ohio, Michigan and Louisiana and was a librarian at elementary schools in Louisiana.
During her 30 years of living in New Orleans, Sister Carol enjoyed living in a melting pot of women religious gathered together from many different communities. She also treasured the people and culture of the South.
After returning to Sylvania in 2013, she spent time assisting in digitizing the Sisters’ Spiritual Reading Library, and for the last seven years as Community Archivist.

Sister Carol Ann Grace, OSF

60th Jubilee

As a Sylvania Franciscan, Sister Carol Ann Grace (aka Sr. M. Edmund) learned to rely on the prayer of acceptance. She realized early in life that God is in charge and knows what is best for her. “His way proved itself in my vocation, in times of loss and in times of challenge and surprise. In the years ahead, I pray I am open to the opportunities of life in serving others whether it be through ministry, volunteering or whatever life brings,” she says.
Her years in religious life have taken her on a journey that has introduced her to God through many people. She was an elementary school teacher and principal, served the Toledo Diocese as Formation/Diaconate Director, was a Pastoral Associate and Director of Religious Education, and served her community as Development Director. She also ministered in Mission Integration, Home Health Care, and as Sacristan of Queen of Peace Chapel where she continues today.
Sister Carol Ann was born in Detroit MI on December 25, hence the name Carol. She came to Sylvania after graduating from St. Ladislaus High School in 1960.
“My life has been also enhanced through travel, something I never thought about in my early life. My family sponsored my first adventure to China, Beijing, Shanghai, Xian, and Hong Kong. I have made pilgrimages to Assisi, Rome, the Holy Land with an extended trip to Egypt. Another experience took me to Spain and Portugal. The highlight of my travel experiences was the pilgrimage to Rome and Assisi in 1990. It truly was life-changing and gave a deeper insight to what it means to be Franciscan.
Her hobbies include knitting crocheting and decorating. “I love to make things look nice. I believe that I have always felt this way but my life in Sylvania, the influence of the talented women with whom I have known and lived with, have helped me to see beauty in the simplest environment. Recognizing beauty in everyday situations lifts our minds and hearts to God. Mother Adelaide, our Foundress, set the stage from the very beginning in 1916. It works,” she says.

Sister Geraldine Nowak, OSF

60th Jubilee

A daughter of Toledo’s Nativity and St. Hyacinth Parishes, Sister Geraldine, (formerly Sister Majella), knew the Sylvania Franciscans well, both as teachers and from the St. Francis Guild where her mother and God-mother were very active. Later, through the passing of both parents, Sister came to understand that material things meant little to her compared to leading a deeply spiritual life as a woman religious.

Sister made first profession in 1963 and began a ministry in education that included teaching primary and secondary school, religious education and serving as a school administrator at Central Catholic H.S. in Toledo. There, she inspired students and teachers with, as former colleague Ken Phillips says, her certainty “that the Divine was always breaking into our lives and her eagerness to know it, name it and embrace it.”

As Sister evolved into pastoral ministry, she served as an associate and leader in parishes. While in long term care and Hospice she served as a spiritual care coordinator and bereavement counselor. Spiritual Direction was another aspect of her ministry. Geraldine’s passion for helping the poor and marginalized led her to protest injustice, serve in soup kitchens and work alongside the poor and marginalized.

Having long ago decided that ‘You can trust Life because the Mystery that surrounds us is Gracious,’ Sister continues to find God in her interactions with people, places and creation itself.

Sister Janet Snyder, OSF

60th Jubilee

Sister Janet Snyder (AKA Sr. M. Francetta) from Toledo, attended St. Ursula Academy and was attracted to religious life. Her mother’s friend took her to see the Sylvania Franciscans. She realized her call in the beauty of the motherhouse grounds and felt drawn to St. Francis. She became a member of the congregation. She taught school in Ohio, Michigan and Minnesota before going into pastoral work.
After nine years in Toledo, she went to work in a large parish in Detroit. She took a sabbatical in the great southwest and fell in love with its beauty and returned often for retreats. She took art classes at Lourdes College and earned a bachelor’s degree in fine art. She says, “The payoff in creating art is that it changes the way you look at things and enhances your enjoyment of them.” As Art Consultant for the Congregation she found it rewarding to preserve the wonderful art in the motherhouse buildings. She now lives in Our Lady of Grace Hall and continues to enjoy art and the people around her.

Sister M. Jeremias Stinson, OSF

60th Jubilee

Sister Jeremias entered the convent from Immaculate Conception Parish, Port Clinton, Ohio. She taught math in elementary schools in Toledo and Detroit for eight years. After serving as Resident Director for students at St. Clare Academy in Sylvania from 1972 to 1974, she began the restoration of the Portiuncula Chapel on the Motherhouse campus and began the reforestation and land development program for the 55 acres of marshes and woodlands now known as the Canticle of Praise Prayer Garden. She also was instrumental in the building of the two Hermitages on the campus.
Sister Jeremias’s interest in the development of the campus woodlands led her to become a licensed nursery stock propagator, and a certified modern landscape contractor and designer. She has served as Superintendent of Environmental Stewardship, Gardens, Shrines and Woodlands for the Sisters for 48 years. She and Sister Grace Ellen created the Garden for the Poor on campus in 1992, which led to the establishment of the Year-Round Garden poly-house in 2008. Sister feels that it is very Franciscan to work with the poor.

Sister Jeremias’s other talents include playing the trombone at liturgical celebrations, seeing the outdoors through the eyes of St. Francis, patron of the environment, and regaling others with stories told with humor and detail. She lives out her commitment as a Sister of St. Francis by reminding others with her words and by her actions of the dignity of all of God’s creatures—humans, animals, trees and plants, air and water.

Sister Josephine Dybza, OSF

60th Jubilee

Sister Josephine Dybza (formerly Sister M. Thomas) joined her classmates at St. Clare Academy, Sylvania, Ohio in their junior year, after beginning high school at Central Catholic High School (CCHS), Toledo, Ohio. She was inspired by her teachers, the Sylvania Franciscans, who taught her at St. Hedwig and CCHS. Sister Jo’s parents were first generation Polish immigrants and the gratitude she had for the love shown to her entire family by the Sylvania Franciscan teachers led her to the convent.
Sister Jo spent more than 25 of her 60 years in ministry in the field of education as a teacher and then principal in elementary schools in Ohio, Michigan and Minnesota. She then sought a Certification in Art Therapy which led to ten years ministering to developmentally delayed elders, children with autism and adults with dementia. Eight of those years were spent in a Jewish nursing home where many of the residents were Holocaust survivors.
She felt called to “work with God in Haiti” in 2008 with the support of her community and experience of Sister Fidelis Rubbo. Living with the poor as poor, enhanced her moral development. She notes, “Of my many experiences in Haiti, love of the poor was the most important.”
As she reflects on the loving God who has given her so much, she is grateful for her life with her Sisters in community, and offers her gifts to help others.

Sister Josina Antolak, OSF

60th Jubilee

Sister M. Josina Antolak entered the convent from
SS Peter and Paul Parish in Detroit, Michigan. When she entered, she wrote on her admission form that she wanted to become a Sylvania Franciscan because “she loved God and wanted to serve him.” That is still her motivation today.

Sister Josina’s 60 years in ministry has varied. She taught in elementary schools in Ohio and Michigan; taught religion and history to high school girls at St. Clare Academy in Sylvania; was the librarian at St. Joseph’s School in Sylvania; was sacristan at the Motherhouse Chapel; was a caregiver for family members and currently does a variety of services for the Sisters in her Community. She would one day like to make the pilgrimage in Assisi.

Sister Josina tries to live up to her favorite saying, “Judge not and you will not be judged.” Sister lives simply and always tries to treat everyone she meets with respect. As she gets older, she finds herself in awe of the goodness of so many of the Sisters both living and deceased.

Sister Mary Thill, OSF

60th Jubilee

Sister Mary Thill (formerly, Sr. M. Robert Francis) taught elementary school in Ohio and Michigan before moving into healthcare-related ministries. Her love and dedication for the elderly is evident in her work for the last 50 years with elders in a variety of settings. She currently volunteers in the Archives of the Sisters and serves on a few committees. She writes a monthly article for a local health and wellness newspaper and writes a blog for the Sisters website. She also writes the obituaries for the Sisters. At this time in her life, Sister Mary can only pray words of gratitude for all the good God has done in her life. Her Sisters in Community, her family and friends have given her much to reflect on in this precious Diamond Jubilee Year. “Just to be is a blessing, just to live is holy.” (Abraham Joshua Heschel)

Sister Patricia Zielinski, OSF

60th Jubilee

Sister Patricia Zielinski (aka Sr. Michael Marie) has had a variety of ministries. Relying on the guidance of the Holy Spirit, she has had a wonderful and beautiful ministry as a Licensed Practical Nurse, Purchasing Agent, Board Certified Chaplain and Director of Mission Integration while working in several hospitals and nursing homes, and as Co-Director of the Marians at Rosary Care Center. All ministries gave her the opportunity to use her gifts of empathy and compassion. She hails from Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish in Detroit, Michigan. Sister Pat’s 60 years of ministry were spent in Nebraska, Ohio and Michigan with a 33 of the years spent in Texas.
She felt greatly loved and respected by the people in the Brazos Valley of Texas, especially in Waco and Brenham where she accomplished many things she never thought would happen in her life. While there, she also served on several boards and in a variety of volunteer services. She even had an unexpected chance to sit in the co-pilot’s seat on a flight in a small plane from College Station to Houston, Texas. She was privileged to make a pilgrimage to Assisi, Italy.
Sister Pat’s favorite prayer is Psalm 23, The Lord is my Shepherd. She tries to live the Gospel and carry out the healing ministry of Jesus by listening with an open ear, a loving heart and a gentle touch as well as being attentive to the needs of those she serves.

Golden 50 Year Jubilarian (First Vows, 1973)

Sister Patricia Gardner, OSF

50th Jubilee

Sister Patricia Gardener has had a variety of ministries during her 50 years as a woman religious. Growing up in Cincinnati, Sister Pat became acquainted with the Sylvania Franciscans at St. Ann’s Catholic School. “I was an altar girl, which meant I helped clean the Sacristy. That’s how I got to know the Sisters even better, especially Sister Geraldine Paluszak and Sister Austin Onisko.”

She taught in Ohio and Minnesota for many years and served as a principal in Corsicana TX from 1985-2000. Sister Pat then went to Los Lunas, NM to serve as House Administrator and a House Parent at El Ranchito De Los Ninos. El Ranchito is a children’s home which provides a permanent home for sibling groups who were separated in foster care in a rural farm setting. “Every place I’ve been, I’ve left part of my heart because I’ve loved the people and the community,” she says.

Sister Pat was elected Treasurer and served on Leadership from 2008-2016. Currently, Sister is busy as a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) and is enjoying her ministry on the Refugee Action Committee. “It’s great getting to know people from other parts of our world. We really need to keep reaching out to those in need. They are people just like we are – who love their country, have hopes and fears too. These experiences certainly have broadened my perspective,” she added.

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