September 9, 1940 – December 30, 2022
Sister Mary Raymond Kasprzak, a Villa Maria College administrator who went on to lead the worldwide community of Felician Sisters, died December 30, 2022 in Garden Gate Health Care Facility, Cheektowaga, after a lengthy period of declining health. She was 82.
In 1988, Sister Raymond was elected to a six-year term as vicar general of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Felix of Cantalice in Rome, Italy, and played a significant role in the beatification process for Blessed Mary Angela Truszkowska, who founded the Felician Sisters.
At the General Chapter meeting in 2000, she was elected minister general, the top leadership post in the international congregation, which at the time comprised more than 2,200 sisters in 12 provinces: seven in the United States, three in Poland, and one each in Canada and Brazil. The order had a special relationship with Pope John Paul II, who died in 2005, and often baked him one of his favorite desserts, sernik, a Polish cheesecake, for holidays and special occasions.
Born in Buffalo, the former Rosalie Kasprzak was a member of St. Adalbert Catholic Church and a graduate of Immaculate Heart of Mary Academy. She entered the Buffalo Province of the Felician Sisters in August 1958 and professed perpetual vows on Aug. 16, 1966.
She earned a bachelor’s degree from Medaille College, now Medaille University, and a master’s degree in education and a doctorate in higher education from the University at Buffalo.
Sister Raymond began teaching at St. Hyacinth School in Lackawanna and St. Stanislaus Kostka School in Binghamton, followed by seven years at the former Bishop Gibbons High School in North Tonawanda.
In 1973, she became an administrator at Villa Maria College, where she was director of student services, vice president for student affairs and vice president for academic affairs.
She was elected in 1982 to the administration of Immaculate Heart of Mary Province in Buffalo, serving as provincial councilor and director of education.
After her first term in Rome, she returned briefly to Villa Maria as acting vice president for academic affairs, then was elected provincial superior of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Province in Buffalo in 1995, a post that took her back to Rome regularly.
When her term as minister general in Rome ended in 2006, she came back again to Villa Maria, this time as consultant for special projects and executive assistant to the president. She frequently offered advice and encouragement to graduates at commencement exercises.
She was a member of the Pastoral Council of the Diocese of Buffalo and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. She served on several boards of Felician institutions, chairing the Provincial Assembly Board and the Government and Apostolic Service committees.
When the Felician Sisters contemplated reorganizing their mission, “she had the unique gift of posing appropriate questions which frequently led to constructive actions,” Sister Mary Michaelanne Galas wrote.
When she retired from Villa Maria in 2015, she became the province’s women’s retreat coordinator, arranging for four themed retreats every year, and was named regional coordinator for the Cause of Blessed Mary Angela, which for her was a labor of love.
She wrote a book, “On an April Morning: A Personal Memoir,” to mark the 25th anniversary of Blessed Mary Angela’s beatification.
When declining health obliged her to step away from her leadership roles, she continued to be a presence in the Felician community.
“We really don’t retire, we slow down,” she told Buffalo News religion reporter Dave Condren.
On her 60th anniversary as a Felician sister, she wrote “A Vocation Story – Following the Breeze,” in which she likened her calling to a gentle breeze that influenced every aspect of her life.
She was cited as a Citizen of the Year by the Am-Pol Eagle in 2001 and received Villa Maria’s Founder’s Medal in 2015. She also was honored with a doctor of humanities degree from Madonna University in Livonia, Mich., and a doctor of humane letters degree from Felician College in Lodi, NJ.