Thank you to all who have shared stories about Felician Sisters who have touched your life in some way. Keep sending your well wishes and memories, and watch for them to be included here.
Sr. Hortulane at Immaculate Conception High School in Lodi, N.J. was my French instructor, who happened to notice there were a few students who were not doing well in their studies and took it upon herself to keep these students after school to find out what was happening at home first, then try to counsel us during the hour she detained us.
My home life was not conducive to helping me with my studies due to the fact my dad was unpredictable when it came to his drinking, then bringing strange people home afterwards from the tavern he had been in. Very often, we would get a call in the middle of the night to drive across the George Washington Bridge to pick him up and drive him home. Invariably, when we'd arrive, my dad would not be there because he took the Red 'n Tan bus across the George Washington Bridge where he'd fall asleep and be dropped off at the last stop in New York State. Needless to say, when it came to school and the work involved, I would be fighting myself to stay awake and try to do a decent day's work in class. Invariably, I at times thought of suicide, that my home life combined with the failures done at school, my self esteem was at its ebb.
Thank goodness for Sr. Hortulane, who helped us get on the right track to do well, not only in class, but at home as well. Today, I am a wife, mother, grandmother, and great grandmother who loves her husband of 57 years and our adopted son, who has given us beautiful families to share with for the rest of our days. Sr. Hortulane is forever in my prayers. Thank you.
Singing the La Di Da Polka
We were so blessed to have Felician Sisters at Holy Family School in South Bend, IN. While I had good relationships with all of them and have fond memories with a few, my favorite was Sr. Arthur. She taught 8th grade and English, then became principal. She sang and played guitar and piano. No one at our school, during the years she was there, could forget all of the singing we did, especially the La Di Da polka and Sto Lat. She was strong and spry, often giving a "shot" in the arm as a sign of congratulation.
One thing she often reminded me about when I was older was a time I asked her where her “gunboats” were — a reference to her sturdy black tie shoes — on an occasion she was wearing sandals. That story always made her laugh. After she returned to the motherhouse in Livonia and I was an adult, I had the chance to visit a few times. They were wonderful opportunities to reminisce and be shown off to the other Sisters as special visitors. I think we even made it into the newsletter once. Having Sr. Arthur as a friend was a wonderful gift!
Rock on, Sr. Marilyn!
What a wonderful time it was to learn to really play the guitar under Sister Marilyn Minter’s guidance. I played for many years, with some of the songs that she wrote. “Be Still” is still my favorite of hers. I have watched her involvement in Haiti and also so many YouTube videos of her in interviews and playing music. What God has given her in many talents, she has used for his glory. Rock on, Sister Marilyn!
My Friend, Loretta
Seventy years ago, I went to Holy Trinity elementary school with Loretta. Eight years later, we “graduated” and Loretta moved to Coraopolis, PA to live with the Felician Sisters. Since then, I have seen her dedicate her heart, mind, and spirit to honor God in so many ways. She was a teacher, a principal, and a provincial minister. Whatever leadership role she was given was accepted and addressed with vigor!
We have spoken only a few words in the last several years, but I witnessed a true example of intelligence, humility, and her die-hard commitment to the cause. She is my shining example of sainthood, and it has been my honor to witness her spirituality.
May the Good Lord bless Sr. Mary Christopher Moore for making this a better world!
I have many wonderful memories of the Felician Sisters. Mainly I would like to acknowledge three sisters who influenced my life and supported me through the years at St. Stanislaus in Amsterdam, New York.
+Sr. Mary Bernice Pikul, who was my principal.
Sr. Mary Edna Korona, who has been a dear friend to me and my family for many years.
Sr. Jeanne Marie Akalski, who was my third grade teacher.
These three women always were, and are, a positive influence in my life who gave constant support and encouragement through their gentle loving ways. For that I am always grateful! Deo Gratias!
Beloved Best Friend
Sr. Mary Michaeline Bosco of Olean, NY was and will always be my most beloved best friend. We met in the 1970s at Villa Maria High School in Buffalo, NY. She was a home economics teacher and sophomore advisor. I was a fundraiser. We connected instantly. I helped her raise money for her class for many years. We soon became best friends. She was the beacon of Christian values I needed. I am a United Methodist. I would have been Catholic but for my lineage. We are both Christians, and that was all encompassing for us to accept each other.
My wife of 55 years and I sat at her Jubilee table. She passed just before Christmas 2000. She has influenced our lives beyond description. She is now with Jesus. Her students are passing “his word.” Her life on Earth mattered. Please say a prayer for her soul. We do every day. What are the chances we would have crossed paths in this life? I know it was meant to be! Pax vobiscum.
Beautiful Memories of CCD
When I was in CCD for First Communion, Sr. Desiderata was my teacher. That was 71 years ago, and I never forgot how holy she was. She moved me so much to love Jesus in the Eucharist. It was my greatest joy to attend her class. I feel like she prays for me from heaven. Thank you for allowing us to retell these beautiful memories.
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?
I had the pleasure to be introduced to Sr. Bea. What a beautiful woman. She was a combination of a grandmother and a friend. She was so kind and fun to be around. I had a little dinner party, and Fr. Dan Havoron asked if he could bring Sr. Bea. That was a day that led to a wonderful relationship. I went to Catholic school for 12 years and had so much respect for the sisters. Sr. Bea was a true gem. God love her.
School Masses on Fridays
I went to Catholic school at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School in Hopewell, PA. Growing up, I loved going to Mass on Fridays. Sr. Margaret Frazer (Sr. Margie), who has now passed on to the heavenly gates, would always sit with us. I remember feeling so special when she would come and sit with our grade — and even better, right next to me!
About 15 years later, I ran into Sr. Margie at a retreat at the Sisters' house in Baden, PA. It was a major blast from the past, and I got to sit down and eat lunch with her, catching her up on my life, being done with college and having a career of my own. We talked about Fatima, and how I still am there as a basketball coach. I am now working in the Fatima parish grouping, Mary, Queen of Saints Parish, as the youth minister and communications director. I think about her often, and hope she would be proud.
From the Editor: Sr. Margaret Frazer (Sr. Margie) was a Sister of St. Joseph who taught alongside Felician Sisters at Our Lady of Fatima School in Hopewell, PA.
Halcyon Days of High School
As a graduate of Our Lady of the Angels Academy in Enfield, CT, we relished the traditions of our school. The Felicians brought us up from fearful freshmen to fearless seniors in our four years with them. I remember Sr. Pontia, our librarian, being excited to receive Christmas chocolates along with the other more visible faculty members. It was a gift that was received with the most gratitude that I remember to this day. This quiet, serious, and dedicated nun knew that her exceptional efforts were appreciated by the Angelites of OLA.
Sr. Amabilis (pictured), taught us Latin with rigor and enthusiasm. To this day, I am able to recite parts of Caesar’s Gallic Wars.
The faculty showed us the value of our annual retreat in Chapel, the importance of the ceremony for Ring Day, and the tradition of the Daisy Chain as we aspired to graduation. The halcyon days of high school were because of our Felician teachers.
Comforts of Home
When I moved into Villa St. Francis, things were not going so well with me. But Sr. Barbara Marie Brylka reached out and comforted me a lot and helped me to adjust to my new living situation. All the Sisters make me feel very cared for. I love them all. If I can’t be in my own home, this is definitely the next best place to be.
Sr. Barbara would always visit our rooms at Villa St. Francis on our birthdays. She would sing "Happy Birthday" to me and give me a kiss. She did that to everyone. It is so special and so sweet. She also helped me to acclimate to assisted living. I love her dearly.
Dynamite Felician Sisters
I worked at Villa St. Francis for 12 years and now I have lived here myself for the past 2 ½ years. When my husband needed assisted living, I knew that the Felician Sisters would take good care of him. In fact, they took excellent care of him. So when it was time for me to enter assisted living, there were no other options for me. It had to be with the Felician Sisters. I knew this was the place for me.
I could tell so many stories of how the sisters made an impact on me, and of the kindness of Felician Sisters toward me throughout the years, but with the sisters in my life right now, Sr. Paula Mary Palasz is dynamite. She does so much for our spiritual lives and makes a personal effort to find out how we are doing.
I love Sr. Mary Ramona Dombrowski. She pays me personal visits in my room for no other reason than just to check in with me.
Sr. Mary Clarette Stryzewski is a good friend for whom I have the highest respect. I could go on and on, mentioning other sisters by name, but I truly love all the Felician Sisters.
I remember making rosaries with Sr. Imeldine at St. Francis Hospital. She showed me how to make them even though I was left- handed. Since 1960, I have made 60,377 rosaries. Sr. Samuel is now in charge of the Rosary Center. I also remember when Sr. Barbara took the St. Joseph’s Women’s Club to Oconomowoc for a picnic. Sr. Veronica was with us and we played penny poker. I have such fond memories of the sisters!
Sr. Paula Mary Palasz is such a caring individual. Her love is expressed through actions. I just love to watch her interact with other residents. She teaches me how to love.
Sisters Bring a Lot of Love
When I first came to Villa St. Francis, it was the visit I had with Sr. Ramona that led me to decide with certainty that this was the place for me to be. All the sisters have been so kind here. Sr. Ramona always gives me a tap on the shoulder or a hug. The sisters bring a lot of love here.
My brother was a smart guy, but he was not producing in the Milwaukee public school and was getting failing grades. The Felician Sisters at St. Gerard’s helped tutor him after school and were able to make things click with him. They turned him around and because of the Sisters he was able to succeed. He eventually became the Supervisor of Milwaukee County Park Commission. That would never have happened if it were not for the Felician Sisters at St. Gerard’s.
I would like to introduce you to a friend, a colleague, and a courageous woman who was determined to live her life as a Felician sister. Her name was Sr. Susan Holbach. Sr. Susan provided support to the people around her, in the form of a smile, a helping hand, or an encouraging word.
She was a person who enjoyed life. She was down-to- earth and was able to easily make a connection with the community she served. She brought a gentleness and a loving heart to the people around her.
She blessed the people around her in the role of principal of several schools. She was a phenomenal teacher, who encouraged her students on a daily basis to do their best. She encouraged diversity in the educational settings she was involved in. She promoted, pushed, and offered leadership opportunities to those she felt needed a gentle nudge to serve God’s community.
She Still Prays for All of Us
When I first met her in the fall of 1970, Sr. Mary Fidelia Piwowar was at St. Stanislaus Bishop & Martyr Parish, the oldest Polish parish on the East Coast. I had been hired right before the opening of school to teach 5th grade, and there was very little time to prepare for the first day. Upon opening the door, I found Sr. Fidelia putting the finishing touches on the last bulletin board. That was no small job, because the entire room was covered with bulletin boards! She wanted to welcome the new teacher and make things easier for the start of the school year.
At St. Stan's, Sr. Fidelia was in charge of the 1st Communion classes. She loved little children and bringing them to the Lord. She also coordinated the “Dzieci Marii” or “Children of Mary” and the “Crusader” groups for the May processions, Corpus Christi, and other devotions. The children would gather in the church hall and Sister would see that their veils and dresses were “just right” and that the boys had their capes on correctly.
These activities and teaching were not Sister's only tasks. In addition to her duties at school and in the convent, Sr. Fidelia also arranged the flowers in the church and played the organ! This was no small feat, because Sister had lost several fingers in a kitchen accident while grinding meat. She had been provided with a prosthetic — a “glove with fingers” — which slipped over the injured hand, totally natural-looking.
When I left St. Stan's a few years later, Sr. Fidelia and I remained in contact. When she was transferred to a parish in New England, I visited her. For some reason, the church was closed during the week, and the Blessed Sacrament was kept in another building. Sr. Fidelia took me there to visit the Lord. She always had a great love for Jesus.
When Sr. Fidelia was nearing the end of this life, I visited her at the Enfield Motherhouse. We had a good visit. Sister, ever gracious, showed me all around the convent, and again brought me to the chapel to visit the Lord. She tired easily those days and fell asleep for a while as we sat before the Lord. I sat there praying for this good woman. A week later, I received a call that the Lord had taken Sr. Mary Fidelia home, and I was invited to the funeral Mass.
I will always treasure the friendship we had, and HAVE, for I am certain that she still prays for all of us, but now face-to-face with our Lord in heaven.