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SISTERS OF

THE HOLY

FAMILY OF

NAZARETH

// VOL 11 //

// NO 2 //

SUMMER

2017

Nazareth

CONNECTIONS

FAMILY IS THE HEART OF OUR MISSION

Jubilee

celebrations:

25, 50 and 75 years

of religious life

STORY ON PAGE 10


MESSAGE FROM THE PROVINCIAL SUPERIOR

Connections...

RELATIONSHIPS

Dear Friends of Nazareth,

In this issue of Nazareth Connections,

we recognize the various connections

that have been and continue to be

created among us. Connections…

the theme of this newsletter, have

many descriptive synonyms: network,

contacts, associates, friends and

relations identify just a few.

When I hear or read the word

“connections,” I am immediately

reminded of the word “relationship.”

Relationship is central to our

understanding of the Trinity, and

relationship reinforces the spirituality

of the Holy Family.

The Trinity is a communion of Persons

in relationship (connection) with each

other in love. It is love that binds the

Persons of the Trinity together and

energizes the relationships between

the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Love impelled the Incarnation,

the Paschal Mystery, and Love

continues to urge the outflowing of

the Holy Spirit in the world.

The Holy Family has been called the

earthly image of the Trinity. Jesus lived

in a loving communion of persons

and it is in the loving relationships

among Jesus, Mary and Joseph that the

family is called holy. We, Sisters of the

Holy Family of Nazareth, read in our

Constitutions, the Covenant of Love,

that “Our Foundress, Blessed Mary of

Jesus the Good Shepherd, discovered

in the lives of the Holy Family a model

of the Trinity’s total self-giving love.”

(1.1) Further, we are reminded that

“(F)aithful to the charism of our

Congregation, we strive to enrich the

world with the spirit of Nazareth….”

(1.5) I believe this “spirit of Nazareth”

is embodied in the relationships/

connections that we have the privilege

to form and to continue.

You will have the opportunity to

read about some of the connections

in the lives of our Sister Jubilarians

and through our Sisters in various

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only

Son….” ( John 3:16)

ministries. We are grateful to our

Sister Jubilarians for their many years

of service. Their ministries have borne

great fruit, and we thank God

for their generous response to God’s

call. I hope you will be inspired by all

the “connections” highlighted in this

issue.

We count you, dear Friends,

among our significant relationships/

connections. We are deeply grateful

for all of your expressions of love

and support. We remember in our

prayers all the stories you have shared

as well as the answers to prayer. We

also appreciate the relationship you

have with our community or with a

particular Sister. You are an important

part of the circle of relationships that

surrounds our community.

As you read through the pages of

Nazareth Connections, please know

that through your love and prayers

and offerings, you help us make a

difference in our world.

I wish you continued blessings as

our summer continues and we open

ourselves to a new season of loving

relationships/connections.

Lovingly in JMJ,

Sister M. Barbara Jean Wojnicki

Provincial Superior

HOW ARE YOU CALLED TO LOVE?

We invite you to pray with us, to listen to God’s call with us and to love with us

as we find God in ordinary experiences. Learn more about our community life,

our ministries and our mission at nazarethcsfn.org/join-us. Or contact,

Sr. Emmanuela Le, CSFN, National Vocation Director at 972-641-4496 x111

or vocations@nazarethcsfn.org.

2


8

VOLUME 11 //

NUMBER 2 //

SUMMER 2017

6

12

Nazareth Connections is published

three times a year by the Sisters of

the Holy Family of Nazareth

in the USA.

Editor:

Tammy Townsend Kise

Proofreaders:

Sr. Clare Marie Kozicki

Sr. Jude Carroll

Sr. Lucille Madura

contents

ASSOCIATES

5 Faithful Listening:

A Marian Reflection

MINISTRY PROFILE

12 Prayer on the Long

Island Sound

10

Editorial Board:

Sr. Angela Szczawinska

Sr. Barbara Frances Samp

Sr. Carol Szott

Sr. Jude Carroll

Sr. Kathleen Ann Stadler

Sr. Lucille Madura

Sr. Marcelina Mikulska

Sr. Marcella Louise Wallowicz

Sr. Mary Louise Swift

Sr. Teresilla Kolodziejczyk

Katherine Barth

SPIRITUALITY

6 Keeping Family at the

Heart of Our Mission

VOCATIONS

8 New National Vocation

Director Reflects on Her

Ministry

2017 JUBILARIANS

10 Jubilee Profiles

REFLECTION

14 An Upper Room for

Our Times

IN MEMORIAM

16 Srs. Mariella Omilanowicz,

Antonia Marie Cholodowska,

Adrianne Szczesna

DEVELOPMENT

18 Thank You from Our

Development Office

ON THE COVER:

Sr. Barbara Jean Wojnicki, 50 years of religious life, pins a corsage on

Sr. Stella Louise Slomka, 80 years of religious life, before the Jubilee

Celebration in Des Plaines, IL.

Design/Print:

McDaniels Marketing

Questions, comments, suggestions?

Please contact:

Communications Department

Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth

310 N. River Road,

Des Plaines, IL 60016

847-298-6760, x144

ttownsend@nazarethcsfn.org

nazarethcsfn.org

FACEBOOK.COM/CSFN.USA

Cover photo by Sr. Gabriela Duszynska

NAZARETH CONNECTIONS // SUMMER 2017

3


New look,

same mission

by Tammy Townsend Kise,

Communications Director

Since 1875, when the Sisters of

the Holy Family of Nazareth were

founded, their ministries have grown

with and adapted to the changing

needs of the communities where

they serve.

Veils have changed. Habits have

changed. The people the Sisters

serve have changed. But, the mission

remains the same: spreading the

kingdom of God’s love through

ministry to families.

Once again, change is happening as

our publications grow with and adapt

to the Sisters’ ministries and the

communities they serve.

experience the mission and ministries

of the Sisters of the Holy Family

of Nazareth. We also hope that as

Nazareth Connections sits on your

table, your kitchen counter or your

desk, a daughter, a son, a grandchild

or a neighbor will pick it up and ask,

“Faith, as a supernatural grace, must command the

understanding, elevate it, and accompany all our

activities.”

– Blessed Mary of Jesus the Good Shepherd (Frances

Siedliska) from “On Faith,” Rome, 1877.

“What’s this?” And, you, dear friends,

will get to share your experience

of Nazareth spirituality, as you tell

stories of Sisters who have influenced

your life.

After you read the Summer 2017

issue, we invite you to share your

thoughts with us. Your feedback is

needed and welcomed.

Please feel free to email me directly at

ttowsend@nazarethcsfn.org. Thank

you for continuing to share the

Sisters’ mission of service to families.

4

After several months of research,

analysis and planning, we’ve arrived

at a bold, new look with a clean and

simple design that will continue to

convey the Sisters’ messages of joy,

love and family. Our hope is that the

new design provides you with an

attractive, easy-to-read newsletter

that invites you to more fully

In the new Nazareth Connections, you

will still find stories about the Sisters’

ministries. You will also see more

stories on Nazareth spirituality in

today’s world, like Sr. Marcella Louise

Wallowicz’s article “Keeping family at

the heart of our mission in a social

media world.”

Mother Foundress with some of the

first CSFNs in the US, circa 1885.

CSFNs at the Nazareth Academy

High School Legacy Gala in

March 2017.

Blessed Mary of Jesus the Good

Shepherd in London, 1899.


ASSOCIATES

Faithful

listening:

A MARIAN

REFLECTION

by Sr. Mary Louise Swift, CSFN

In March, we celebrated the feast of

the Annunciation, the moment Mary

was asked to be the Mother of God.

I see it as a mystery of joy, not of

fear. The Holy Spirit enhanced her

ability to listen faithfully, which was

already a part of Mary’s life from her

conception.

Even as she listened well to God, if

Mary accepted God’s invitation, her

pregnancy would be more than an

“inconvenient scandal.” In her day and

in her country, there was a very direct

way of dealing with an unmarried

pregnant girl: she was killed.

Did that thought cross Mary’s mind:

“When I begin to show, will both my

son and I be put to death by a storm

of stones?”

Whatever she thought, Mary knew

God and God’s love for her. She

trusted that God would bring about

what the angel had promised, that she

would give birth to the Messiah, and

that the redemption of all humankind

would take hold on the earth because

of her trusting, faithful “yes.” This

“yes” of Mary’s was no small thing.

Her unshakable trust in and gratitude

to God was the cause of her joy and

is the cause of our joy as well.

Mary is a model of faithful listening,

one of the Sisters of the Holy Family

of Nazareth’s core values. The

listening is a deeper kind of hearing.

It’s noticing what is said and what is

not said, and how something is said.

When we listen well, the truth of

another’s life unfolds.

FAITHFUL LISTENING LETS

GO OF PRESET AGENDAS.

THINK OF MARY AT AGE

14: “I’M GOING TO MARRY

JOSEPH, WE’LL SETTLE

DOWN IN NAZARETH

AND HAVE A BUNCH OF

KIDS...” THEN, GOD SENDS

AN ANGEL TO ASK HER,

“WOULD YOU CONSIDER

A CHANGE OF PLANS?”

Faithful listening includes undivided

attention. One of the most precious

gifts we can give to another is not

letting our mind fritter away in the

past or drift to what we need to do

in the future, but being totally present

to the now.

Faithful listening often allows us to

enter into deeper relationships with

others. For us as a group, dedicated

to the spiritual renewal of family life,

this Nazareth core value is essential

and lived out daily. Mary listened

well all her life. With Mary as our

companion, we can practice listening

well, deepen our trust in God, and

show gratitude and joy in our own

unique ways whenever we say “yes” to

God’s invitation to bring forth and to

be Jesus for the world. Amen.

* * *

This is an excerpt of Sr. Mary Louise’s

reflection presented during the

Association of the Holy Family May

Crowning in Grand Prairie, TX. To

read the entire reflection, please

visit: nazarethcsfn.org/around-theprovince/a-marian-reflection.

Sr. Mary

Louise currently serves as a Program

Coordinator and Spiritual Director at the

Nazareth Retreat Center in Texas. She

entered the Sisters of the Holy Family of

Nazareth in September 1968.

For information on becoming an Associate

of the Holy Family (AHF), please contact

Sr. Virginia Rozich, National Director of

AHF, at 215-637-3599, or

srvirginia@comcast.net.

Associates during the May Crowning

in Grand Prairie, TX.

NAZARETH CONNECTIONS // SUMMER 2017

5


Keeping

family at

the heart

of our

mission

IN A SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

by Sr. Marcella Louise Wallowicz, CSFN

In a Gospel Reflection earlier this

year, I wrote, “Many voices in our

world compete for our attention.

We are bombarded with print and

other media advertisements that

encourage us to become absorbed in

ourselves and our own wants while

our brothers and sisters experience

the lack of basic human needs.” This

begs the question: With so many

mixed messages competing for our

attention, for our families’ attention

and for children’s attention, how can

we keep family at the heart of our

mission in a social media world?

The first time I became aware of

the existence of social media was in

spring 2007. As part of a class project,

a student in my statistics course

decided to survey her classmates,

asking the question, “Which social

media site do you prefer: Facebook

or MySpace?” I had never heard of

either before. Shortly thereafter,

I was given a copy of America

magazine, which contained an article

written by Jesuit priest and cultural

6


As with any technology, social media needs

to be used in a responsible manner so that no

opportunity to live our mission, support families

and share the Good News is ever wasted.

– Sr. Marcella Louise Wallowicz

anthropologist Rick Malloy entitled

Religious Life in the Age of Facebook:

Where have all the young people gone?

It piqued my interest because at the

time another Sister at Holy Family

University had started a youth group

on campus whose activities included

a monthly Holy Hour for Vocations. I

collaborated with her, and through my

interactions with these young adults,

my involvement with Facebook began.

Fr. Malloy commented in his article

that today’s young people live in a

media world and are quite tech-savvy,

while many priests and religious are

not. Fortunately, this gap has lessened

over the past 10 years for many

CSFNs. Our province and vocation

team administer Facebook pages.

Similarly, many CSFNs have Facebook

accounts. Still, some are hesitant to

become involved with Facebook

and other social media sites for

various reasons. Two predominant

explanations are the lack of civility and

privacy on social media. We live in

a world where unfiltered comments

are commonplace. There are many

disrespectful and hurtful posts on

social media which destroy rather

than affirm. The internet is unforgiving.

When a comment or photo is posted,

it’s in cyberspace forever.

I chose to make my Facebook page

public so that I could communicate

more broadly religious, social and

public issues of interest to the

Catholic community, including

reflections on scripture readings,

inspirational videos and news (from

reputable sources). There are many

reliable sites containing pertinent

items that address contemporary

concerns of the family. I readily share

them. My Facebook account has also

become a vehicle for prayer requests

and a means for opportunities to

support and encourage families whom

I have come to know through my

years of ministry.

As Sisters of the Holy Family of

Nazareth, we embrace the core values

of faithful listening, loving relationships

and recognizing God in the everyday.

As with any technology, social media

needs to be used in a responsible

manner so that no opportunity to

live our mission, support families and

share the Good News is ever wasted.

Sr. Marcella Louise is an Associate

Professor of Mathematics and Assistant

Dean at Holy Family University in

Philadelphia where she earned her BA

in Chemistry. She also holds an MA in

Mathematics from Villanova University

and a PhD in Post-Secondary and Adult

Education from Capella University. She

entered the Sisters of the Holy Family of

Nazareth in 1978.

Sr. Noemi Tereszkiewicz at work on

her computer.

Sr. Lucille Madura with her phone

and rosary.

Sr. Monika Brulinska during CSFN

Cyber class.

NAZARETH CONNECTIONS // SUMMER 2017

7


VOCATIONS

National Vocation

Director reflects on

her ministry

by Sr. Emmanuela Le, CSFN

I was once told that only in dreams

do dreams come true. I think that it

all depends on how much one desires

to make their dream a reality. It’s

hard for me to put my feelings and

experience into words but, over a

year ago, deep in my heart, I had this

great desire to make God known,

loved and served by ministering in the

field of vocation formation.

My life took a sharp turn when I

heard the statement: “If not now,

then when,” which was the logo of

our province assembly. It jarred me

into thinking I was not doing enough

for my Nazareth family. But how,

when and where to start? I discerned

through prayer and received the

courage to express my dream and my

desire to our provincial leadership.

God who knows our hearts and

desires had a greater plan for me than

I had envisioned. I asked for a simple

ministry in vocation work and was

given the responsibility of National

Vocation Director.

My new ministry has provided me

many opportunities to be with God’s

people through teaching, youth

ministry, discernment weekends,

come-and-see programs and retreats.

Through these experiences, I have

met so many influential people who

have left an impression on me.

Through their examples, I have

been humbled and exalted, pruned

and nourished. Nevertheless, my

life continues to be seeded by God

and nourished by prayer and loving

support from the Sisters of the Holy

Family of Nazareth. I have come to

understand that every ministry needs

servants, and I learned that well from

my Sisters. There is no greater joy

than to know that we, Sisters of the

Holy Family of Nazareth, are all in this

vocation formation ministry together.

“Family is where life begins and love

never ends.” I am not alone, never

have been and never will be in this

ministry. Thanks be to God!

In the past few months, it has been a

challenge to adjust and adapt to new

schedules, create doable programs

and set my priorities right. I keep

8


reminding myself that God was

working with many Sisters in this

ministry before me so I should look

for what God has been doing, and

is still doing, then just continue to

do that.

In this ministry, sometimes it seems

I am “doing nothing,” especially

when no one joins our religious

community. At other times, there is

a danger of getting myself into a trap

of feeling “unfulfilled.” Whenever I

begin to feel this way, I am reminded

of this beautiful message from one

of our Sisters. She quoted Pope

Francis: “Vocations aren’t the result

of planning, but an encounter with

God that changes your life.” It has

with parents, we make an effort to

stimulate and cultivate a climate of

vocation awareness in the family. I

often challenge parents with these

questions: “Does your child know

where you stand and how you feel

about religious vocations? Would you

support your child who is considering

the priesthood or religious life as a

first option, or do you expect them to

save it as a last resort after all other

options have been exhausted?” I have

found that God does not just call

men and women from families who

are supportive. God calls whom He

wants and wills. That means all families

need to have an understanding of the

meaning of a religious vocation and

the readiness to accept it for their

I am so grateful for this opportunity

to share with young women my love

for God and for my Community, and

I find that I am growing with each

encounter. Sometimes I think that

I am gaining more than I am giving,

and I thank God for His kindness

in allowing me to serve Him in this

ministry.

Sr. Emmanuela Le became the new

National Director of Vocations in January

of this year. She entered the Sisters of the

Holy Family of Nazareth in July 2000.

Average age for discernment of religious life is 19

and for entrance into religious life is 30. The majority

who enter are college educated.

Source: National Religious Vocation Conference, “Statistics on Recent Vocations to

Religious Life and the Priesthood.”

become very clear to me that before

I can even speak to youth, teens

and young adults about a religious

vocation, I need first to speak about

the presence and encounter of God

in their lives. It would be so hard or

even impossible for them to respond

to religious life when they don’t have

that strong bond of a relationship with

God. The heart of the matter is to

help all those who come to our home

to know Jesus, to fall in love with Him

and to stay in love with Him. I strongly

believe that once they are touched

by God they are given new life, new

sight, and they’ll have the courage to

respond to Him wholeheartedly.

As I become more acquainted with

vocation ministry, I realize that it

allows me the opportunity to connect

more with family life. Together

daughter, should this call from Jesus

come their way.

During my meetings with young

ladies during these past few months,

I have experienced many memorable

moments. One that I will never forget

is when a 19-year-old young woman

shouted out “Aww, look! They really

do love each other!” at the February

discernment retreat when she

witnessed a group of Holy Family of

Nazareth Sisters, wrapped in a cozy

blanket, sitting on a swing and listening

to their stories. What a wonderful

way to remind us of Jesus’ new

commandment: “This is how all will

know that you are my disciples, if you

have love for one another.” (Jn 13:35)

Sr. Emmanuela (left) with Srs.

Michaela Tomkowiak and Mary Paul

Haase.

Sr. Emmanuela talks with young

women at the Dallas Catholic Youth

Conference in March 2017.

Sr. Emmanuela (center) with

Srs. Marcjanna Szajkowska and

Michalina Pawlak during the

international formation meeting in

Krakow, Poland.

NAZARETH CONNECTIONS // SUMMER 2017

9


2017 JUBILARIANS

10

Sr. Corona Molenda

DIAMOND JUBILEE - 75 YEARS

Entered June 12, 1942

Grand Prairie, TX

At three years old,

Sr. Corona knew

she wanted

to be a Sister.

Practicing with

her dolls, she

would put a dish

towel on her head,

pretending she was a Sister

while she taught the dolls Polish

prayers and English numbers.

After 75 years of religious life and

61 years as a teacher, Sr. Corona

continues to put on her veil and

serve others. At almost 92 years

old, she is active in daily ministry as

she leads elderly Sisters through the

rosary before guiding them through

songs, rhymes and exercises to keep

their minds and bodies active. She also

creates feast day and birthday cards

for Sisters, associates and special

benefactors. Her smiling, cheerful

greetings are contagious, bringing

joy to those she meets. As a selfdescribed

“entertainer,” Sr. Corona

continues to delight children with her

annual recitation of “Twas the Night

Before Christmas.” Reflecting on her

many years in religious life, she says,

“All that happens, good or bad, are

God’s will.”

Sr. Vera Ochmanowicz

DIAMOND JUBILEE - 75 YEARS

Entered September 8, 1942

Philadelphia, PA

Inspired by Sisters

who taught at

St. John Cantius

School in

Philadelphia,

PA where

she attended

through the

eighth grade,

and with encouragement from her

mother, Sr. Vera entered the Sisters

of the Holy Family of Nazareth three

months before her 21st birthday and

professed her first vows in 1945. For

the next 43 years, she served as an

elementary teacher. Her last teaching

assignment was in Colegio Espiritu

Santo, Puerto Rico. She earned a BA

in Education from Villanova University

in Pennsylvania in 1957.

Even in retirement, Sr. Vera continues

a life of service in her prayer ministry.

Her love of religious life shines in her

obedience and faithfulness to the will

of God. At Jesus of Nazareth Convent

(Mount Nazareth) in Philadelphia,

she enjoys reading, sewing and doing

puzzles.

Sr. Barbara Ann Medvesky

(pictured left)

GOLDEN JUBILEE - 50 YEARS

Entered September

8, 1967

Riverhead, NY

The seed for

Sr. Barbara

Ann’s religious

vocation was

planted in 1964

when she attended a day retreat at

Villa Immaculata on the Long Island

Sound. Over a half century later,

she serves as a Retreat Director,

presenter and leader at Villa


Immaculata, inspiring others with her

outgoing humor and compassion. She

earned a BA in English Literature

and Education from Sacred Heart

University.

This year also marks another

milestone for Sr. Barbara Ann. She is

celebrating 30 years in recovery from

substance abuse, an experience she

now shares with others as she directs

recovery retreats and offers strength

and hope to those who have walked a

similar path.

“Praise, gratitude and deep joy flood

my soul,” she said. “It hasn’t always

been ‘Magnificat’ moments. I had my

share of ‘De Profundis’ times as well.

But, through it all, God’s ‘Amazing

Grace’ sustained and nurtured me.”

Sr. Barbara Jean Wojnicki

GOLDEN JUBILEE - 50 YEARS

Entered September 8, 1967

Des Plaines, IL

Sr. Barbara

Jean

attributes

her decision

to enter

religious life

to her eighth

grade teacher

at St. John Cantius School in

Philadelphia, PA. Sr. Anita’s wit,

teaching style and genuine goodness,

along with the CSFNs she met at

St. John Cantius School, drew

Sr. Barbara Jean to the Congregation

when she was 18. Fifty years later,

Sr. Barbara Jean brings her own caring

style, wit and genuine goodness into

her ministry as provincial superior for

Holy Family Province, a position she

has held since 2013.

With a BA in Social Studies and an

MA in religious studies, Sr. Barbara

Jean has served as a teacher, CCD

Coordinator, Director and Assistant

Director of CSFN novices and

Pastoral Assistant.

“As I continue to grow in my vocation,

I am often surprised at the small ways

in which we, as Sisters of the Holy

Family of Nazareth, make a difference

in the lives of families,” she reflected.

Sr. Ellen Zak

(pictured right)

GOLDEN JUBILEE - 50 YEARS

Entered September 8, 1967

Wading River, NY

It was the Sisters of

the Holy Family

of Nazareth’s

charism of

ministry

to families

that drew

Sr. Ellen Zak

to religious life.

Influenced by CSFNs at St. Stephen’s

in Paterson, NJ and by Sisters from

other congregations throughout her

childhood, Sr. Ellen knew she wanted

to be of service to others. With a

BA in Sociology from Sacred Heart

University and an MA in Religious

Studies from Iona College, she has

served as a Director of Religious

Education for 39 years, 14 of those

years at Church of the Good

Shepherd in Holbrook, NY.

As she grows in her faith and her

vocation, Sr. Ellen says, “I try to live in

hope; to be radically dependent on

God; to be available with open arms

and heart; and, to live in freedom,

courage and joy.” She also finds

comfort in the words of St. Pope John

XXIII: “Consult not your fears but

your hopes and your dreams…”

Sr. Boguslawa Cofala

(pictured right)

SILVER JUBILEE - 25 YEARS

Entered August 26, 1992

Philadelphia, PA

Personal

contact with

several Sisters

of the Holy

Family of

Nazareth who

“exhibited deep

spirituality, humility, simplicity and

serenity about suffering” inspired

Sr. Boguslawa’s religious vocation.

Originally from Poland, where she

received vocational training as a

seamstress, Sr. Boguslawa now serves

as a Theology teacher, Homeroom

Moderator and Student Council

Moderator at Nazareth Academy High

School in Philadelphia. She earned a

BA in Theology from the University of

Dallas.

“God’s faithfulness and love for me

in spite of my weakness has given me

such a bond with God, which is the

greatest value in my life,” she says. In

her daily life, she continues to live the

CSFN charism by “helping individuals

to connect the reality of life with faith

and helping them to see their ordinary

life as an extraordinary plan of God

which gives meaning to every event,

enhances personal dignity, enlightens

suffering and leads to happiness of the

soul.”

NAZARETH CONNECTIONS // SUMMER 2017

11


MINISTRY PROFILE

Prayer on the

Long Island

Sound:

SR. RONALD WLODARCZYK,

SPIRITUAL DIRECTOR

by Tammy Townsend Kise,

Communications Director

There is a comfort and gentleness

about Sr. Ronald Wlodarczyk, a trust

and grace that instantly puts one at

ease. These God-given gifts make

sense for someone who ministers

as a Spiritual Director and journeys

with individuals as they deepen their

relationship with God.

“Within each of us there is a desire

for a more conscious experience

of God’s love and presence even

in the midst of an often busy life,”

Sr. Ronald said. “We each have the

desire to discover our true selves, to

grow closer to God and to others,

especially our families. Spiritual

direction helps us reflect more deeply

on the experiences of daily life and

to realize how God’s spirit is truly

with us every day and everywhere.”

She went on to explain, “Through

the journey we come to realize that

God has been waiting for and desiring

this closer relationship. So, spiritual

direction isn’t really about being

‘directed’ but about being encouraged

to draw closer to God and to trust

that God seeks us where we are and

as we are.”

I first met Sr. Ronald on the steps of

Villa Immaculata House of Prayer in

Riverhead, NY where she serves as

Director. I had barely gotten out of

the car, when she was there, camera

in hand, asking me to pause by the

pink concrete lions that grace the

steps leading up from the driveway.

She introduced herself after she took

my picture. “I’m told that I have a

good eye for photography, a hobby

I hope to get into a little more,”

she said in a later interview. “My

PowerShot camera and I have already

captured some pretty beautiful and

interesting sights.”

Villa Immaculata, set on a high bluff

overlooking the Long Island Sound,

is the perfect place for Sr. Ronald to

refine these photography skills. She

captures images of retreatants sharing

prayers and photos of wildlife around

the house, including a groundhog

who, during the “Evening Prayer on

the Sound” program last summer,

seemed to rise on cue, paws together,

as if offering his own peaceful prayer.

A family of groundhogs has returned

this year.

Sr. Ronald’s current ministry grew

from her time as Formation and

Novice Director for young women

entering the Sisters of the Holy

Family of Nazareth in the 1970s.

As Formation and Novice Director,

she conducted classes and provided

spiritual guidance to those who were

preparing to take their vows. It was

around this time that Msgr. Andrew

Cusak, Vicar in the Diocese of

12


Bridgeport, CT, approached Sr. Ronald

and several others, asking them to

help create a training program in

spiritual direction. Later, she went

through the “extensive and intensive”

two-year graduate program herself.

And, in 1984, she completed further

training, earning a Spiritual Direction

Certificate from the Spiritual Life

Center, New Hyde Park, NY.

Faithful listening, one of the core

values of the CSFNs, is essential to

being a Spiritual Director. “Being

faithful to my personal journey in

prayer and direction helps me to be a

This relationship with God is

something Sr. Ronald and Sr. Barbara

Ann Medvesky, who also serves at

the House of Prayer, want to make

sure visitors carry with them when

they leave Villa Immaculata. Next to

the front door is a basket filled with

colorful slips of paper, each with a

blessing written on it.

“When guests leave, we offer them a

blessing,” said Sr. Ronald. “That little

piece of paper is significant, something

tangible to hold on to as a reminder

of their time here. Some ask to take a

few more to share at family gatherings.

Those little prayers have gone out

far and wide to so many different,

interesting places.”

On the sunny, soon-to-be summer day

of my visit, the blessing read: “May the

God of Winter be with you, walking

with you as warmth and light through

the dark and cold winter moments of

your journey… May the blessing of

“When guests leave, we offer them a blessing,” said

Sr. Ronald. “That little piece of paper is significant,

something tangible to hold on to as a reminder of

their time here. Some ask to take a few more to share

at family gatherings. Those little prayers have gone

out far and wide to so many different, interesting

places.”

deer get to them.” What’s her secret

to successful tomato plants? She

says she gives them a good watering,

prunes them and talks to them. But,

after meeting Sr. Ronald, it’s likely the

growth also comes from listening,

stepping out of the way and letting

God do His work.

***

Sr. Ronald entered the Sisters of the

Holy Family of Nazareth in December

1954. She earned a BA in Biology from

Holy Family College (now Holy Family

University) and an MA in Education

from Fairfield University. For information

on small group retreats, private or

directed retreats or spiritual direction at

Villa Immaculata House of Prayer, visit

nazarethcsfn.org/ministry/sponsoredministries/retreat-houses/.

For more Ministry Profiles, including

Sr. Frances Smalkowski’s, “A Ministry in

the Sky,” please visit our website

nazarethcsfn.org/about-us/sisters-stories/

ministry-profiles/

listening presence, staying out of the

way, so to speak, so that God can do

God’s work,” she said. When people

come to Villa Immaculata for prayer,

for retreat, for spiritual direction or

even simply to find God in nature,

they’re not coming alone. Though

they may arrive by themselves, they

carry with them past experiences,

present situations and future

concerns. “What is happening or has

happened in life is an important part

of their relationship with God,”

Sr. Ronald said.

winter hope be with you.” Sr. Ronald

told me to “stay tuned” – the gift of

the blessing will come.

Just outside the front door on the

concrete porch, guests who visit in the

summer are greeted by another of

Sr. Ronald’s gifts – growing tomato

plants. “We keep the plants on the

porch,” she explained. “Otherwise,

they don’t have a chance for life if the

Sr. Ronald on the front porch of Villa

Immaculata with her tomato plants.

Sr. Ronald (back row, left) with

retreatants at Villa Immaculata.

Villa Immaculata House of Prayer in

Riverhead, NY.

NAZARETH CONNECTIONS // SUMMER 2017

13


REFLECTION

An Upper

Room for

our times

by Sr. Danielle Jacob, CSFN

When a Sister of the Holy Family

of Nazareth (CSFN) professes final

vows she selects “a mystery.” It is a

phrase added to her name that speaks

to her personal spiritual journey, her

relationship with God, a particular

devotion she has. Someone once said

to me, “Your mystery is the name by

which you will be called when you

stand before God.” I wish she had told

me this before I picked my mystery; I

am Sr. Danielle of the Scarred Healer.

More correctly, I don’t believe you

pick your mystery, it picks you. Over

your years of formation, it seeps in

and becomes a part of your being, a

part of your DNA. In the beginning,

you may not even be able to name it,

and it becomes a quest to articulate it

in just the right way.

In some ways, it is like the scene in

The Little Prince when the Prince tames

the fox. It is a delicate dance in which

each comes to know the other more

intimately until, one day, you have

tamed each other and you know you

When things are going well, it is easy for me to be a

Christian. But when things get tough, when doing

what is right gets hard, when what Christ is asking

of me goes against “the crowd,” I want to run to the

Upper Room, to regroup, to sort things out.

– Sr. Danielle Jacob

are forever responsible for each other.

It is my mystery that draws me to

certain parts of scripture; I have

always been drawn to reflect on

Christ’s Passion and the journey of

the first disciples. I often imagine

myself among them and wonder what

I would do. Would I live up to my

mystery? Probably not.

After 2,000 years of study, exegesis,

dogma and tradition, it is easy for

us to sit in judgment of the first

followers, to question their feet of clay

when Jesus was dragged before those

who falsely accused him. Yet, I do the

same thing in so many ways. When

things are going well, it is easy for me

to be a Christian. But when things get

tough, when doing what is right gets

hard, when what Christ is asking of

me goes against “the crowd,” I want to

run to the Upper Room, to regroup,

to sort things out. Sometimes, like the

Apostles, I forget that the ultimate

price of baptism is death to self.

14


I forget that the road to resurrection

necessarily leads through crucifixion,

not around it. But I have to remind

myself that the Upper Room was

not just a place to hide. The Apostles

had lost their anchor, their source of

strength. They needed to pull back

to think, to pray, to re-energize, to

reignite the flame that gave them

the energy to touch the people of

God. They needed to wait for the

inspiration of the Spirit before they

were once again ready. It is the same

with me, with us.

Even though we gain so much when

we give of ourselves, we have to find

ways to be re-energized. Like the

Apostles, we need an Upper Room

where we can go to ‘be,’ to find God,

to refocus and, at times, to reignite the

flame. That Upper Room is different

for each person.

I find my Upper Room in a couple of

places – hiking in nature and in music.

Lost in nature or the chords of a song,

I can feel the life seeping back into the

marrow of my bones. When I can’t

run to my Upper Room, I have created

a wall in my office that represents my

mystery and reminds me that “the way

to resurrection is through the cross,”

and the cross comes in many ways,

some of which are quite beautiful!

* * *

Sr. Danielle currently serves as a Pastoral

Minister for faith formation at St. Emily

Catholic Church in Mt. Prospect, IL,

assists other religious congregations

with their major meetings and serves

as the Technology Coordinator for Holy

Family Province. She earned a BAS

from DeLourdes College, an MA from

Concordia University and completed the

Lay Ecclesial Ministry Formation program

at University of St. Mary of the Lake. She

entered the Sisters of the Holy Family of

Nazareth in September 1978.

Sr. Danielle on a recent

weekend hike.

Sr. Danielle, pictured left, with

Sr. Maria Magdalena Rybak.

Sr. Danielle at St. Emily Parish.

Sr. Danielle’s office wall that

serves as her reminder “the way

to resurrection is through the

cross.”

NAZARETH CONNECTIONS // SUMMER 2017

15


In Memoriam

Sr. Mariella

(Frances)

Omilanowicz

February 23, 1913

- March 11, 2017

It was July 19, 1927

when Frances

Omilanowicz and seven of her

classmates from St. Mary Elementary

School in Worcester, MA entered the

Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth

(CSFN). For the next 89 years,

Sr. Mariella (Frances) Omilanowicz

continued to share her gifts, talents,

joy and warm smile as a CSFN.

Born February 23, 1913 in Worcester,

MA, Frances was the third of six

children born to Stanisaus and

Agnes (Michalowski) Omilanowicz.

She professed her temporary vows

August 21, 1930 and her perpetual

vows August 18, 1936. Sr. Mariella’s

biological sister, Sr. Gemma (Anne)

Omilanowicz, also entered the Sisters

of the Holy Family of Nazareth in

1927. Sr. Gemma passed away in

March 1967.

Known as a kind teacher with a

love for learning, Sr. Mariella taught

elementary school for 38 years,

beginning at St. Stanislaus School

in New Haven, CT and serving at

schools throughout Connecticut, New

York and Pennsylvania.

She earned her B.A. from Manhattan

College in New York in June 1949.

When Sr. Mariella left her beloved

classroom due to medical issues,

she volunteered in the gift shop at

Nazareth Hospital in Philadelphia

before transferring to Immaculate

Heart of Mary Province in Monroe,

CT in 1972. In Monroe, Sr. Mariella

served as the convent’s Receptionist.

She became a self-taught crafter,

making beautiful creations that she

gave as gifts. Her crafts were also sold

at the Lawn Festival each year.

As a lifelong learner, Sr. Mariella loved

to find others who would join her in

discussions about the new things she

was learning. She also had an artistic

side with a love for nature.

Sisters and Associates of the Holy

Family visited Sr. Mariella often as

her health dwindled, building strong

relationships with her as they watched

her favorite game shows together.

On March 11, 2017, two and a half

weeks after her 104th birthday,

Sr. Mariella died peacefully. Sr. Mariella

would have celebrated her 90th year

of religious life this year.

A Mass of Christian Burial was

celebrated on March 17, 2017 at the

Immaculate Heart of Mary Convent

in Monroe, CT. Interment was at Holy

Family Cemetery, Monroe.

Sr. Antonia

Marie (Joan)

Cholodowska

August 8, 1932 -

March 21, 2017

Joan was born

in Norwich, CT on August 8, 1932

to Dominic and Joanne (Przekop)

Cholodowski, who owned a

productive milk farm in Norwich.

She had three sisters and one

brother, John.

16


Joan and her siblings attended

St. Joseph School, which was staffed

by the Sisters of the Holy Family of

Nazareth. It was here that the seed

of a religious vocation was sown in

her heart.

On a visit to Philadelphia to see

her brother, she toured Nazareth

Academy High School and immediately

voiced her decision to become a

student there and discern a possible

vocation to religious life. In September

1946, she entered Nazareth Academy.

On January 8, 1950, while still a

student at Nazareth Academy,

Joan became a postulant in the

Congregation of the Sisters of the

Holy Family of Nazareth. In July 1950,

she became a novice and was known

as Sr. Antonia Marie. She professed her

temporary vows on July 3, 1952 and

final vows on August 12, 1958.

Sr. Antonia Marie taught at St. John

Cantius School in Philadelphia for

eight years, then at St. Mary’s Villa for

seven years. Her varied ministerial

career also included School Principal,

Local Superior, Provincial Councilor,

Ministry Director, Facilities Manager,

staff member at Nazareth Academy

High School and other various

community services. Besides

Philadelphia, Sr. Antonia Marie

ministered in Ambler, PA; Ardsley, PA;

Meadowbrook, PA; and Baltimore, MD.

Sr. Antonia Marie possessed a great

sense of humor, and enjoyed her life

and her family.

On the morning of March 21,

Sr. Antonia Marie began to experience

difficulty breathing, so she was taken

to Nazareth Hospital Emergency

Room. The prognosis was not good,

so the decision was made to take

her home to Mount Nazareth and

have her placed on hospice. The Lord

had other plans. While preparations

were being made for her transfer, He

came and took her to His home. Her

suffering was over.

A Mass of Resurrection was

celebrated on March 27, 2017 at

Jesus of Nazareth Convent – Mount

Nazareth in Philadelphia. Interment

was at Community Cemetery.

Sr. Adrianne

(Adele) Szczesna

January 9, 1936 -

May 26, 2017

Adele Ann was

born to Bronislaus

and Casimira (Sikorski) Szczesny on

January 9, 1936, the youngest of eight

children.

Adele completed her elementary

education at St. Joseph School, where

she was introduced to the Sisters

of the Holy Family of Nazareth

(CSFN). As a student at Nazareth

Academy High School in Philadelphia,

Adele became a CSFN postulant on

September 8, 1951. On August 16,

1952, she entered the novitiate and

received the name Sr. Adrianne.

She professed first vows on

August 12, 1954 and final vows

on August 11, 1960.

Sr. Adrianne earned her BA from

Holy Family University, her MA from

Fairfield University and her Certificate

for Administration and Supervision

from Fordham University. She taught

at the elementary and high school

level in Connecticut, Massachusetts

and New York. She also served as

Principal in Southampton, NY and

Ansonia, CT.

Her family remembers her as their

playmate and babysitter, who taught

some to “color within the lines,” who

loved to dance and always smiled.

A woman of courage, strength,

steadfastness, hope and tremendous

faith, Sr. Adrianne is also remembered

for her love of animals, her contagious

laughter and her ability to imitate and

mimic personalities and situations.

Sr. Adrianne retired from full-time

ministry at St. Adalbert School in June

2008 and transitioned to part-time

office work at the school.

In August 2014, unexpected health

issues surfaced. From May 2016

through May 2017, Sr. Adrianne

wore a neck brace 24/7 due to a

neck injury caused by a fall, received

chemotherapy, often felt sick and

weak, attended frequent doctor visits,

relied on the Sisters and her aide for

assistance which at times was very

humbling. Through all of this,

Sr. Adrianne never complained.

On May 26, 2017, after an extremely

painful journey, Sr. Adrianne passed

away surrounded by the Sisters in her

local community at Sts. Peter and Paul

Convent in Elmhurst, NY.

A Memorial Mass was held on May 31

at St. Adalbert Church in Elmhurt, NY.

A Funeral Mass was held on June 1 at

Immaculate Heart of Mary Convent

in Monroe, CT. Interment was at Holy

Family Cemetery, Monroe.

Donations in memory of a

deceased Sister may be mailed

to Development Office, Sisters

of the Holy Family of Nazareth,

310 N. River Rd., Des Plaines,

IL 60016. Please include a note

with the name of the Sister

you are giving in memory of.

Donations may also be made

online at nazarethcsfn.org/

support-us/donate-now/.

NAZARETH CONNECTIONS // SUMMER 2017

17


DEVELOPMENT

Thank you from our

Development Office

We are very grateful for each and

every one of you, our generous

friends and benefactors. Without

you, there is so much that could not

happen. Because of you, we were

able to replace a rusty old car that

our Sisters use to get to medical

appointments; we were able to

replace an air conditioner unit at

Mount Nazareth in Philadelphia where

some of our oldest Sisters live; and,

we were able to pay all of our Sisters’

medical expenses. In short, we were

able to meet ALL the needs of ALL of

our Sisters throughout the year.

You were also instrumental in the

advancement of our three newest

ministries: Nazareth Retreat Center

in Grand Prairie, TX; Holy Family

Volunteer Corps in Pittsburgh, PA; and

The Family Center in Philadelphia, PA.

All three are very direct and tangible

extensions of our ministry to families.

To keep these ministries at little to no

cost, and to support the Sisters who

direct and participate in them, we will

continue to need your support.

Every time we asked you, our loving

and faithful benefactors, for help, you

came through for us. You never let us

down. Throughout the years, you have

not only become a part of our history

but a deep part of our lives. You are a

gift to us – a blessing to us – and we

are grateful! Please know that our

Sisters keep you in their daily prayers.

Income

Expenses

2017 Grateful Gathering

After a two-year hiatus, the Development Office hosted the Grateful Gathering

on April 29. More than 200 friends, relatives and Sisters attended and our net

profit was just under $15,000. The event was a wonderful opportunity for our

Sisters and benefactors/friends to get together for a relaxing evening of fun,

food, and fundraising. We are very thankful for Sisters Madeleine Rybicki and

Sandra Sharon, Nancy Grub, Tee Amity, Nicole Marie Haas and Judy Mackin who

so generously gave of their time and energy to make the event successful.

2017 CSFN Social

Thanks to Sr. Carol Mockus, Allison Taylor, Barbara Gellman and Sr. Helen

Petela, we had another successful CSFN Social. This year’s net income was over

$86,000! One of the highlights of the evening was when Sr. Celine Warnilo’s

cheesecakes were auctioned in a bidding war among benefactors, with a final

price of $4,200 per cheesecake – four of them were sold. Special thanks to Patti

Paluch, Dorothy Turner, and Joe Jr., Dylan and Brian Connelly, Tom Meredith and,

of course, our Sisters for all their help.

18


CHANGES IN THE DEVELOPMENT OFFICE

Sr. Carol Mockus (pictured, right)

has changed her ministry within the

Development Office. She now serves

as the Philanthropic Gift Advisor.

This is a change Sr. Carol has wanted

for a few years as it allows her to

spend more time interacting with our

benefactors. During this transition

year, she will split her time between

teaching Allison Taylor, the new

Assistant Director of Development,

about the tasks in the Philadelphia

Development Office and building

stronger relationships with our

benefactors.

“I look forward to learning more

about our donors and why they value

our congregation,” she said.

In January 2017, we welcomed Allison

Taylor, the new Assistant Director

of Development in our Philadelphia

office. Allison has over 18 years of

experience. She spent 17 years in the

Office of University Advancement

at La Salle University in Philadelphia,

and most recently, Arcadia University

in Glenside, PA. Allison also has a

long-standing family connection to the

Sister of the Holy Family of Nazareth.

Her husband is a graduate of and her

two children currently attend

St. Katherine of Siena. Her mother

is a graduate of Holy Family (College)

University.

“I’m very excited to be working

with and learning from Sr. Carol,”

Allison said. “I’ve met some wonderful

benefactors and am grateful for the

opportunity to help continue the

mission of the Sisters.”

Heidi Scheuer joined the development

staff last summer as office manager in

Des Plaines. As a Certified Meeting

Professional, she previously grew

the Global Education and Training

Department at Underwriter’s

Laboratories, Inc., providing seminars

throughout the U.S. Later she joined

Harper College to assist in the startup

of the Wojcik Conference Center.

Heidi (and her amazing organizational

skills) has been a wonderful addition

to our staff.

“This first year has been a delightful

year of learning, from Sisters’ names,

to technology, and all those little

things in between,” said Heidi. “It has

also been a joy to speak with our

donors who care so much about the

Sisters.”

Development staff

Front row (l to r):

Grace Austyn, Kathi Barth,

Allison Taylor.

Back row:

Sr. Clare Marie Kozicki, Heidi Scheuer,

Sr. Virginia Zielinski, Sr. Carol Mockus

Not pictured: Sr. Helen Petela.

NAZARETH CONNECTIONS // SUMMER 2017

19


310 N River Rd

Des Plaines, IL 60016

www.nazarethcsfn.org

Non-profit

Organization

U.S. Postage

Paid

Des Plaines, IL

Permit No. 340

Making a bequest:

GIVING A GIFT THAT LIVES ON

Is there a CSFN Sister who was

influential in your life – someone who

helped you become the person you

are? Maybe she taught you reading or

prayed for you at a difficult time?

One way you can honor her or her

memory is by remembering the

Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth

in your Will. By carefully planning

your Will, you can remember those

charities and organizations that have

been close to your heart throughout

your life.

If you would like more information

about remembering the Sisters of

the Holy Family in your Will, or if you

have already done so, please contact

Katherine Barth at 847-298-6760,

ext. 143.

We, the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, are called to extend the Kingdom of God’s love among ourselves and

others by living the spirit of Jesus, Mary and Joseph whose lives were centered in the love of God and one another.

We witness to this love through dedicated service to the Church, especially in ministry to the family.

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