Our congregation began in the compassionate response of Fr. Nicholas Joseph Minsart to the needs of the poor, especially women, in Namur, Belgium in the wake of the French Revolution. As the congregation expanded, the need for education, especially for children, spurred the Sisters to establish numerous schools throughout the provinces and missionary countries. In this century, as we have become a diverse, global community, the Sisters have been attuned to the changing times, extending themselves beyond the classroom. Parish ministry, refugee work, standing against human trafficking, teaching ESL, home visiting, counseling, spiritual direction and prayer groups are among the many works the Sisters have assumed as the Spirit has led.
The love of Christ, when accepted and received into the heart, cannot be contained. It stirs the individual to move out of self to meet the other, attending to their needs, and witnessing to that tremendous, gratuitous love received. This is a lifelong journey and challenge for all of us. We can be sure we are on the right path if we continually attune ourselves to the cries of the poor and needs of the times.
Sister Genevieve Efthemis with one of her youngsters at Just for Kids
It is just over 200 years since the founding of the congregation. It is striking to see on this map how, since that time, the outreach of the Sisters of St. Mary has stretched across the globe, in response to the needs of the times!
From the very beginning of the congregation education has been a main ministry for the Sisters of St. Mary. At the outset, the earliest Sisters taught sewing to the poor women in Namur, Belgium. As time passed, and the congregation grew, the Sisters were able to establish many schools in each of the provinces.
Sister Elizabeth Buchala enjoys her class at Mount St. Mary Academy in Kenmore, NY
Above: Sisters prepare to leave for school in the 1950's
Sister Roberta Fulton has been an animated educator who challenges each of her students to "be a star!"
Sister Susan with the faith formation children at Mass at Our Lady of Hope Parish, Buffalo, NY
Sister Kathleen Kane never misses a chance to visit the classrooms in the St. Francis by the Sea Parish School in Hilton Head, SC
PARISH WORK AND FAITH FORMATION
Parish work for the Sisters can involve everything from preparing and teaching faith formation classes, to visiting the sick and homebound, to giving adult ed classes, to leading prayer and bible study groups, to just being present to a myriad of parish activities.
The plight of those who are forced to leave their homeland, for whatever the reason, is a cause of deep concern for the Sisters. As far back as 1989, the Eastern Region agreed to make a communal commitment to this cause and documented their decision in "A Corporate Stance on Refugees."
Over the years, Sisters from the Eastern Region have worked along the southern border of the US in Texas, in refugee camps in Malaysia and Thailand, Malawi, London, and Campeche, Mexico.
Presently, we work with newcomers in Fort Erie and St. Catharines, Ontario, and in Buffalo, NY. Teaching English is an important skill that is frequently needed as waves of newcomers arrive from various countries.
Sister Frances Deffge recently assisted Henry, a young man from Mynamar with his English
Sister Rose Ann Cappola helps with homework at the Somali-Bantu after-school program
Sister Ann Louise Sheridan assists Khin Hsiang from Mynamar with English skills.
Sister Roberta Thoen helps a Somali-Bantu boy in an after-school program
Maria (El Salvador), Aicha (Burundi) and Lilliam (Honduras) help sort donations with SisterJudy Carroll at Chez Marie shelter, St. Catharines, Ont.
SPIRITUAL DIRECTION AND STUDY GROUPS
It is a great privilege and joy to accompany someone on their spiritual journey. To be a good listener, with an ability to meet a person where they are, is invaluable in spiritual direction.
DIOCESAN WORK AND PARISH ADMINISTRATION
We are blessed, as women in the Church, for the opportunity to have our voices heard and influence felt through Sisters working directly in Diocesan offices or in parish administration.
Sister Roberta Fulton (center bottom) is head of
African American Catholic Evangelization
in the Diocese of Charleston, SC
Sister Lori High shares faith with young parishioners as administrator at St. George Parish, West Falls, NY
Sister Sandra Makowski , Chancellor of the Diocese of Charleston, SC, shares a little levity with the staff.
Sister Regina Murphy is Chancellor of the Diocese of Buffalo, NY
With unassuming graciousness Sister Monica Ulrich faithfully welcomes visitors and phone calls at the reception desk of St. Mary Center.
Sister Marguerite Gendreau is a whiz in our financial office, keeping all the details in order!
As sacristan, Sister Kathleen Kelley prepares the altar for daily Mass
The Sisters are very generous in sharing their time and talents within the community. They serve in many capacities, some in leadership positions, others on committees, or in direct hands-on service. The weaving together of each one's special gifts makes a lovely tapestry offered for the enrichment of all.
Above, Sisters Regina, Judy, Mary Eileen, Patricia, and Mary Laura prepare to attend an international meeting in Belgium, Summer, 2019
Always something to do in the Wellness Wing! Nina (aide), Sister Margaret Mary and Sister Roseann get some artwork done!
Daily tasks are the backbone of keeping life together running smoothly. Sister Mary Eileen helps out with the dishes
SHARING OF GIFTS
Each one has many talents to share which are happily celebrated in community!
Above: Sister Catherine Taberski creates beauty on the potter's wheel!
Sister Christine McManus (right) shares her talent for art with Sister Helen Anne Wolf
The celebration of the Eucharistic Liturgy is enhanced by the giftedness of our musicians and choir. Sister Kathleen Dougherty, piano, Sister Regina Murphy, harp and Sister Jeannette Schregel on the cello.
Sister Kathleen Dougherty works her cookie magic in the kitchen
to the delight of all!
At 104 yrs old, Sister St. Lawrence Ailinger showers enthusiastic joy just by being there! Here she is ready for prayer in the chapel