Latest News from the Sisters of Saint Joseph

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Edition No. 109 — October 31, 2019 
Sister Kathleen M. Coll SSJ
Receives Cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontiface and
Meets Pope Francis
September 5, 2019
Congratulations to Sister Kathleen M. Coll SSJ , who has been honored by Pope Francis with the Cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontiface! 
The honor was awarded by Archbishop Charles Chaput during a ceremony with Evening Prayer September 5 th  at the Cathedral Basilica SS. Peter and Paul, Philadelphia.

For lay persons, deacons and religious, the Cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontiface and its equivalent, the Benemerenti Medal, are among the highest honors the Holy Father can bestow on an individual.

Sister Kathleen has dedicated her life, not only to her vocation as Sister of Saint Joseph, but also to the ministry of Catholic education and to those most in need. For more than 50 years she has served as an educator in Catholic schools and has been especially active and effective in combatting the scourge of human trafficking.
Sister Kathleen is also a member of  U.S. Sisters Against Trafficking  who are members of  Talitha Kum,  an International group of sisters working against human   trafficking.   She was one of six delegates from the United States to attend the   Talitha Kum’s General Assembly, which took place from 21 to 27 September. The 86 delegates from 48 different nations came to Rome for the 10 th  anniversary of Talitha Kum representing networks or coalitions of sisters involved in the ministry of human trafficking.

The General Assembly’s aim was:

  • celebrate the 10th anniversary of Talitha Kum;
  • evaluate the work done together according to the priorities set in 2016; and
  • define the priorities for Talitha Kum International to support anti-trafficking efforts for the period of 2020-2025.

During the assembly, each member had the privilege of personally meeting Pope Francis. This was a moment Kathleen will cherish. “I thought, here I am, Kathleen Coll from North Philly—what am I doing in the Vatican? When he walked into the room you could feel his presence. He met each of us and took both my hands in his. It was very moving and I can hardly believe it happened to me. It was a wonderful experience that I will always be grateful to be so close to someone who is so holy, good, concerned and warm. It was amazing.”
Sister Kathleen with Pope Francis
Nineteenth Annual Bazaar
Saint Joseph Villa
October 25-26, 2019
The 19 th  Annual Bazaar, organized by  Sister Ann Moriarty SSJ , was held on October 25-26, 2019 in the auditorium at Saint Joseph Villa.

This much anticipated event provides the perfect opportunity to get an early start on holiday shopping. Once again, the auditorium was filled with jewelry, beautiful baby items, candles, Christmas gifts and many more homemade and donated items. Ann spends months preparing for the event, but this is time and work that is, as she says, “Well worth it!” 

Ann was especially excited and grateful that her sister, Judy Lewis, came from Alabama to help. Also, her niece Kathy Mueller arrived on Friday afternoon from Alexandria, VA to join the fun.

The large Lenox vase was won by Ernestine Hunter and the 11 piece Nativity Set was won by Sister Helen Steinmetz.

All the proceeds from the sale go to Saint Joseph Villa in Flourtown, Pennsylvania. 
Pictured from left: Judy and Ann Moriarty SSJ
Sister Marianna Fieo SSJ
Hall of Fame, Archbishop John Carroll
October 26, 2019
By Sister Matthew Anita SSJ
Feisty Fieo is the moniker; Sister Marianna Fieo SSJ is the beloved English teacher who is now inducted into Archbishop Carroll’s Hall of Fame. Marianna’s tenure at Carroll is thirty-eight years, thirty-four plus four years. The hiatus was not a Caribbean holiday, but four years as Prefect of Discipline at Archbishop Prendergast.

In her several roles at Carroll: teacher, newspaper literary magazine, yearbook moderator, Chair of the Middles States Self Study, Chair of the English Department, advanced placement instructor, friend, colleague, and only consecrated religious on campus, Marianna brings 101% of herself. Her several roles and longevity also ensure that she has touched the lives of Generation X, Millennials, and Gen Z’s, which is why she is nothing short of a celebrity in Delaware County.

To know Marianna is to know an English purist, a grammar policewoman, and an astute critic of literature. As a voracious reader with an almost photographic memory, she offers an apt insight in just the perfect phrase when the occasion demands. She has a keen sense of humor and has the rare gift of truly appreciating black humor. Her many gifts endear her to students. 

The students’ introduction to Sister Marianna often starts with a yellow legal pad and their first essay. The return evidences how she has hemorrhaged over their writing. Yet, with time and guidance, these young writers begin to become real scholars. The wit and the insights challenge them to become their best. Their accomplishment is confirmed by their AP scores.

In Sister Marianna’s eyes, no student is beyond redemption; everyone deserves a second chance. If a student is genuinely creative with a prank, she has not tried herself, he/she may even get a third chance!  

Other, little known facts are that Marianna is a chocoholic and an excellent diagnostician, sharing her brother’s medical genes. She delights in her brother and his family and considers Virginia and other points further south another home.  
Pictured from left: Marianna Fieo SSJ, Bobbie (Marianna's sister-in-law), and Marianna's brother,
Dr. Richard Fieo
Photo courtesy Mary Kay Kelley SSJ
By Sister Ave Armstrong SSJ
St. Paul writes to Timothy, “I am being poured out like a libation … I have run the race…I have kept the faith.” These observations could be an assessment of  Sister Gertrude Friel’s  (Trudy) days at Bonner-Prendergast High School. She has given tirelessly and generously of herself in her many years at the school. Trudy came to Prendie in 1984, and she has served in many different capacities during those thirty plus years. 

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, calculus is her defining vocation at the school. Greeted as “my favorite math teacher,” Trudy received the Archbishop Prendergast High School medal and thus became a member of the Hall of Fame on October 26, 2019. This unique award is bestowed on individuals who have not graduated from Prendie but have given extraordinary service to the school. Trudy fits that definition in a stellar fashion. Afterwards, Trudy, her family, friends and community enjoyed a night of camaraderie at Drexelbrook located in Delaware County. 

Trudy first taught in the single sex institution of Prendie, but in 2014, Bonner and Prendie combined, and the co-ed school was born. This was just one of the changes Trudy experienced during her time at Prendie. When Trudy first entered the classroom in Drexel Hill, she used chalk and blackboards to instruct the young girls. Now as we all enter the twenty-first century, flash drives, iPads, and white boards elucidate the young girls and boys to the mysteries of math.

In addition to her responsibilities as a math teacher, Trudy continues to serve on the Math Curriculum Committee for the Archdiocese, was the department head for a number of years, initiated the video yearbook and even worked on the stage crew. This last duty involved making ball gowns for the school’s production of Cinderella. The dresses rested on the convent railing during act one and were worn on stage by act three. Like a true Sister of Saint Joseph, Trudy is ready for “any good work.” These eclectic duties bespeak the many talents of this religious. 

From tutoring after school to offering nighttime assistance at the convent, Trudy has “poured herself out as a libation, ” but, unlike St. Paul, she is still in the race.

Congratulations, Sister Gertrude Friel!
Sister Irma Gazzillo SSJ
Hall of Fame Induction
Union Catholic High School
Scotch Plains, NJ
Sister Irma’s first teaching experience was in Most Precious Blood, teaching third grade and music. From there she would teach in Charlotte, NC, Winston-Salem, North Carolina and Bayonne, New Jersey.

In the fall of 1977, Sister Irma arrived at Union Catholic and she remained for 17 years until her retirement. In all, Sister Irma served 61 years as an educator.

While at UC, Sister Irma taught religion and music. She was the senior class advisor, led the Winter And Spring Concerts, and was the moderator of the Step Team.

On September 21, 2019, Sister Irma was inducted into the Union Catholic Hall of Fame.

Congratulations, Sister Irma! 
"With the help of God's grace and in fidelity to our founder's expressed wish, we live and work lovingly among all persons with a special preference for those who are poor, which calls us wherever we are to be in union with them."
                                        — SSJ Constitutions #21
Editor, Sister Carole Pollock SSJ | 215.248.7269 | |