Sisters of Mercy celebrate jubilees - Catholic Courier

Sisters of Mercy celebrate jubilees

The Sisters of Mercy marking jubilees this year are celebrating a total of 710 years of service. Many of them have taught in elementary and high schools in the Diocese of Rochester. Others have ministered in health care and in pastoral and social-service ministries in the Rochester area and beyond.

The sisters are part of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas New York, Pennsylvania, Pacific West Community, which comprises Rochester, Buffalo, the Philippines and Pittsburgh and Erie, Pa.

Sisters and associates of the Rochester community will gather on May 14 for a jubilee celebration at Mercy Center on Blossom Road in Brighton. They have touched hundreds of lives in service to those who are poor, sick and uneducated. In “retirement,” they continue to reach out to others through the spiritual-apostolate ministry and in countless hours of volunteering.

The sisters’ mottos are inspirational phrases they chose at the time of their professions of perpetual vows to have engraved in the silver rings they received.

80 Years

Sister Mary Eileen FitzGibbons entered the community from St. Ann Parish, Hornell. She delighted in teaching young children to read and write. Sister FitzGibbons taught at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, St. Andrew and St. Mary, Rochester; St. Joseph, Penfield; St. Louis Pittsford; and Our Lady of Lourdes, St. Cecilia, St. Mary and St. Patrick, Elmira.

“Sister Eileen always had a way with the little ones, especially delighting her nieces and nephews when they were young with making wonderful treats such as fruit, candy or toys ‘appear’ from her hidden pockets,” recalled her niece, Sister Veronica Casey.

Sister FitzGibbons retired in 1979 and currently resides at Mercy Center in Brighton.

Motto: My Jesus, all for thee.

75 Years

Sister Mary Jaeckle (formerly Sister Mary Aquin) lived in Holy Family Parish, Auburn, at the time she entered the congregation. She ministered as a junior-high school teacher at St. Ann, Hornell, and St Mary, Corning. She taught high-school mathematics at Our Lady of Mercy High in Brighton (1949-68, 1980-84) and Cardinal Mooney High in Greece (1969-80). Sister Jaeckle considers teaching to have been a strong witness to her faith. In 1984 she became sacristan of the motherhouse chapel and assisted in caring for the infirm. She retired in 1998 at Mercy Center in Brighton to continue an apostolate of prayer.

Motto: My Jesus, I trust thee.

Sister Dorothy Schlueter (formerly Sister Mary Peter) entered the congregation from St. Salome Parish, Irondequoit. She ministered as a teacher of English and drama at Brighton’s Our Lady of Mercy High School for 18 years. In 1959 she began teaching psychology at Catherine McAuley College, Nazareth College, St. John Fisher College and the University of Rochester. She served in the psychology department of Rochester General Hospital and the New York State Office of Vocational Rehabilitation. Sister Schlueter also served as a psychologist on the Rochester Diocese’s Tribunal. In her ministry, she combined teaching and counseling, bringing an awareness of the challenges people face and the ability to meet some of those needs. She currently resides at Mercy Center in Brighton.

Motto: Love and sacrifice.

70 Years

Sister Mary Dismas Foster‘s home parish is St. John the Evangelist on Humboldt Street, Rochester. She has ministered as teacher, cook and parish worker. She taught at St. Charles Borromeo in Greece and Our Lady of Mercy High School in Brighton. Her favorite ministry was working with the poor in Rochester’s center city at Our Lady of Mt Carmel Parish (1985-2007). After obtaining a driver’s license at age 65, she picked up and delivered furniture to those in need, and also opened a clothing room in the parish. For 35 years Sister Foster volunteered to conduct sewing classes for women at the Rochester Psychiatric Center. Since 2007 she has volunteered her services at Mercy Center, Brighton.

Motto: In his will is our peace.

Sister Virginia Wilson (formerly Sister Mary Gonzaga) entered the order from St. John the Evangelist Parish (Humboldt Street) in Rochester and ministered in the classroom for 30 years. She taught at Holy Cross, Charlotte; Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and St. John the Evangelist (Humboldt), Rochester; St. Charles Borromeo and Cardinal Mooney High School, Greece; St. Rita, Webster; St. Salome, Irondequoit; and Our Lady of Mercy High School, Brighton. In 1980 Sister Wilson was one of the founders of the Mercy Prayer Center in Rochester, and continued her ministry there as a spiritual director and retreat leader. She initiated a ministry of using recycled wax to create candles for sale in the prayer center and the community’s gift shop. Today she is retired and participates in the apostolate of prayer at Mercy Center in Brighton.

Motto: Love and sacrifice through Mary.

60 Years

Sister Elaine Kolesnik (formerly Sister Mary Elaine) entered the congregation from St. Andrew Parish, Rochester. She ministered in teaching, public relations, religious education and pastoral work. Sister Kolesnik taught at Our Lady of Mercy High School in Brighton for 25 years and was administrator of St. Thomas the Apostle Elementary School in Irondequoit for two years. She completed pastoral work at St. John the Evangelist Parish (Humboldt Street) in Rochester and coordinated the religious-education program in St. Joseph Parish in Rush. She served as director of novices (1966-68) and as public relations and communications director for the congregation for 24 years. Sister Kolesnik takes inspiration from Catherine McAuley’s words to Sister Mary de Sales White in 1840, “I have one solid comfort amidst this little tripping about, our hearts can always be in the same place ‚Ķ centered in God.” She currently resides at Mercy Center in Brighton and continues her apostolate of prayer and visitation of the sick and homebound.

Motto: I thirst.

Sister Estelle Martin‘s home parish is St. Louis in Pittsford. She has ministered as a teacher, communications person, artist and liturgist. Sister Martin taught at Holy Cross, Charlotte; St. Andrew, Rochester; and St. Thomas the Apostle, Irondequoit. She also taught art and English at Cardinal Mooney High School in Greece and Our Lady of Mercy High School in Brighton, and was an adjunct professor of art history at St. Bernard’s Institute in Rochester. In 1982 she combined her experience in art and liturgy, assisting the Diocesan Liturgical Commission with the renewal of liturgical/environmental space for the renovation and building of churches in the area. Sister Martin also contributed graphic design work to the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy and to the communications department of the New York, Pennsylvania, Pacific West Community of the sisters. Since retiring in 2007 she has continued her artistic pursuits and volunteering at Blessed Sacrament in Rochester.

Motto: Behold the handmaid of the Lord.

Sister Jacqulyn Reichart (formerly Sister Mary Matthias) entered the congregation from St. Margaret Mary Parish, Iron­-

dequoit and ministered in education, pastoral care and campus ministry. Sister Reichart taught at St. Andrew, Rochester; St. James, Irondequoit; St. Louis, Pittsford; and St. Joseph, Penfield, where she was principal from 1965-68. She also served as a guidance counselor and math teacher at Our Lady of Mercy High School in Brighton, and in 1975 began a six-year term as vice principal of the school. She spent 17 years in religious education at St. Thomas More and Our Lady Queen of Peace parishes in Brighton, and in 1998 was appointed pastoral administrator of Our Lady Queen of Peace. “Each ministry has been a gift to me,” she said. “The miracle of God’s presence in each encounter is/was a remarkable blessing.” She currently is a campus minister at the University of Rochester.

Motto: No one but only Jesus.

Sister Nancy Whitley (formerly Sister Mary Margretta) was a member of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Rochester when she entered the congregation. Sister Whitley taught at St. Andrew, Rochester; St. Michael, Newark; St. Rita, Webster; and St. Thomas the Apostle, Irondequoit. She also was a guidance counselor at Our Lady of Mercy High School. She served on the administration team of the Sisters of Mercy in Rochester and as director of fund development (1989-96) and coordinator of mission services (1999-2010). Beginning in 1995, she spent three years in Ireland as a staff member at Mercy International Center, Dublin. “Just to meet sisters, associates and friends from around the world who came to the center to learn more about Catherine McAuley provided both a challenging and very rewarding ministry,” she said. In 2001 she became director of Mercy Associates for 10 years and is currently engaged in retreat work and fundraising at Mercy Prayer Center, Rochester.

Motto: Serve the Lord with joy.

50 Years

Sister Mary Ann Binsack (formerly Sister Mary John Fisher) entered the congregation from St. Cecilia Parish, Irondequoit. She taught junior high school at St. John the Evangelist School on Rochester’s Humboldt Street, and was religious-education coordinator for Rochester’s St. Anne Parish. Sister Binsack has served in administrative positions for the Diocese of Rochester as director of religious education and faith development, and as executive secretary to the Diocesan Pastoral Council. From 1997-2001 she was a member of the leadership team for the Sisters of Mercy in Rochester. She currently is vice chancellor of the Diocese of Rochester and administrator of the bishop’s office at the Pastoral Center in Gates. Sister Binsack remarked that she is “blessed to be in my current ministry of working with Bishop Clark. He is a compassionate, caring, prayerful, pastoral leader with a deep faith who through his words and example has helped me to see the best in each person.”

Rochester’s St. Ann Church was the home parish parish of Sister Barbara Moore (formerly Sister Mary Mark). She taught high school at Our Lady of Mercy in Brighton and Notre Dame in Elmira. She did pastoral work at Rochester’s St. Monica Parish, ministered in the Monroe County Jail and was a member of Congresswoman Louise Slaughter’s district staff. At Rochester’s Highland Hospital she was the community coordinator, and from 1997-2002 she managed the hospital’s Center for Women. In 2004 Sister Moore joined Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School as an associate faculty member and in 2011 became interim dean of women and gender studies at the school. Since 1983 she has ministered in interfaith preaching. She is grateful for the gift of community life as a Sister of Mercy. Motto: Rejoice in the Lord always.

Copyright © 2023 Rochester Catholic Press Association, Inc. All rights reserved. Linking is encouraged, but republishing or redistributing, including by framing or similar means, without the publisher's prior written permission is prohibited.

Choose from news (Monday), leisure (Thursday) or worship (Saturday) — or get all three!

No, Thanks

Catholic Courier Newsletters