Sr. Mary Augustini, OSF
In June 1954, I graduated from Olean High School and in December of that year I entered the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany. Since our congregation had houses from Maine to Florida, I was looking forward to traveling. God, however, had other designs for me. So, as a postulant, I was assigned to living at the Motherhouse and teaching kindergarten at St. John's in Olean. Not only was I teaching in my own parish, I had one of my nephews in kindergarten, my neighbor was in the first grade and my youngest brother was in the seventh grade! Well, so much for traveling!!! I like to think of this, however, as God's sense of humor.
My first assignment as a professed sister was St. Mary's in Port Jervis. Each summer the sisters would head to Allegany for summer school which consisted of a lot of studying, but a lot of fun as well. Each summer, I would catch up with my other bandmates and find out where they were going for the following school year. And each summer, for the next eight years, I in turn, would return to Port Jervis. Finally, after a visit from our Reverend Mother, I was assigned to Utica, my first change.
While in Utica I recall filling out a questionnaire asking how many sisters I would like to live with in a community. I wrote down that 6-8 sisters would be great. That summer I was changed. And yes, with God's sense of humor, I was assigned to live at the Motherhouse and to teach at St. Joseph's in Olean, my hometown.
After teaching for about 16 years in schools in New York, and New Jersey, I felt a stirring within to move out of the teaching profession and to work with people. I spent the next four years as a secretary to our area coordinator and then moved to parish ministry for five years.
This gradual movement of the Spirit within led me finally to work directly with
poor. For six years I ministered to the homeless at the Dwelling
Place in NYC and then moved to St. Francis Inn in Philadelphia, where I have been now for nearly eighteen years. I'm learning first hand who the poor Christ really is in the hearts of the addicted and the poor I encounter each day.
Sr. Mary Belair, OSF
On a cold blustery snowy winter evening in February 1954 I left my home in East Chelmsford, Mass. Riding along with me were my mother and two of my sisters, Pearl and Jan. Father McGuire who was doing the driving was the one I turned to when I decided I wanted to become a Sister. He helped me meet Sisters of different orders, but I just didn't feel I would like to join any of the ones he suggested at that time.
One Saturday Father called and said he was taking two other women to visit St. Elizabeth
Hospital in Brighton, just outside of Boston, would I like to go along. I said "Yes!", I would like to meet the Sisters who worked there, This was my first meeting with the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany, New York.
When we arrived at the hospital Sister Alma, Father McGuire's aunt, met us. What a cheery greeting she gave us. She took us to the Sisters' dining room, where a group of Sisters was waiting for us. Again we received a very cheery greeting. Right then I felt that I had at last found the order of Sisters I would like to join.
This happened in the summer of "53". After filling out the paper work needed for joining the order and packing my trunk, I was ready to leave. It was hard saying "goodbye" to family and friends, but I was happy to be on my way.
In the months before I left home, Sister Alma put me in touch with another woman who was also leaving for Allegany. Mary McLane and I made reservations for a sleeper compartment on the train headed for Olean, New York. So, on that blustery snowy evening of February 1, 1954, Mary McLane and her family, Father McGuire and my family met in the North Station in Boston. We boarded the train that would take us to our new home and new life. Since Mary was afraid of heights, I offered to take the upper bunk while she settled in on the lower bunk.
Having our own sleeping compartment was really nice because we didn't do much sleeping but we did do a lot of talking. We were excited about all that would take place tomorrow. That day, February 2, 1954, we arrived in Olean, New York.
I have seen snow but nothing like the snow that greeted us at the train station. We took a cab to the Motherhouse. Arriving there, we went up to the front door of St. Elizabeth's and rang the bell. A Sister soon came and welcomed us to Allegany.
And now after fifty years of traveling throughout the south, and teaching at a number of different high schools, I am returning to Allegany to celebrate my Golden Jubilee on May 28, 2005. Joining me will be the Sisters in my band, and some of my family and friends.
My journey as a Franciscan Sister of Allegany, NY has been interesting and happy. Following in the footprints of Francis and doing God's work has provided me with a happy and fruitful life.
Sr. Harriet Hamilton, OSF
After graduating from Cuba Central School, I worked for over a year at Clark Brothers in Olean, and in 1952, attended Alfred University for two years, then transferring to St. Bonaventure. It was at St. Bonaventure in summer school that I first met the Allegany Franciscan Sisters. On January 30, 1955, I entered the Allegany Franciscan Community, and the following Tuesday, returned to classes at St. Bonaventure as a postulant. I walked to classes in the company of Sr. Carolyn Murphy (who could always produce a candy bar from the folds of her habit) and Sr. Maureen Clare Hall.
In 1956, I was assigned to teach sixth grade in Snyder; the next year I went to St. Mary of the Angels Academy in Haddonfield, NJ; then to St. Paul's High School in St. Petersburg, Fla.; followed by Bishop Verot High School in Fort Myers; St. John the Baptist in West Islip; and returned to the Motherhouse in 1982. For the next 8 years, I was the librarian at Hinsdale Central School, leaving there to go to Winsted, CT in 1980 as principal. The next 25 years in administration were spent in Winsted, CT; one year in Snyder; and for the past 19 years, in Cortland, NY at St. Mary's School. In Cortland, I have also been actively involved in the Cortland Housing Assistance Council which provides help to those in financial need.
In 1997, through the efforts of the Syracuse Diocese, I was honored to be named National Distinguished Principal by both the National Catholic Educational Association in Minneapolis, and by the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the public school counterpart, in Washington, DC.
This year completes 49 continuous years in the ministry of education. Having been a student and a teacher in both the public school and the Catholic school systems, I believe we can take what is good in both systems to provide the best possible value based educational opportunities for our students in these very challenging times where there is great need for moral values. I am grateful to the Allegany Franciscan Congregation for the years of support of my ministry in education.
Sr. Therese Marie Lucassen, OSF
Sr. M. Anne Peter Moto, OSF
Sr. Joseph Francis Murray, OSF
Sr. Maria da Paz de Jesus, OSF
Sr. Oneida das Gracas Regende, OSF