One Sister’s Concern for the Poor

SMGeorgette's 063The Food Pantry at Villa Maria College, in Buffalo, NY,  began in 1986 when it became evident that a number of students and employees were in financial difficulty.   Inspired by a magazine article from the Los Angeles Times describing student outreach at Palomar College in San Marcos, California, Villa Maria Professor Joseph Yonder, conceived the idea of outreach to those in need.  Beginnings were small; a single table in the cafeteria near a door for easy access and anonymity, and a few bags of donated non-perishable goods became the base for student and neighborhood outreach to the poor and hungry.

In 1987, Sister Josette Smigielski , campus minister at that time, recognized the growing need for expansion, and moved her office to make way for enlarging the Food Pantry.  Soon donated items made the room a storage area and a hospitality space to provide a refreshing cup of coffee to clients as they waited for service.

In 2008 the Villa Maria College Food Pantry was renamed and dedicated to Sister Mary Josette Smigielski, who passed away suddenly on January 17, 2008.

Under the direction of subsequent campus minister, Frank Antonucci the pantry grew and expanded to its present service of approximately 560 households and 1200 individuals per month.  From one table in the cafeteria, to a quarter of the basement floor of the College’s Music Building in just over 20 years is testimony to the community outreach and ministry of Villa Maria College.

Picture1In 2013, Sister Mary Michaelanne Galas, through prayer and discernment, thought it might be time to change her ministry from the classroom to another venue.   Today, Sister Mary Michaelanne Galas, a cherished friend of Sister Josette, manages the Sister Mary Josette Food Pantry to carry on her vision of serving needy students and members of the community.  This is not only a wonderful tribute to her friendship for Sister Josette, but also an example her true Felician Francican service.

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In the true Felician Franciscan Spirit

We are one in the Body of Christ,

popNine Felician Sisters attended the ordination of Eva Monroe Ruth as minister of the word and sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (USA) on Sunday, August 11.

Eva Ruth serves as a volunteer at the Felician Center, sometimes telling Bible stories, sometimes teaching music and handbells, often serving the Blessed Angela Meal and more.

On August 15, five Felician Sisters–SM Adrian Jumbelic, S Grace Marie Spera,  S Virginia Marie Klonowski from Coraopolis, PA, along with S Jeanette Skornia and  S Kathryn Mary Elliott from Chicago, IL,–joined the Kingstree Felician Sisters in assisting the Williamsburg Presbyterian Church with the Hands of Christ program that provides clothing and school supplies to children in kindergarten to grade 5. All of the sisters participated in the Service of Blessing when their hands were washed by the minister. The sisters helped to register families, fitted clothing, and offered Franciscan joy and presence to the 250 children who were served in two hours.

Afterwards, the 50 volunteers shared a meal.  During the meal, Blessed Mary Angela–in the person of  Sister Kathryn–made an appearance to express her gratitude to the members of the Presbyterian Church for their support and volunteer hours offered to “her daughters” at the Felician Center.  Blessed Angela also affirmed the congregation for their church-sponsored programs of outreach offered in solidarity with the poor.

The President in Lourdes

Thirteen nursing students; three faculty members; the Dean, Dr. Teresa Thompson; and President, S Rose Marie Kujawa, all of Madonna University in Livonia, Michigan, joined thousands of pilgrims in Lourdes to seek the blessings of Our Lady.
Sister Rose Marie said, “The nursing students assisted several ill and wheelchair-bound pilgrims during the pilgrimage, bringing them comfort and assistance in accordance with our Franciscan values.”

Felician Justice and Peace Concerns

Felician Sisters in Brazil

Felician Sisters in Poland

Felician Sisters Ministries

Reflections based on Scripture