Persevere in discipline and holy obedience, and with good and firm purpose fulfill what you have promised the Lord.
~ St. Francis: Letter to the Entire Order 10
Five Sisters of St. Francis of the Providence of God will celebrate jubilees in 2016. Sister Miriam Racas will celebrate 75 years of vowed life while four sisters, Sisters Berenice Petrauskas, Francine McDonald, and Edward Urban will celebrate 65 years. In addition, Sr. Janet Gardner will celebrate her 50th jubilee. These women consecrated their lives to God as a way of seeking holiness through their profession of the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. All of them continue to seek God, living in community and responding to prayer and ministry.
Sister Miriam Racas, OSF
Sister Miriam Racas, OSF, is a native of Detroit, MI, and the fifth of five children. She entered the community in 1941 from St. George Parish in Detroit. She began her ministry as a 3rd and 4th grade teacher at St. Casimir’s in Pittsburgh, followed by assignments as both an elementary and high school teacher in a number of parishes where our congregation served, including Dubois, PA; Philadelphia; Elizabeth, NJ; Kenosha, WI; Bethel Park; Moon Run; Rochester, NY; New Kensington (also serving as principal); Homestead; Pittsburgh, West Mifflin, and Grand Rapids, MI. Afterwards, she served as principal in West Mifflin; again in New Kensington; Pittsburgh; Grand Rapids, MI; and Bethel Park. Her final assignment as principal was at St. Francis of Assisi School in Gallup, NM, where the student body was comprised mainly of Native American and Latino students. During these years, she also ministered at Covenant House in New York City. Always choosing to be as active as possible, Sister Miriam followed her teaching career as dietary manager at the Franciscan Spirit & Life Center and, finally, as a receptionist at the motherhouse until its sale. She also served for two years at the congregation’s mission in Utena, Lithuania. A graduate of Duquesne University with a Bachelor’s degree in Education, Sister also obtained her Master’s degree in Education at Duquesne. Today, Sister Miriam resides at the former Nativity Parish Rectory in South Park, PA.
Sister M. Berenice Petrauskas, OSF, was born in Vovu kaime, Lithuania, the middle of three children, and attended school there before she, her mother and two siblings were forced to relocate with the outbreak of World War II. After the war, she moved to the United States, enrolling at St. Francis Academy, and entered the community upon her graduation from SFA in 1951. Like many sisters, she began her ministry in education and was assigned as an elementary teacher in Rochester, NY, followed by assignments in Amsterdam, NY; Bethel Park (twice); Pittsburgh (two parish schools) E. St. Louis, IL; West Mifflin; Elizabeth, NJ (twice); Mahanoy City, PA (twice); Detroit; Kenosha, WI; Moon Run; and Coopersville, MI. After nearly 30 years in teaching, Sister Berenice transitioned from classroom teaching to working at the motherhouse as a clerical aide for 25+ years until her retirement. Sister is a graduate of Duquesne University with a Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Education. She currently resides at Presbyterian SeniorCare in Oakmont, PA
Sister Francine McDonald, OSF
Sister M. Francine McDonald, OSF, was born in Grand Rapids, MI, the youngest and only girl of 11 children in the McDonald household. She often says that her brothers displayed great patience in allowing their kid sister to tag along no matter the activity. Initially, Francine attended Sts. Peter and Paul Parish School, where she was taught by members of our congregation, before graduating from the city’s Catholic Central High School. Soon after, she entered the congregation. Her first assignment was as a third grade teacher at St. George School in Cleveland, OH, which was the beginning of a 44-year career as an elementary teacher in parish schools in Moon Run. PA; Homestead, PA; Pittsburgh; Coopersville, MI; Elizabeth, NJ; and West Mifflin, PA. This was followed as a teaching assistant in Beaver, PA, and more recently, as auxiliary staff and driver at the Franciscan Spirit & Life Center. She currently resides at the former Nativity Parish rectory in South Park. Sister Francine is a graduate of Duquesne University with a Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Education.
Sister M. Edward Urban, OSF, was born in Lithuania in 1932, the oldest of three children. Her American-born father, Anthony, had actually returned to Lithuania in 1931, where he met and married Anne. After seven years, her parents decided to move to the U.S., settling in Cleveland, OH. Here, Sister Edward was enrolled in St. George Parish School, where she was taught by our sisters. She then attended Notre Dame Academy, and entered the congregation upon graduation. Her initial assignment was teaching in Grand Rapids, MI, followed by assignments in Elizabeth, NJ, New Kensington and Bethel Park. In 1963, she was missioned to our community in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where she ministered as a teacher, grade school principal and pastoral minister. She also worked in the north of Brazil, in Maranhao, as the directress of a normal school and as a pastoral minister. After 47 years of service, Sister Edward returned to the motherhouse in 20010. Today, Sister continues to be active, helping in the Development department and at the congregation’s day care center. Sister is a graduate of Duquesne University with a Bachelor’s degree in Education. She also earned half of her Master’s requirements prior to her re-location to Brazil.
Sister Janet Gardner, OSF, is a native of Denver, CO, the older of two children. She attended elementary schools in Colorado, before moving to Queens, New York, where she attended middle school and junior high. Sister then enrolled in St. Francis Academy, entering the community upon her graduation in 1966. Her initial assignments included teaching in New Kensington and West Mifflin, PA and Kenosha, WI. From here, she assumed duties in Vocation and Formation for the congregation before being assigned as a case worker at Covenant House in New York City. She then worked for Catholic Charities for three years, as director of the county office in Waynesburg, PA. At this point, Sister Janet began a period of time in congregational leadership, first as Ministries Councilor, followed by her election as assistant General Minister, and then General Minister. This spanned 20 years, with an interruption from 1996 through 1999, in which she served as a pastoral minister in Alagoas, Brazil. In 2013, Sister Janet was named executive director at Beatitude House. Located in Youngstown, OH, the agency addresses the needs of the area’s homeless and disadvantaged women and children. She has a background in supportive housing programs, having been one of the developers of Sisters’ Place, a supportive housing community in southwestern Pennsylvania. Sister earned a Bachelor’s degree from Carlow University and a Master’s in Social Work from Catholic University.