BarbaraSister Barbara Zilch, a Sister of St. Francis of the Providence of God for 64 years died at the age of 81 on September 23, 2019.  She was preceded in death by her parents, Robert and Florence (Bodmann) Zilch.  She is survived by her sister, Mary (Richard) Miller from Elyria, Ohio; brother, Jim (Marcia) Zilch from Greenville, Delaware, and sister, Jane (William) Schray from Safety Harbor, Florida along with many nieces and nephews.

Sister Barbara was born in Amherst, Ohio on January 30, 1938 and attended St. Joseph Elementary School, Amherst, Ohio and St. Mary’s High School in Lorain, Ohio.  For one year, she attended St. Francis Academy, Pittsburgh, where the seed of her religious vocation was planted.  Sister Barbara received her Bachelor of Arts and Master’s degree from Duquesne University.

Her degrees in education were used well as she spent many years teaching primary grades at Saints Peter & Paul, Grand Rapids, MI,  St. George, Philadelphia, Holy Trinity in Moon Run, St. Valentine in Bethel Park, and St. Gabriel’s in Whitehall.  She served as teacher and principal of Mt. St. Peter in New Kensington for a span of ten years.  From 1983-1987, Sister Barbara was part of an inter-congregational House of Prayer in Uniontown, PA.

Sister Barbara ministered as Vocation Director, Formation Director, and Coordinator of the Franciscan Spirit and Life Center, a program for retreats and spiritual development.  Sister Barbara had the joy of being the President of the Franciscan Child Day Care Center from 2001-2017.  For seventeen years, Sister Barbara was part of the Leadership Team for her community.  Until her passing, she served as the Director of the Associate Program, for lay women and men interested in sharing the charism and mission of the congregation.  We give thanks to God for Sister’s life, her spirit, her service and her many years of proclaiming the Good News.

Wake Reflection for Sister Barbara Zilch, OSF

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Sisters of St. Francis of the Providence of God, 3757 Library Rd., Pittsburgh, PA  15234. Donate Online Here

BereniceSister M. Berenice Petrauskas, OSF, a Sister of St. Francis of the Providence of God for 68 years died at the age of 89 on April 10, 2019.  She was preceded in death by her parents and sisters, Hedwig (Hedy), Regina and Irena.  Born March 14, 1930, in a small village in Lithuania, Sister Berenice survived the onslaught of both Nazi and Soviet forces during World War II, as well the loss of her parents and family farm before escaping to the United States with her Sisters in 1947.  Recalling this time, she wrote, “Bless the Lord for all the good He has done for me.”

Sister Berenice attended St. Francis Academy and entered the community upon her graduation in 1951. Sister served as an educator for 30 years receiving both her Bachelor and Masters of Education degrees from Duquesne University. Her assignments included elementary schools in Pittsburgh, West Mifflin, Mahanoy City, and Moon Run, PA, as well as Rochester, NY, Elizabeth, NJ, Detroit, MI, Kenosha, WI, and Coopersville, MI.  After retiring from education, Sister Berenice served as a clerical aide in our administrative offices for over 25 years until 2015, when she entered the ministry of prayer and presence with our community at Presbyterian SeniorCare.


Sister M. Berenice’s Wake Reflection: “All I can say is ‘Bless the Lord for all the good He has done for me.’ I loved being a sister.”


SMicheleister M. Michele Garas, OSF, a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Providence of God for 55 years, died at the age of 76 on Tuesday, December 11, 2018. We offer our continuing prayers that she will rest in the peace and love of God in her eternal home.  We give thanks to God for Sister’s life, her gentle spirit, and her unique way of manifesting the goodness of God.

Sister Michele was born in Utena, Lithuania, and escaped to the United States with her family in 1949 after they had been placed in a Soviet displaced person camp. At first, they lived in Baltimore before moving to Detroit, where she was taught by the Sisters of St. Francis of the Providence of God. After working a few years, she entered the congregation in 1963.

Sister Michele is a graduate of Carlow University with a B.S. in Reading, as well as having taken additional courses at Duquesne.  Sister’s early ministry was as an elementary school teacher in and around the Pittsburgh region, including Moon Run, Bethel Park, New Kensington, and West Mifflin. Other assignments included schools in Detroit and Grand Rapids, MI, Kenosha, WI, and Mahanoy City, PA., On October 4, 1992 (appropriately the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi), Sister Michele went back to her native country, joining Sister Dolorita Butkus as the first of our Sisters to return to Lithuania since the late 1930s, to serve its people. Sister Michele served as a pastoral minister prior to teaching Religion and English at Utena’sSalues School. She also worked with children, helping them prepare for Baptism and Communion. After 20 years serving in Lithuania, Sister Michele returned to Pittsburgh in 2012 where she ministered as receptionist and sacristan at the motherhouse prior to beginning a Ministry of Prayer and Presence in 2014 at Presbyterian SeniorCare, Oakmont.

Friends will be received at John Slater Funeral Home, 4201 Brownsville Rd, Pittsburgh PA 15227 Friday, December 14, 4:00-8:00 PM, Wake Service, 6:00 PM.  Mass of Christian Burial, Saturday, December 15, 10:00 AM, St. Germaine Church, 7003 Baptist Rd. Bethel Park, PA 15102.

Wake Reflection for Sister M. Michele Garas

Louise Marie (1)Sister Louise Marie Simcoe, OSF, a Sister of St. Francis of the Providence of God for 54 years died on March 30, 2018, at age 71.  A native of Pittsburgh, Sister Louise Marie attended St. Agnes School and St. Casimir’s High School prior to entering the congregation in 1964. Remaining true to her Pittsburgh roots, Sister attended LaRoche College and Duquesne University, earning her Bachelor’s degree in Education.

Sister served 27 years as an elementary school teacher, spending many of those years at James Lavelle School in West Mifflin and St. Valentine, Bethel Park. She also served in Mahanoy City, PA and New Kensington, PA, Elizabeth, NJ, and Grand Rapids, MI.  Sister Louise Marie served as assistant director of our Franciscan Child Day Care Center from 1996-1998, vocation director and sacristan at our Pittsburgh motherhouse.  In 2002 Sister Louis Marie began serving as a pastoral visitor in Sharpsburg, PA, then as a pastoral assistant at St. Joseph Parish in Allison Park, PA until 2014 when she entered into the ministry of prayer.

Friends will be received at John F. Slater Funeral Home, 4201 Brownsville Rd, Pittsburgh PA 15227 on Monday, April 2, 3:00-5:00 PM &  6:00-8:00 PM, with the Wake Service at 6:30 PM.

Mass of Christian Burial on Tuesday, April 3, 10:30 AM, St. Germaine Church, 7003 Baptist Rd. Bethel Park PA 15102.

Wake Reflection for Sister Louise Marie

Joan of ArcSister Joan of Arc Urban, OSF, a Sister of St. Francis of the Providence of God for 85 years, died on March 4, 2018, at the age of 101. A native of Hartford, CT she entered our community in 1932 during her junior year at St. Francis Academy and was the first Sister in our congregation’s history to reach her 101 birthday and 85th Jubilee.

Sister began her many years in ministry as an elementary teacher at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Elizabeth, NJ, followed by teaching assignments as far west as Kenosha, WI, and as far east as Amsterdam, NY. She also served as an elementary principal in Kenosha. Sister Joan of Arc served as a catechist at Transfiguration Parish in Maspeth, NY, where in her own words, it was her most memorable assignment, “being a part of the parish and allowing me to be involved in all aspects of parish life.” Sister is a graduate of Duquesne University, with a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Education.

Sister Joan of Arc “retired” to the Pittsburgh motherhouse in 1990, where she remained active as the congregational postal clerk and receptionist until her 95th birthday. For the last several years, Sister Joan of Arc was the oldest Sister, and most likely the oldest person, participating with the Catholic Sisters of Western Pennsylvania, in Pittsburgh’s St. Patrick’s Day parade. Sister Joan of Arc resided with our Sisters at Nativity Convent where she ministered through prayer and a peaceful and loving presence to all persons she encountered, including parishioners at Nativity where she attended Mass until needing Hospice care in early 2018.

Sister Joan of Arc Wake Reflection

Sister Sister IreneMary Irene Pacekonis, OSF, a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Providence of God for 78 years, died at the age of 94 on Wednesday, December 27, 2017. A native of Hartford, CT, Sister Irene was the third of six children, having attended Holy Trinity School, before enrolling at St. Francis Academy. After entering the congregation in 1939, her initial assignments were in elementary schools in Dubois, PA and Rochester, NY. Then she served as a teacher in São Paulo, Brazil for seven years. Upon her return to the U.S., Sister Irene served in various schools in Pittsburgh, Bethel Park, and Moon Run, PA, as well as Mt. Vernon, IL, and Elizabeth, NJ.  Her education ministry in the U.S. spanned over 50 years with a break between 1962 -1967 when she returned to serve in São Paulo. Upon her retirement from active teaching, Sister Irene worked in our daycare center as well as our craft shop. In her later years, Sister entered into the ministry of prayer and served as a bright and faithful presence among the Presbyterian SeniorCare community.  Sister earned her Bachelor’s degree at Mt. Mercy College and her Master’s degree at Duquesne University.

Sister Mary Irene Wake Reflection

Sister ThereseSister Therese Marquis, OSF, a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Providence of God for 68 years, died at the age of 87 on Friday, December 15, 2017. Sister Therese was born in Daigle, a French Acadian village in Maine, and was the middle of seven children. Later, her family moved to Hartford, CT, where she attended St. Ann’s School. She entered the congregation in 1949. Sister Therese’s early ministry included teaching assignments in New Kensington, Bethel Park, Esplen, Dubois, and Philadelphia, PA, as well as Coopersville, MI, and South Catholic HS in Hartford, CT. She also served at St. Francis Academy as a teacher, then vice principal. Later, Sister Therese was in residence at Emmaus Community in St. Louis, MO, prior to working at the congregation’s hospital in Alton, IL. She returned to various duties at the motherhouse in 1990, then served as a pastoral minister in Danbury, CT. In 2000, Sister returned to Pittsburgh to serve in congregational leadership. She spent her later years serving as librarian and sacristan in the motherhouse before entering into a ministry of prayer in 2010.

Sister Therese received an MS in Education from Duquesne and MA in Religious Studies from St. Joseph College in West Hartford CT.  Skilled in her native French she was also a talented sculptor and artist.


Wake Reflection

Sr Rosalie MemorialSister Rosalie Kaseta, OSF, a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Providence of God for 75 years, died peacefully on September 11, 2017 at Presbyterian Senior Care in Oakmont, PA. Sister Rosalie’s early ministry was as an elementary school teacher in Rochester, NY, Detroit, MI and Homestead, PA. In 1951, she was missioned to São Paulo, Brazil, where she served at several elementary schools. Upon her return to the USA in 1957, Sister served at St. Gabriel’s in Pittsburgh, as well as schools in West Mifflin, Philadelphia, Moon Run and Kenosha, WI. She also served as the St. Francis Academy’s librarian for ten years. In 1983, Sister was assigned as a chaplain at the congregation’s St. Joseph Hospital in Alton, IL.

In 1986, she returned to the motherhouse serving as Liturgist and social justice coordinator. An excellent pianist, she also took an active role in the community’s San Damiano Consort. Sister Rosalie served as assistant campus administrator at St. John Vianney Manor from 2001 – 2008. At age 83, she returned to the motherhouse to assume duties in community services and serve as the congregation’s librarian. A graduate of Duquesne University, she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Education and a Master’s in Library Science.


Born: August 16, 1919

Entered: August 15, 1938

Returned to the Lord: August 6, 2016

Sister M. Beatrice Siratavic, OSF, a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Providence of God for nearly 78 years, heard the words of her God: “Well done, good and faithful servant” on August 6, 2016, at the age of 96.

Sister Beatrice was born Natalie Siratavic in Philadelphia, the youngest of four children of Kasimir Siratavic and Julia Klug, immigrants from Lithuania. Like so many of our sisters from Philadelphia, Natalie attended St. George School, where our community taught for many years. Not surprisingly, two of our members, Sisters Cecilia and Aurelia, were her classmates. Upon the occasion of her 65th Jubilee, Sister Beatrice talked about the “care, support interest and example of my fifth grade teacher that led me to seek higher things until I made my choice” to enter the community.

In 1938, Sister Beatrice began a 15-year period in teaching that included schools in Elizabeth, NJ, and Detroit, MI, plus our own St. Francis Academy. She also earned her Bachelor’s degree in Education at Duquesne during this time.

But it was her ministry in Brazil that Sister so cherished. In her words, “the most challenging and fruitful years” of her life. At first, she had a difficult time learning Portuguese and was determined to return to the Pittsburgh. Always open to whatever God had in store for her, however, she stuck it out, and remained for the next forty years.

It was here that she worked principally in schools teaching religion as well as “English as a second language.” She also served as a regional and local superior, a hospital aide in Pedro Leopaldo, as well as in the mission’s finance office. Here, Sister found the “warm, simple, friendly, God-fearing, prayerful people of the village that ignited a deeper appreciation for the things of God.”

Upon her return to the motherhouse, Sister Beatrice assumed the role as the congregation’s assistant archivist, where she worked diligently with the congregational archivist to make sure that information on the community, its members and achievements were never lost, but rather to be shared with other community members and interested lay persons.

Though tiny in stature, Sister Beatrice’s grace, wisdom and sense of humor embraced all around her.    Her favorite quote reads, “Sing joyfully to the Lord, Serve the Lord with gladness.” She certainly tried to spread joy and happiness in all that she did.

Born: October 4, 1915

Entered: August 2, 1933

Returned to the Lord: April 26, 2016

Sister M. Frances Walters, OSF, a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Providence of God for 82 years, died at the age of 100 on April 26, 2016 at Presbyterian Senior Care in Oakmont, PA. Sister Frances was born in Pittsburgh on October 4, 1915 – the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, and attended St. Casimir Elementary School in Pittsburgh’s South Side. Her pastor at St. Casimir’s was Rev. Magnus Kazenas, who was instrumental in bringing our founding Sisters to Pittsburgh from Chicago in 1922, and she actually met these Sisters at the train station in Pittsburgh.  Sister Frances attended St. Francis Academy and entered the congregation in 1933, just 11 years after its founding.

Sister’s first assignment was as a 3rd and 4th grade teacher in Detroit, MI, followed by several years in Hartford, CT.  Sister Frances’ education ministry spanned over 50 years at 14 different elementary schools in eight states including Michigan, Connecticut, Illinois and California. In Pittsburgh, she taught at St. Valentine and St. Gabriel of the Sorrowful Virgin schools.

In 1986, at the age of 71, Sister began her ministry at the Franciscan Day Care Center, where she served as a teacher, then later as Resource Supervisor.  She describes her 18 years at the Day Care Center as a “truly happy and blessed experience” and that “taking care of the babies and toddlers brought much joy and consolation” as she adjusted to her latest phase of religious life.  Sister dedicated herself fully to the ministry of prayer at the age of 97.

Sister was preceded in death by her parents, her sisters Helen Sherry and Sister Marianne Walters, OSF – also a Sister of St. Francis of the Providence of God, and her brother, Fr. Hilarion Walters, who served as a Passionist priest. She is survived by her sister, Ann Dombroski, as well as several nieces and nephews and their families.


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