Obituaries

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.

 

Born: April 3, 1930Nancy Memorial1
Entered: September 8, 1948
Returned to the Lord: August 15, 2015

Sister Nancy Langhart, OSF a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Providence of God for 67 years, died at the age of 85 on August 15, 2015.  A native of Pittsburgh, Sister Nancy was raised in Mount Lebanon and attended St. Bernard School before enrolling at St. Francis Academy.  She earned a B.A. degree at Mount Mercy College (now Carlow University) and a M.A. in Counseling from Duquesne University. She also earned a certification to administer and interpret the Myers-Briggs Personality Indicator, a tool she used to assist the many persons she counseled.

Sister’s early ministry was in education, and her first assignment took her to Grand Rapids, MI where she taught primary grades in the schools served by our community.   For a number of years, she taught health, religion and home economics at St. Francis Academy. Sister Nancy was first called to campus ministry in 1968 at Bloomsburg/Bucknell University, before serving as guidance councilor at St. Francis Academy and Geibel Catholic High School.

In the early 1980s, Sister Nancy served at Try-Again Homes in social services, where she assisted with efforts to place teenagers with foster families.  In 1983, Sister was called back to campus ministry at the State University of NY (SUNY) and, later, the College of St. Rose in Albany, NY, where she was named Assistant Director of Counseling and Psychological Services.  Sister Nancy also served as a pastoral minister at St. Michael Church in Troy, NY, where she assisted young couples with pre-marriage counseling and liturgy preparation.

In 2010, the age of 80, Sister Nancy returned to the Pittsburgh motherhouse to address health concerns.  Determined to continue to help others by utilizing her counseling skills, Sister Nancy began to offer counseling services and spiritual direction at the motherhouse.   She continued to see clients even when placed on Hospice.  Nancy had a deep belief in the Pascal Mystery knowing that it is by dying that we are born to eternal life.  She welcomed death as a fulfillment of her life on earth.

Celia MemorialBorn: December 15, 1927
Entered: July 14, 1949
Returned to the Lord: July 1, 2015

Sister M. Célia da Costa Mattoso, a Sister of St. Francis of the Providence of God for 66 years, died in Brazil on Wednesday, July 1, 2015 at the age of 88.  During her  ministry, Sister Célia served in education as secretary at St. Michael the Archangel School in Vila Zelina, as well as a teacher of English, History, Geography and other subjects. Sister Célia also ministered as an attorney providing legal services for our Community, schools and other ministries in Brazil, as well as individuals in São Paulo. After earning a certificate of proficiency in English from the University of Michigan’s English Language Institute in 1963, Sister often served as Portuguese-English translator for the community.  Notably, she translated Eileen Gimper’s 2002 history book A Celebration of Franciscan Spirit into Portuguese.  Using her legal and translating skills, Sister Célia also served  the Community by assisting the then U.S. Province and the Generalate located in the U.S.A. in the early 2000s.

Sr.Henrietta

Born: August 31, 1921
Entered: September 17, 1938
Returned to the Lord: April 24, 2015

Sister M. Henrietta Pusvaskis, OSF, a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Providence of God for 76 years, died at the age of 93 on April 24, 2015.  Born in Ansonia, CT, about 12 miles northwest of New Haven, Sister was inspired by our Sisters to enter the community in 1938. Sister also attributed the strength of her religious vocation to the influence of her mother’s “goodness, spirituality and sacrifice.” She began her ministry teaching at St. George School in Philadelphia, but was soon called to healthcare and earned her R.N. from St. Francis Hospital in Pittsburgh. She would later ern her B.S. in Nursing from Duquesne University. In 1947, Sisters was missioned to our Good Samaritan Hospital in Mount Vernon, IL. She expended endless energy on behalf of the sick and poor serving as Nurse, Surgery Supervisor, Director of Nursing, Assistant Administrator and Vice President during her 42 years at Good Samaritan.  In 1989, she returned to the motherhouse and served as payroll supervisor, continuing in this position for over 21 years before until entering the Ministry of Prayer in 2011.

FlorenceCollage

Born: March 25, 1922
Entered: September 8, 1939
Returned to the Lord: January 6, 2015

Sister Mary Florence Curlonis, OSF a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Providence of God for 75 years, died at the age of 92 on January 6, 2015. Sister Florence was born in Philadelphia, PA, attending St. George School, where she was taught by our sisters. Upon her high school graduation, she entered the community in 1939. At first, she was a catechetical minister in Maspeth, NY, before beginning a career in elementary education in Pittsburgh, Homestead, Esplen and Bethel Park, PA, as well as assignments in Elizabeth, NJ, New Britain, CT, Cleveland, OH, and E. St. Louis, IL. Sister Florence’s ministries also included 20 years as a librarian, first at nearby St. Gabriel School then at South Side Consolidated High School and St. Francis Academy, prior to assuming the duties as librarian here at the motherhouse. Sister Florence was awarded a Bachelor’s degree at Duquesne University as well as a Library Science certificate at Edinboro University.

MonicaIMO

Born: June 15, 1918
Entered: September 12, 1937
Returned to the Lord: December 18, 2014

Sister M. Monica Belskas, a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Providence of God for 77 years, died at the age of 96 on December 18, 2014. Born in Cherry, Illinois to Lithuanian immigrants Karl and Mary Belskas, Sister grew up surrounded by a loving family. After completing her elementary education at St. Anthony School in Illinois, Sister enrolled in St. Francis Academy Prep School in Pittsburgh, where she made her decision to enter the Sisters of St. Francis of the Providence of God in 1937.

Sister spent her early years serving as housekeeper, seamstress and nurse aid where called to minister. In 1963, Sister began her ministry as Executive Housekeeper at the Good Samaritan Hospital in Mt. Vernon, Illinois. Sister fondly earned the title “The White Tornado” since whatever she undertook was spotless , and she trained her staff likewise. One of her great passions was decorating during the Christmas holidays, and she was well known for the beauty she created during the holiday season at the hospital.

Sister Monica returned to the Motherhouse in 1989, where she supervised the Housekeeping and
Laundry Departments for the next 10 years. She is remembered for maintaining a strong relationship with all those under her guidance, always willing to laugh and joke with those she came into contact. Sister Monica began her ministry of prayer in 2005.

Sustained by a deep prayer life, Sister Monica made the following statement when asked about her life as a religious sister: “I must say that being a Sister of St. Francis is a cause dearest to my
heart as well as the fact that I am able to pray for others and be of service to them. To anyone interested in religious life I merely say, ‘Come and see.’ The opportunities to be a Franciscan in
community, living the gospel life and dedicating all to prayer and the service of the poor and needy are gratifying.”

Sister Mary Georgene Utaris, OSF

Born: February 23, 1915
Entered: July 13, 1931
Returned to the Lord: December 13, 2014

Sister Mary Georgene Utaris, OSF, passed away on December 13, 2014, at the age of 99, in her 83rd year as a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Providence of God. The youngest of seven children, Sister Georgene was born and raised in the small coal-mining community of Shenandoah, PA, where she was a member of St. George Parish. After grade school, she enrolled in St. Francis Academy in Pittsburgh, and entered the congregation upon her graduation in 1931.

A graduate of Duquesne University with a Bachelor’s degree in Education, Sister Georgene’s ministry included 38 years as an elementary teacher in New York, Connecticut, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, with 12 years at St. George School in Philadelphia. She was quite well known for her classroom art, as well as for her many paintings that decorated the motherhouse interior.

After years of teaching, Sister Georgene was invited to become a patient visitor at the congregation’s Good Samaritan Hospital in Mt. Vernon, IL. This was followed by a period in the motherhouse as an infirmary aide to our older sisters. Later, Sister was active as an assistant in the congregation’s Archives department while still finding time to work as a receptionist. Eventually, time and ill health forced her into the final ministry of her community life, that as a Minister of Prayer. Even then, she continued to employ her artistic skills for several years to produce pieces of art that were sold in the congregation’s gift shop.

Sister Georgene had a special love for the Eucharist and spent many hours in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. She could be found praying in the chapel during most afternoons.

On the occasion of her 75th anniversary of religious commitment, Sister Georgene chose these three words to describe herself: Happy, having reached a state of joy entering her twilight years; Grateful to God and her community for an enriched life as a woman religious; and Prayerful, as she looked forward to her final days filled with prayer for her religious community and those who ask for prayerful remembrance.

Sister Mary Loretta Keserauskis, OSFSist

Born: October 28, 1916
Entered: February 2, 1939
Returned to the Lord: December 1, 2014

Sister Mary Loretta Keserauskis, a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Providence of God for 75 years, died at the age of 98 on December 1, 2014.  Born October 28, 1916 in East St. Louis, IL she was preceded in death by her parents and five siblings. She is survived by nieces and nephews.

Sister Loretta was an educator and principal for over 50 years, serving mostly first and second graders. Her longer assignments included St. Valentine’s in Bethel Park (13 years) and St. Mary’s in Mt. Vernon, IL (8 years). Sister also served in  Detroit, MI, Coopersville, MI, Kearny, NJ, Grand Rapids, MI, New Kensington, PA and DuBois, PA. From 1989 to 1999, she served as a driver for the community and transportation coordinator. She was also a staff member for the R-T-R (Reading-Thinking-Reading) Program. In 1999, Sister Loretta re-located to Danbury, CT, where she served as a Pastoral Minister for several years before returning to Pittsburgh. Sister attended Detroit University, Aquinas College, Seton Hall and St. Louis University and earned her B.A. in Education at Duquesne University.

Sister Valerie Ann Grigal, OSF

Born: October 26, 1914
Entered: December 8, 1936
Returned to the Lord: October 9, 2014

Sister Valerie Ann Grigal, OSF, a Sister of St. Francis of the Providence of God for 78 years, returned to Our Lord on October 9, 2014, a mere two weeks short of her 100th birthday. A native of Elizabeth, NJ, and the second of five children, she was taught by our sisters at her home parish, Saints Peter and Paul.

Though her ministry was not always visible to outsiders, Sister Valerie Ann led a full Franciscan life of service to others that took her from St. Anthony’s Parish in Detroit as a housekeeper to Panama City, FL, as a pastoral minister and may points in between. Her life of service to her companion sisters as a dietician and housekeeper, of service to others as a pastoral minister and of service to the Church as a sacristan in our motherhouse chapel is well known.

These many and varied roles took Sister Valerie Ann to St. Anthony Parish (Detroit), St. Joseph College (Hays, KS), St. Joseph Parish (Dubois, PA) Transfiguration Parish (Maspeth, NY), St. Joseph Hospital (Alton, IL), Holy Trinity Parish (Moon Run, PA), St. Dominic Parish (Panama City FL), Mt. St. Peter Parish (New Kensington, PA) and St. Francis Parish (Danbury, CT). She perhaps is best remembered for her ministry at our congregation’s hospital, Good Samaritan, in Mt. Vernon, IL, having served there a total of 26 years, in dietary and in spiritual care.

Even after her 90th birthday, Sister Valerie Ann was active in the motherhouse craft room and gift shop until entering the Ministry of Prayer in 2010.

For inquiries about Sisters, please e-mail info@osfprov.org or call (412) 885-7232