Born: August 16, 1919
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.