Young students learn about vocations

Bob Reddy – Fort Myers –

Sixth graders from Catholic elementary schools across the Diocese of Venice have recently been challenged to recognize the presence of the Lord in themselves while also considering their vocation: possibly to religious life for the girls and the priesthood for the boys.

“God is calling each of us,” Diocesan Vocations Director Father Shawn Roser explained to the students at each of three Diocesan Vocations Days in late September. “You are old enough to understand the role Christ is having in your life and I know some of you are being called to a religious life or the priesthood.”

The Vocations Days took place Sept. 23 at St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples for the Catholic schools in the Southern Deanery; Sept. 25 at Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota for schools in the Northern Deanery, and Sept. 30 at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers for schools in the Central Deanery.

Students heard from priests and religious men and women about listening to God’s call for their vocation in life. No matter whether that vocation is as a priest or consecrated religious, married life, consecrated single life – the Lord will provide guidance.

The day focused on encouraging the young boys and girls to open their hearts and minds to develop their personal relationship with God while keeping open the possibility of a deeper calling for their vocation. The students were repeatedly told that their relationship with the Lord must always begin with prayer.

Throughout the day the students heard from priests and religious women who shared their stories of how they found a grace to serve God in a special way. There were separate sessions for boys and girls, when they were free to ask any questions.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated Mass at the conclusion of each Vocations Day and reinforced what the students learned by stressing how they need to pray to the Lord about their vocation in life. He also shared his own vocation story.

“The Lord has a role for each one of us in life, and if it is not done, the community is all the less for it,” Bishop Dewane said. “Go forward in your lives and really consider religious life, consider the priesthood and pray about it. Pray that the Lord inspire you to that vocation. Pray to the Lord that you get clarity.”

Bishop Dewane, Father Roser and the religious sisters who assisted at the Vocations Days each stressed that God is never going to call the students to do something they are not going to want to do or cannot handle.

“You just have to open your mind and your heart to what God is calling you to do,” Father Roser said.

During the Vocations Days at Cardinal Mooney and Bishop Verot Father Roser was joined by Servant Sisters of the Virgin Matara from St. Michael Parish in Wauchula. At St. John Neumann, he was assisted by Sister April Hoffman, a Salesian Sister of St. John Bosco who teaches at the high school.

In addition, Sister Cathy Bonfield, School Sister of Notre Dame, escorted her students from St. Martha and St. Mary Academy to the Vocations Day at Cardinal Mooney, and spoke to the girls about her vocation journey as a teacher for more than 50 years.

Each day focused on encouraging the young boys and girls to open their hearts and minds to develop their personal relationship with God while keeping open the possibility of a deeper calling for their vocation.

Throughout the day the students participated in various activities and games with the priest and religious present while also carefully listening to the profound words they had to say as each shared their own personal spiritual journey to serve God in a special way.

Students from St. John Neumann, Cardinal Mooney and Bishop Verot shared their own faith story, noting the challenges to stay focused on the Lord with other distractions in life. However, no matter how far they strayed from their Faith, each noted that the one strength in their lives was the Lord, calling them back. This invariably brought comfort and stability to their lives.

Prior to the closing Mass, there was Eucharistic Adoration to allow the students a chance to focus and spend time in the presence of the Lord.

Father Roser said the goal was to let these young boys and girls know about the possibilities for the future and the greatness that comes as a servant of the Lord for priests and religious.

Former Naples priest dies

Staff Report

Father Thomas J. Gillespie, Oblate of St. Francis de Sales for 68 years and former Parochial Vicar of St. Ann Parish in Naples, died July 27, 2019, at the Oblate community at Childs, Md. He was 87.

Father Gillespie was born Jan. 16, 1932, in Elkins Park, Pa., the son of Francis J. Gillespie and Catherine (McMaster) Gillespie. It was in 1950, when he entered the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales and professed first vows at the end of his postulancy and novitiate on Sept. 13, 1951, followed by perpetual profession on Sept. 13, 1954, and ordination to the priesthood May 31, 1960. Father completed a B.A. in Mathematics at Niagara University and an M.A. in Guidance/Counseling at Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.

Enjoying a rich and varied mix of assignments throughout his 59 years of priesthood, Father Gillespie tried his hand at a number of ministries, including 18 years in secondary education, in Wilmington, Del., and Harrisburg, Pa. He also served as spiritual director at the De Sales School of Theology, Postulant Director, Director of Novices and Religious Superior at both Brisson Seminary and the Salesianum Oblate community.

At the age of 64, Father Gillespie received permission to serve as a missionary in South Africa, historically the first overseas mission to which the Oblates first travelled in 1882. After more than a decade, Father returned to the United States in 2007 to retire. However, in 2008, Father came out of retirement to serve as a Parochial Vicar and later as Priest-in-Residence at St. Ann Parish in Naples, where he stayed until his final retirement in 2017 when he left to live at the Oblate community in Maryland.

A Mass of Christian Burial was held July 31 at Our Lady of Light Chapel, in Childs. Md. Internment followed in the Oblate Cemetery. Father is survived by his twin sisters, Mary Cormier and Van Gillespie.

Poor Clare Sister, 101, dies

Staff Report


Poor Clare Sister Mary Paschal, of San Damiano Monastery of St. Clare on Fort Myers Beach, went peacefully home to God on Wednesday, May 29, 2019. She was 101.

Poor Clare Sister Sister Mary Paschal, of of San Damiano Monastery of St. Clare on Fort Myers Beach, went peacefully home to God on Wednesday, May 29, 2019. She was 101.

Born Honora Sadlier on March 12, 1918 in Lisheen Cashel Co., Tipperary, Ireland, Sister Mary began her religious life with the Sisters of St. Anne in England shortly after her 18th birthday in 1936. Sister Mary Paschal made her final profession as a Poor Clare on Oct. 4, 1946 and served in various capacities.

It was at the age of 70, when she answered a call for Poor Clare sisters to volunteer to join the newly established San Damiano Monastery of St. Clare on Fort Myers Beach, adjacent to Ascension Parish, arriving in Florida on Oct. 7, 1989.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane officiated the Mass of Christian Burial at Ascension Parish on June 3. He described Sister Mary Paschal a profoundly religious woman who committed herself to the service of God early on.

Bishop Dewane spoke of how the Diocese was blessed to have Sister Mary Paschal, along with all of the Poor Clare Sisters, and gave thanks for her generosity of spirit she gave for all those years.

Recalling his many visits to the monastery, Bishop Dewane added that Sister Mary Paschal always greeted him with warmth and humor. One such visit was for Sister Mary Paschal’s 100th birthday celebration which brought hundreds of well-wishers.

Poor Clare Abbess, Sister Mary Frances Fortin, described Sister Mary Paschal’s time at the monastery: “She has served this community cheerfully and faithfully from that time (in 1989), blessing us all with her Irish wit and the wisdom of her many years in religious life. She will be greatly missed by her religious sisters and the many friends and benefactors of this community who have come to know and love her.”

With the Sisters of St. Anne before becoming a Poor Clare, Sister Mary Paschal served the sick and the elderly in this community. During the difficult times of World War II, she transferred to the contemplative life in 1941 when she joined the Poor Clare Nuns at Sclerder Abbey, Cornwall, England. Sister Mary Paschal made her final profession as a Poor Clare on Oct. 4, 1946. She served this community as novice mistress, and abbess. When the monastery of Sclerder closed, Sister transferred to the Monastery of St. Clare in Arundel, England for a short time and then to the Monastery of St. Clare in Darlington, England, before making her final journey to the San Damiano Monastery of St. Clare on Fort Myers Beach.

She is survived by numerous nieces and nephews.

Memorials in her name may be made to the San Damiano Monastery of St. Clare, 6029 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach, FL, 33931.

Parish welcomes visiting religious priests

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

A driving rain storm did little to quell the enthusiasm of the faithful at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Immokalee when they welcomed more than 40 Missionaries of St. Charles (Scalabrinians) who were visiting the parish for the Mass as part of a week-long Provincial Assembly in Boca Raton.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane was the main celebrant for a May 9 Mass. Father Mario Germia, CS, General Councilor of the Order, and Provincial Superior Father Maocir Balen, CS, Parish Pastor Father Carlos Reyes-Ramirez, CS, and Parochial Vicar Father Wilner Durosier, CS, as well as the other Scalabrinian priests concelebrated the Mass.

The assembly side-trip to Immokalee for the priests was planned to thank the community for their support of the religious order through the years and to see the progress on the construction of the new Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish Church which is nearing completion adjacent to the existing church.

The first Scalabrinian priests arrived at Our Lady of Guadalupe in 1985 and the community has served there ever since. Several priests who previously served at the parish were present for the celebration and were, following the Mass, individually recognized and cheered by the faithful for their service.

Bishop Dewane expressed his humble and heartfelt gratitude for the years the Missionaries of St. Charles have been in the Diocese, serving the faithful here and continuing to reach out to other missions that were founded.

“I cannot help but express a strong genuine gratefulness and thanks for your vocation, for your choosing to be a member of the Missionaries of St. Charles, and for the sacrifices that you make,” the Bishop added. “Also, for the good that you do for the people of God, and particularly here in Immokalee by building up the faith community.”

The welcome from the parishioners was overwhelming as they packed the church for the tri-lingual Mass (English, Spanish and Creole) and afterwards joyously cheered the visiting priests for their vocation and continued service to the community.

Provincial Father Balen thanked Bishop Dewane for his ongoing support of the Scalabrinian priests who continue to serve in Immokalee. He also thanked the faithful of the parish for their enthusiasm for the visit, noting that the group was expecting a quiet time for Mass and some reflection but instead they were welcomed with joyous open arms that reflect the love of Christ that permeates throughout the parish.

“Thank you to Bishop Dewane and thank you all for the love you have showed us,” Father Balen said in English and Spanish.

The Missionaries of St. Charles – Scalabrinians – are an international community of religious missionaries dedicated to the service of migrants of differing cultures and ethnicities in countries throughout the world. We are a religious apostolic community called by God to share in the mission of the church by helping migrants discover and carry out the plan of salvation during human migration and within their lives.  The Congregation was founded on Nov. 28, 1887 by Blessed John Baptist Scalabrini (1839-1905), Bishop of Piacenza, Italy.

Scalabrinians are committed to the promotion of human dignity and human rights of migrants, including their faith and cultural values.  They are also committed to promote the total salvation of mankind, leading migrants in particular, to a rediscovery of faith in their lives with a longing for dignity and justice.

The Scalabrinian Fathers of the Province of St. Charles Borromeo Provincial Assembly gathered priests who serve in the eastern U.S., eastern Canada, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela.

Following the Mass, a fiesta was held and in spite of the rain, everyone persevered and enjoyed themselves as the food was served under the awning of the new church and all sat at tables under tents set up in the parking lot.

Bishop Dewane noted during the Mass that the new building, which has been under construction for more than two years, will soon be opened and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass will be offered. “Your patience has been appreciated and you will be rewarded with another celebration very soon.”

Religious women recognized for service to Church

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

In gratitude and recognition for the contributions of men and women religious within the Universal Church, but more precisely in the Diocese of Venice, a jubilee celebration was held Feb. 17 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice.

Appropriately, the day began with the celebration of the Mass by Bishop Frank J. Dewane. During the Mass, there was a renewal of the vows for the jubilarians, the same ones they took when professing a commitment to a religious life, that of poverty, chastity and obedience.

The Bishop thanked the religious for answering a specific call of the Lord to live a life of holiness, and then taking that commitment a step farther by reaching out and serving others. Bishop Dewane added that the celebration of consecrated life is a celebration of goodness, a blessing to the Church as a whole.

Four religious women celebrating significant anniversaries were specifically recognized during the Mass and at a following reception. The religious honored were: 75 years, Sister Mary Paschal Sadlier, Poor Clare Nun (Order of St. Clare); 60 years, Sister Liliette Ouellette and Sister Mary Josine Perez, School Sisters of Notre Dame; and 25 years, Sister Maria Pilar Alindogan, Poor Clare Nun (Order of St. Clare).

Sister Liliette explained that her call to a religious life was a path she followed with great joy. As a teacher, she followed the charism of her religious order with passion knowing that she was accompanied by the Lord along the path she had chosen. “It has been a good life,” Sister Liliette said.

Sister Josine spent a lifetime teaching at every level from elementary to college level, but now, in her “retirement,” she remains active at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice assisting with funeral planning and the work of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. “As a religious sister, I have been called by Christ to serve. That service helps bring others close to His love.”

Sister Mary Paschal and Sister Maria Pilar were unable to attend the celebration. Present at the Mass were religious brothers, priests and or women religious as a sign of support for those celebrating their jubilee in 2019. Following the Mass, the was a luncheon where jubilarians were again recognized for their commitment to a service to others and their continued service within the Diocese of Venice.


75 years of religious life

Sister Mary Paschal Sadlier, OSC

Born Honora Sadlier in Lisheen Cashel Co., Tipperary, Ireland, now nearly 101, Sister Mary Paschal Sadlier, Poor Clare Nun (Order of St. Clare), was born to Martin and Mary Sadlier, and is last surviving of 10 children. Sister entered religious life on Jan. 22, 1936 with the Sisters of St. Anne in Wimbledon, England and she received her habit and the name Sister Paschal Baylon of the Sacred Heart. After working at a hospital in Plymouth helping the victims of the bombing of England in the early years of World War II, she took a rest at a Poor Clare convent and felt called to a contemplative life. In July 1942 she was accepted as a Poor Clare in Cornwall and Sister Mary Paschal made her profession on July 31, 1944. She remained in the convent in Cornwall until becoming Abbess which exhausted her. Sister Mary Paschal then went to Arundel, before moving on the to Poor Clares in Darlington. There she was the Portress – second in charge – which suited her temperament better and later she was named infirmarian, caring for the older sisters in the monastery. At the age of 70, in 1988 she made her final transfer to live with the Poor Clare Sisters at San Damiano Monastery of St. Clare on Fort Myers Beach. The religious community joyfully embraces a life of poverty, prayer and contemplation, solitude and seclusion that they might serve the Lord and His Church. In her spare time, she likes to read.

60 years of religious life

Sister Liliette Ouellette, SSND

Sister Liliette Ouellette, School Sister of Notre Dame, was bornin Dracut, Mass. To Arthur and Beatrice Ouellette and has three sisters. The earned a Bachelor’s in French at Mount Mary University in Milwaukee, Wisc., a Master’s in Elementary Education from the University of Detroit in Michigan, and a Master’s in Education Administration from Manhattan College in New York. Sister Liliette entered religious life on Aug. 28, 1957 and made her profession on July 14, 1959. She taught elementary school in Michigan for nine years before moving to Long Island, N.Y. to teach junior high from 1970 to her retirement in 2009. Since her move to Port Charlotte in 2014 she serves as a lector and Eucharistic Minister at St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish. She also volunteers with the St. Vincent de Paul Society. The day of Sister Lilliete’s profession was one of her happiest memories, because it was when her family shared in the joy she had in consecrating her life to God in expression of her vows. Another happy memory was becoming cancer-free, something she sees as a sign of God’s love and presence in her life. In her spare time, she loves any form of needlework and even crotchets mats for the homeless using plastic bags.

Sister Mary Josine Perez, SSND

Sister Mary Josine Perez, School Sister of Notre Dame, was born in New York to Joseph and Alice Perez, and has one brother. Sister Maria received a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education from the College of Notre Dame in Baltimore, Md., and then a Master’s in Education from Loyola College in Baltimore and Master’s in Religious Studies from Barry University in Miami and finally a certification in administration/supervision from the University of South Florida in Tampa. She entered religious life on Sept. 8, 1957 and made her profession on July 25, 1959. Sister Maria was an elementary and then junior high school teacher in Baltimore before becoming a principal in Hollywood, Fla. She was then a teacher later dean at a high school in St. Petersburg before becoming Assistant Academic Dean at the College of Notre Dame in Maryland. After leaving the College of Notre Dame, she returned to Catholic Schools as a principal of an elementary school in St. Petersburg. It was 25 years ago that she moved to the Diocese of Venice where she was the Director of Religious Education at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Port Charlotte and then from 1993 to 2017 as DRE and involved in parish ministry at Sacred Heart Parish in Punta Gorda. She retired in 2017 to Venice where she now assists with funeral planning and with the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

25 years of religious life

Sister Maria Pilar Alindogan, OSC

One of 14 children, Sister Maria Pilar Alindogan, Poor Clare Nun (Order of St. Clare), was born in San Fernando Masbate, Philippines, to Effigenio and Elsie Alindogan. She is a graduate from Emilio Aguinaldo College in Manila, Philippines. Sister Maria Pilar entered religious life on June 27, 1991 and made her profession on June 27, 1994. She entered the monastery in Quezon City, Philippines and was there until she came to Florida in 2007. Since that time Sister Maria Pilar has been with the Poor Clare Sisters at San Damiano Monastery of St. Clare on Fort Myers Beach. She loves to play the organ and guitar, as well as draw, cut letters for sign boards and to do little things for others to let them know that she loves and cares for them.

Former Director of Education dies

Staff Report – Florida Catholic


Sister Roberta Schmidt, CSJ, former Diocese of Venice Director of Education, died Jan. 2, 2019 at the de Greef Hospice House in St. Louis. Mo. She was 90.

Sister Roberta Schmidt, Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet in St. Louis, Mo. Diocese of Venice Director of Education from 1993 to 2008. She died Jan. 2, 2019 in St. Louis.

Sister Roberta, a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet in St. Louis, Mo., had a 56-year career in education and taught at all levels of Catholic education from elementary school through college and lived her life as a committed witness to the social teachings of the Church and the role of education and formation. She worked in the Diocese of Venice as Director of Education from 1993 through 2008. Perhaps she is best known for her participation in two Civil Rights Marches in the 1960s and for her commitment to social justice issues.

This humble woman said as she neared her 2008 retirement: “It is all about doing the mission of Jesus, which is, living Gospel values, respecting the dignity of people, forming relationships, being a witness to the social teachings of the Church.”

Born in Kansas City, Mo., in 1928, Sister Robert entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet on Sept. 15, 1949, and was received into the novitiate as Sister Ernest Maria on March 19, 1950. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the College of Teresa (now Avila University), and her master’s degree and doctorate from St. Louis University. Prior to coming to the Diocese of Venice, Sister Roberta served in the Archdiocese of Atlanta as Secretary of Education. Previously, she held administrative positions in higher education in the Archdioceses of San Antonio and St. Louis as well as the Diocese of Birmingham. She also taught elementary, secondary and collegiate levels in the archdiocese of St. Louis.

In March 1965, she and two others from her religious order travelled to Selma, Ala., to join hundreds of protesters who responded to a direct appeal to clergy from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and were seeking voting rights for African-Americans in the South. To voice their support the trio joined in marches from Brown Chapel to the courthouse for several days. The sisters were the subject of a Civil Rights documentary and in 2015 the religious women received honorary Doctorates of Human Letters from Avila University (formerly known as the College of St. Teresa), Sister Roberta’s Alma Mater, for their contributions at Selma and to the global community.

“Our role was one of witness,” Sister Roberta said in 2015, the 50th Anniversary of the March. “I was so pleased that they decided to include women as part of that group.”

Under the guidance of Sister Roberta, the Diocese added the Institute for Pastoral Studies and Formation, which offers advanced degrees in theology; St. Mary’s Academy in Sarasota for students with learning disabilities; expanded adult faith formation programs; and St. Catherine Catholic School, the first Catholic School in the Eastern Deanery.

Following her 2008 retirement, Sister Roberta lived peacefully in Venice before moving to St. Louis in 2017 to live at the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet motherhouse.

A Memorial Mass will be held Friday, Jan. 11 at 10:30 a.m. at Nazareth Living Center, 2 Nazareth Lane, St. Louis, MO 63129.

Spiritual enrichment + fun and games

Staff Report

It was more than fun and games at the St. Michael Parish summer camps for boys and girls in Wauchula. During back-to-back weeks in early June, young boys, and then young girls, converged on the Parish grounds and participated in eight hours of daily spiritual enrichment mixed in with fun and outdoor games.

Each summer, the Parish Religious Education team organizes the camps for the boys (June 4-8) and the girls (June 11-15). The camps are for children from first through sixth grade and offer a chance for the Parish staff to keep connected with the young people when regular religious education programs are closed for the summer.

The children described the week in the simplest of terms: “Fun!” “Awesome!” “Great!” “Perfect!” Beautiful!” “Terrific!” If the smiles and excitement for each day were not enough, the impact of the camp was the lively participation of everyone in each of the activities throughout each week.

The theme for the camps this year was “Obedience!” At daily Mass, Parish Administrator Father Timothy van Zee, Institute of the Incarnate Word, stressed the importance of obedience, trying to explain the concept on a level the young children could clearly understand.

“The best reason is because Jesus gave us that example. We need to be like Jesus if we want to be happy and if we want to get to heaven,” said Father van Zee. “Even when you are asked to do something you don’t want to do; it is better to obey. If you do that, you become a better person, more like Jesus.”

Each camp day had a serious religious and spiritual element, including prayer and an examination of conscience. The early part of the schedule included a talk about the Holy Mass with a presentation covering different aspects of full, active and conscious participation in the Mass. This encompassed the proper way to use a holy water font when entering the Church; the need to genuflect facing the tabernacle and the altar; and a review of the prayers and music.

A key component of the preparation was a daily reinforcement of how to behave when going forward for Holy Communion. For the youngest children, this meant crossing their arms indicating they were not of age to receive the Eucharist and bowing their head to be blessed by Father van Zee. For older children, it was a reminder to respond clearly when the Holy Eucharist is presented to them.

Following Mass, there were additional prayers lead by a religious sister and then they were free to head to a breakfast of pancakes, fruit, milk and juice.

Other parts of the day included some fun and games as well as productive team-building exercises. Small teams competed in the various activities throughout the week with an emphasis on support and teamwork. Points were accumulated for various token prizes.

This was important in helping the young boys and girls realize that they can accomplish much more with the help of others than if they tried to do the same thing alone. Because it is the summer, many of the outdoor activities included water, providing some of the funnier moments of the week.

In the afternoons, different activities included learning about the life of different saints, presentations on the stage in the Parish Hall, and more indoor games. The girls also had the opportunity to bake. Days concluded with snack time, singing and then a recitation of the Holy Rosary. Each week also included a field trip to the Tampa Bay area where they went to indoor amusement facilities.

Each week culminated in a celebration for the parents with presentations from each team. The girls also served fresh baked pizza.

The camps were organized by Sister Maria Gema de Jesus Ruiz, a Servant of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará, Director of Religious Education at St. Michael Parish. However, they would not have been possible without the support of the other religious women at the Parish and the hard work by the entire Parish community, including the parent and teen volunteers. Among those volunteers were several Diocesan seminarians who helped with the boys, and an extra religious sister from Washington, D.C., who assisted with the girls.

Retiring Mooney President leaves lasting legacy

By Karen Christie – Special to the Florida Catholic

After 39 years of compassion, loyalty, and devotion to Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School, Sister Mary Lucia Haas, Sister of Notre Dame, the school’s President, will be retiring at the end of the 2017-2018 school year. I had the pleasure to talk to Sister Lucia about this important time in her life, and asked what comes to her mind when she thinks about retirement. Laughing slightly, she replied with a question of her own: “What can I still do?” Her hope is to continue to help others around her.

Sister Mary Jucia Hass, Sister of Notre Dame, sits in front of a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the campus of Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota where she is retiring as School President and has worked a combined 39 years.

Sister Lucia grew up in the small town of North Ridgeville, Ohio, the youngest of eight children and later attended Erieview Catholic High School. After graduation Sister went to Notre Dame College in South Euclid, Ohio. Both were all-girls schools run by the Sisters of Notre Dame. She later attended the College of William and Mary in Virginia, where she received her Master’s degree.

Since her favorite subjects were science and math, Sister Lucia originally intended to major in chemistry. The science program at Notre Dame College focused on students who intended to teach at the high school level. Sister found chemistry interesting, but she wasn’t planning to go into the teaching field at that time.

Always a morning person, while in college she began attending 6:30 a.m. Mass every day with the religious sisters. As a sophomore in high school, she was approached by one of the sisters about possibly considering the religious life, but at that time her goals were centered more upon her scholastic work. Once in college, however, she felt the need to answer the calling that God wanted her to join the religious life by becoming a nun. The more she went to Mass, the more she realized that this was what she was meant to do.

Upon graduating from college, Sister Lucia received her first assignment, or “mission” as it is referred to by her religious order. She was first ordered to St. Peter’s Catholic High School in downtown Cleveland, where she taught from 1963 to 1967. From 1967 to 1976, she was sent to Notre Dame High School in Middleburg, Va.

It was in 1976 that she first was assigned to Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota. During her first three years, she taught science, theology, and math, before being promoted to become the principal, a position she held for six years.

As is common for religious, she was moved again and in 1986 she was assigned as the new principal at Lorraine Catholic High School in Ohio. Her final move came in 1989 when she returned to Cardinal Mooney for good, eventually earning the title of President.

Sister Mary Lucia Hass, Sister of Notre Dame, is seen with Bishop Frank J. Dewane during her 50th anniversary jubilee in 2012 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice.

“When I think of her contributions I think of the difference just one person can make,” said Father Matthew Grady, Cardinal Mooney Chaplain. “In a word, I would say Sister’s ministry is an example of: commitment.”

Sister Lucia notes that her first memory of Cardinal Mooney was of the palm trees and how the air was so dry. The school environment, though, was very similar to where she grew up in Ohio.

When asked about notable experiences, Sister replied that she found the duties concerned with building new facilities on campus to be the most challenging of the experiences in her career. Describing her most rewarding times at Cardinal Mooney, Sister Lucia reflected on how many graduates have come back to visit the school during one of their college breaks, and how appreciative they were to have had the opportunity to go to a high school that prepared them for college, and life thereafter.

Outside of work, it may surprise people to know that Sister Lucia likes to golf and fish, although fishing is more of a fond childhood memory of time spent with her siblings.  One of the things she hopes to do when she retires is to become proficient in the use of technological devices, including her iPad and iPhone.

In addition, Sister Lucia has a friend who volunteers at the Cosgrove Center, located in North Ridgeville, Ohio, which is dedicated to helping the homeless. Sister herself can no longer drive, but she hopes to be able to go with her friend a few times a week to provide her services and help feed and clothe the homeless.  Ironically, the center for the homeless is located in what used to be her alma mater, Erieview Catholic High School. At the Cosgrove Center, Sister wants to continue to fulfill God’s calling by being kind and helpful to others just as they have been to her. “I started where I’ll be ending up,” Sister says thoughtfully.

When asked what she feels is her strongest quality, she can always manage to look and act cheerful even when she may feel frustrated or upset on the inside. She is so thankful to have been in great health for many years.

Her motto, or philosophy in life is simple and sweet: “God is good!”

Sister Lucia has been such a valuable asset to Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School. It is easy to see that during both the challenging and rewarding times, she has always remained positive. More importantly, throughout her Mooney career, Sister reflected how her dedication and faithfulness ensured that the school provides a positive example for student’s lives by living her own philosophy each day.

As Sarah Gates, a Cardinal Mooney Theology teacher and former Mooney student puts it, “Sister Lucia’s commitment to God shines through in the work she has done at Cardinal Mooney and in the community of Sarasota.”

Father Grady, calls Sister Lucia “a fellow worker in the Lord’s vineyard who never counted the hours, but was delighted by every moment she spent with us.”

Congratulations Sister Lucia upon your retirement. Thank you for your years of service. May the Grace of God go with you as you begin the next chapter in your life.