September 11, 2017

Eight Sisters of St. Joseph celebrate golden jubilees

By Carolee McGrath

Celebrating golden jubilees this year are, front row, left to right, Sisters Mary Fallon, Catherine Morin and Denise Granger; and back row, left to right, Sisters Patricia Hottin, Carol Hebert, Eileen Sullivan, Mary Ferguson and Patricia McDonnell. (IObserve photo/courtesy of Sisters of St. Joseph)


WEST SPRINGFIELD – Family and friends filled St. Thomas the Apostle Church in West Springfield to honor eight religious sisters who have spent the last 50 years living their mission of uniting neighbor with neighbor, and neighbor with God.

Father Kenneth J. Tatro, pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish, celebrated a special 2 p.m. Mass, Sunday, Sept. 10 for the group of Sisters of St. Joseph of Springfield, who entered religious life in 1967.

“We represent 400 years of service to the people of God and we are so happy you are with us today,” Sister Patricia Hottin told the congregation in her reflection. Sister Hottin, principal of St. Thomas the Apostle School, previously served as the dean of students at Elms College in Chicopee and as the director of the former Mont Marie Child Care Center in Holyoke.

“I can’t believe 50 years have gone by. I remember the day we gathered at Mont Marie. I can remember the state of the world then and how it is now. Not much has changed,” she said, adding God is calling everyone to live their vocation, some in religious life, others in marriage.

“The gifts that God has given to each of us and how we celebrate those gifts, that’s living our vocation. That’s what we need to see in each other,” she said.

Sister Eileen Sullivan taught at Catholic schools in Dalton and Springfield.

“It’s exciting. It’s wonderful. It’s impossible to think 50 years – where has it gone?” asked Sister Sullivan, who also served at Elms College and The Gray House, and at Sacred Heart parishes in both Feeding Hills and Springfield. Sister Sullivan currently works in pastoral outreach ministry at St. Michael’s Cathedral Parish in downtown Springfield.

“I’ve been blessed. The Sisters of St. Joseph were founded to be of service of all, to unite neighbor with neighbor and neighbor with God. The opportunity to do that, for me, I have enjoyed being partners in ministry with so many other people who work in the diocese.”

Sister Patricia McDonnell, who taught at several Catholic elementary schools, is now a social worker at the South Middlesex Opportunity Council in Easthampton.

“I am really excited and grateful for these 50 years and seeing how many people came to celebrate with us,” she said. Sister McDonnell added it was the example of the teachers she had as a child, who were Sisters of St. Joseph, who inspired her to consider religious life.

“I was attracted by their joy and their sense of community,” said Sister McDonnell, who served on the Sisters of St. Joseph leadership team from 1999-2005.

The group chose the theme “Love Changes Everything” for the celebration.

The other jubilarians include Sister Mary Fallon, who taught at Catholic schools in North Adams, Southbridge, Holyoke, Longmeadow and Louisiana. Sister Fallon is currently a receptionist at the SSJ congregational administrative offices in Springfield.

Sister Mary Ferguson is the director of the congregation’s development office. Previously she served at the former St. Mary the Morning Star, St. Mark and Notre Dame Middle schools in Pittsfield. She also taught religion at St. Mary High School in Westfield. Sister Ferguson served on the 2005-2011 leadership team for the Sisters of St. Joseph.

Sister Denise Granger taught history and served as principal at the former Cathedral High School in Springfield. She also served on the 2005-2011 leadership team. She is currently the congregation’s peace and justice coordinator.

Sister Carol Hebert taught at several Catholic schools including St. Mary School in Milford; the former St. Joseph Central High School in Pittsfield; the former Holyoke Catholic; and St. Michael Academy in Springfield. Sister Hebert was on the 2011-2017 leadership team. She has worked as both a campus minister and crisis clinician.

Sister Catherine Morin taught in Catholic elementary schools for many years in Springfield and Warwick, R.I. She has also served in the congregation’s accounting office at Mont Marie and the administrative offices in Springfield.

A reception was held following the Mass at St. Thomas the Apostle School.

Watch for a video version of this story on an upcoming edition of “Real to Reel,” the Diocese of Springfield’s weekly TV news magazine that airs Saturday evenings at 7 on WWLP-22News.