January 11, 2018

Sister Andrea Ciszewski, Catholic schools superintendent, to retire in June

Story and photos by Rebecca Drake

Sister Andrea Ciszewski, who will retire on June 30, pauses for a photo in the Catholic schools office in Springfield.



SPRINGFIELD – Franciscan Sister of St. Joseph M. Andrea Ciszewski, who has served as superintendent of Catholic schools for the Springfield Diocese since 2007, will retire from the position on June 30 of this year.

Sister Ciszewski submitted her resignation to Springfield Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski in a letter dated Jan. 9, writing: “I have been privileged to serve with very dedicated and competent personnel in the Catholic schools office and diocesan offices, school administrators, pastors, diocesan and parish school board members, and the faculty and staff members who are extremely dedicated to providing a quality Catholic school education to the children entrusted to their care.  They weather challenges with grace and dignity and remain steadfast in their commitment to the mission. 

“Together with supportive families, parishioners and benefactors, they strive to provide the most effective environs and programs for their students in preparing them to be good citizens of this global society and of heaven,” she wrote. “I remain most appreciative and humbled by their ongoing selfless support.”

In comments to iObserve, Bishop Rozanski expressed his gratitude and well wishes for Sister Ciszewski.

“Sister Andrea Ciszewski has served for the past twelve years as our superintendent of Catholic schools here in the Diocese of Springfield. Before that, Sister Andrea had also served at St. Stanislaus School in Chicopee as well as in leadership of her Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph community,” the bishop noted. “Along with faculty members, students, school board members, parents, grandparents and our diocesan church of Springfield, I express my gratitude to Sister Andrea for her dedicated giving of self in true Franciscan service as superintendent of Catholic schools. 

“I wish Sister Andrea God’s blessings as she continues to serve in other capacities here in our local church,” Bishop Rozanski said. 

A Holyoke native, Sister Ciszewski graduated from Mater Dolorosa Elementary School, which was staffed by the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph (FSSJ) and the former St. Jerome High School, both in Holyoke, and Our Lady of the Elms College in Chicopee. She joined the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph of Hamburg, N.Y., in 1963.

Sister Ciszewski taught at St. Columba Elementary School in Buffalo, N.Y., and Immaculata Academy in Hamburg, and served as co-chair and instructor in the education department at Hilbert College in Hamburg. She was principal of St. Stanislaus School in Chicopee from 1978 to 1986.

She served as general councilor and general minister of her congregation and served on the boards of the following FSSJ-sponsored institutions: St. Joseph Hospital, Cheektowaga, N.Y., Marycrest Manor, Livonia, Mich., and Immaculata Academy and Hilbert College, Hamburg. She also served as chair of the committee that formed the Catholic Health System of Western New York.

Sister Andrea Ciszewski, superintendent of Catholic schools in the Springfield Diocese, poses with longtime Catholic schools office secretary Jane Nowak.

In the Springfield Diocese, Sister Ciszewski served as associate superintendent and curriculum director of Catholic schools from 1999 to 2006; and as interim superintendent from 2006 to 2007. She was appointed superintendent of Catholic schools by then-Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell in 2007.

During her years as superintendent, Sister Ciszewski oversaw the formation of St. Michael’s Academy in Springfield and the relocation of Holyoke Catholic High School to Chicopee. She also served as secretary of the former Parents Alliance of Catholic Education (PACE) Association. She presently serves as chairperson of New England Chief Administrators of Catholic Education and is a member of the National Catholic Educational Association.

Reflecting on her vocation and her longtime ministry in education, Sister Ciszewski said her work and membership on many school boards “offered countless opportunities for collaboration and networking with outstanding colleagues.”

“In addition to those outstanding educators, I am most grateful to my parents, siblings and family members who have been most supportive of my education and my ministerial positions,” she said.

Asked what she will miss the most about her service as superintendent of Catholic schools, she said, “Collaborating and networking directly with the Catholic schools office staff and diocesan offices, the Diocesan Catholic Schools Board, pastors and, in particular, our Catholic school administrators who are committed to providing and supporting a quality Catholic school education. 

“Together we strive to provide a quality academic program focused on the development of the whole person and based upon Gospel values and integrated with our Catholic faith teachings, practices and traditions,” she continued. “In addition, I am grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with the superintendents of New England, their office personnel, and leadership at the National Catholic Educational Association.”

But when she retires, she said, she will take with her “a deep sense of awe and gratitude for all those who are committed to and supportive of Catholic school education.”

“I am deeply inspired by the many sacrifices of families, benefactors and supporters who choose Catholic school education and I hold the pastors, school board members, our school administrators, educators, and their supporters in the highest regard as I am keenly aware of their countless responsibilities and challenges,” Sister Ciszewski said. “I am grateful to Bishop Emeritus Timothy A. McDonnell for my appointment to this position and to Bishop Mitchell A. Rozanski for their support.”

After her retirement, she plans to serve in parish ministry in the Springfield Diocese.