2011 News

News from 2011

Senior Services Sponsors Philly Pops Trip

Are you asking, “What’s the best way to catch the Christmas Spirit?” The 39 Sisters of Saint Joseph and nine Bethlehem Village Residents, who boarded a yellow school bus Saturday, December 10, 2011, have a ready answer for you: Go to The Kimmel Center where you can enjoy the sure-to-please performance: The Holiday Pops.

Virtuoso pianist and conductor Peter Nero leads the Philly Pops at the annual crowd-pleaser, Holiday Pops. Featured in the 2011 Christmas performance are Ashley Brown, who has played the lead in Broadway’s Mary Poppins, Peter Conte, grand court organist of the Wanamaker organ at Macy’s in Philadelphia, The African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas Gospel Choir, and The Philadelphia Boys Choir. A visit from Santa and a Christmas Medley sing-along add to the festivities.

Those who took advantage of the Holiday Pops Trip sponsored by Senior Services were humming tunes they had just heard at the concert as they left Verizon Hall.

Driver “Mr. Harvey,” topped off the afternoon by carefully navigating his bus past all the gingerbread houses outlined in lights along Philly’s Boat House Row and by choosing streets that twist and turn through several neighborhoods so his passengers could see some beautifully decorated row homes and stately mansions as they wended their way home.

Filled with Christmas Spirit, Sister Agnes Leona Arnold assured Director of Senior Services Sister Eileen Dorothy Maguire, “This trip was a great idea.” Sister Anne LaHart said, “The Philly Pops holiday show was both enjoyable and inspiring. Peter Nero not only conducted, he also interacted with the audience drawing us into    the entertainment in a playful, inviting way.” Sister Catherine Dolorine Fitzpatrick added, “What a wonderful celebration of Christmas joy! It was a real treat,” and Sister Agnes Marie Gunn whispered, “Thank you for great memories.”

“Being at Holiday Pops was awesome,” said Sister Eileen Keane, “We all gained a tremendous spirit of Christmas.”

Former Student and Benefactor Lawrence Biscontini

Treats Villa Sisters and Residents to

“Blessed” — a Stress-management Seminar

A former student of the SSJ,  Lawrence Biscontini, M.A., has a successful career as a Mindful Movement Specialist. Lawrence, spent the afternoon of Tuesday, December 6, 2011 with the Villa Sisters, Villa residents, SSJ members and staff  as he led a stress-management seminar with the theme of "BLESSED."

Lawrence, who provides programs throughout the US, has a great selection of DVDs and books on his website www.findlawrence.com.  A significant portion of the proceeds from his on-line sales go to the Saint Joseph Villa. Customers who buy a single download, book, dvd or mentoring session in 2011 from www.findlawrence.com, make Lawrence's yearly donation possible. What a great gift idea for Christmas — or any occasion.
The Sisters of Saint Joseph are blessed by Lawrence Biscontini in so many ways. Thank you Lawrence Biscontini for all that you do on behalf of the SSJ.

Pictured above: Lawrence Biscontini is surrounded by his former teachers (from left) Sisters Charles Theresa, Loretta Dolores, Ruth Eisenhauer, and Agnes Leona

Wearing their "Blessed" T-Shirts gifted to them by former student Lawrence Biscontini are (seated at left) Sisters Agnes Leona, Charles Theresa, (standing left) Loretta Dolores, Angeline and Mary Theresa Toole.

Carol Jean Vale SSJ, Ph.D. Unanimously Reappointed

as President of Chestnut Hill College

Congratulations to Sister Carol Jean Vale SSJ, Ph.D. on her reappointment as President of Chestnut Hill College. Beginning July 1, 2012 S. Carol will begin her fifth five-year term.

At their quarterly meeting on December 5, 2011 the Board of Directors unanimously approved the reappointment following a review of S. Carol's many accomplishment' during her current term from 2006-2011, as well as her expressed vision for the next five years.

Congratulations to S. Carol and the Chestnut Hill College community.


Christmas Party Fun in Paterson, NJ Courtesy of

the Department for Persons with Disabilities


On Saturday, Dec. 3, the Department for Persons with Disabilities (DPD) in the Diocese of Paterson held its annual Christmas party at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Oak Ridge, NJ. Sister Joan Kathleen Gercke SSJ, reported that the parish center was turned into a winter wonderland with the help of several volunteers.

The band “5 O’Clock Somewhere” provided great music for all of our guests and Santa Claus even came to visit! We enjoyed great food catered by Portofino family Restaurant in Oak Ridge. Volunteers fromJefferson High School and St. Francis Academy in Union City helped make the day extra special. Several local families even purchased, gift wrapped, and handed out Christmas gifts for all of the DPD’s residents. The men and women of the DPD were so excited to open their presents and to spend the afternoon with their friends and family members.

It was truly a wonderful day for all who attended. Special thanks to all of our volunteers, Santa and Mrs Claus, 5 O'Clock Somewhere, anyone who donated gifts for the DPD and Monsignor Fitzpatrick for his continuous support and generosity. A great time was had by all!

Bethlehem Village Receives PHFA Award for Excellence

in Housing Management

Congratulations to Bethlehem Village and the Saint Joseph Housing Corporation on the Pennsylvania Finance Housing Agency (PHFA) Award for Excellence in Housing Management.   The award recognizes Bethlehem Village for its overall excellent performance as a provider of affordable housing in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Founded in 1984 Bethlehem Village is supported by funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and directed in the spirit and mission of the Sisters of Saint Joseph. The 100 apartments at Bethlehem Village offer housing to seniors living on a limited income.


click on photo to enlarge

Colleen Gibson Accepted into Candidacy II


With great joy we celebrate the acceptance of Colleen Gibson into Candidacy II. Colleen (shown in photo below on right) is living with our sisters at the SSJ Welcome Center.  Please keep her in your prayers as she continues her discernment.

The time spent in the Second Stage of Candidacy enables a woman who desires to enter the Congregation to make a free response and permits the Congregation to assess her degree of readiness to begin religious life.  She is not yet a member of the Congregation.  While this stage is designed to meet her individual needs, it gives the woman an extended experience of community living, an opportunity to come to the conviction of her call, and an interior readiness for the time of the novitiate. 

Learn more about the Discernment Process at http://ssjphila.org/new/vocations/become-a-sister/discern-a-call

Congratulations to S. Linda Larsen SSJ – Principal of the Year


Congratulations to S. Linda Larsen SSJ, on being named Principal of the Year in the Archdiocese of Baltimore!

As principal of St. John the Evangelist School in Severna Park, Maryland, S. Linda’s ministry in education is well known in the archdiocese for her academic excellence, enthusiasm, and her personal touch in everything she does.



Sisters of Saint Joseph Welcome Center Celebrates Milestone

with the Naturalization of its 100th Citizen


The Sisters of Joseph of Philadelphia Welcome Center celebrated the milestone occasion of the  Center’s 100thCitizen — Carmen Rosales.

Carmen Rosales Celebrates her US Citizenship

The SSJ Welcome Center, located in the Kensington area of Philadelphia, has been established to respond to the needs of newcomers in our neighborhood, community and country. Through the SSJ Welcome Center, the Sisters of Saint Joseph reach out to those in need by offering English classes, citizenship test preparation classes and guidance, computer skills classes, and a variety of social services. Focusing on the betterment of the community and the improvement of cultural integration in Philadelphia, the SSJ Welcome Center is devoted to the immigrant community of Philadelphia.

Carmen Rosales, the SSJ Welcome Center’s 100th Citizen, was born in Guadalajara, Mexico.  She came to the United States in 1991 and lives with her husband and two daughters. Her older daughter is a student at Chestnut Hill College.  Carmen came to the Sisters of Saint Joseph Welcome Center three years ago to study English and after mastering English she was ready to apply for citizenship and to begin her study of US History and Civics.  Thanks to the volunteers who tutored Carmen and her own determination Carmen passed her citizenship test and interview and became a naturalized citizen on October 28, 2011.





Diamond Jubilee Honors Four Sisters with 75 Years in the Congregation


On Sunday, October 23, 2011, the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Philadelphia honored four Sisters who have been with the Congregation for 75 years!  The Diamond Jubilarians are  Sisters Frances Grisillo, Margaret Monica Tyrrell, St. Hubert O'Rourke, and Ann Marguerite Kearns.  

General Council Members pose with Diamond Jubilarians. (Sisters Jubilarians seated from left, Frances Grisillo, Margaret Monica Tyrrell, St. Hubert O'Rourke, Ann Marguerite Kearns. General Council members (standing from left) Sisters Connie Gilder, Mary Dacey, Carol Zinn and Anne Myers.)


See more photos on the SSJ Facebook Page.




Two Sisters Inducted into Little Flower H.S. Hall of Fame


Sisters Marjorie Lawless and Eileen Marnien were honored as inductees during the Hall of Fame ceremony held October 20, 2011, at Little Flower High School.

Noted was Sister Marjorie Lawless’ passion for teaching and her readiness to share her talent for making music. Sister Marjorie has been a Montessori Teacher of Grades 1,2, and 3 for more than 20 years. Since her high school days with Little Flower’s music program, S. Sister Marjorie has been enhancing her multiple skills for making music. She performs with musicians at Chestnut Hill College, Mount Saint Joseph Academy, Mount Saint Joseph Convent, and the Theatre Company of Port Richmond.

Sister Marjorie spoke about the experience of being inducted into Little Flower’s Hall of Fame this way: “The memory that will stay with me is the opportunity the program gave me to address LF’s student body, in particular LF’s Band. Band members were seated on the same platform, in the same place where I sat 45 years ago. I told them that my LF music experience was so dynamic that I have never stopped drumming. I have continued to be a percussionist, performing with Chestnut Hill College Instrumental Ensemble, Theatre Company of Port Richmond, and the SSJ Motherhouse Music Group. Because of LF, my love of music, learning and teaching has always brought great joy to my life. Little Flower continues to live in my heart and ‘fore’er we will be true’ is more than a line in a song to me.”

Sister Eileen Marnien consistently accepts the challenges that come each day to those who struggle to care for the poor of our city and our world. Director of the SSJ Welcome Center, Sister Eileen works to link newcomers and persons with resources in ways that lead to the enrichment of both. Sister Eileen’s own warm spirit of hospitality permeates the Welcome Center, enabling all who participate in the education and support services provided at the Kensington, North Philadelphia site, to improve the quality of their lives.

“No honor could have pleased me more than to return home to the school that was such an important part of my life,” said Sister Eileen as she reflected on her experience as a Hall of Fame awardee. “When I recall my time at Little Flower I smile deeply, and I remember joyful years that were filled with opportunities to learn and to serve others. I am so grateful that Little Flower is part of my history.