Sister Mary Rehfuss, CSJ (Sister Mary Dismas)
Sister Mary Rehfuss, CSJ (Sister Mary Dismas), 85, died Thursday, December 27, 2012, at St. Peter’s Hospital, Albany, NY. She had been a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet for the past 61 years.
Sister Mary was born in Albany, NY, on September 16, 1927, daughter of the late John and Rhea Conway Rehfuss. She graduated from Vincentian Institute in 1945 and The College of Saint Rose in 1949. On March 19, 1951, Sister Mary entered the novitiate of the Sisters of St. Joseph and professed final vows on August 15, 1958. In addition to the bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Saint Rose, she received a doctorate in chemistry from St. Louis University and pursued studies in theology at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, CA. Sister Mary spent her entire teaching career of nearly 30 years at The College of Saint Rose where she served as chemistry instructor, professor of chemistry and chair of the then Department of Physical Sciences. In 1986, Sister Mary embarked on a second career in parish ministry where she served for 20 years at St. Patrick’s Church, Albany, as minister of adult spirituality. Since 2002, Sister Mary has been retired and living at St. Joseph’s Provincial House, Latham.
Sister Mary was an excellent teacher of chemistry who had a strong passion for both the subject and the best interest of her students. Independent of the content knowledge, she had a keen ability to make connections, excite her students and expand their education beyond the classroom. Similarly, in her ministry in adult religious education, Sister Mary taught from a belief that understanding Scripture and Church tradition led to a deeper spirituality and a stronger, more informed laity. Sister Mary’s combination of compassion, insight and wisdom enabled her to make the spiritual very practical. She was a devoted Sister of St. Joseph and woman of the Church and will be greatly missed.
Sister Mary is survived by her sister-in-law, Margaret Rehfuss; many nieces and nephews and their families; and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. In addition to her parents, she was predeceased by three brothers: John, William and Rev. Dismas (Robert) Rehfuss, OFM Conv.; and by many dear friends in the Sisters of St. Joseph.
Sister Mary’s funeral Liturgy was held on Saturday, January 5, from the chapel of St. Joseph’s Provincial House, Latham. Interment was in Our Lady Queen of Virgins Cemetery on the Provincial House grounds. Contributions in Sister Mary’s memory may be made to the Development Office of the Sisters of St. Joseph, 385 Watervliet-Shaker Road, Latham, NY 12110.