Sisters of St. Joseph of CarondeletMay 27, 2020

Sisters' Stories

Sister Katherine Arseneau, CSJ (Sister Christopher Helene)

Believe it or not, I was a sophomore in high school when I first considered becoming a Sister of St. Joseph. Our principal, Father A. Robert Casey, had spoken to our class at St. John’s Catholic Academy in Syracuse about beginning to think about what we wanted to do after high school. Looking back now, I had a kind of “St. Paul being knocked off the horse” experience! I didn’t have to give my future much thought at all. I felt the Spirit calling me to religious life, and I was certain that this was the right thing for me. I had always admired “the Sisters.” They were dedicated and committed women who seemed HAPPY to me. They were terrific teachers but, most of all, they were genuine people bent on helping anyone who needed their help. What a wonderful life I thought, a life with great purpose!
We were a somewhat religious family, never missing Mass on Sunday. I had an uncle who was a priest in the Syracuse Diocese. I didn’t, however, share this call with anyone until the beginning of my senior year in high school. My father was very happy with the idea, but my mother needed convincing. In time, she became my biggest supporter. Leaving home at age seventeen, however, was very hard on me and on the family, but I persevered and I never looked back.

During my 44 years in the community, I spent most of my ministry in Catholic education: five years as a teacher of math and religion, and almost 25 years as a school administrator. Being a school leader is a huge challenge today. There are NYS standards to meet, teachers to motivate, students to inspire, coaches to gather into “the system” and parents to please. The latter group was definitely the MOST challenging to work with. Overall, I loved my years ministering in education.

I love being a Sister of Saint Joseph. Any time I am at a gathering making a presentation, I introduce myself as a Sister of St. Joseph. I am proud to be among a group of women who pride themselves on hospitality, unity, and reconciliation. Those are our charisms. I have spent my life trying to pray and live the Gospel of Jesus. Praying with my sisters and living with them in community has been a constant source of support and joy for me. When I hear the Gospel say, “The kingdom of God is among you,” I say in my heart, “Yes, I know; I’m a Sister of St. Joseph.”

Recently, I was appointed by our bishop as a Parish Life Director of a very active parish in Troy, NY. I feel that all my other ministries have led me to this ministry. I absolutely love being a leader of a parish and interacting with the parish members. How blessed am I! 

Click HERE to read an interview with Sister Katherine from The Evangelist, the Albany Diocesan newspaper.