Sisters of St. Joseph of CarondeletMay 25, 2020

Sisters' Stories

Sister Maureen D'Onofrio, CSJ (Sister Mary Eileen)

I became a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet because I wanted to dedicate my life to God through the Church in a special way. The role models of my grade-school teachers (Sisters of St. Joseph) and high-school teachers (Daughters of Charity) were of happy, dedicated women who wanted us to succeed in life to become the best in whatever state in life God called us. I remember thinking in high school that I wanted to be what those women represented to me! Life is attracted to “life,” and these women were “life givers” who loved God and, in turn, exuded a spirituality that I was searching for as a young woman. Notice that I had the Daughters of Charity in high school to whom I attribute my vocation. However, one is called by God to a particular community of women, and for me, I felt called to the Sisters of St. Joseph with whom I still had some contact with since they served in my home parish.

I have ministered in several areas of Church life as a Sister of St. Joseph. I first taught in elementary schools and then worked with a priest and sister in youth ministry at two public high schools in Syracuse. I also spent several years as a director of religious education in two parishes and then went on to diocesan work by directing the RENEW process for the Diocese of Syracuse and RUTH Ministry where I preached around the parishes of the diocese raising awareness of domestic abuse. I have been touched deeply by God’s Spirit in all of my ministries. However, it is in the ministry of pastoral associate  in three parishes where I have been extraordinarily blessed. This is ministry at the grass-roots level where I’m able to be present with people as they journey through the ups and downs of life.
As to what gives meaning to my life, I would have to say it is the shared vision and wisdom of living with other sisters, praying together and calling forth each other’s gifts, to go forth and minister to a world in desperate need of the works of mercy. We can only do this work of God when we have learned to pray and play together—giving each other support in order to make the work of justice and mercy a reality in today’s world.
I hope that women will see through our community life together a real challenge to society today. In living out our three vows we are called to live simply, love freely and listen attentively. How challenging it is to truly live out the vows! One of our congregational studies on collaboration talked about calling forth women’s gifts with “sisters who use the freedom of community to bring ethical issues into focus in the world where profit is law and success the common ethical measure.” One of my favorite quotes that I jotted down years ago, really sums it up for me. We are called to “join with others in forming a contemporary circle of zeal for gathering all of us well-intentioned, comfortable Christians to meet the poor of every kind, learn their names and be Church together. As a Sister of St. Joseph, my community life and leadership in ministry in the Church enable me to be a part in carrying out this vision.