Nazareth Jubilarians – 2021 – Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph

Nazareth Jubilarians – 2021

Sister Agnes Breitenbeck, CSJ

(Sister Wilmett)

75 Years

Sister Agnes Breitenbeck grew up part of a large family on the east side of Detroit, where she was taught by the Sisters of St. Joseph who she says greatly influenced her life. After graduating from high school, she worked for three years while discerning the call to religious life. In 1946, she entered religious life with the founding community of Nazareth in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and after formation, obtained her degree in teaching. She thought she would spend the rest of her life teaching, but was asked instead to go into hospital administration. To prepare, she earned a Masters Degree in Hospital Administration from St. Louis University. For many years after, she worked in various phases of health care from office manager, business manager, and assistant administrator, to president and CEO. She retired in 2011, and stays active in prayer ministry at our Nazareth center in Kalamazoo, where she resides.

“I have had the privilege of serving as a Sister of St. Joseph for 75 years.As I look back, I realize more and more how good God has been to me. With the many opportunities given to me I have grown spiritually, intellectually and accomplished much with the grace of God, more than I thought I was capable. I praise God and give thanks.”

Sister Rose Mary Martin, CSJ

(Sister Nivard)

75 Years

Sister Rose Mary Martin was born on September 18, 1929, in Detroit, Michigan, one of eight siblings to parents John and Margaret (Mersino) Martin. She entered religious life on July 1, 1946, from St. Michael Parish in Pontiac, Michigan. Sister Rose Mary earned a BA with a major in Spanish from Nazareth College in Nazareth, Michigan, and an MA in Spanish from St. Louis University in Missouri. After completing her eduction, Sister Rose Mary spent many years teaching in schools around Michigan, including in Warren, Niles, Detroit, Flint, Kalamazoo, Lake Orion, Michigan Center and Eastpointe.  In 1995, she came home to Nazareth and served as a medical appointment scheduler for many years.

Sister Rose Mary is currently retired and remains active in prayer ministry at Ascension Living Borgess Place in Kalamazoo, where she resides.

Sister Grace Scola, CSJ

(Sister Alphonsa)

75 Years

Sister Grace Scola was born the eldest of eight children on August 8th, 1924, in Detroit to parents Josephine and Gasper Scola. She entered the religious life in 1946 with the founding community of Nazareth in Kalamazoo, Michigan. She earned a BA with a major in French, and an MA in French from St. Louis University in Missouri. After completing her eduction, Sister Grace spent many years teaching in elementary schools including St. Margaret Mary, St. Henry, Lincoln Park, and Our Lady Gate of Heaven in Chicago;, and St. Jerome in Battle Creek, Michigan. She then taught high school at St. Agnes and Powers Catholic Central, both in Flint, Michigan.

In 1986, Sister transitioned into Parish Ministry and worked as a Bereavement Minister. She also worked as Coordinator of a senior citizens group, St. Joseph Guild, until 2010. She then came home to Nazareth to work with and assist other senior sisters, which included making home cooked meals and inviting sisters to an “out for a dinner” evening at the Motherhouse.

Sister Grace currently resides at our Nazareth center in Kalamazoo, where she stays active in prayer ministry, gardening, cooking and baking.

“Being a Sister of St. Joseph to me means being of service to my neighbor – as a teacher, as a mentor of my parish, and as a hospitable sister at the Motherhouse with other sisters and our employees.  My motto is, ‘I can do all things in Him who strengthens me.’ “

Sister Mary Ellen Gondeck, CSJ

(Sister Louis Mary)

60 Years

Sister Mary Ellen Gondeck entered religious life on September 12, 1961 from St. Mary Parish in Niles, Michigan. She began her career in education teaching junior high at St. Joseph’s in Kalamazoo in 1966 and continued as junior high teacher and principal in a number of schools in Michigan including in Mattawan, Davison, Flint, Detroit, and Kalamazoo. She remained in education until 1979 when she was called to serve in congregational leadership for the founding community of Nazareth until 1981. She then moved to Detroit to work in community organizing with the Michigan Farm Worker Ministry, FOCUS, Inc., and Core City Neighborhoods in the areas of housing and business development until 1994. She then returned to more formal education at Mercy Education Project as volunteer coordinator of the Girls Program. In 1997, she began her work in the areas of Peace and Justice by serving as coordinator for the founding community of Nazareth. She is currently a member of the Congregation’s Peace and Justice Team and continues to move forward work relative to important issues of social justice.

“Being a Sister of St. Joseph has been a gift beyond anything I would have imagined when I entered. The educational and travel experiences have broadened my appreciation of culture and people and God’s creation. The relationships with members of the Congregation locally and globally has been an inspiration. I want to celebrate the vision of Mother St. John that has brought us to where we are today with the call to do everything of which women are capable as we journey to fulfilling our mission of becoming One.”

Sister Sharon Hektor, CSJ

(Sister Rose de Lima)

60 Years

Sister Sharon Hektor was born on October 21, 1943, in Mishawaka, Indiana, one of six children, to parents Edwin and Agnes (Zartman) Hektor. She entered religious life on September 23, 1961, from St. Ann Parish in Cassopolis, Michigan. As a junior sister, she worked as a clerk in the Nazareth center post office from 1964-1966. She then became a secretary, first at St. Henry School in Lincoln Park, Michigan, where she served from 1966-1971.

In 1971, Sister Sharon accepted a position as secretary at Holy Family School in Grand Blanc, Michigan. She earned her teaching degree in 1997, and began working as a teacher associate for pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, first, second and third grades at Holy Family School where she remains today. She also serves as a substitute teacher when needed.

Sister Kathleen Kaiser, CSJ

(Sister Katrina)

60 Years

Sister Kathleen (“Kit”) Kaiser was born in Detroit, Michigan, on March 12, 1943, one of eight children of Anthony and Adelaide (McMullen) Kaiser. When Kit was 18 months old, the family moved to Muskegon, Michigan and became  a member of St. Mary’s Parish. Attracted to the warmth and welcoming spirit of the Sisters of St. Joseph, especially Mother Philippa, after graduating from Muskegon Catholic Central, Kit entered the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Nazareth on September 12, 1961. She received the name Sister Katrina at her reception on July 2, 1962, but later returned to her baptismal name. Her ministries included teaching, campus ministry at Nazareth College, Formation for new members to the Nazareth Congregation, 13 years in pastoral ministry in Peru, South America, and 15 years in Hispanic ministry for the Diocese of Grand Rapids. In 2012, she returned to the Nazareth Center as Administrator and upon completion of her term, continues to serve in various capacities within the congregation and throughout the Kalamazoo community.

“I find God in all of creation – a baby’s recognition of its mother’s voice; sunshine and night sky; the silence of Michigan woods; rich, dark earth welcoming new seeds and nourishing tender plants. I find our charism in the harmony and connected strands of everyone and everything, and pray daily that creation will join its praise and love of God with mine.  As I celebrate Jubilee this year, I will continue to enhance the meaning and celebration of this connectedness.”

Sister Brigetta Slinger, CSJ

60 Years

Sister Brigetta Slinger was born in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, and entered the Felician Sisters in 1961. In 1975, she transferred to the Congregation of St. Joseph. She holds a BA degree from Madonna University, a MA in Elementary Ed. From Wayne State University, a Specialist degree in Elementary Education Administration from Michigan State University and a MA in Counseling from Webster University in Albuquerque, N.M.

Most of Sister Brigetta’s religious life was spent in education. After teaching for a few years, she was appointed to administering a number of elementary schools in Michigan. In 1990, she was offered the position of Superintendent of Schools of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe/and Diocese of Las Cruses, New Mexico.

After Sister Brigetta’s ministry in Catholic education, she served as a counselor in the Albuquerque Public Schools and Southwest Family Guidance Center. After retiring from the public school system, she pursued her lifelong dream of ministering with the marginalized in our society, and is now working closely with the Native American, Hispanic, homeless and immigrant populations.

Sister Brigetta feels very blessed and is most grateful for her parents and her sister, Margaret Mary (Peggy), all our dear sisters, many friends and colleagues. She believes so strongly that our God has always been with us and will continue to be with us in the future. She loves life and to be of service to others.

“Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least of mine, you did to me.” Matthew 25:40

Sister Wanda Wetli, CSJ

(Sister Frances)

60 Years

Sister Wanda Wetli entered religious life with the founding community of Tipton on September 7, 1961, from St. Mary’s Parish in Dunnington, Indiana. She began her teaching ministry in 1964, and for almost 20 years shared her gifts between three parochial schools in Indiana: St. Matthew in South Bend, St. John the Baptist in Tipton, and St. Patrick in Kokomo. For several years, she served as campus minister at Indiana University/Purdue University in Indianapolis. Sister Wanda then completed studies in Chicago and spent two years in spiritual direction/retreat ministry at Noddfa in North Wales. Upon her return to Tipton, she continued her spirituality ministry by establishing Little Noddfa, a retreat center on the Tipton motherhouse grounds. She also served as a member of the training team for spiritual directors at Benedict Inn in Beech Grove, Indiana. While dedicating her time and energy to this ministry, she also served on the Leadership Team for the founding community of  Tipton, and also as Formation Director.

Sister Wanda currently resides in Kalamazoo where she continues to offer spiritual direction.

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