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September, 2012
The year 1962 was a momentous one for the Catholic Church and the world.

Representatives from 85 nations and international organizations gathered in Rome for an Ecumenical Council; John Glenn rocketed around the earth three times and James Meredith was the first African American to go through the doors of Ole Miss as a student.

Twenty five years later, the Church opened the cause for canonization of Bishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador; the first heart-lung transplant took place and the United States Supreme Court upheld affirmative action.

In the years since, each of these historic occasions greatly influenced the lives of seven Sisters of Charity who celebrated their Golden and Silver Anniversaries this past September 8th.

The celebration began in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception at Mount Saint Vincent when Sr. Jane Iannucelli, President of the Congregation, welcomed the Jubilarians as they returned to the "family estate…a fitting place" as it is written in Leviticus, to continue "a long and honored tradition to celebrate a Jubilee."

Msgr. John Graham, celebrant of the Mass, called the day a special "Birth Day" for there were two births to celebrate that day: the day was the feast of the Nativity of Mary as well as the date when these Sisters began their new lives as members of a religious community.

The chapel echoed with the joyful prayers of the families and friends who were integral parts of their collective 325 years of service to God's people, years during which these women have, like St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, continued to meet the grace of each new moment. The celebration continued with a reception for all in Smith Hall.

And it seems only fitting that the jubilation continues as we celebrate the church's "Year of Faith."

 

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Sister Regina Bechtle, SC, is grateful to her parents Blanche and Bill, who taught her and hersister, Linda, how to live good lives and love their faith. They supported her desire to join the Sisters of Charity, the community that has been part of her life since school days at Epiphany in Manhattan and Elizabeth Seton High School in Yonkers. She entered the Congregation at 18, just as Vatican II was turning the Church outward to the world. Studies in physics, then theology, led to high school teaching, parish youth ministry, three mind-and-heart-expanding years teaching theology at Maryknoll. Congregational service consisted of planning and research and leadership team membership, and directing a leadership and spirituality center at the College of Mount Saint Vincent.

A lifelong interest in St. Elizabeth Seton led to her present ministry as a quasi-official public relations person for the Charity spirit and story, through writing, retreats and talks to groups here and in other countries. She's especially privileged to have co-edited Mother Seton's collected writings and, along the way, to have met many wonderful people, especially in the Sisters of Charity Federation and the Vincentian Family.

 
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Sister Mary Benedict, SC, her twin sister, Christine, and three other siblings were born and raised on Staten Island to Anastasia and Stephen Benedict, where she attended St. Peter's Elementary and High Schools and St. Vincent's Hospital School of Nursing. After receiving her RN, Mary worked as a registered nurse for the past 38 years. She became an Associate of the Sisters of Charity in 1985, and entered the Congregation in 1987. She continued her ministry in nursing, working with handicapped children as a school nurse at the Kennedy Child Study Center in Manhattan. During this time, she completed her BSN at the College of Mount Saint Vincent and then began working in a childcare center and a children's rehabilitation center.

In 2005 Sr. Mary switched to geriatric nursing and began working with the "Senior Sisters" living at the Convent of Mary the Queen in Yonkers. Presently she continues to work with the retired and semiretired Sisters at St. Patrick's Villa in Nanuet. Like St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, foundress of the Sisters of Charity, Sr. Mary Benedict exemplifies kindness, compassion, and a deep faith in her God.

 
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Sister Kathleen Doherty, SC, was born in Jersey City to Peg and John Doherty and raised in Brooklyn with her two sisters, Margaret and Mary Ann. She traveled across the waters on the Brooklyn Ferry with her sister Margaret to attend St John's Villa Academy in Staten Island. Kathy was a curious child and a curious student at St. John's. She was drawn to religious life and to chemistry!

After making vows, Sr. Kathy taught in New Jersey, the Bronx, New Rochelle, and Manhattan. Her students were drawn to her fun loving ways, athletic pursuits (biking, skiing, hiking) and her real and lasting interest in them and their lives. To this day they call when in need of some support and good advice. Yes, she taught chemistry and religion in a way that conveyed her love and care.

A deep desire and persistent call to be with the poor took Sr. Kathy to the Dominican Republic to study Spanish and to La Salle Academy in lower Manhattan. This call to be actively ministering with the poor led Sr. Kathy to spend a year at Aletheia House of Prayer with Sr. Eileen Storey and eventually to transfer from the Baptistine Congregation to the Sisters of Charity.

It is now 50 years since Sr. Kathy began this journey in religious life. She was surrounded by family, friends from the Sister of St. John the Baptist, Sisters of Charity and students from the places where she met them and the continued life she shares with them.

 
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Sister Arleen K. Ketchum, SC, was born in New Haven, CT, but spent most of her early years growing up in White Plains, Hartsdale, and Pleasantville with her parents Mae and Rollin, her sister Marge, and her brother Ralph. She attended St. John the Evangelist School in White Plains from first grade through her junior year in high school when the school closed. It was here that she met and loved the Sisters of Charity. From the time she was in grammar school, Arleen knew she wanted to become one of them, and she entered the Sisters of Charity in 1962 soon after her graduation from high school.

Sr. Arleen's Master of Education Degree with a specialty in Early Childhood Education from Boston College prepared her for her work with children in the primary grades at St. Barnabas and Nativity, both in the Bronx, St. Joseph's in Florida, NY, and St. Mary's in Yonkers. For 24 of these years she lived and worked with the same group of Sisters who provided quality education for their students. After completing a sabbatical program at Berakah in New Hampshire, Sr. Arleen was asked by the Congregation to open the Elizabeth Seton Women's Center in Manhattan. Sixteen years later, in 2011–2012, the center served over 1,600 women who came to programs, women's AA meetings, spiritual direction, or counseling.

 
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Sister Ann Marie Lafferty, SC, formerly Sr. Elizabeth Ann, is a true alumna of the Sisters of Charity Federation. She was taught by the Halifax Sisters of Charity in her Brooklyn elementary school. When her parents Edward and Marie moved Ann Marie and her brother John to New Jersey, she was taught by the Convent Station Sisters of Charity in high school. Ann Marie was then taught by Sisters of Charity of New York at the College of Mount Saint Vincent, the congregation she would enter upon graduation in 1962.

She began her ministry in the field of education and spent 22 years at St. Athanasius in the Bronx, as teacher and administrator. During that time she also earned an MA in Religious Education and a Certificate in Administration and Supervision from Fordham University. She began working in the field of finance in 1990, earned an MBA in Finance from Manhattan College and was the Congregation Treasurer for 11 years.

At present, Sr. Anne Marie employs her educational and financial expertise as the Assistant Director of Financial Aid at the College of Mount Saint Vincent, her alma mater.

 
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Sister Ellen Rose O'Connell, SC, is one of seven children born to parents Elizabeth and James; two of her sisters are members of religious communities. Sr. Anne O'Connell is also a Sister of Charity of New York and Sr. Mary O'Connell is a Sister of the Holy Child. Her brother, Msgr. Kenneth O'Connell, was a priest of the Archdioces of New York; her brother Rev. Edward O'Connell, SJ, was a priest in rural Maryland. Her brother, John, and sister-in-law Jean, live in Murray Hill, New Jersey.

Ellen's early ministry as teacher and principal took her to many parts of New York: St. Barnabas High School, the Bronx, St. Joseph by the Sea High School, Staten Island, Resurrection Academy, Rye, St. Gabriel High School, New Rochelle, Holy Trinity, Mamaroneck, St. Paul, Manhattan, and Sacred Heart, Hartsdale.

In 1989, after a year at the Jesuit School of Theology, Sr. Ellen Rose's ministry entered new territory. She became a Pastoral Care counselor for the Visiting Nurse Hospice Program of the Bronx and began her work with the Sisters of Charity Associate Relationship Program. For the next ten years she was Executive Co-Director and founder of the North American Conference of Associates and Religious (NACAR), a national networking association for associates and religious.

This was followed by three years as Director of Mission Integration at the John A Coleman Children’s Rehabilitation Center in White Plains. In 2009 she became the Director of Pastoral Care at the Convent of Mary the Queen.

 
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Sister Dominica Rocchio, SC, EdD, formerly Sr. Regina Seton, is one of three children born to Antoinette and Anthony Rocchio. She was raised in Manhattan and the Bronx along with her sister Carmela and brother Peter. She attended Our Lady of Mt. Carmel School where she first met the Sisters of Charity. Her high school years were spent at St. Jean Baptiste, and after graduation from Fordham University, she entered the Congregation hoping to be a teacher.

Sr. Dominica's hopes were certainly fulfilled; she spent 41 years in education as a high school teacher, department head, assistant principal and principal in several schools in the Archdiocese of New York (St. Barnabas, Academy of the Resurrection, Cathedral, St. Joseph by-the-Sea, and St. Gabriel). Twenty-six of the 41 years were spent in Central Office work—12 as Associate Superintendent for Secondary Schools in the Archdiocese of New York, and 14 as Secretary for Education and Superintendent of Schools in the Archdiocese of Newark.

On the national level, she has contributed to education as a member of the Committee on Education and the Public Policy Committee for the USCCB. She has also been Vice President of the Chief Administrators of Catholic Education division of NCEA, and served as a member of the Board of Directors of NCEA. She has served several terms as a Commissioner on the Middle States Commission for Secondary Schools.

Sr. Dominica has graduate degrees in English, Religious Education, and Educational Administration and Supervision. Her doctorate in Education is from Fordham University. Seton Hall University awarded her an honorary doctorate in 2007. She was elected to Congregation leadership in 2007 and reelected in 2011.


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