Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph


Called by God into the Fraternity of Francis, we live in Simplicity, Servanthood, and Joy, renewing the spirit of Mother Colette Hilbert, "In all things Charity."

Current News

FSSJ 2022 Chapter during their 125th Anniversary


We began our Chapter with a day of retreat lead by Sr. Margaret Carney, OSF – – pictured on the left.  The picture on the right shows Sr. Alexine and Sr. Ann Marie sharing their Franciscan stories of faith and hope.

The Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph spent some of their second day in Chapter widening the tent of our hearts by listening to Dr. Deidre DeBose (left), Vice President of Mission and Equity at Hilbert College.  She shared her story of the blessings of faith, honesty, and courage as she faced racism in her life.

The Sisters shared their faith and support of Dr. DeBose by giving her a blessing as she continues her work at Hilbert.


A particularly pertinent quote Dr. DeBose shared with us was,
“Privilege is not about what you’ve gone through,
it is about what you haven’t gone through.”
Janaya Khan

July 13 was Mother Colette Hilbert’s 84th  death anniversary.  In the Franciscan tradition, the FSSJ celebrated the Transitus of Mother Colette on the vigil of her death on the third day of our Chapter.  The Transitus of Mother Colette was a time to remember her loving ways and honor her as she transitioned from this life to her life with God. 

The picture on the left is the ambiance we had in chapel;  the picture on the right shows Sr. Marcia Ann, General Minister,  with a relic, blessing the Sisters and residents of St. Francis Park at the Transitus.  The relic is a picture of Our Lady of Czestochowa given to Mother Colette by her father when she entered religious life.

Sr. Lynne Anne Schimminger, FSSJ was asked to create a logo for our 2022 Chapter with the theme Widen the Tent of Our Hearts.  She drew a Bedouin tent which would ordinarily have a closed back side. However, the back of this tent is open. It beckons us to move out into the future where God is leading us.  You’ll notice that the landscape has mountains and hills and is somewhat hazy. Our destination will become more defined as we engage in prayer and contemplative dialogue during the coming year.

The tent flaps are flowing with the breath of the Spirit, allowing for flexibility; the tent pegs are strong and durable to ground us in our Franciscan charism and the Gospel.

The striped colors of the tent signify our diversity since each Sister will be called to widen the tent of her heart in a unique, personal way. As we pray with this logo we are invited to sit awhile in the tent, enjoying the warmth and hospitality of God’s presence—and, then, to open wide the tent of our hearts bringing Christ to the world beyond ourselves.

Feel free to join with us in praying our Chapter Prayer below.

Chapter prayer

Gracious God, we are challenged by the prophet Isaiah to enlarge the tent of our hearts, open wide our tent curtains, lengthen our ropes and strengthen our stakes.

May we not hold back, but stretch our hearts to the limit, embracing all persons as our sisters and brothers.

May our tent stakes go deep to keep us rooted in Christ and
our Franciscan charism.

May we spread our tent flaps unsparingly, clearing out our biases and making room for more compassion.

May we keep our tent cloths supple enough to allow for flexibility, risk, and abundant blessing.

God of Extravagant Love, may we see your beauty reflected in all the faces of humanity that You so love.  Amen

 FSSJ Jubiarians

Sister Bertina Rapnicki is celebrating her 75 Anniversary.  Sister entered the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph in 1942 from St. Hedwig Parish, Detroit, MI, and she professed her final vows in 1950.  Sr. Bertina was taught by the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph at St. Hedwig Elementary School and Immaculata Academy.  Sister had a unique experience in that three of her sisters entered the same congregation.

Sister Bertina received her M.E. from Marygrove College in Detroit, MI.  Her ministry began when she taught elementary grades at St. Anthony, Fairfield, CT; St. Stanislaus, Trenton, NJ; Holy Rosary, Kenosha, WI; Monessen Catholic, Monessen, PA;

St. Stanislaus, Chicopee, MA.   Subsequently, Sister was called on to become Principal at St. Charles Borromeo, Milwaukee, WI and then at Holy Rosary in Kenosha, WI.

Sister Bertina’s dedication to Catholic education earned her much admiration and gratitude for all she did for her students and their families.  The Sisters who live with Sr. Bertina, as well as the students she taught and her co-workers learned faith, perseverance, and hope from her.

Sister Marvina Kupiszewski is celebrating her 75 Anniversary. Sister was born in Auburn, NY and entered the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph in 1945 from St. Hyacinth Parish.  Sister made her final profession of vows in 1950.  Sr. Marvina received her M.A. in Art from Notre Dame University.

At the beginning of Sister’s service to God’s people, she taught in elementary schools at St. Columba, Buffalo, NY; St. Vincent, North Evans, NY; St. Francis of Assisi, Athol Springs, NY; St. Josaphat, Milwaukee, WI. Sr. Marvina’s artistic giftedness was noticed and supported by the congregation when they sent her to Notre Dame University, Alverno College, St. Mary of Woods and Catholic University for her studies in

art.  Sister taught art at Immaculata Academy and at Hilbert College.  While at Hilbert College, Sr. Marvina was a leader in the charismatic prayer group established by Fr. Gabriel, OFM, Conv.  Sr. Marvina shared her artistic talent with FSSJ and the Church by providing art for brochures, programs, logos, and more.

Because of Sr. Marvina’s love of history and congregation, she became the FSSJ Archivist and created the Polish Resource Center at Immaculate Conception Convent at 5286 South Park Avenue, Hamburg, NY.

The Sisters who live with Sr. Marvina, the students she taught and her co-workers learned faithfulness, integrity, and prayerfulness from her.

Sister Edmunette Paczesny, taught by the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph at St. Josaphat School in Milwaukee, WI, entered the congregation in 1955 and professed her vows in 1960.  Sister Edmunette received her Ph.D at Fordham University.  The majority of her service to God’s people was in higher education at Hilbert College, first as a professor at Hilbert and, then, as the second President of Hilbert College.  Sister was President for 31 years. Under her leadership, Hilbert College grew from being a two year college to becoming a four year college.  Sister’s leadership was definitely servant leadership, especially enjoying taking time with students as they progressed through their education at Hilbert.


Sister Edmunette made Hilbert well known not only in Hamburg but throughout the WNY area.  She was honored with many awards, receiving the Hamburg Citizen of the Year Award given in 1996 by Hamburg Independent Citizen Club and the Gaudete Medal from St. Bonaventure University in 2006.  Sr. Edmunette is still very much involved in continuing the Mission and Franciscan tradition at Hilbert College.

The Sisters who live with Sr. Edmunette, the students she taught, and her co-workers learned humility, good humor and faithfulness from Sr. Edmunette.

Sister Joyce Kubiniec is celebrating her 65 Anniversary.  Sister entered the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph in 1956 from St. Joseph Parish in North Tonawanda, NY after being taught by the FSSJ Sisters there.  Sr. Joyce professed her final vow in 1960.  She received her B.A. in Education and her M.A in Library Science.

Sister began her ministry teaching in elementary schools at Most Precious Blood, Angola, NY; Holy Cross, Fall River, MA; Holy Trinity Niagara Falls, NY; and St. Hyacinth in Auburn, NY.   Sister Joyce’s love of books and reading called her to serve the congregation as a librarian at Hilbert College.

Then Sister served God’s people in retreat work, as well as in Pastoral Ministry at St. Stanislaus, Chicopee, MA and St. Rita in Rochester, NY.

Presently, as the librarian at St. Francis Park in Hamburg, NY, Sister Joyce continues her love of reading and encourages others to read.   The Sisters who live with Sr. Joyce, her past students and co-workers have learned joy, love of learning and deep faith from Sr. Joyce.

FSSJ Celebrate Jubilarians with Bishop Michael Fisher



The Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph celebrated the faithfulness of the Sisters who have been in the congregation for 75 and 65 years.    Bishop Michael Fisher, Bishop of Buffalo, joined us for the festivities.

FSSJ Celebrate 125th  Anniversary at
St. Francis Parish, Athol Springs, NY

Ambiance honoring Mother Colette Hilbert, our Foundress

Providing inspirational music and song:
Sr. Lucille Ann, Cantor
Sr. Andrea, Organist
Sr. Deborah Marie, Liturgy Coordinator

Fr. Ross Syracuse, Pastor at St. Francis Parish, gives the welcome to all at our celebration

Franciscan Friars who celebrated with us:
Fr. Ross Syracuse, OFM Conv., Fr. Michael Zielke, OFM Conv., Fr. James McCurry, OFM Conv.,  Fr. Charles, OFM Conventual, Fr. Mark David Skura, OFM Conv.

Sisters singing their Charism song, Called by God.  This song was composed by Sister Deborah Marie Ciolek, FSSJ

Sister Marcia Fiutko, FSSJ, General Minister of our Order, invites the Sisters to renew their vows of Poverty, Celibate Chastity and Obedience.

Group picture!

Sister Marvina and friends!

Those who taught or ministered at St. Columba:
Sr. Deborah, Sr. Lucille Ann, Carmen Rivera (FSSJ Associate), Sr. Karen, Susan Odle.

Sr. Andrea and the Franciscan Friars

Sr. Ann Lyons and Sr. Lynne Anne Schimminger with friends

Friends from Catholic Health
Joyce Markiewicz, Vice President and Chief Business Development Officer at Catholic Health, and Jill Hirczak, Life Enhancement Director at St. Francis Park.

Dr. Brophy, President of Hilbert College, founded by the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph, presents a citation from the Hilbert Board of Trustees, staff and students in honor of  our 125th Anniversary.

Sr. Jean Marie Cherry with friends from the Franciscan Sisters of Allegheny and the Sisters of Social Service in Buffalo.

The Sisters started the day with the Sisters in Leadership pinning on corsages on each Sister.  Sister Marcia Ann, General Minister,  pins a corsage on Sister Angelis.  The corsages were made by Sr. Benedicta.

St Francis Park Reaches Out to People from Ukraine


Catholic Health System asked each of their facilities to collect articles for the refugees in the Ukraine.  Under the guidance of Jill Hirczak, the residents and staff of St. Francis Park collected enough funds to purchase a car load of blankets, wipes, and underwear.   With the assistance of Sr. Deborah Marie and Don Schiedel, these were delivered to the Catholic Health System’s headquarters in Buffalo which then delivered them to the refugees.  Sister Benedicta Dega also crocheted baby blankets for the collection.

Remembering Sister Gregory

Sister Gregory was remembered in a special celebration of root beer floats.  Sister Gregory went to God last month but she was a person that could not be forgotten.  Some of the residents at St. Francis Park said just her smile and good humor brightened their day. 

The Sisters will remember her for her kind words, good humor and big and generous heart. One of Sister Gregory’s nephew’s  surprised the Sisters, residents and staff at SFP by giving us a root beer float party – which brought back memories of the many times Sister Gregory treated us with root beer floats. 

Tour of FSSJ Art at St. Francis Park

Monthly FSSJ history presentations have been offered to St. Francis Park residents by Sister Sharon Goodremote, archivist, and assistant, Sister Carol Czyzewski.  These talks acquaint lay residents with examples of our heritage such as our mission and ministries, significant convents, and religious life in general.  Sisters who attend the sessions often add personal recollections about the topics;  lay residents, eager to participate, voice their questions and affirmation of the sessions.  On February 15, 2022, Sister Sharon led an initial walking tour of FSSJ art, especially works by Sister Geraldine Rutkowski and by Sister Marvina Kupiszewski.  These master artists’ paintings–along with art by other Sisters and with treasured holy images–celebrate the FSSJ patrimony being highlighted during our 125th anniversary.  In March, Sister Sharon will conduct a second art tour to include additional paintings, sculptures, and icons.

Praying to End Human Trafficking

St. Josephine Bakhita was born around 1869 in western Sudan.  She was seized by Arab slave traders.  Over the course of twelve years (1877–1889) she was sold three more times and then she was finally given her freedom.  Josephine became a Canossian Sister and forgave her captors.

St. Josephine Bakhita is venerated as a modern African saint, and as a statement against the brutal history of slavery. St. Josephine Bakhita has been adopted as patron saint of modern Sudan and human trafficking survivors.  She was canonized by St. Pope John Paul II.  Her feast day is February 8.

The Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph have committed to praying for the end of human trafficking.  We hosted a prayer service to generate greater awareness about human trafficking and racism.  Because of Covid we were only able to invite the residents of St. Francis Park.  We raised our voices in prayer and hope.  We prayed for those suffering because of human trafficking and for the end of human trafficking.  To learn more about ending human trafficking go to: U.S. Bishops – End Human Trafficking

Remembering Sister Benilda

Sister Benilda lived to be 99 years old and had hoped to reach 100.  Instead of celebrating her birthday here on Earth with us, she

celebrated her birthday in heaven with her Loving God.  But we remembered her in a special way during this month when we celebrated her birthday with a cake given to us by Sr. Benilda’s nephew and we granted her wish to be on the Smucker’s jar for her 100 birthday.  Sr. Benilda shared her faith, hope, love and good humor with all of us and we miss her.

Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr and All He Taught Us


The Sisters and residents of St. Francis Park gathered to remember the dream of Martin Luther King, Jr. to pray that we and our nation come closer to living his dream and to live according to the teachings of Jesus, to love one another and respect each person for their gifts and uniqueness.  For this we prayed.

Praying for the Protection of the Unborn

January 22 the Sisters joined with the Church to pray for the protection of the unborn using the Litany of Life. 

FSSJ Gifts for Afghan Refugees

“For I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Matt 25:35).  The Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph took this scripture passage to heart when we heard that Buffalo is slated to receive over 300 Afghan refugees.  Most of these refugees assisted our military during the U.S. time in Afghanistan.  They are leaving their homeland because they fear for their lives.

Sister Ann Lyons coordinated collecting resources so the Sisters could assist the International Institute of Buffalo in their work of resettling the refugees.


Besides sheets, towels, washcloths and various kinds of blankets, Sister Benedicta and Sister Lucille Ann crocheted baby blankets, hats and scarves.

Brother Mickey McGrath, O.S.F.S. creates a mural at Hilbert College that honors Mother Colette Hilbert, St. Joseph and St. Francis with students and staff as well as Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph

The Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph are grateful for all those who have helped us to remain safe and healthy during the pandemic. In gratitude for all our health care staff has done for us Sister Deborah Marie Ciolek ordered a jigsaw puzzle with a picture of Jesus blessing a health care worker. After the Sisters put the puzzle together, Sister Lynne Anne Schimminger prepared it to be hung in the Care Community area of St. Francis Park as a gift to all the health care givers, nurses, Home Health Aides and Resident Care Aides.

Immaculata Academy has New Life as The Oaks at South Park

For 88 years the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph served God’s people by educating young women at Immaculata Academy in Hamburg, NY.  They are grateful that the new enterprise, The Oaks at South Park,  pays homage to the history of the property while offering beautiful, private “carriage house style” luxury apartments that will provide safe housing.  For more information on The Oaks go to Home

The picture on the right is the cornerstone of Immaculata Academy with some of the articles found in it.

Hilbert College announced that a new baseball field and a new softball field has been named the FSSJ Field Complex, in recognition of the College’s founding congregation, the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph (FSSJ).  The FSSJ Field Complex, which is slated to be completed for the Spring 2021 season, recognizes the generosity of the Sisters, whose sale of the property adjacent to Hilbert’s campus specified that the fields would be made available for Hilbert’s exclusive use.


Each Franciscan Sister of St. Joseph is praying together or privately for our world at this time.  Some pray in Chapel, some in parlors.  Where or however we pray, God is with us.  Know that you and your families have us holding you tenderly in our hearts.

As St. Francis taught us by example, we not only pray when we pray together but our hope and our call is to “become a prayer.” It is something all followers of Jesus are called to do.

FSSJ News - Our Leadership Team
The Leadership Team of the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph was elected at the Congregation’s 22nd General Chapter in July of 2018.

Elected were Sr. Marcia Ann Fiutko, General Minister, Sr. Jean Marie Cherry, General Councilor and Sr. Judith Elaine Salzman, General Councilor.

FSSJ Chapter Commitment

The Leadership Team will lead the members in fulfilling their Chapter commitment which reads in part: We… Embrace our Sacred Journey…to explore ways to embrace full participation in our community life, new expressions for our mission, and hope-filled plans for our future. We welcome God’s invitation to co-create our future possibilities for the common good of God’s people.


FSSJ News - St. Francis Park

Becoming St. Francis Park

The Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph have always been open to the Spirit of God and what God is asking of us at each time in history. In the 2000s the Sisters became more aware that we were being called to create a legacy of a new home – one that would be constructed in the Spirit of St. Francis’s love of creation and one that would allow us to open our home, our spirituality and our hope for the future to others. In 2010 the new Immaculate Conception Convent was built (LEED Platinum) at 5229 South Park Avenue, Hamburg, NY.

In 2018, Catholic Health purchased Immaculate Conception Convent and helped the Sisters’ vision become a reality with the opening of St. Francis Park, an independent living facility for seniors from all walks of life. We invite you to spend some time on this site to learn more.

©2020 Franciscan Sisters of Saint Joseph
5229 South Park Avenue, Hamburg, NY 14075
All rights reserved. No content or images may be reproduced in any form without permission.