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

Christmas Cards for Meals On Wheels

The Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph, with the residents of St. Francis Park, continued their tradition of signing cards for Meals on Wheels to be included in the meals at Christmas time.  Sr. Claire Ann Torla started the tradition many years ago as a way to reach out to others.  Sr. Frances Angela Olszewski coordinates the signing of cards and provides fun activities as we gather together. Sr. Michael Marie Jordan’s family also assists in decorating envelopes. 

Coffee with the Sisters at St. Francis Park

Once a month the Sisters and residents of St. Francis Park gather to share Coffee with the Sisters. During this time we share coffee, goodies made by the Sisters, and stories of our lives and our faith.  This is an opportunity for the Sisters to share our congregational story as well as well as personal, and for the residents to share their stories as well.

First Week of Advent

Advent is a time that we remember God became a human by Jesus being born of Mary.  The Incarnation – Jesus coming to wake us up to the reality that God Loves us and God wants us to wake up to this love.  This Advent, be attentive to slowing down so that we can wake up to what God is doing in us!

Timeline Document for 125 Years of Sharing Hearts and Hands

FSSJ- 125 Years -Timeline
Our Leadership Team 
Sr. Jean Cherry, Councilor, Sr. Marcia Ann Fiutko, General Minister,
Sr. Andrea Ciszewski, Councilor
General Chapter Direction Statement

In these transformative times of change, challenge and collaboration, we, the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph, embrace our call to Widen the Tent of our Hearts for the common good of God’s people and our common home, Mother Earth.

We willingly extend our hearts and hands to:
– Accept into our lives all persons as our sisters and brothers and to join efforts to bring an end to racism;
– Continue our efforts to minimize climate change and its effects on the life of our planet; and
– Collaborate with lay and religious partners to develop sustainable services and governance for our Congregation.
In the midst of our Holy Aging, we freely offer our gift of a Franciscan ministry of presence.

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




This tent, created by Sr. Ann Lyons, FSSJ and Sr. Lynne Anne Schimminger, FSSJ, was in the Chapter room, reminding us all of our call to widen the tent of our hearts.

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.

Prayer for Widening the Tents of Our Hearts

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.

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

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 - 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.

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5229 South Park Avenue, Hamburg, NY 14075
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