History of the Retired Religious Awards
Nine years ago the Committee for the Annual Appeal began the Retired Religious Awards. The annual award is given to a religious who represents all the religious in the Diocese who have given so much to the people of God. The recipients of the awards this year were Sister Marie Joyal, PM, Sister Joan Mulcahy, PBVM, Sister Mary Sophia Wanda Stapor, CSSF, and Sister Bernadette Madore, SSA.
Sister Bernadette Madore, a Sister of St. Anne, professed her vows in 1937. She celebrated her 70th anniversary as a nun on July 24, 2007. She attended schools taught by the Sisters of St. Anne and when she graduated from St. Ann’s Academy at the age of 17 she entered the Convent of the Sisters of St. Anne in Lachine, Que. She said she had “always wanted to be a nun.”
After teaching in Montreal for 10 years she returned to the United States to teach at Anna Maria College in Marlboro, founded by the Sisters of St. Anne the year before. She has spent her whole religious life serving the people of God at Anna Maria College in various capacities. In 1952, Sister Madore was named chairwoman of the Department of Biology and Dean of the College which had moved from Marlboro to Paxton. In 1977 she was named acting president, taking on the full duties of president immediately, so when she was given the title of president in 1978, she had been doing the job for a year. She served in that office until 1993. Under Sister Madore’s leadership, Anna Maria grew and flourished as more programs, students and faculty were added serving a wider range of needs as dictated by the signs of the times.
Sister Madore wrote a 50-year history of Anna Maria College from its start in 1946 to 1996, together with a postlude to bring the story up to date when it was published in 2000. And, at age 89, she stays connected with Anna Maria College and can be found a couple of days each week in the library as the college’s archivist.
Sister Mary Sophia Wanda Stapor, is a member of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Felix of Cantalice from Enfield, CT. She was taught by the Felician Sisters and that experience inspired her to become a member of the Felician Community 75 years ago. As a Felician Sister of 93, she still is active, teaching part time and playing the organ in the chapel of Our Lady of the Angels Province in Enfield, where she lives. She celebrated 75 years as a Felician Sister in June. She said she “keeps going because the Lord has given me the energy to do it.” “I love living,” she said in a recent interview, “and I love the children.” Sister Stapor spent many of her years as both teacher and principal in the schools she ministered in. She learned to play the organ and played for the different parishes that she ministered in. Sister Stapor still is active, teaching part time and playing the organ in the chapel of Our Lady of the Angels Province in Enfield, where she lives.
Sister Joan Mulcahy, PBVM, entered the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Holy Family Convent on South Street in Fitchburg. She was taught by the Sisters of the Presentation through the 12 years she was in elementary and high school. It was her relationship with them that convinced her to become one of them, she said. “They were wonderful educators and friends. They had such an influence on my life. I knew that’s what I wanted to do, to carry on their work,” she said. Sister Mulcahy taught at St. Bernard’s High School for many years before being appointed principal of the high school and then headmaster at St. Bernard’s until 1981. She was named diocesan director of education, a new post with oversight for the school department, youth ministry, religious education and campus ministry. In 1984 she was named to the bishop’s cabinet. She next went on to something entirely different from what she had been doing and became the coordinator of the Friendly Visitors program in the North County, with her office in her hometown of Fitchburg. She eventually returned to St. Bernard’s High School as a guidance counselor. Sister Mulcahy retired in 1999. She lives at the Sisters of the Presentation residence in Leominster. Although she is retired, she keeps busy helping where she can at the residence. She is a receptionist, answers the telephone, opens doors for visitors, and drives people to appointments.
Sister Marie Joyal, PM, attended school in Sacred Heart Parish in Manchester, N.H. where she was impressed by the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary and eventually entered the community after attending college for two years. She professed her vows in 1948. She taught as an elementary school teacher - kindergarten through eighth grade - for her entire teaching career. She served as a school librarian from 1991 until retiring in 2004. Since her retirement she has lived at the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary Provincial House in Methuen, where she continues to work in the office.
Special thank you to The Catholic Free Press.