It is with great joy that we celebrate the Jubilee of four Sisters of St. Joseph who have served the people of God for 60 years: Sister Christopher Marie, Sister Marilyn Dingman and Sister Mary Immaculate Moraglia; and for 50 years: Sister Suzan Foster.
Bishop Felipe Estévez celebrated a Mass for the Jubilee Day on Oct. 17 at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Augustine. The Jubilee Day was a reminder of God’s grace and blessings that have been manifested through the faithfulness and service of these women in education, migrant work, pastoral ministry and nursing.
Sister Christopher Marie Burleson, SSJ – celebrating 60 years of service – was born July 7, 1925, in Pensacola. A fourth-generation Floridian, her family’s roots in this country can be traced to the early 18 century. Sister completed high school studies at St. Joseph Academy when the school was located at seventh and Market streets in Jacksonville. She earned diplomas and degrees from St. Joseph College of Florida in Jensen Beach, LaSalle University in Philadelphia, Jacksonville University and the University of Florida in Gainesville. She excelled in the area of business with an expertise in insurance.
Entering the Sisters of St. Joseph in September 1955, Sister Christopher Marie began her service as a catechetical teacher among the Spanish-speaking migrants and as a secondary school teacher. Business offices of the Sisters of St. Joseph hospitals and college also benefitted from her expertise and organizational skills. She also served as Assistant General Treasurer (1982-1991) and General Treasurer (1992-1999) for the congregation. Her response to any request is always an enthusiastic “Yes!”
Sister Christopher Marie currently resides at Our Lady of Lourdes Convent in St. Augustine where she serves the community by her ministry of prayer. As a convert, she was drawn to the church by finding Christ in the Eucharist. She is pleased to be observing her 60th Jubilee during this Year of Consecrated Life.
Sister Marilyn Dingman, SSJ – celebrating 60 years of service – was born in Jacksonville on Dec. 13, 1937. She attended St. Paul Catholic School in Riverside and Bishop Kenny High School in 1952. She felt a calling to be a Sister and expresses much gratitude to the Sisters of St. Joseph for her wonderful education.
In her senior year at BK, she needed two credits for graduation, so upon entering the Novitiate of the Sisters of St. Joseph on Sept. 7, 1955, she completed the two credits during postulancy and graduated in June 1956. After completing her novitiate, she professed first vows on August 11, 1957.
Sister Marilyn was sent on mission and began 35 years of classroom teaching which included every grade level from first through high school in Coral Gables, Lake City, Miami, Naples, Orlando and St. Augustine.
Sister Marilyn transitioned from classroom teaching in 1993, to working at Lourdes Convent with the retired Sisters for five years. In 1998, she began parish ministry as a director of religious education at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Augustine and continued at St. Anastasia Parish. She is currently the director of religious education at St. Ambrose Parish in Elkton.
Sister Marilyn says she has been blessed in so many ways. She often expresses her gratitude for the gift of serving and ministering to God’s people daily.
Sister Suzan Foster, SSJ – celebrating 50 years of service – was “born in the shadow of the Motherhouse” in St. Augustine. She was in second grade at Cathedral Parish School when she proclaimed she would become a nun.
High school years at St. Joseph Academy strengthened Sister Suzan’s resolve, and she proudly speaks of her classmates as vital support in her discernment. Three months after high school graduation, Sister Suzan entered the novitiate and began formation in religious life as a Sister of St. Joseph. She professed her final vows in 1972.
She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Florida in Gainesville and her master’s in religious education at St. Meinrad School of Theology. Through her religious life, education has been her ministry – in grade schools in Miami, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach, Gainesville, and as a teacher and vice principal. Sister Suzan presently serves as teacher and vice principal at her alma mater – St. Joseph Academy in St. Augustine.
Intermittently, she has been called to congregational leadership as Concilor and is presently serving in this capacity. At this time of her Golden Jubilee, Sister Suzan gives gratitude to God for the call to religious life and to her family and friends for their unwavering and loving support.
Sister Mary Immaculate Moraglia, SSJ – celebrating 60 years of service – was born in Bari, Italy. Teaching catechism and choir were among her parish activities during her youth. She also developed a friendship with the Italian Benedictines; their moto, “ora et Labora,” truly influenced her life.
Her family moved to the United States and Sister Mary Immaculate entered the novitiate of the Sisters of St. Joseph on Sept. 8, 1955. She remembers that day as a special and happy event in her life.
Her first apostolic years were spent as a teacher, but the need for sisters in health care beckoned and she was assigned to Mercy Hospital in Miami in 1962. Sister Mary Immaculate directed the Electrocardiogram Department and assisted at St. Vincent’s Home for Unwed Mothers until 1978.
In 1979, Sister Mary Immaculate was certified as a pastoral associate by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. As a patient visitor, she was able to take Eucharist to them. She served as chapel sacristan and joyfully prepared the altar for daily Mass and special events at Mercy Hospital. Sister Mary Immaculate now resides at Our Lady of Lourdes Convent in St. Augustine where she continues her ministry of prayer.
As she celebrates her 60th Jubilee, her prayer continues to be that of Psalm 26: “One thing I seek, to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.”
Source: Next Step News – the Sisters of St. Joseph October 2015 Newsletter