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Religious sisters celebrating jubilee anniversaries in 2017

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70 years

Benedictine Sister Andrea Verchuck was born May 26, 1929, in Crabtree, Pa., to Polish immigrants Justyna and Paul Verchuck. She is the seventh of eight children.

After attending public elementary and secondary schools, she earned a bachelor’s degree from Mount Scholastica College in Atchison, Kan., and a master’s degree in education from the University of Virginia. 

She professed her first vows March 19, 1947.

Sister Andrea taught at the following schools: St. Charles School, Arlington; Linton Hall School, Bristow; St. Leo School, Fairfax; St. Benedict School and St. Gertrude High School, both in Richmond. She was principal at Sacred Heart School and St. Rose of Lima School, both in Richmond.

At St. Benedict Monastery in Bristow, she served as prioress, subprioress, monastic council member, formation team member and vocation team member. She currently serves as a member of the monastic council and the vocations team. 

Sister Andrea resides at St. Gertrude Convent in Richmond, where she provides hospitality for their programs and events.

Benedictine Sister Mary Leo Wirt was born April 2, 1925, in Richmond, to Agnes and Emmett Wirt. She is the fifth of seven children.

She attended Sacred Heart Elementary School, and St. Patrick High School, both in Richmond. She earned a bachelor’s degree in social studies and English from St. Joseph’s College in Emmitsburg, Md., and a degree in religious studies from Catholic University in Washington.

She professed her first vows March 19, 1947.

Sister Mary Leo taught at Linton Hall School, Bristow, where she was also a procurator and prefect; St. Charles School, Arlington; and in Richmond at St. Benedict School, St. Paul’s School, Sacred Heart School and St. Gertrude High School.

At the St. Benedict Monastery in Bristow, she was the monastery procurator. She retired in 1996.

Sister Mary Leo serves the community as portress, and she creates handcrafts for the gift shop and holiday sale.

60 years

Medical Mission Sister Joan Foley was born in 1931 in Worcester, Mass., and moved to Arlington with her family when she was 7. They were members of St. Agnes Church. 

She first learned about the Medical Mission Sisters while attending Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School in Washington. In 1954, she entered the community, the first Roman Catholic sisters to combine the practice of medicine, surgery and obstetrics with religious life. She professed her first vows Feb. 11, 1957.

Sister Joan trained as a medical technologist and spent 13 years in Pakistan, where she opened a school for lab technicians and served in hospital administration and leadership for her community. 

In 1974, she returned to the United States and worked in primary health care and community development in North Carolina, Georgia and Florida. 

In New Port Richey, Fla., Sister Joan founded Connections, a job development and placement program, and was an advocate for the homeless. She was president of the Pasco County Homeless Coalition and received the Advocacy Award from the Florida Coalition for the Homeless for her outstanding service in 2002. 

In 2009, Sister Joan received the Spirit of Service Award, the highest honor awarded by the Florida Senate. She also served in a number of leadership roles for MMS in North America. 

Recently, she reorganized the MMS Thrift Shop in Philadelphia, a ministry that offers affordable resale items to people of limited means.  

Sister, Servant of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Helen Maureen Campbell, was born Jan. 16, 1936, in Philadelphia to Helen and William Campbell. She attended Philadelphia Visitation School and St. Hubert High School in Philadelphia. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Immaculata University and a master’s degree from LaSalle University. 

Her entrance date was Sept. 8, 1955, and her reception of habit was March 8, 1956. She professed her first vows Aug. 15, 1957. She has served in Philadelphia and its surrounding counties, Savannah, Ga., and Bellmawr, N.J.

In the Diocese of Arlington, she was principal of St. James School in Falls Church (1986-92). 

Her current assignment is visiting the homebound in St. James Parish.

50 years

Sister of Notre Dame Mary Margaret Ann Schlather was born July 1, 1947, in Berea, Ohio, to Virginia and Bernard Schlather. She grew up in Elyria, Ohio, and is the third of 13 children. Her oldest sister is Sister of Notre Dame Mary Seton Schlather.

Sister Mary Margaret attended St. Jude School in Elyria, Ohio, and Notre Dame Academy in Cleveland.

She earned a bachelor’s degree from Notre Dame College in South Euclid, Ohio, a master’s degree in religious education from Notre Dame Institute under the auspices of the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome and a master’s of education in elementary administration from Cleveland State University. 

She professed her first vows Aug. 16, 1967. 

She worked in Catholic education in Ohio, Florida, West Virginia, and in Virginia at St. John Academy, McLean; and St. Agnes, Arlington, as director of religious education and religion teacher.

Sister Mary Margaret is currently dean of catechetical programs and accreditation liaison at Catholic Distance University in Charles Town, W.Va.

25 years

Daughter of St. Paul Sister Margaret Michael Gillis was born May 18, 1970, in Bayonne, N.J., to George and Doris Gillis. She is the youngest of five children with two sisters and two brothers. She grew up in Staten Island, N.Y.

She attended St. Joseph-St. Thomas Catholic School and St. Joseph by-the-Sea High School, both in Staten Island; and Daughters of St. Paul High School, Boston, for her senior year.

She earned a bachelor’s degree from Emmanuel College in Boston, and has completed postgraduate work in media literacy and spiritual direction.

She professed her first vows June 28, 1992. 

Her assignments have included work in Boston, Miami, Chicago, Cleveland, New York, New Orleans and Alexandria.

Sister Margaret Michael has worked in Pauline Books & Media Centers throughout the U.S. and at the Pauline Books & Media publishing house in Boston. She has done youth evangelization with media, media literacy workshops, and has been a national speaker for youths, a retreat director and a vocation director. 

Since 2002, she has been National Vocation Director for the Daughters of St. Paul.


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017