One of nine children, Sister Joan of Arc Walsh, along with her sister, Anne, arrived in Cleveland from her native Limerick, Ireland in 1948. She made her first vows in 1951. Sister Joan taught 6th grade at Incarnate Word Academy as well as other schools throughout the diocese of Cleveland, including St. Thomas More, St. Patrick and Assumption. She also served as sacristan for liturgical celebrations for both the Sisters and Incarnate Word Academy. Sister Joan retired in 2006 and today spends her time trying to be the best Incarnate Word Sister through her prayer ministry at Regina Health Center.
“Mother Brendan, a past Superior of the Congregation, influenced me through her wisdom and gentleness. The goodness and compassion of my Sisters helps me to be faithful. The Beatitude I would like to be remembered by would be that of compassion.”
~ Sister Joan of Arc Walsh
Sister Anne Walsh left her home in Kyle, Limerick, Ireland, accompanied by her older sister Joan. They both entered our community in 1948, with first vows in 1951; perpetual profession of vows followed in August 1954. She has been active in education as a teacher (in almost every grade), administrator and PSR organizer. Today, Sister Anne likes to say she is “recycled” not retired. Now she takes care of many small tasks in the convent. She has more time for prayer, much reading, visiting the sick, some convent communications, and assisting others as much as possible.
Sister Anne has spent most of her life in the teaching field, never an easy one, but so rewarding eventually. She remembers hearing Mother Teresa of Calcutta while attending an educational convention in Chicago saying, “Go back to your classrooms, teachers. You have your Calcutta there.” She has labored to give God and God’s people her best throughout the years, and has been blessed with the hundred fold promised in the Gospels. She decided a long time ago, as Sister Melanie Svoboda phrased it that, “hanging around with God is a good thing to do.”
“My message to young people, and the not-so-young, is: Dream of making a difference in our world. You must hang around with God to do that. As Churchill once said, “Never, never give up.” The Spirit of God leads the way. My favorite Beatitude is, blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God. As a teacher, I was often called to be a peacemaker, especially following the recess period. Opportunities abound for putting this beatitude into practice.”
~ Sister Anne Walsh
Sister Carol Tobler, the youngest of six children and a native of Cincinnati, Ohio, joined our community in 1967, making first vows in 1970 and perpetual vows in 1973. Throughout her religious life, Sister ministered in schools as teacher and administrator, and served on Congregational Leadership as Councilor and Congregational Leader. She currently serves in Leadership as Councilor.
“The desire to give myself more fully to God and others led me to religious life. As a young child, I was always looking for ways to be with and minister with the Sisters. As an eighth grader, I was asked by the Sisters to teach in the PSR program, which I continued through my high school years. It was at this young age that my career as an educator got its start. It was also the beginning of my vocation to religious life. After high school I came to realize my vocation to be a Sister of the Incarnate Word. The Beatitude that I would like my life to most reflect is, blessed are the peacemakers, they will be called children of God,” because when there is true peace within, we allow Jesus to reflect through us.
~ Sister Carol Tobler
A native of Cleveland, Sister Margaret Taylor joined our community in 1976 and made first vows in August 1979; perpetual vows followed on April 29, 1984. Sister Margaret’s ministries have included choir director, music and classroom teacher, including teaching grades three to eight at Incarnate Word Academy, and Congregational Leadership. Sister been in ministry at Regina Health Center as the Intercongregational Liaison and Director of Admissions. Currently, Sister Margaret is serving as the Congregational Leader.
“I would not be at this place now without the loving support of family, community and friends. My life has been filled with much personal and professional success and I thank God for all the blessings I enjoy so abundantly. Being a Sister means I have a special opportunity to bring the presence of God to others by my words and actions. As I receive God’s gifts, so I want to share them with others.”
~ Sister Margaret Taylor
Kilsarcon, Currow Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland native, Sister Elizabeth Ann Sheahan, is the youngest of six children. She joined us in 1961 and made first vows in 1965. Her perpetual profession of vows followed in August 1968. She has been a teacher and principal, as well as a volunteer for PSR, provided assistance to the mentally disabled, shut-ins and the Camp for the Blind.
Sister Elizabeth Ann retired from 50 years of full-time ministry in education at th end of the 2015 school year. Today, she works part time at Incarnate Word Academy, and teaches PSR for Mary Queen of the Apostles Parish.
“A desire to grow closer to God through prayer and service to Him inspired me to become a Sister. Community life is a great help to me in living out the three vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. The simplicity of the life of a Sister of the Incarnate Word gives me a sense of peace and contentment. Being a Sister has provided me with many opportunities spiritually, educationally, and socially to grow as a whole person. I am deeply grateful for all that has been given to me.”
~ Sister Elizabeth Ann Sheahan
A native of Cleveland, Sister Mary Ellen Ryan came to the Sisters in 1948 and made first vows in 1951. She has served as an elementary school teacher and principal, as well as Councilor and Congregational Leader. She also worked in initial formation and as Director of the Associates of the Incarnate Word for 18 years. Currently residing at the Sisters of the Incarnate Word, she is doing everyday odds and ends, helping out as needed.
“The grace of my vocation led me to this community. The spiritual foundation in Scripture and liturgy provides the daily challenge to live my vocation.”
~ Sister Mary Ellen Ryan
Born and raised in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Sister Catherine Teresa Robinson, joined our community in 1949 and made first vows in 1952; perpetual vows followed in August 1955. Her ministries have included teaching, pastoral care, Stephen Ministry, Christian clowning, community chauffeuring, and community treasurer. Currently she is active in prayer ministry at Reginal Health center.
“Being a Sister frees me to live a centered and rooted life in the unconditional love of Jesus, while reaching out in compassionate love, sharing, and service to God’s people. Guided by the Spirit, I must remain open and faithful to my baptismal commitment in relationship with Jesus the Incarnate Word, and serving the needs of others as He did.”
~ Sister Catherine Teresa Robinson
Sister Fabian Quigley came from Newport, Tipperary, Ireland, in 1949 and made first vows in 1952; perpetual vows followed in August 1955. She has served as a teacher and school administrator as well as a PSR teacher and volunteer. She has also served two terms on the Congregation’s Leadership Team. Sister Fabian lives at Assumption Parish where she ministers as a substitute teacher and teacher assistant.
“I always wanted to be a nun. In my family, vocations were always encouraged. My dad had four sisters who were nuns and a brother who was a priest. They were a big factor in my life. As a Sister, I feel I do make a difference in the lives of others. In my own life, I know I have great spiritual advantages which help me to become a better person.”
~ Sister Fabian Quigley
Born in Farrendoyle, Kanturk, County Cork, Ireland, as the ninth of eleven children, Sister Mary Denise O’Riordan, joined our community in 1948, making first vows in 1951 and perpetual vows in 1953. Her ministries have included teaching in various elementary schools and tutoring, as well as volunteer work. She retired from teaching in 2005. Today, she can be found in the sewing room, helping sew banners for Holy Communion, or sewing various items for the children and the Sisters.
“God called many; few were chosen. I was blessed to be His chosen follower. Like a candle I keep burning. The light still glows and it has to be kept ignited by the Great Spirit of God’s Love. A Sister of the Incarnate Word should be easily recognized by her example of living daily with her community first, then with others. Happy are those who work for peace. They will be called God’s children.”
~ Sister Mary Denise O’Riordan
Born and raised in Bagshot, Surrey, England, Sister Cecelia Moran joined us in 1956 and professed first vows in 1959; perpetual profession of vows followed in August 1962. She celebrated her golden jubilee in 2007. Sister enjoyed her role as Councilor on the Leadership Team from 1999 – 2003 and was re-elected in 2007. Her ministries have included elementary education, Director of Religious Education, and Pastoral Care.
“A Sister is one who is in love with God and His people, and wants to be a Gospel of Love and spread the Incarnation. She has dedicated her life to living out such love.”
~ Sister Cecelia Moran
A native of Limerick, Ireland, Sister Margaret Mary McAuliffe joined our community on October 17, 1963, and made first vows in1966. Perpetual vows followed on August 9th, 1969. Sister Margaret Mary has taught at Incarnate Word Academy, St. Patrick, West Park, and at St. Thomas More, and served as principal at St. Bartholomew. She was nominated and awarded the Who’s Who Among American Teachers three times. Within the community, she has served as Local Coordinator and as Congregational Treasurer. Sister Margaret Mary currently serves in Congregational Leadership as Councilor.
Currently she ministers at Holy Family Home and Hospice as Pastoral Coordinator of the Spiritual Program and supervisor of the Bereavement Program. She ministers to the terminally ill as they celebrate living the end of their lives with peace, compassion, and love. In 2007, Bishop Lennon presented the 7th Annual St. Elizabeth of Hungary Employee Award to Sister Margaret Mary for the compassion and care she gives to those who are terminally ill at Holy Family Home and Hospice.
“My favorite Beatitude is, blessed are the poor in spirit, the kingdom of God is theirs. How often I am reminded of this as I make my pastoral visits at Holy Family Home and Hospice. I am privileged to work in the “waiting room” of God’s Kingdom. Even though it is most rewarding, my work is very challenging. Centering my life in Jesus in prayer at the crack of each new dawn provides me the courage and strength that is necessary.
One of my favorite quotes is by Stephen Grellet: ‘I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good thing, therefore, I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow being, let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.’
~ Sister Margaret Mary McAuliffe
In 1955, Sister Therese Marsal joined our community and made first vows in 1958; final vows followed in 1961. Born in Cleveland, she is the second of seven children. Her ministries have focused on education – serving as a principal and assistant principal, teaching in the elementary grades and in PSR. She retired from full time teaching in 2008 and can now be found in a part-time position at Incarnate Word Academy or planning the Sisters’ daily Liturgies.
“The teaching ministry has been the heart of my life as a Sister of the Incarnate Word. Working with children in the field of education has been very rewarding.”
~ Sister Therese Marsal
A native of Greater Cleveland, Sister Mary Catherine McNamara first encountered the Sisters of the Incarnate Word as her grade school teachers at St. Thomas More. Nurtured by the strong faith and love of her family, and inspired by the example of those community members teaching at her parish school, she responded to God’s call to serve others as a Sister of the Incarnate Word.
Throughout the years she has ministered as a teacher, principal, youth specialist and child advocate, clients’ rights officer and accreditation manager. She has served on countless committees in the Congregation, as Councilor on the Leadership Team, and has held an elected role in the local Conference of Religious Leaders. Her diverse background and wealth of residential experience and expertise has well-prepared her for her current position as rector at Breen-Phillips Hall at the University of Notre Dame.
“I have been blessed with the opportunity to serve others in many and varied roles. I find myself most drawn to the Beatitude, ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, they shall be satisfied.’ My experience as a religious has made me keenly aware of the gifts God has given to me and continues to challenge / invite me to use them to meet the needs of the broader community of the Church.”
~ Sister Mary Catherine McNamara
A native of Philadelphia, Sister Betty Ann had six siblings, including a brother, a set of triplets and a set of twins. She is one of the triplets. Over the years she has opened her heart and made room for Jesus who she experiences dwelling deeply within her soul.
Sister Betty Ann joined our community in August 1964, and made first profession of vows in 1967. Her profession of perpetual vows followed in August 1971. Her ministries have included teaching kindergarten and first grade, and working as a nurse’s assistant in our community infirmary. For fifteen years she volunteered at Southwest General Hospital in Stphen Ministry and Hospice. Presently, she works in the Attendance Office at Incarnate Word Academy, a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of the Incarnate Word. She enjoys creating beautiful images, drawing, and writing reflections in a daily journal. She also enjoys creating items with colored yarn.
“Being a Sister has been a life-long mystery and one which unfolds daily, for I dance to my own rhythm as I journey with Jesus. My ways are pleasing and my paths are great. I embrace all with courage and strength. Along this path I have discovered wisdom, and given understanding, and nothing holds me back. I have embraced the heart of Jesus as Jesus embraces my heart, and some day I shall rise to sing the music of my soul in glory with the one I so deeply love.”
~ Sister Betty Ann Macatee
A native of Cleveland, Sister Mary Rose Kocab joined the Sisters of the Incarnate Word in 1968. She made her first profession of vows in 1970 and perpetual vows in 1973. Ministries she has done include junior high education, Director of Religious Education, spiritual direction and retreat ministry, vocation and formation ministry, and Congregational Leadership. She served as Co-Director of the Diocesan Vocation Office for the Diocese of Cleveland for ten years. Sister Mary Rose served as secretary for the Leadership Team for one term of four years, and was then elected to the Leadership Team in 1995. She has served as Councilor for three consecutive terms and as Congregational Leader for two terms.
“From the time I was young, I had a desire to know God, to learn to pray, and to do what God wanted. The greatest blessing in my life is my hunger and thirst for God, a deeper desire for ‘the more,’ a longing for someone that I know only God can be for me.” This hunger for God has led me to the lives and writings of friends of God like Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Elizabeth of the Trinity, Therese of Lisieux, Jeanne Chézard de Matel, and others who have become companions on my journey.”
Sister Mary Rose is an avid reader, loves to be outdoors in nature, enjoys travel, plays guitar and sings, loves people, is a writer, loves quiet and candles and time to just be present, has a passion for her own spiritual journey and for journeying with others in their search for God.
“You owe the Incarnate Word a Love… a love as strong as death, a love more insatiable than hell, a love that never says, ‘Enough!'” are words from the Writings of Jeanne Chézard de Matel that challenge and guide her life.
~ Sister Mary Rose Kocab
Sister Ignatius Jones left her home in Kilcolman, Kanturk, County Cork, Ireland to respond to a call to religious life in January 1948 and made her first vows in 1951. Final vows followed in 1953. She has served as a teacher, school administrator, director of religious education, and, most recently, as a member of the extended day staff at Incarnate Word Academy. Sister Ignatius is also active in prayer ministry, reaching out to those who most need prayers and support.
“The desire for God, the God I know in Jesus, the Incarnate Word, has been the touchstone of a sense of integrity or purpose, that has kept me on track – faithful. My perseverance I attribute to prayer, God’s grace, being happy, content and fulfilled.”
~ Sister Ignatius Jones
In 1948, with her sister Eileen, Sister Jerome Fitzgerald ventured from her home in County Limerick, Ireland to join the Sisters of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament. In 1951, she made her first vows, followed by perpetual profession of vows in August 1954. Sister Jerome has been a teacher for 34 years, an elementary school principal, parish minister for older adults for 21 years, and pastoral minister at St. Richard Parish since 1986.
“As I look back on my life as a Sister, it has been filled with journeying – walking with the Lord. Through all these experiences, there have been three things I can count on: my family, my faith and love for God, and the joy in being a Sister of the Incarnate Word.”
~Sr. Jerome Fitzgerald
Sister Eileen Fitzgerald, biological sister of Sisters Catherine and Jerome, and a native of County Limerick, Ireland, joined our community in 1948, made first vows in 1951 and final vows in August 1954. She was a classroom teacher and has been involved in educational administration, taught PSR classes, and tutored, and has served as Councilor on our Congregation’s Leadership Team for three terms. After retiring as principal in 2006, she became Incarnate Word Academy’s Director of Development a position she held until 2011 when a Director of Advancement, whom she now assists, was hired for IWA.
“I felt called to religious life at a very young age. I remember asking my mother, ‘When are you going to let me go away and be a nun?’ I always felt that religious life was the path God had chosen for me. Prayer was always an important part of the early years in my home. Praying the rosary daily together was a family practice. Growing up in Doon, County Limerick, with my parents and five siblings, I enjoyed a childhood typical of that day – living and working off the land. I loved the animals and the simple life. I feel I must make an effort to live the Beatitudes in my daily life, and that my life should be a life of service in whatever way I can serve.”
~Sr. Eileen Fitzgerald
Sister Catherine Fitzgerald responded to God’s call to religious life in 1949, when she left her home in County Limerick, Ireland. She made her first vows in 1952 and final vows in 1956. Sister Francis Xavier was her formation director. She reminded her of Saint Theresa who said, “There is but one road that reaches God and that is prayer. If anyone shows you another, you are being deceived.”
Raised by her parents in a faith-filled atmosphere, she was preceded by her two sisters into the community. She attributes these elements as an influencing factor in following her vocational call to Cleveland as a Sister of the Incarnate Word. Sister Catherine’s ministries have included teaching at many parish elementary schools, P.S.R. instructor, elementary tutor, and Eucharistic Minister to the local hospital and homebound. Today, she continues her ministry at Incarnate Word Academy as a part-time faculty member and Altar Server Instructor.
“Sister would like to be remembered by the Beatitude, Blest are they who hunger and thirst for holiness, they shall be satisfied.”
~Sister Catherine Fitzgerald
Sister Elizabeth Cooper was born in Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland. She joined our community in 1960 and made her first vows in 1965. She currently serves as a 5th grade teacher at Incarnate Word Academy. Her former ministries include assistant principal, treasurer, PSR teacher, tutor, and volunteer for the Camp for the Blind.
“I came from Ireland…to devote my life to prayer and a teaching career. It has been a beautiful journey of continuous growth in my faith and love of God…a life-long process of being formed and reformed in Jesus, the Word of God. I am nurtured daily through my commitment to Mass and prayer to extend His Incarnation and make His presence known to all those with whom I come in contact.”
~Sister Elizabeth Cooper
I am blessed to have been born into a good-size family. I am one of seven children of Harry and Mary Burrows. Having the number of brothers and sisters I had, helped me to learn sharing out of love for each other. My religious development started primarily with my family and the Sisters of the Incarnate Word who taught me CCD at Assumption Church in Broadview Heights. They inspired me to love Jesus and bring others to Him.
As a member of this Order I have had various ministry experiences as teacher, assistant principal, deaf camp counselor, home health care, prison ministry, hospice worker and currently, as pastoral minister at St. Thomas More Church in Brooklyn, Ohio.
“My favorite beatitude is, blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. I witnessed this in how my parents forgave and treated the people who were unkind or unfair to them. I hope to continue to follow their example of mercy and forgiveness.”
~Sister Elaine Theresa Burrows
A native of Cleveland and taught by the Sisters of the Incarnate Word in Elementary School, Sister Rosemarie Burke joined the community on September 7, 1962 at the age of 18, and made perpetual profession of vows on August 9, 1968.
Sister has taught in grades kindergarten through eighth grade in a number of schools in the Diocese of Cleveland, Ohio. Sister Rosemarie has also served the community as Formation and Vocation Minister as well as a Councilor on the leadership team. She currently is the President of Incarnate Word Academy and serves as a member on the RCIA team for St. John Bosco and Mary, Queen of the Apostles parishes.
As a consecrated member of the community for over fifty years, she has lived our charism, “to extend the mystery of the Incarnation,” in Word and Sacrament, by sharing in the life and mission of Jesus, the Incarnate Word.
“Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, is the Beatitude that I have tried to reflect in my own life. I recognize my profound need for God’s overwhelming abundant love, which empowers me to journey the path of daily life with openness to all the blessings that come with saying yes to the Incarnate Word.”
~ Sister Rosemarie Burke
Sister Jacinta Benavidez came from Texas to Ohio in response to a call from God to journey in faith and trust. Again, she was being called to leave all behind – family, friends, and birthplace – to follow where God was calling. In May 2012, Sister Jacinta answered that call by professing perpetual vows with the Sisters of the Incarnate Word of Cleveland, Ohio, to which she says, “Praised be the Incarnate Word.” “All is gift,” says Sister Jacinta, “and what is gift is to be shared and given to others as gift in the name of LOVE.”
Sister Jacinta has taught Spanish in kindergarten and first grade at Incarnate Word Academy, and has served as Director of the IWA Extended Day program. Sister Jacinta is currently working in health care ministry with the Good Shepard Sisters in Fort Thomas, Kentucky. She will be assisting with the care of the Sisters in their infirmary home.
“The song in my heart is the song of Mary: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord. And my spirit exalts in God, my Savior. For God has looked with mercy on my lowliness, and His name will be forever exalted. For the mighty God has done great things for me, and His mercy will reach from age to age, and Holy is His name…”
~ Sister Jacinta Benavidez