Meet Our Sisters
The SSC Administrative Team
The current SSC Leadership Team is shown here at their July, 2013 installation liturgy. From left: Sr. Margaret Zalot, Councilor/General Secretary; Sr. M. Immacula Wendt, Assistant General Superior/General Treasurer; Sister Regina Marie Dubickas, General Superior, and Sr. Theresa Dabulis, Councilor for On-Going Formation and Spirituality.
OUR LEADERSHIP TEAM
~ Reflections Upon Their Installation
Sister Regina Marie Dubickas was a teacher and a Vocation and Formation Director before receiving a doctorate in Psychology in 1995 and beginning her work in a hospital setting and later in private practice. She always found it a privilege to come to know people at a deeper level, help them discover their inner richness and strength, and accompany them during some of the more difficult parts of their life journey. The words of Mother Maria that are a particular inspiration to her are “God is here.” Sister Regina Marie enjoys reading and poetry, pinochle and Sudoku. “Our Chapter theme, ‘Behold, I am doing something new! Do you not perceive it?’ (Is 43,19) continues to resonate in my heart as we embrace the mystery of God’s call and all that is part of the unfolding of our community’s charism and mission. ‘Led by God’s Spirit and companioned by one another, we embrace our time as holy, our leadership as gift, and our challenges as blessing.’ (LCWR).”
Sister Immacula Wendt ministered for many years as a teacher and principal in elementary schools and as General Treasurer for the Congregation. As a loyal White Sox fan, Sister Immacula follows their games throughout the season. She also enjoys music and old movies.
“Behold, I am doing something new!” These words of the Prophet Isaiah perfectly express the core of my life as a Sister of St. Casimir. Throughout all the years, I have been blessed with the ‘new’ that the Lord has unfolded before me. A person cannot help but be in awe of the working of the Spirit – marvel at God’s love and goodness that go beyond one’s dreams or imagination. The ‘new’ blessed my life during 11 years in New Mexico, my ‘Land of Enchantment’ as teacher of so many little ones, preparing hundreds each year for their First Holy Communion, especially the children in the nearby mission parishes and airbases. The ‘new’ continued during my years as principal/teacher in Darien before returning to the Motherhouse to experience the ‘new’ as plant manager, renovator, General Treasurer, and General Superior. The ‘new’ of the past five years has led us down roads that only now we can see ‘have been so in sync with the plan of God’ as we strengthened the Sisterly bonds between the Sisters of St. Casimir and the Sister Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Scranton, Pa and formally promulgated this covenant relationship, as we sold our 100 year old Maria High School to Catalyst Maria Charter School where today over 800 children are now receiving an excellent education following in the spirit of Mother Maria and using her words as their motto: “Always more, always better, always with love, as we transferred our Holy Cross Hospital to Sinai Health System, where it remains a vital Catholic Hospital, now scaring for the health needs of over one million people.
And it is the ‘new’ today, that leads me to carry out God’s plan in the life of my Sisters in Community, in the health care mission of Holy Cross/Sinai especially through the Catholic Monitoring Committee and Sinai Board membership, in the education mission of Catalyst Maria and the new Maria Kaupas Catholic Center, our VJM High School, and in the work of the Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP). God’s plan is always perfect! We need to let it happen!”
Sister Margaret Zalot has spent most of her years as a Sister of St. Casimir ministering at Maria High School, first as a chemistry/physics teacher and then as Maria’s first President, and she loves to re-connect with Maria alumnae. As a board member of Villa Joseph Marie (Holland, PA), her alma mater, she continues to bring her ministry experience and her love for Villa to the board table as the board makes plans for a strong future for the Villa. She has also served as the Congregation’s Vocation and Formation Director, in Congregation leadership, and is actively involved in the Southwest Organizing Project. She continues to be inspired by Mother Maria Kaupas who wrote “May you give God the gift of an undivided love, a love faithful in all circumstances.” Sister Margaret noted: “As each new day unfolds there is a certain newness that is truly gift on both the personal and community level and that connects perfectly with our theme for the next five years that are captured in the words of Isaiah: ‘Behold, I am doing something new. Can you not perceive it?’” In her spare time, Sister Margaret likes to learn new things, read, write, sketch, and be creative, always finding new ways to share that creativity with others.
After teaching for many years, Sister Theresa Dabulis, began a new ministry as Director of Religious Education in Silver Spring, Maryland. She enjoyed working at the parish particularly with RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.) Later, as a clinical social worker, she advocated for the poor and marginalized at the Department of Social Services in Prince George’s County, Maryland. She continues seeking opportunities advocating for the poor attending weekly prayer sessions at the Detention Center in Broadview, Illinois praying for the families that are being ripped apart by deportation. Sister Theresa loves listening to music and is usually the first on the floor for a polka with others soon joining in. She enjoys taking walks in nature and if she could she would be at the ocean. Upon her 2013 installation Sister Theresa reflects, “What excites me now is that God is doing something new as our eyes and hearts are being open to perceive the newness of God in everything around us. It’s being AWAKENED to the HOLY. I believe we will implement the directives of the 2013 General Chapter with a newness that we could never imagine. Praise God. “
Our 2016 Jubilarians
Sister Rosalinda Grigonis
Diamond Jubilee (75 Years)
Sister Rosalinda Grigonis was born in Gary, Indiana. She has ministered in the areas of elementary and high school education and administration. In the Chicago Archdiocese, she was a mathematics teacher and assistant principal at Maria High School and a teacher and principal at St. Peter and Paul School (West Pullman). She also taught at Immaculate Conception School (Brighton Park), St. George School (Bridgeport), and Nativity BVM School. Outside of the Chicago Archdiocese, Sister Rosalinda taught in the Joliet Diocese in Illinois and in New Mexico, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania. She also served as assistant to the General Treasurer of the Congregation for many years. In addition, Sister Rosalinda served in the ministry of care at Holy Family Villa (Palos Park). She currently serves in prayer ministry at Our Lady of Victory Convent in Lemont, Illinois.
I was born, the last of nine children, in Gary, Indiana, on September 15, 1922. Casimir and Anna were my parents, who considered their large family a blessing even though it was during the Great Depression when the family found it quite difficult to make ends meet. But their own financial struggles didn’t hold them back when it came to “pitching in” their means to help with the building fund for the new St. Casimir Church and School. They were solid Lithuanian Catholics all around; they loved their religion and had a deep respect for clergy and vowed religious. For my parents it always had to be that way, and that was the example they set.
The St. Casimir Sisters played a positive influence on my budding vocation. Literally speaking, God uses people to do some of his work. I am truly grateful to everyone who motivated me and inspired me to become a vowed religious. Looking back, we see that, “all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” God will bring people and events into our lives, and whatever we may think about them, they are designed for the evolution of his life in us.
It was St. Ann’s Feast Day, July 26, 1938, when Mother Maria Kaupas accepted me as a Postulant of the Sisters of St. Casimir. I was privileged to live at that time, to know Mother Maria as she spent her last years at the Sisters of St. Casimir motherhouse. This gave me the opportunity to see first-hand Mother Maria’s sanctity, wisdom, and knowledge, and to learn from her. It was during this time that I came upon some of Mother Maria’s verses. This one has become my lifelong motto:
Tyliai pildykime Dievo valia,
Tyliai lengvinkime artimo dali.
Silently let us fulfill God’s will,
Silently let us alleviate our neighbor’s burden.
My faith commitments to God’s call has increased my love for him. I experienced both challenges and faith-filled blessings over the years as I accepted community assignments ministering in areas of elementary and high school education and administration. I spent many years in the Chicago area, but also traveled to New Mexico, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania, as community needs warranted. I also served as assistant to the General Treasurer of the Congregation for many years.
Wherever I went, my personal Mother Maria motto guided me.
Silently let us fulfill God’s will,
Silently let us alleviate
our neighbor’s burden.
Sister Delphine Grigas
Diamond Jubilee (75 years)
Sister Delphine Grigas is a native of Nanticoke, Pennsylvania. Her major areas of ministry have been in elementary education and pastoral care. Sister Delphine taught in the Chicago Archdiocese at Immaculate Conception School (Brighton Park), St. Anthony School (Cicero), St. Norbert School (Northbrook), and St. Pius X School (Stickney). She was a secretary at St. Bartholomew School (Waukegan). Sister Delphine also taught and was a principal in Volo, Illinois. In Holland, Pennsylvania, she was a teacher at St. Bede School, and she volunteered at the school with the Director of Religious Education. Other states where Sister taught were Massachusetts, Maryland, Florida, California, and Rhode Island. She also served in pastoral care at Holy Cross Hospital in Chicago and in pastoral ministry at the St. Joseph Nursing Home in Holland, Pennsylvania. She currently serves in prayer ministry at Our Lady of Victory Convent in Lemont, Illinois.
Although God had me, Sister Delphine, in his mind and heart from all eternity, he chose to bring me into existence on June 20, 1916, 100 years ago.
My parents, Dominic and Theophila Grigas, were Lithuanian immigrants, settling first in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania, where I was born and baptized, then shortly thereafter moving to Shenandoah, PA. My life growing up was closely linked with church and parish activities. I sang in the children’s choir, belonged to the Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary, participated in parish programs, and was a member of the Junior Knights of Lithuania, which was a wonderful outlet for a healthy social life.
After graduating from high school in 1933, I worked for a wealthy family doing housework. Later, my Pastor asked me to work in the Parish rectory as assistant to the housekeeper. I learned much there in the culinary arts, which served me well in future years. A turn of events during this time led me to discern my future as a vowed religious. At age 22 I entered the Sisters of St. Casimir.
Convent life was a challenge, especially since my brothers said they would give me six months before I’d be back. I wrestled with that thought during my novitiate days, and once, during a quiet moment of prayer before Our Lady in the chapel, the answer came to me — “One day at a time and you’ll make it.”
These 75 years in religious life have had their ups and downs, but the Lord was always there. As a teacher, I worked with students from kindergarten through eighth grade. Every child I taught, every new class I had, every state I lived in, enriched my life in some way. As I gave, so also I received.
After 35 years of teaching, I sensed that I was being prepared for a different ministry, that of pastoral care in a hospital environment. This was a new ministry at the time. The ensuing eight years ministering to the sick, the dying, and their families were very challenging, yet they left me with a deep appreciation of what God had called me to do.
With the passing of time, another change came. My next six years were spent in a midwestern suburban parish tutoring students and being involved with RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation) as a team member and with the Little Rock Scripture Study as a facilitator. Then came my Golden Jubilee and a new assignment working with the social worker at our Home for the Aging in Pennsylvania.
I cherish the gift and grace of my religious vocation. In looking back, other highlights that enriched my life include a trip to the Holy Land, a month’s sabbatical at Adrian, MI, and compiling the book, “Heavenly Sense,” a collection of inspirational thoughts to ponder and to live by.
Lastly, and most importantly, was (and still is) God’s gift of time. I cherish every moment because it will never come again, while at the same time, each moment leads me into Eternity, the ever present now!
Presently, I am continuing my spiritual journey at Our Lady of Victory facility for assisted living. Here I have time to spend in contemplative prayer, which gives me a sense of well being and peace.
I incorporate several quotes in my prayers – two of which, are …
Jesus, I love you. Lead me to the Father, and
I offer grateful praise
from the chalice of my heart
to you, Jesus, who loves through me.
Sister M. Immacula Wendt
Diamond Jubilee (60 years)
Sister M. Immacula Wendt was born in Sioux City, Iowa. She has ministered in education as a teacher and administrator, and in congregational leadership/community service. Her assignments in education were at St. George School (Bridgeport) and in the Joliet Diocese and New Mexico. Sister Immacula has also served as General Superior, General Treasurer, and Motherhouse Maintenance Supervisor and Treasurer. She currently serves as Assistant General Superior and General Treasurer.
Words can never express God’s love and blessings to me all these 60 years as a Sister of St. Casimir.
On August 15, 1956, mindful of the words of Mother Maria: “Let us follow God with all our hearts and expend every effort to be givers of love,” I publicly vowed to God, chastity, poverty, and obedience. On that day I could never have imagined the future that lay ahead. It was just the beginning of the love story that has been my life throughout these past sixty years. The call from my God to follow Jesus more deeply as a Sister of St. Casimir filled my heart from as far back as I can remember. This call continues to stir my hopes and desires today as I go about doing all that I can or as I respond to all that is asked of me in bringing love, joy, peace, and hope to all God’s people. I remain overwhelmed with awe and wonderment by all the blessings I have received, all the works and assignments that filled these years, all the roles and responsibilities I have been asked to assume, all the seeds that have been sown and nurtured, all the people whose lives I have touched or whose lives have touched me.
The ribbon of highways that opened before me sixty years ago have taken me from Chicago to New Mexico, my Land of Enchantment, and back again to Illinois in ministry to the people of God, as principal and primary grade teacher for 23 years. My greatest joy each year was preparing the little ones for the sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist, and having this grace-filled opportunity to instill in their young lives the great love God has for them. The years that followed were assumed by a myriad of new ministries and positions. Throughout all of this, whether assisting others as Business Manager, Corporate Treasurer or General Superior for the Sisters of St. Casimir or walking in a “cease-fire” march, feeding the poor in a food pantry, protecting the vulnerable from predatory lenders, or reaching out to those in need, the love of God in my life, deepened by faith and strengthened by daily prayer, remains ever steadfast.
The life and example of Mother Maria, the foundress of the Sisters of St. Casimir, also has enkindled in my life the great love she had for God, her great trust in God’s providence, her courage to reach out to wherever the Spirit was leading her. Mother Maria’s words, “God is here, God wills this! … God is within us, and all that he grants or permits flows from the love he has for us,” is the legacy she has left to us, her Sisters. This was her life! This is our life as Sisters of St. Casimir! How proud I am to be one of her Sisters!
The memories of these many years celebrate all the joys, hardships, challenges, the ministries, and the countless people who have been part of my life. I have been deeply loved by God, by my Sisters of St. Casimir, by my family, and friends.
At times like this one can only acclaim:
‘Thanks be to God! Alleluia!’
Sister Virginia Gapsis
Golden Jubilee (50 years)
Sister Virginia Gapsis is a native of Chicago, Illinois. Her area of ministry has been elementary education as a teacher and administrator. In the Chicago Archdiocese, she was a teacher at St. Peter and Paul School, St. Norbert School (Northbrook), Providence of God School, and St. Paul-Our Lady of Vilna School. She also served as principal at Immaculate Conception School (Brighton Park), assistant principal at St. Clement School, and principal at Our lady of Perpetual Help School in Cleveland, Ohio. Sister also taught in the Joliet Diocese in Illinois and in Pennsylvania, Indiana, and New Mexico. Currently, Sister Virginia serves as a compliance coordinator at St. Clement School in Chicago, Illinois.
The extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy – what a year to celebrate my Golden Jubilee of religious profession!
My religious vocation has been a powerful gift which has enabled me to affect the lives of many people in the eight dioceses I have ministered in during these 50 years. It’s always been a mystery to me why God chose me to follow him – but then God’s plans are not ours. It doesn’t seem possible that I have been a Sister for 50 years — it sounds long and old, but I feel young and I’m thankful and grateful for my religious vocation and for all the people who have touched my life.
My life has always been intertwined with the Sisters of St. Casimir as I was born at Holy Cross Hospital, attended Our Lady of Vilna Elementary School and Maria High School as I grew up on the southwest side of Chicago. All of these institutions were staffed by the Sisters. In school I was blessed to have devoted, dedicated and loving Sisters as my teachers. Little did I realize at that early age that the seed of a vocation was being planted and nurtured by their presence in my life. The love, joy, and dedication shown by the Sisters was a visible invitation to pursue my own vocation to religious life.
As I reflect on the incredible events of my life over these 50 year, I see my life as a beautiful tapestry created by the Hand of God. I see especially the beauty of my SSC journey for the past 50 years, and how very much I have to be thankful for. I’ve experienced so many blessings and joys throughout my religious life through the love and support of my family, my Sisters in community, students, parents, colleagues, and friends. I am most grateful for the opportunities I’ve had as a Sister of St. Casimir to minister in education as a teacher and administrator throughout the United States as I served God’s people in various cultures. They have enriched my life immensely!
To a person discerning religious life – I suggest listening to the words of Sebastian Temple’s hymn, “Take My Hands:”
Take my hands and make them as your own…
And use them for your kingdom here on earth…
God will speak to your soul with this hymn, and your soul will know the message. My hands are not my own. They belong to God and everything I do would be nothing less than God working through me. What a wonderful way to live your life – using your hands and heart for the glory of God’s kingdom here on earth!
I have had a rich and meaningful life, and I am so grateful to God for every aspect of it!
I thank God
for his total faithfulness,
for not giving up on me,
for opening my eyes in however small a way
to his greatness and the divine plan he has for me.
I pray that I may be obedient to the ways the Lord wants to use me and that I will not disappoint him. And so, with a grateful heart I say:
For all that has been THANKS
For all that will be YES!
as I strive to live Mother Maria’s words, “Always more, Always better and Always with LOVE!”
Sister Estela Marina Risso
Golden Jubilee (50 years)
Sister Estela Marina Risso is a native of Buenos Aires, Argentina. She has ministered in Argentina as a grade school and junior high school teacher, primarily in Avellaneda/Buenos Aires, Rosario/Santa Fe, and Cordoba. She has also ministered in various pastoral activities, especially in teaching religious education. Sister Estela visited the United States in 1990 and assisted kindergarten classes at Nativity BVM School while staying at the Sisters of St. Casimir motherhouse. During her visit to the U.S., she also travelled to several SSC mission locations. Sister Estela currently ministers in Cordoba, Argentina.
I was born in Buenos Aires and grew up with four brothers and sisters in Avellaneda, two blocks away from Madre de la Misericordia Parish and School, which was directed by the Marian Fathers and the Sisters of St. Casimir.
My parents were Paraguayans, humble people, but with a deep faith and great respect for priests and religious. I believe that I received my first experience of God in my family, and, as for my religious vocation, from my contacts with the Sisters whom I always loved because of their empathy and kindness. My mother would take me to the early Mass, and there I admired the Sisters, all sitting in the first pew. I still feel the joy of this experience in my heart.
My mother prepared me for my First Communion and for Confirmation. The Sisters gave me a white veil with a little crown on it for my First Communion. Perhaps it was from some family in the U.S.A. who would donate many things to the Argentine mission.
When my family moved to another section of the city, we kept in contact with the parish community. Without realizing it I was encouraged to be a religious by my mother as she took me to visit the Sisters. On one visit I was invited to enter the aspirancy. After preparations, I entered the house of formation in Cordoba.
During my first year of novitiate, my mother passed away. I thought that perhaps I should return home to help my father and younger brothers and sisters, because the older ones already had their own families. With the encouragement of the Sisters and the fortitude of my father to continue raising the family, I remained in the community and professed perpetual vows in 1972.
While living with the Sisters in Rosario, I completed my teachers training. My new appointment was in Buenos Aires, where I continued my apostolate in the parish as well as in the school and was involved in camp activities, which I enjoyed because I enjoy the outdoors surrounded by God’s creation. I was given the opportunity to study theology in the evenings at the Archdiocesan Seminary, which I did for seven years, deepening my faith.
In 1990 the community provided a year of residence in the U.S.A. where I shared the apostolic work and life at the Motherhouse in Chicago as well as in some of the smaller communities there. I have beautiful memories of that visit.
On my return, I was transferred to Rosario and was asked to do departmental work with 6th and 7th graders – something new in my life. We initiated “Catechesis Familiar” in the parish and became involved with much organizational work. I continued this ministry for many years, with my last years of teaching in Cordoba.
Though I am no longer teaching, the mission continues in the work I do with the children in Bethel Home, a special home in Cordoba for orphans and those whose parents cannot care for them. A number of the children have various disabilities, needing more care.
I am also present to my local community and join my prayer with them in the lights and shadows of everyday life, and with the larger SSC community with whom I was blessed to spend time with in August of this year.
Be Women of Faith!
I have infinite thanks for all in the larger community, united in the Merciful Love.