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 2013 Jubilarians
Sister Nancy Streitmatter
Silver Jubilee (25 years)
Sister Nancy, from Kiwanee, Illinois, works in health care. She has served at Holy Cross Hospital in Chicago as a physician and as past director of the ICU. She also participated in a solidarity mission to Bolivia 19 times and volunteered at the St. Basil Free Clinic for 20 years. She currently ministers as a cardiologist and director of the echo lab at Holy Cross Hospital.
As my 25th year of religious life is upon me, I mostly feel surprised. When did this happen? Was it that long ago I entered? I have great appreciation for those who have been here so much longer. Also, I know that I stretched spiritually and emotionally to come to community, but I also am cognizant of and appreciative of the way the community has made space for me and accepted the challenge that someone who enters at a later age and a different work brings. I am very grateful to this community.
I know this is where I belong. First of all, it is so good to live with people who have the same love for God and keep me rooted when the cares of work or other issues get in the way. Secondly, I am so often aware of what Mother Maria said when she referred to the good that one person in love with God can do, but just think what an army of women with the same belief and united in that work can do. And third: we came together without choosing each other, yet we help not only others outside the community, but are so given to be there for those in community. This is such a blessing and really shows “how those Christians love one another.”
I feel blessed in so many ways. It is wonderful to know the love of God and to adore and worship that God. One of the ways I try to keep this in mind is by a nightly practice of remembering at least 3 ways in which God touched my life during the day. This is usually something that really touched me like God brushing me by with a reminder of love. Sometimes it is a challenge that reminds me of the need for God.
I am very proud of our community. We have done so many good works in teaching and healing that the results are probably uncountable. Also, and so important, is our commitment and continued work for peace and justice. We are a small community, but we have really made an impact in so many ways. Age and limited numbers have not stopped us. We continue to learn and be effective in ways, both individually and communally.
I have many favorite biblical quotes, but the one which has really been a force in my life is “all things work for good for those who love God” from Romans, 8. There have been significant challenges for me as for everyone. I can truly look back over my life and see all as blessing, as God walking with me in life and the hand of God at work. In current situations, as in the past, I have trust that it is God who directs and all will be well.
To someone considering religious life, I would say that if you really feel called, trust in God and surrender. As I was told, “God cannot be outdone in generosity.”
Sister Theresa Dabulis
Golden Jubilee (50 years)
Sister Theresa, a native of Brooklyn, New York, was an educator, parish director of religious education, and a social worker. She served at Providence of God in Chicago; St. Norbert, Northbrook; and Maria High School in Chicago. She was teacher/director of religious education in the Archdiocese of Washington, DC, and in Philadelphia and did social work with vulnerable adults, families, and children in Prince George County, Maryland. She currently is SSC Councilor for On-going Formation and Spirituality.
Upon my Golden Jubilee celebration my heart is filled with joy, and all I can say is THANK YOU, GOD for your faithfulness, mercy, and love.
Thank you for my family, especially my parents, my vocation, the Sisters of St. Casimir, and all those sisters, spiritual companions, and friends who have strengthened and nourished me along the way of my vocation.
I am grateful for the opportunities that crossed my path, people who enriched my life, experiences and challenges that stretched me to see with new eyes, the eyes of faith, the eyes of the heart.
My blessings have been many these past 50 years. It was in 1962 that Pope John XXIII called the Second Vatican Council into session. And what a blessing it was for the church, the world, the laity, women, and religious throughout the world. Personally, I remember our novice directress coming home from a theology course and introducing us to Teilhard de Chardin and scripture. This sparked my interest to pursue studies in religious education. I was inspired by the explanation of the Eucharist as the paschal mystery, Christ, life, death, and resurrection, as the core of our faith, and our lives were all intertwined with the Paschal Mystery. It was a revelation to me, and it helped me to view life with its joys and sorrows through the lens of the Eucharist. It’s at the table of the Eucharist that we are nourished with the Bread of Life and are sent forth to continue the mission of Christ, and it is at the table of life that we are called to give of ourselves to others.
The call to give and bring life to others comes in different forms, requests, surprises, and demands, but the responsibility to respond with love is always there. Through my prayer, reflection, and contemplation, I became more aware of God’s presence, and goodness in everyone and everything around me. As a sister in community, a teacher, a DRE, a social worker, a congregational leadership team member, a friend, and advocate for the poor, I try to respond with a compassionate, understanding heart while keeping in mind my own humanness and shortcomings; thus, a need for forgiveness and Eucharist.
In God’s providence, I was led to a particular community, the Sisters of St. Casimir, whose Foundress, Venerable Mother Maria Kaupas, was imbued with the Eucharistic presence and encouraged her sisters to stay close to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. It is here that the mystery of God’s Divine Plan has become a reality, living in community with others whose focus was on the mission of Jesus – a mission of love, compassion, and service to others.
The quote from Mt 26:26 has always been meaningful to me because it speaks of what we are called to in everyday life, to be “Bread,…blessed,…broken…and shared.”
Mother Maria’s vision of preserving the faith, educating, reaching out to others in need, and going beyond the walls of the convent and motherhouse into the neighborhood, parishes, missions in the United States, Lithuania, and Argentina continues to the present. We, vowed religious, associates, and dedicated laity, need to continue and carry on her vision.
If a woman were inquiring about becoming a religious, I would tell her to be open to the possibility and consider the following:
- Pray, talk it over with someone whose advice you value
- LISTEN because the Spirit does speak out of the clear blue through a passing thought as I wonder if God is calling
- Take seriously when someone asks you, “Did you ever think about being a Sister?”
- Ponder a word from scripture that speaks to your heart
Each day, each moment, God calls and nourishes us through His Word, sacrament, people, events, and circumstances and asks us: “to act justly, love tenderly, and walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8). It is in this spirit that I look forward to continuing my life journey with faith, and hope, and love, and joy, and dance.
Sister M. Lawrence Puishys
Diamond Jubilee (60 years)
Sister Mary Lawrence, a native of Worcester, Massachusetts,worked in education, school and health care administration, and as a health care patient advocate. She served at St. George; Immaculate Conception (44th Street); Providence of God; and St. Joseph in Chicago; St. Casimir, Chicago Heights; Holy Cross Hospital in Chicago; and in Florida and Pennsylvania. She currently ministers as a Holy Cross Hospital patient advocate.
I have been blessed from the day I was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, into a loving family. My parents were the best! They taught us seven children to respect each other and everyone else.
That was reinforced by the Sisters of St. Casimir, who were our teachers. To this day I try to live what I learned. The Sisters were my inspiration to join them. I am grateful to them for helping me achieve my desire to serve God with them.
As I reflect on my 60 years as a Professed Sister of St. Casimr, I am grateful to God for helping me to enjoy being a teacher as well as an administrator, not only in educating children, but also in caring for the elderly.
One of my special blessings now is living with my sister, Sister June, and our Sisters of St. Casimir at our Motherhouse.
I’ve learned that God’s will is what counts, not mine! God knows what is best for me and for all of us!
Sister Lorraine Therese Siminas
Diamond Jubilee (60 years)
Sister Lorraine Therese, a Chicago native from Our Lady of the Ridge Parish, Chicago Ridge, worked in education. She served at Holy Cross; Nativity BVM; St. Bartholemew; St. George; Providence of God; Sts. Peter and Paul; and Our Lady of Vilna in Chicago; and St. Norbert, Northbrook; and in the Joliet, Illinois diocese, New Mexico, Michigan, Maryland, Minnesota, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. She is currently active in prayer ministry.
In the early years of my life, it was my mother and father who introduced me to God for the first time. Besides explaining the pictures and statues to me in our church, my mother would take me there when she attended devotions in our church, and sometimes she took me to the Sorrowful Mother Basilica. When my mother prayed the rosary novena, she would have me in front of her in the pew so that I could see the pictures as she turned the pages. My father, too, took me to church when we’d have a procession of the Blessed Sacrament. He would bend down and whisper in my ear in Lithuanian as he pointed to the Host – “There is God.” My eyes would follow as far as I could see the Host. (We owned a candy store, so sometimes my parents had to take turns going to different devotions.)
Later, our priests sometimes asked us what we planned to be when we grew up. They suggested we pray. For those who were very young, the priest suggested we say three Hail Marys each day for that intention. Eventually I, too, wanted to become a Sister and enter the convent and bring God to others.
I am most grateful now for my spiritual development and the education I received as a Sister. As I found God in my family, I have also found God in the schools where I was missioned as teacher and principal. Most of all, I delighted in finding God in the children I taught. Many children passed through my hands during my years as teacher. I think of them often and pray for them.
Now that I have retired, I try to still bring God to others, as well as meeting God in others, as I go about my daily tasks. This gives me great joy because God has been good and generous to me. Holy is His name.
Sister Mary de Sales Sokol
Diamond Jubilee (60 years)
Sister Mary de Sales, from St. Clare of Montefalco Parish, worked in education and administration and established the Sisters of St. Casimir Food Pantry, a 1967 government Head Start program. She was an SSC General Councilor. She served at Immaculate Conception (44th Street); Providence of God; Our Lady of Vilna; and St. Pius X in Chicago; St. Norbert, Northbrook; and in the Joliet and Rockford dioceses; and in Indiana. She is currently active in prayer ministry.
At this time in my life, having celebrated 60 years as a Sister of St. Casimir, I must say that I have been blessed: I am blessed now in my life in the infirmary; I was blessed in all my years of ministry – as teacher, as principal, as Council member, as Motherhouse superior. I did things I never would have dreamed of doing. Somehow, with God’s help, I was able to do them.
I grew up in a good home with good parents. I felt I had a vocation to religious life, but my father would not let me enter the convent. I helped take care of my father before he died. My mother eventually allowed me to come to the convent.
I was surprised to be given the name “Sister Mary de Sales” – it was not a usual name to be given. I had not asked for it. But this, too, was a blessing. Throughout the years I have been inspired by my patron saint, St. Francis de Sales. One of his sayings comes to my mind now: “Have patience with all things but chiefly have patience with yourself.” I strive to live those words.
Sister Agnese Chapkauskas
Diamond Jubilee (60 years)
Sister Agnese, from St. Anthony Parish in Cicero, worked in education and as a Holy Cross Hospital pastoral minister. She served at Providence of God; St. Pius X; Maria High School; and Holy Cross Hospital in Chicago; and in the Joliet, Illinois diocese, Indiana, New Mexico, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. She is currently active in prayer ministry.
Having met this special milestone in my life as a Sister of St. Casimir – 60 years of profession – I am thankful for God’s blessings for helping me to maintain good health to reach this point.
Some special moments stand out for me:
I especially liked teaching first and second grade in St. John’s school and St. Peter’s school in New Mexico. I also taught religious education to children in the local parishes there. This was my first experience teaching students with a Mexican heritage, and I enjoyed my years in New Mexico.
I also enjoyed working with the young women at Maria High School as I ministered in the main office. My last assignment before coming to the Motherhouse was at Holy Cross Hospital. There I was a patient spiritual care visitor, ministering to people during very critical times of their lives.
None of these opportunities would have been possible without the support and guidance of the Sisters of St. Casimir. Wherever the Sisters of St. Casimir were needed, that’s where they went. In fact, Mother Maria responded to the call to send “home missionaries” to various parts of the United States, including New Mexico. Had she not made that response, my ministry in New Mexico would not have taken place. Had I not received the education I needed to teach young children, I would not have been able to teach young children in our schools.
God not only has directed me in my life, but our Congregation as well. God has always been with us with new opportunities and challenges as well as what we need to respond to them. We are not alone.
Sister Reginald Tamulevich
Diamond Jubilee (75 years)
Sister Reginald, a native of Massachusetts, was a music teacher and a violinist. She served at Maria High School; Holy Cross School; Immaculate Conception (44th Street); and Nativity BVM in Chicago; St. Anthony, Cicero; and in Pennsylvania and New Mexico. She currently is active in prayer ministry.
Having recently celebrated my diamond jubilee – 75 years as a Sister of St. Casimir – I cannot help but thank God for everything.
When I think about these past 75 years, a number of things stand out for me – one being that I actually knew Mother Maria and she knew me. When I entered the convent, I tended to run everywhere. Of course, when I approached Mother Maria’s room, I would slow down and walk, but after I passed her room, there I was, running again.
One time Mother Maria actually caught me running up a flight of stairs. Next time, I tried another staircase, but Mother Maria was standing at the top. I was actually caught running quite often, but Mother Maria would only sigh and say, “Oh, Sister” in Lithuanian, and I would drop to the floor on my knees, all apologies. I could tell that Mother Maria had a kind heart.
Mother Maria never seemed to get angry or upset. She was always cool, calm, and level-headed. She also never let on that she was in pain.
Playing the violin was a gift from God. My older brother played the violin, and that made me want to play it. I was in the 3rd grade when I was able to use his violin. Eventually he gave it to me.
My mother was a very religious woman and had a great influence in my life. She mother had a beautiful singing voice and loved to sing, especially in church.
I went to a public elementary school. The ladies in the parish, St. Rocco’s, prepared the children for the sacraments. I saw an ad in the church bulletin about a boarding high school in Newtown, PA, and wanted to go. My mother was supportive, but my dad was not. My older brother drove my mother and me to Pennsylvania so I could attend Villa Joseph Marie High School.
I hung around with a crowd of kids at home and had a wonderful childhood playing in an area they called the swamp. It was at the base of a huge hill, so in the winter it was a natural place to go sledding. The wettest part would freeze, so we could all ice skate. During the warm months we caught turtles and frogs and spent all of the summer days there.
Sister Margaret Mary and Sister Clement were neighbors, so we all grew up together. Sister Margaret Mary was the youngest and couldn’t always keep up with the bigger kids, so I would carry her on my shoulders so that we could be with the rest of the kids.
My vocation is truly a gift from God. I am most grateful for having known Mother Maria, the ability to play the violin, the opportunity to teach and to help my students appreciate and love music. I enjoyed playing in many orchestras.
The gift that the Sisters of St. Casimir gave to the Church and to the world was Mother Maria. She is truly a saint.
I’ve lived 75 years as a Sister of St. Casimir, I played the violin, I taught, I enjoyed life. I cannot thank God enough. As the saying goes, “Practice makes perfect.” I’m still practicing.