Sharing Our Faith - St. Bernard's Graduates at Work in the Community
Why make the sacrifice to study at St. Bernard's? The reasons are as varied as the individuals who are called to do God's work. Below are some of the personal stories shared by our graduates who are putting faith into action in our community.
Rev. Louise Tallman Shepard, (MA Theology 1995)
Pediatric Chaplain, Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital, Syracuse
I am the pediatric chaplain at Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital in Syracuse. I did my CPE residency, fellowship, research and was staff Chaplain in Charlotte, NC for seven years before coming here to develop a pediatric chaplaincy program six years ago. We have published two books to hand out to patients/families and sell to the general public.
I graduated with a MA in Theology from St. Bernard’s. I hope to share the wonderful things going on here at Golisano Children's Hospital. It is quite the building with a tree house containing a solarium and chapel, and more! (update 01/10)
Nancy DeRycke, (1991)
I went to St Bernard's while I was working full-time in a parish (St. Helen's) which was challenging in itself time wise and energy wise. It was so rewarding to work with professors who had an understanding of other commitments and also challenged us to make it work for both and to see the connections between classwork and ministry and God working in our lives.
I have since continued to work as a Pastoral Leader (Pastoral Administrator) in other parishes and have also taught courses at St. Bernard's over the years. It is my privilege to encourage and challenge others to "make the connections" between education and ministry, always with the pastoral side in play. I remember learning from Fr. Kevin McKenna in our Canon Law course that "we need to learn the Law so that we can use it FOR people instead of against people." It has made all the difference. (update 01/2010)
Suzanne Shady (1996)
St Mary's Hospital Chaplain
I am happy to share some details of my work and the wonderful value of my St. Bernard's education. I am a board certified chaplain with the National Association of Catholic Chaplains and presently working for Unity Health System. My responsibility is primarily as chaplain for the St. Mary's campus where I minister to the patients in the Inpatient Psychiatric Unit, the Brain Injury Rehab and outpatient dialysis and oncology units. (submitted 01/2010)
Jenn Owens (MA Pastoral Studies 2007)
Director of Faith Formation and Youth Ministry St. Francis of Assisi and St. Hyacinth Parish Cluster, Auburn, NY
I'm one of the young adult ministers in the Diocese. After I graduated from St Bernard’s I spent a year as a Cap Corps volunteer, meaning I was a full time volunteer for one year with the Capuchin Franciscans doing retreat ministry for junior high through college age students. I lived with 3 other young adults in community who did the same thing I did- we lived in Beacon, NY and did retreats in Garrison, NY. One of the big things I did was lead a Vacation Bible School for kids in Appalachia, Kentucky (one of the poorest regions of the US). Our Cap Corps group took 70 teens and adults to Kentucky where I directed the Vacation Bible School with about 20 of the teens as youth leaders.
I am now the Director of Religious Education and Youth Ministry at St. Francis and St. Hyacinth Parish Cluster in Auburn. Please feel free to visit our website: stfrancissthyacinthfaithformation.pbworks.com. (update 01/2010)
Deacon Kevin Carges (MA Pastoral Studies, 2005)
Owner, Canandaigua Quick Print
As a Deacon, I have gotten into international ministries and chair a solidarity committee in the Rochester Diocese. With the help of others, I’ve created Deacon Kevin’s Circle of Friends. We have two goals: to raise funds for our brothers and sisters in Third World countries and to increase awareness of their living conditions.
I’ve visited some of these countries and saw the squalid conditions with my own eyes. The people I met and the villages I visited made such a lasting impression on me that I felt I must do something to help. I have set up a website: www.deaconkevin.org to share some of my experiences. I've been talking a lot about Haiti and have been working with Maryknoll, CRS, and Food for the Poor.
Having a great time. Took one of the Spanish courses at St. Bernard’s last summer since my parish in Geneva has a Spanish Mass, but I still have a lot to learn there. (update 01/2010)
Lisa P. Marcelletti (GC Pastoral Studies 2007)
Faith Formation Director St. Mary of the Assumption Church
Since graduation in 2007, I've been very happily ministering with the people of St. Mary of the Assumption parish in Scottsville as their Faith Formation Director. I've never been more fulfilled and never knew this kind of peace was possible. Hokey as that sounds, it's the truth.
I will always be grateful to my professors at St. Bernard's for supplying me with a new lens with which to see the world, those people around me, and my own wounded soul. Without them and their guidance and encouragement, I would still be searching to find what was within my reach all these years - God and his best desire for my life! (update 01/2010)
Susan Gruber (MA 2003)
High School Teacher
My story is not a "wow" story, but here it is...Working with the people from our parish's RCIA program is how the Holy Spirit led me to St. Bernard's. Mid-way through my studies I felt called to work as a Pastoral Associate in Corning for 3 years (and really enjoyed the parishioners) and then felt called to leave. I returned to the public school system from whence I came.
I teach high school French... I see my teaching vocation now as more of a ministry than I did before my studies and work at the Church. I can't share my faith with my students, but I TRY to help them make better, kinder, and smarter decisions... I am not always the role model that I would like to be, but I do start each day anew with the best intentions to make a positive difference in their lives. Some days I succeed; some days, not so much! My pastoral care and counseling courses are the ones that provided me with the practical skills that I need each day (and I sometimes remember to use them!) :-)
A surprisingly big part of my "job" here has been ministering to many of my colleagues, especially those who are grieving or dealing with heavy burdens. It is not unusual for us to talk openly about faith, or even pray together. I have even led funeral and committal prayer services for some of their relatives. I am truly blessed to work in a secular environment with so many faith-filled, good-hearted people. We support each other through the bumps in the road and celebrate each other's joys! Who could ask for more?
Attending St. Bernard's gave me a different perspective on the world around me and enriched my life...I am so very grateful to have had the opportunity of that rewarding experience, which keeps on giving. (update 01/2010)
Susan Miller (MA Pastoral Studies 2006)
Adjunct Professor, Monroe Community College
One of the more quiet stories is mine. I am now teaching as an adjunct professor at Monroe Community College. This opportunity would not have been available to me without the education I got at St. Bernard's. My passion is my work with the dying. My volunteer work at a local Hospice Home lead me to get my degree at St. Bernard’s. At the time I wasn’t sure how I would use my degree, but knew I wanted to work with the dying. Low and behold this opportunity presented itself. Teaching is not something I would have ever seen myself doing nor did I have the confidence that I needed. Today I am teaching students about Death & Dying and in many small and surprisingly large ways they are grieving and I feel very good about my work. I am grateful for my education and Roslyn Karaban for her support and confidence in me. (submitted 01/2010)
Midge Merritt (MA Pastoral Studies 2007)
Hospital Chaplain, Michigan
I've been serving as a hospital chaplain for 2.5 years since graduating from St. Bernard's. I've decided this year to write a story a week about my experiences with patients. I have daily experiences that impress me with the resilience of people and the beauty of relationships and the store of love and hope folks have for the down times. I am blessed! (update 01/2010)
Maureen Collins (MDiv 2000)
Catholic Chaplain, Cayuga Correctional Facilty, Moravia
Because of my degree from St. Bernard's I was able to become the Catholic chaplain at Cayuga Correctional facility in Moravia. There are only a few women Catholic chaplains in the state and I may be the only one with an M.Div. And, in December I received my D.Min degree. My thesis involved helping faith communities understand their role in welcoming ex-offenders when they return to the community. (update 01/2010)
Mary Alice Westerlund '05
Evening Chaplain, Lourdes Hospital, Binghampton, NY
I went to St. Bernard's to find out where and how I could get good information about the Catholic Church it's rules and traditions. I was so tired of listening to people with old or bad information, that they still believed was correct. There was never a desire to teach or do anything with it other than being an informed Catholic laywoman. However, the further I got into study, the more I began to realize that I should "put my talent's to work." The call of God took shape when I took a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education at Strong. After 4 more units of CPE, I applied for and received the position of Evening Chaplain at Lourdes Hospital in Binghamton, NY. My education at St. Bernard's is the bedrock of my ministry. I wouldn't be the chaplain I am today without it. CPE used my St. Bernard's experience and built on it. (update 01/2010)