Ministry Highlight


Sister Ann Marie Pierce by Patt Walsh, IHM

“God Saved the Best for Last”


ann marie and parents
Sister Ann Marie
and her parents

Ann Marie Pierce-1
Sister Ann Marie (middle)
and her siblings

Ann Marie Pierce comes to OLP after having served as a hospital chaplain in West Islip, NY, for almost 20 years. For her work there she was honored by S.O.A.R. with its Father Victor Yanitelli, SJ, Award. Sister Kathleen Lunsmann writes: "Ann Marie’s life demonstrates the way women religious constantly adapt to respond to the needs of the times and continue to work in fulfilling ministries long after the normal retirement age.” Ann Marie is 85!

Ann Marie is the youngest of five children of William and Marion Pierce from Manhasset, NY. Her mother was a teacher and two of her siblings joined Ann Marie as teachers. Her two brothers became dentists. Her influences were: family, church and education. At St. Mary’s Ann Marie met Sister Susan McMenamin, her music teacher and, later, her IHM sponsor. Though Susan’s musical programs were legendary, what Ann Marie most admired was that when the concert was over, Susan disappeared. Like Susan, Ann Marie – as teacher and principal – says her success was always because she was a part of a team!

As an educator, Ann Marie was well mentored—from home to her first time as both a principal of a newly merged elementary school, Wyoming Area Catholic, and superior. She had two things in her favor—just coming from a merged school and now—a community of IHM mentors.

In 1979, the congregation opened a house of prayerIn 1979, the congregation opened a house of prayerin Verona, NJ. An IHM was needed as the schoolprincipal—enter Sister St. Roger. It was here she met Sister Patty Tippen. One Christmas Eve both Pattyand St. Roger were home together—they had ministryobligations on Christmas Day. Ann Marie marks thatas the time they moved from IHM sisters to friends—what a great Christmas present!

Her time then was best described in the lyrics of a favorite musician, Neil Diamond: “So good, so good, so good.”

One day, as principal, she drove a student to a prison to see her mother. There, Ann Marie discovered that “non-traditional education” is still education. Later, she ended up talking to the late Sister Celine Marie about her hospital chaplaincy work and found there was a program opening.

Training complete, Ann Marie accepted a position as hospital chaplain at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip. Patty found ministry in West Islip and they spent many happy years living together before Patty became ill and left us all too soon.

A chaplain is with people at the best and worst times. Chaplaincy is a truly meaningful ministry—you immediately get to experience the gratitude and the support from those you serve. Ann Marie is comfortable around death and dying. However, nothing would have prepared her for being a hospital chaplain in NY during Covid.

Now, families were not allowed to be with loved ones. Hospitals created “Covid floors” and Ann Marie was not allowed to minister there. And, it was common to have refrigerated trailers outside for the bodies.

Finally, Ann Marie made the decision to leave the place she loved for her own health and safety. Ann Marie’s decision to move to OLP allowed her to continue in ministry as a volunteer in the Pastoral Care Department. She visits sisters at the hospital and brings Communion. She’s a sacristan and spends time with the sisters on first floor.

How does she do it all? Ann Marie lives a life of gratitude. She ends her day with a “Gratitude List” and, for those whose lives she’s touched—we are all grateful.

Ann Marie Pierce-2
L-R: Sisters Ann Marie and Patty

Ann Marie Pierce-3
L-R: Sisters Amy, Sandy, Redempta, 
Ann Marie and Patty

Sister Janet Jeffers by Patt Walsh, IHM


Janet Jeffers-parents
Cyril and Mary Horan Jeffers

Sisters Janet
and Maria Regina

janet and hospital admin

“Please help me, St. Ann, to not waste my suffering, but to instead, lay it at the foot of the Cross and carry it courageously all my days.”

As I’ve spent time interviewing Janet in-between her trips back and forth to St. Ann’s Novena, it only seems appropriate that I begin with the above quotation from a novena prayer.

I met Janet Jeffers before I actually saw her in person. She’s the daughter of Cyril and Mary Horan Jeffers. Growing up, it seemed that everyone knew Cyril Jeffers from South Side (Minooka)! At Bishop Klonowski High School, I’d taught Janet’s niece, Michelle (who’d been raised by Janet’s parents). Michelle was endearing and memorable and she continued her IHM connections by working at the Marian Convent in the kitchen.

When I entered in 1969, Janet was in the Juniorate. In other words, Janet was living at the Motherhouse at the time of the fire.

You know Janet—even if you’ve never met her! Her first degree is in business education. If you know anyone with a business background, you know what kind of qualities and skills they have! They are practical, problem-solving, and organized. What do you know about budgets and why is it important that you at least know someone who does? And, what if “you” are a high school student (whose parents are praying for a successful future), a hospital administrator, a refugee resettlement director or a congregation leader? When the other half of her first degree says “education,” it means that she can and has taught others to do what she has the skills to do herself.

While Janet may have had a plan for her life, it was apparent that God had a different one and Janet surrendered to it. While she liked business, Janet had no desire to teach until she did it and learned she loved it! Her ministry experiences seem like a game of checkers and, in truth, Janet’s life’s journey does read like a series of doors opening and doors closing. But, they are amazing doors! For example, Janet left education for a masters in hospital administration from Xavier University with a fellowship in the American College of Health Care Executives. She became the assistant administrator for planning and development at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Carbondale where she used her business experience/training to plan and finance the addition of the hospital’s “tower.” If you’ve been to St. Joseph/Marian Community hospital, entering through the Emergency Room door meant you were mid-point in the tower wing.

Janet left the hospital to be Northern Sector Coordinator. Janet’s “doors” include the Apostleship for Prayer Office, the vice president for mission and ministry at a nursing and rehabilitation center, the Sisters of St. Dominic retirement director, executive director of Catholic Social Services for Lackawanna and Wayne counties (reporting to then CEO, Mary Theresa Malandro), assistant to the SSCM general treasurer, director of Scranton’s Telespond program, a volunteer for St. Francis’ clothing area and now, at OLP, assistant to our activities director.

What happens when Janet opens a “door?” Well, at Catholic Social Services, it meant that she was in charge of the creation and implementation of its Refugee Resettlement Program. Janet’s great insight is that “refugee” doesn’t equal “immigrant.” Refugees have been fleeing danger and have spent at least three years in a refugee camp being assessed before arriving at the location where they hope to make a new home.

Blest are we to have a woman who has had the courage to open so many doors! Janet has now arrived at OLP’s door. She’s home!

Sister Jane Snyder, IHM by Sister Patt Walsh, IHM



star iconStar of the Sea Stained 
Glass Window Icon

“A star in the IHM sea”

Soon OLP will be observing its “Second Covid Anniversary.” Living in and through it has been like being a part of an ever-changing puzzle. Like all puzzles, OLP has “pieces”: building components, various staffs and administrators and residents with differing health needs and a LIFE program in which we participate. We’ve gone from no vaccine to fully boostered and no visitors and no trips to restaurants. We have a new administrator and an associate administrator who’ll be starting soon. At any given time, some pieces are on or off the board. I’m not complaining. I’m still alive and many have not survived these Covid times. But I am definitely confused, and I ache for the sister who is worried about whether it is her day to go down for Mass or to watch it on channel 13!

In the “before Covid time,” the Vital Living Program introduced the idea of the Independent Living Model to Our Lady of Peace Residence. The first group came together in Household 4B. Covid’s arrival inside OLP, however, meant the 4B sisters needed to re-locate because 4B was designated as the “Covid ward.”

Now 4B sisters have returned and are adding new members. Happily for me, that includes my dear friend, Jane Snyder, who agreed to be profiled as an opportunity to explain OLP’s Independent Living Model. Jane helped me see life at OLP that way, through the lens of a medical model. I like models. I just didn’t know I was living in one! OLP not only provides IHMs independent living; assisted-living; skilled-nursing and memory care in one facility but, through the LIFE program, local elderly can also live independently.

Jane seems to be particularly skilled at bringing clarity to confusion - consider the Advisory Board, the Governance Committee and the IHM  Constitutions task force. To understand her skills is to understand growing up in the Snyder family where her parents completed college degrees in business and math before marrying and giving birth to nine children. I’ve known the Snyder family for 65+ years as loving, happy, funny and smart but, until this profile, I had no idea the depth of their spirituality–praying the rosary and the litany of the Blessed Mother weekly. Parental strengths in organization and logic gave each child clarity on roles and responsibilities.

Jane has accepted various administrative/leadership roles because she recognizes she has those gifts. Jane enjoys administrative roles like she enjoys doing puzzles–she can see the pieces and has the ability to help put them together.

Anticipating retirement and health needs, Jane decided to ask to be a part of the OLP independent living model. Living at OLP is not just about meeting one’s health care needs. Each household has its own community life identity.

Not only is Jane familiar with Mary’s litany titles, she also learned in the novitiate that the IHM Center chapel’s stained-glass windows include icons of those titles. Not long ago Jane stopped in the chapel and noticed the icon for “Mary, Star of the Sea” and raised the question of whether the sisters in 4B wanted to give their community that name.

Now, Jane and her community are actively working to integrate this independent community life model. Being independent means continuing in ministry. Jane serves as the director of support services at OLP and the IHM Center.

Star of the Sea Community is our OLP lodestar—working to create an interdependent community model.

Star of the Sea
Star of the Sea Community: L-R Sisters Joyce, Mary,
Cor Immaculatum, Jane, Sandy, Ann, and Raymond Mary

Sister Eileen Mary Coleman, IHM, by Sister Patt Walsh, IHM

"Mixed together, we can never be separated.”  

Eileen Green smile
Sister Eileen Mary Coleman

jane gaughan and haiti children
Sister Jane Gaughan

Lynn Coleman went to St. Patrick’s School, Olyphant and had Sister Charles, IHM, for French and thus, Sister Eileen Mary Coleman learned to love a language that would eventually make her the perfect candidate to lead the Tri-IHM/OSP Haiti Committee (now along with Sisters Jane Gaughan and Susan Hadzima) for the IHM Congregation in Scranton.

As the writer of this profile, I’m praying I can find the words to describe what has found a home in the deepest part of Eileen’s heart and is currently breaking it – the Haitian Little Sisters of St. Therese and the plight of the people of Haiti. This is not a hurricane or an earthquake story. As Eileen says, “In Haiti, they are always rebuilding.” But, this is a “teachable moment.” So, I made a choice to profile Eileen’s life or tell the story she prays we’ll never forget – even when she’s no longer here to tell it. When in doubt… go with legacy.

In 1992, the IHM Sesquicentennial Committee decided it would include an Outreach to Haiti component. It took the form of “twinning.” While twinning was a popular program for parishes, the IHMs were the first religious congregation to do so and we were also the first to twin with another religious congregation. The Haitian Little Sisters of St. Therese was selected because it’s Haiti’s oldest indigenous congregation. Sister Bernadette, then their “General Responsible,” was so excited, she exclaimed: “Our foundresses in heaven will bring us together!”

The formal framework of the Haiti Outreach Project is financial. Each congregation makes an annual monetary commitment to the Little Sisters. However, that’s not as simple as it sounds. The banking system in Haiti is so poor that the church/religious congregations there have created their own bank. A deposit is made; then call the Little Sisters; they find a way to travel to the bank to get it; they pray they get home without being robbed and find a safe spot to keep it.

Since 1995, Eileen, the sisters on the Haiti Committee and others who have responded to their pleas have been busy building a “house of love” around that framework. Eileen hasn’t just worked to find the money to send them (including a $100,000 grant!) but she’s visited there many times despite the danger in doing so. It’s the many years of our personal visits to Haiti and their visits here; the emails and the phone calls that the Little Sisters say are the most valued aspect of our twinning relationship. Ironically, it was their last visit here for the project’s 20th anniversary that ended in a fall that broke Eileen’s hip and began her journey of increasingly diminishing physical strength. Because it’s been too dangerous to travel to Haiti, right now it’s still Eileen who is getting the calls, reading/sharing the emails, hearing their pain while continuing to be inspired by their faith and perseverance and praying the IHM commitment will continue on even when she's not able.

As we consider our emerging future; plan for direction; re-commit to the challenges of racial justice and the climate crisis and recall St. Alphonsus’ call to ‘proclaim God’s unconditional love to the poor;' one does wonder if now is also the time to go even deeper into our commitment to Haiti and the Little Sisters for our own good.

Anchoring our hearts in the home of the poorest country in the world may teach us all what we have been saying we want to become, and it will make my former French teacher very happy and relieved!

Donations for the Little Sisters of St. Therese in Haiti can be sent to the IHM Development Office, 2300 Adams Avenue, Scranton, PA 18509. Please note, "Haiti."

"When we stand with people who are poor and
marginalized, whether that's in Haiti, in Peru,
in downtown Scranton, in New York City, in our
neighborhoods, we run a risk: the risk that, when we
stand with the poor, they may shake us into a new way of
seeing; they may challenge us to move from learning their
names to standing beside them in the struggle for justice.
This is what solidarity does to us: we begin to claim the
deep, hidden sigh of our neighbor as our own."
- Sister Chris Koellhoffer, IHM

me, Denise, Bernadette
Sisters Denise, Bernadette and Eileen
Mary Coleman

eileen and susan
IHM Sisters Eileen Mary Coleman
and Susan Hadzima

eileen and students

Collaboration Takes Many Forms in IHM Mission in Sicuani    by Sister Ancilla Maloney, IHM

The death from Covid of Father David Garate Salina brought much sadness to the diocese of Sicuani last May. But Sister Eileen Egan was happy to be able to take over his class in Apologetics that he had been teaching to the five seminarians. Working with the pastor of the Cathedral parish of San Felipe, which is actually a mission church, Eileen also designed an on-line course on St. Mark to follow the Sunday readings of the liturgical year B. The culmination of this program will be the celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation. She had developed booklets for each of the 70 participants with questions that focused on the Gospel of each Sunday Mass up until the beginning of Advent. Eileen had also developed a similar program last year which focused on the Gospel of Matthew and culminated in the reception of the Sacraments by 100 participants. To date, the churches in the diocese are not yet open due to the high rates of COVID.

DSCN9972Sister Eileen Egan and seminarians

Sister Ancilla Maloney is also teaching English to the five seminarians. She has also been approached by mothers seeking help for their children. Fourth grader Abraham hadn’t gone to school since March of 2020 as instruction was by cell phone and his family didn’t have enough cell phones for the five school-aged children. Twins Will and Francis are in second grade and can’t read. (Sister Eileen is also tutoring a second and a third grader because neither can read.) This situation is probably multiplied by thousands of other children in the provinces of Peru where families are mostly poor and education is by cell phone. Often there is no WIFI signal for children in the mountains and they simply have dropped out of school. IHM Associate Delfina Hualla Condori shared that she should have 20+ students in her class but only five are coming. IHM Associate Casilda Morocho’s husband is teaching first, second, and third grade students from the mountains by phone long distance. Imagine that! Students in the cities or in particular schools have access to learning presented by their teachers on computers via the internet. Even though Ancilla couldn’t open the library for the 25 to 30 children who usually came every day, thanks to a donation from Partnerschaft families in Weiher Germany, there are four computers in the library which seven children come to use each day.

DSCN9952Sister Ancilla Maloney and student

With the exception of two priests busy in their mountain parishes, Eileen and Ancilla are the only two native English speakers in the region. Early in Ancilla’s time in Sicuani, she was approached by the Directors of Diocesan Programs and different communities of sisters for help writing grants in English for various projects. These included two vans for disabled children, an X-ray machine for a diocesan clinic, support for the Office of Social Justice, a dormitory for abused and abandoned girls and help to build an Alternative High School in a mountain community. At present Ancilla is working with a group of Franciscan Sisters from El Salvador. The Sisters have encountered many, many poor, sick, crippled, blind, abused and or abandoned elderly folks in their pastoral visits. Consequently, they plan to build a residence for them and Ancilla is working to secure grants for this project called Divine Providence House.


During her years in the Congregation, Sister Norma Poma has been taught English in her formation by Sister Michael Marie Hartman, experienced some classes in New York City at the Berlitz Language School and then studied for several months at Marywood University. During the months of pandemic, Norma has also been enrolled long distance in a Master’s program in psychology in Sede Sapientia University in Lima. English is one of the requirements for her program. One day when I was in the room where Norma had just finished her class, her cell phone kept ringing. All the students in her class wanted to partner with her for a group project and were trying to get to her first!!! Her education at Champagnat University in Lima has also prepared her to be a leader in the projects in her psychology program, spending many hours helping other students in her classes. Norma is also working with Yanet Sucapuma helping her plant and harvest the corn crop on land the sisters were able to purchase with donations from Partnerschaft in Germany to help provide food for the girls in their House of Studies. At this point, Yanet’s family has purchased half the land.

DSCN9989Sister Norma Poma Arpi

Sister Dolores Dunn, IHM


Art Therapy is a non-verbal, non- threatening form of communication. Any spark of human spirit, no matter how small, has a right to be nurtured and developed. Each person investigates and explores this ability throughout life. The use of Art Therapy and the Creative Art Therapies assist a person's emotional release and personal adjustment. Creative Therapies help promote independence, flexibility of thinking, group dynamics and social interaction. Each person has a mental picture of himself which is different from the way others see him. This image depends upon one's occupation, sense of values and feelings of self-worth.

Expressing one's image is an important part of creativity and personal validation. It is only when the individual self is accepted that true self-expression can happen. The greater the individual's development, the greater the freedom of expression. When the creative process is cultivated, there will exist motivation and achievement.

Creative Art Therapy activities enable an individual to express his conscious and unconscious self spontaneously, to settle conflicts, to foster self-awareness and personal growth.

Sister Dolores believes that health professionals are called to be healers. "We are invited to live, share and be caring individuals. We can go forth with a message of unconditional love, forgiveness and individual validation."

She further notes, "As a response to a changing and materialistic culture of unrest and instant gratification, we can be strong anchors of faith that spread a healing peace. What more healing way than through the creative art therapies?"

At the Senior Medical Mental Health Unit at Moses Taylor Hospital, Sister Dolores and the health professionals who serve there engage each patient in the Creative Art Therapies on a daily basis. Art therapy, music therapy, exercise, cooking, spirituality groups, pet and child therapy, make up the unit milieu for the patients during their hospital stay.

It is said that persons in old age reflect on their life's journey and experience feelings of satisfaction and integrity or dissatisfaction and despair.

At the same time, symptoms of Alzheimer's/dementia, anxiety, mood and psychotic disorders many times can begin to emerge causing much distress. These issues are a definite barrier to verbal communication of feelings and personal needs.

Art therapy and creative therapies provide meaningful therapeutic opportunities for our patients to foster health, communication and self- expression, promote the integration of physical, emotional, cognitive and social functioning, enhance self-awareness and facilitate change.

When verbal barriers are present, we can communicate best through the creative art therapies!

The deep faith and courage of our patients are so very evident. As a registered Art Therapist and Certified Activity Therapist, Sister Dolores remarked that she feels privileged to "respectfully tread on the sacred space and to daily touch the hearts and souls of those she serves as they travel the final part of their life's journey."

Sister Dolores has served as a certified art and activity therapist at Moses Taylor Hospital in Scranton, PA, since 1996.

Sister Amy Zychal, IHM

Sr Amy ZychalTeacher, principal, development director, case worker, Congregational Leadership, medical patient, administrative assistant if you’re counting, this is my seventh career! You might think I’m wishy-washy, but in reality, except for teaching, all changes were made in response to a need. My education, life experiences, family background and sense of humor have allowed me to be flexible and available to accept new and unexpected challenges. I have been richly blessed.

After a major health incident and recovery in 2014, I realized by late summer that I needed to be able to serve in some capacity. The school scene was not an option. At the same time, a wonderful IHM woman, Sister Dolores Filicko, who had served as Administrative Assistant for FOP was thinking about retiring. My learning curve for this ministry was a steep one! I am not by nature a “techie” and had much to learn. Sister Dolores was the perfect tutor.

Now starting my seventh month in this ministry, I have gained many new skills and thoroughly enjoy the adventure! And adventure is the right word... on paper. I answer the telephone at the Friends of the Poor administrative office at the IHM Center; compose, type, mail “Thank you” letters for Sister Ann Walsh; manage the database; communicate with donors and potential donors, and FOP Board members about important issues. Off paper, every day is an adventure because I could never list all the “and whatever else comes up” includes. Friends of the Poor is a whirlwind of activity, it is never dull, and ultimately, those most in need are helped. I fully embrace the mission of Friends of the Poor to ease the burden of poverty and enhance the quality of life for all who live in low to moderate income communities.

I love what I do – the people, the people, the people – that I work with and serve.

Sister Amy passed away on November 18, 2020.  Click here to view her obituary.

Sister Judith Ann Ziegler, IHM

Sr Judu Ziegler

For the past ten years it has been the smile and voice of Sister Judy Ziegler that has greeted guests and vendors alike at the IHM Business Office at the IHM Center. Sister Judy is not only responsible each day for directing dozens of visitors and callers to the proper business office staff members but also for countless “behind the scenes” jobs such as digitizing accounts payable and accounts receivable documents. She also logs into the computer all the “monthly house accounts” of IHM local communities. In addition, she “logs them out,” packs, and mails the budget reports for the local communities each month. She is detail-oriented and an expert in organization of the filing of documents and invoices.

Sister Judy finds her work in the business office both enjoyable and fascinating. She’s happy to have a position of service to the sisters and one that contributes to the life of the congregation.

The part of Sister Judy’s job that she likes best? Her co-workers. She said, “We support each other and help each other. They are kind, thoughtful, and caring.”

In addition to her work in the business office, Sister Judy volunteers every Saturday at Heartworks. She has been with Heartworks since its beginning days at the Marian Convent. At the end of the business day at Heartworks, she closes out the cash register, and creates the financial report.

Sister Judy is a Baltimore native who came to know the IHM Sisters when she attended St. Agnes School where she was taught by Sister Jane Meehan in first grade and Sister Jeanne Albrittain in sixth grade. She entered the IHM Congregation in 1972 and celebrated her silver jubilee in 2000. Her mother and father are age ninety and have been married for sixty-four years. They reside at the Charlestown Retirement Community in Baltimore. Sister Judy enjoys frequent visits to Baltimore to visit her parents and her sister, Mary Jo.

Sister Mary Rassley, IHM

Sr Mary Rassley

Fifteen years ago, Sister Mary Rassley began her ministry at the Marian Convent as coordinator of transportation. She spent each day arranging the transportation to doctor and hospital visits for more than a hundred residents at the Marian Convent and later at Our Lady of Peace Residence. She worked with the nursing staff to coordinate appointments with sisters, companions, drivers, and cars. When she turned eighty years old she left this position and embarked on a few new adventures. Among them is teaching art appreciation to small groups of OLP residents. She also volunteers two days a week and on holidays at Hospice of the Sacred Heart in-patient in Dunmore. She volunteers at Heartworks where she heads up the “E-bay Division” of Heartworks and she monitors and maintains the website. She posts, sells, packages, and mails sold items. Among the items sold are collectables, vintage items, out-of-print prayer and song books, and items that have been donated to Heartworks. Many have asked Sister Mary to sell their items on E-bay. She responds that she does this service only for Heartworks!

At Our Lady of Peace Residence Sister Mary sorts the mail and sees that it is distributed to the sisters and offices. When she leaves her work site, she goes to South Scranton where for a night each week she teaches ESL at the former Nativity Convent. When she’s not teaching ESL, she’s at the Marywood gym working out. In her free time Sister Mary enjoys reading— mostly non-fiction and history books.

She is quick to say that she enjoys everything she does and that she feels it is a privilege that the congregation “lets me do it."

Pictured is Sister Mary Rassley and the late Sister Greta Collins

Sister Judy O’Brien, IHM

Sr Judy O'Brien

I have been in Boston for twelve years now. (I can hardly believe it!) Crissy is going to be twenty-four and Ely turns twenty-two next week. They are both out of school and working. Crissy is living in New York City and Ely is still home with me. As part of the Administrative Team at Cathedral High School, I oversee the instructional practices of the faculty, mentor new teachers, participate in long-term planning and coach students for success. This year I am also teaching a Freshman Religion course which I am loving. My students are really interested in religious life and ask questions daily. Most of my free time is spent with my Mom who is eighty-eight years young this year and with my family. Life for me is filled with wonderful surprises and lots of love.