Celebrating 60 Years of Service!
Thank you for celebrating and congratulating our very own Sister Suzanne Hitzges on 60 years of service with the Sisters of St. Francis. On Sunday, May 19th, at the 9 AM Mass, we recognized her for such a wonderful accomplishment and celebrated in the Parish Center Cafeteria with quite a turn out of friends and family!
Sister was born in Buffalo, raised in Kenmore, and is the second oldest of 7 children in her family. She had been feeling the call to service for many years, but was unsure of this call until the age of 17 when she met the Sisters of St. Francis. She immediately felt a connection knowing that they were Sisters of Spirit and Hospitality and committed herself to Religious life in 1959.
After some years of formation and education, she had her first assignment to teach 4th Grade at St. Leo’s Parish in Amherst. Next, she would be sent off to Ponce, Puerto Rico to be involved in mission work and more teaching. The Vincentian Fathers were working in schools in Puerto Rico, and they needed American Sisters to come and educate the children. Sister remembers how she saw both “extreme rich and extreme poor” surrounding the school at that time. She taught English and remembers how sports were prominent for children in Puerto Rico at a very young age. The Sisters would go to all the events and cheer on the children in support.
After spending about 16 years teaching and doing mission work in Puerto Rico, she returned home to Buffalo. At that time, Sister Sheila (another Sister of Saint Francis), was principal of a small school in Swormville – St. Mary School. Sister Sheila was in need of a teacher to teach her students Spanish. After interview and review by her Mother Superior, Sister Marion Rose, she was sent off to her next assignment to be here at St. Mary’s. She taught Spanish and English to all grades for over 23 years. When asked about her teaching years, she comments, “I remember how I tried to use idiomatic expressions as much as possible, as this tends to bring fun and joy to learning a language”. One such expression used by sister that she shared was, “Hasta Luego, baby,” and this means “until later baby!”
Sister is still volunteering in St. Mary School 3 days per week doing various duties. She is the School Sacristan, who is responsible for creating a spiritual atmosphere and is assisted by Gloria Duran, a St. Mary’s parishioner. She creates themes of spirituality for each season of the year and students of St. Mary School look forward to seeing what is up on the bulletin board next! Sister is also still dedicated to her work on RCIA here at St. Mary’s for over 10 years, in which she believes has also been her life work.
When asked to summarize her years here on campus, she smiles and says, ” It’s great to be here at St. Mary’s, and I feel great joy when former students come back to visit me and bring their children. They always share the funny memories of school that they have had in my classroom.”
Sister, we congratulate you and are sincerely grateful for all that you have shared with our school, our parish and our parishioners! May God continue to bless you and your work for many more years to come!