Jesuits Celebrate Catholic Sisters

March 8, 2017 — Religious sisters touch the lives of so many — and Jesuits are no exception. In honor of National Catholic Sisters Week (March 8 – 14), we asked Jesuits to share their thoughts about the sisters who have made a difference in their lives.

We were so overwhelmed by the response of the Jesuits contacted that what follows is part one of a three-part series. Read part two and part three.

Fr. Julian Climaco, SJ, on Sister Jocelyn Climaco, SSpS

Sister Jocelyn Climaco, SSpS and Fr. Julian Climaco, SJ

Fr. Julian Climaco, SJ, is the parochial vicar at St. Joseph Parish in Seattle. His aunt, Sister Jocelyn (Joy) Climaco, SSpS, is a member of the Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit.

“For as long as I can remember, My Auntie Joy has always worn her religious habit, from my early childhood in the Philippines to whenever she would visit me and my family in the United States. She has lived in Botswana, Africa, for many years serving the poor through education and outreach. She has also lived among indigenous populations in northern Philippines as part of her missionary work closer to her home province. Most interestingly (at least to me), my aunt was responsible for sending me that fated email that would lead me to the Society of Jesus and my priestly vocation. A humble and prayerful person, my aunt continues to pray for me daily. (God knows I need it!)."

Matt Ippel, SJ, on Hermana Pita 

From left: Hermana Norma, Matt Ippel, SJ, Ippel’s father, and Hermana Pita

Matt Ippel, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic studying in Lima, Peru. Hermana Pita, a Mexican religious sister of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Lyon, lives in an urban periphery of San Pedro Sula, Honduras, where she and three other sisters of her congregation accompany several marginal communities.

“Hermana Pita inspires me and my vocation as a Jesuit. She refuses to let violence and injustice that characterize the Honduran reality have the final say; rather, she lives and breathes a mysticism that is rooted in a God of hope and of life before all the struggles, challenges and oppressive realities facing those she accompanies and walks with. 

She lives the Gospel, through an explicit and concrete choice to live with the poor, working with them to imagine and build a more just and loving society. Her smile is contagious, as well as the joy and hope that emanate from her deep trust in a God of life and the goodness she is able to see and bring forth in others.” 

Fr. Jeremy Zipple, SJ, on Sr. Annette Zipple, RSCJ 

Annette Zipple, RSCJ

Fr. Jeremy Zipple, SJ, is the executive editor at America Media. His aunt is Sister Annette Zipple, who entered the Society of the Sacred Heart in 1952.

“My favorite sister is my aunt Annette Zipple, RSCJ. Still going strong at age 93, she continues to be one of the most important influences on my own vocation. After the reforms of Vatican II, she was sent to inner-city Detroit as a parish-based social worker.

There she stayed — through all the trials and turmoil that city’s residents have faced — until retirement two years ago. Her proudest achievement was the Sacred Heart Enrichment Program, which brought arts education and a sense of possibility to immigrant and working class Latino and African American girls.

Even now, Annette stays plugged into the world and the church. At least once a week, I'll receive an email update from her about immigration reform, poverty alleviation or environmental protection. And occasionally an email like this one, subject line: MARDI GRAS! 'Live it cream, cake, chocolates ....... Hope your Lent is grace filled! Love you AA' "

Fr. John Cecero, SJ, on Sr. Joan Jungerman


Fr. John Cecero, SJ, is the provincial of the Jesuits’ USA Northeast Province. Sr. Joan Jungerman, who passed away in 1995, mentored Fr. Cecero when she worked at the Jesuit Center for Spiritual Growth in Wernersville, Pennsylvania.

Brad Held, SJ, on Sr. Paulanne Held, SSSF, Sr. Mary Louise Miller, SSSF, and Sr. Connie Schmidt, SSND

Brad Held, SJ, is studying theology at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry and will be ordained to the priesthood in June.

“In stopping to reflect on it, I realize that religious sisters have been present throughout my life. And they were there in the most formative parts of my life: childhood, teenager, and in my Jesuit formation.

Sr. Paulanne Held, SSSF

I remember my aunt, Sr. Paulanne Held, SSSF, coming home for visits when I was a kid. She would immediately set to work washing windows at my grandma's house. She was my introduction to religious life. I am still inspired by how tirelessly she labors for people in need.

Sr. Mary Louise Miller, SSSF

Sr. Mary Louise Miller, SSSF, was my boss at the part-time job I had in high school. She taught me how to take to the importance of being responsible and completing tasks well. She also taught me much about the church's liturgy and I really fell in love with our liturgical life thanks to her.

As a Jesuit regent, I taught in the same department at Red Cloud High School as Sr. Connie Schmidt, SSND. She was the exact mentor and colleague that I needed as I started out as a teacher. She guided me through my first years in the classroom and in ministering to the spiritual lives of teenagers.

I am immensely grateful to these religious women who have been so formative in my life.”

Sr. Connie Schmidt, SSND

Michael Rossmann, SJ on Sr. Maria Samy

Michael Rossmann, SJ, and Sr. Maria Samy

Michael Rossmann, SJ, is studying theology at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry and will be ordained to the priesthood in June. Sr. Maria Samy belongs to a missionary congregation from India and teaches at Loyola High School in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

“While teaching at Loyola High School in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, I had the privilege of working with Sr. Maria Samy. She belongs to a missionary congregation from India and teaches computer science at Loyola. Sr. Maria believes so strongly in her students and pushes them to believe in themselves. And it works. Her students have won multiple awards at international computer competitions. She also does all this with the most infectiously joyful smile.”

Read part two and part three.

Do you want to learn more about vocations to the Society of Jesus? Visit for more information.

Jesuits Celebrate Catholic Sisters - Part 2
Since St. Ignatius bought a printing press in 1556, the Jesuits have been involved in communications. Today the Society of Jesus publishes a number of award-winning journals and publications. Click below to access our latest issues.

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