3 sisters

Soon, St. Francis parish will no longer have Franciscan sisters living and working there. Scheduled to leave before August are, from the left, Sisters Kathleen Murphy, Maria Goretti Scandaliato and Janet Rose. The Catholic parish will bid them farewell from cars between 1 and 3 p.m. Saturday.

A parade of thank-yous will be said Saturday at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church as its parishioners and friends bid farewell to the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity.

Leaving the parish will be Sisters Janet Rose, Kathleen Murphy and Maria Goretti Scandaliato, whose order has served the parish and the community since 1997.

Many years have passed with religious sisters based at St. Francis and its school.

The Rev. Joachim Studwell, a Franciscan who serves the parish as its priest, said their order succeeded the long-serving Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis. Members of a lay order, Pax Christi, worked in the parish and the community during the 1960s and 1970s. The parish began as a mission in 1951.

Sister Janet said that although fond wishes will be offered Saturday, she and her fellow sisters will remain in place at St. Francis until they are called to their next positions.

“We don’t know when our last day is yet,” she said. “It will be before Aug. 1, for sure.”

She has spent a year in Greenwood. Sister Maria’s been in the community for two years and Sister Kathleen for 13 years.

 “It is hard for us to leave Greenwood,” Sister Janet said. Although they are looking forward to their new positions, they know that once gone, “we will be missing Greenwood.”

All have been associated with St. Francis School. Sister Janet tutored children, and Sister Maria taught there. Sister Kathleen was a teacher at St. Francis for all of her years in Greenwood.

“I enjoyed it,” Sister Janet said.

She liked the students. “I enjoyed working with them, and I learned some things from them. I hope I taught them some things,” she said.

In the past couple of months, they, like the school’s other teachers, used Zoom to teach the children because of the coronavirus outbreak. “It was great to see the children and interact with them,” she said. However, “I was used to using more hands-on with things. I couldn’t actually work hands-on with them.”

The school will continue under the leadership of its principal, Jackie Lewis.

The sisters also have been involved in Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church and around the community.

Studwell said their activities included civic affairs and faith formation at Immaculate Heart, and it’s been special to have them in Greenwood.

“First of all, they bring their gift for community life, their dedication,” he said. “They have an esprit de corps as far as mission is concerned, and prayer is very central to their lives” — as is their “common witness to the Gospel.”

He noted, “St. Francis has had a very unusual experience by having sisters on the campus because in so many places, sisters have had to leave because of diminishing numbers and aging of the membership.”

Sister Kathleen said, “I am scheduled to go to Arizona to work as an interventionist at Immaculate Conception School.” Sister Kathleen will be working with younger sisters at the mother house in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, and Sister Maria will be working with a parish and tutoring in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Studwell suggested that people who wish to offer gifts might choose to make donations to the newly created Franciscan Sisters Scholarship Fund, which honors sisters from all of the orders that have served in the parish. The fund will assist students at the school.

Also, the Leflore County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution Tuesday recognizing their order and its service to the community.

Well-wishers will gather in vehicles in a parking lot across U.S. 82 from the school and church between 1 and 3 p.m. Saturday.

As they arrive, they will be directed to drive through a traffic signal and cross the highway into a driveway at St. Francis, where the sisters will receive them as they drive through.

Afterward, Studwell said, people are being asked to turn right, not left, onto the highway as they leave the driveway.

•Contact Susan Montgomery at 581-7241 or smontgomery@gwcommonwealth.com.

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