That Sr. Albertus Dougherty chose to enter the Sisters of St. Francis is not surprising. She was taught by our sisters at St. Bonaventure School in Philadelphia for eight years. Since she lived close to the school, she frequently remained after school to clean and at times also helped clean in the parish church and convent. Her contact with the sisters was also reinforced because she was a member of the parish’s children’s choir as well.
During her earlier years in the congregation, Sr. Albertus worked in education, primarily in elementary school. In later years, however, she has been involved in secretarial positions—ministering in the former San Damiano Center and at Franciscan Health Systems. About 10 years ago, she was considering a change of ministry and learned about the need for an administrative assistant who would work with both the sponsorship office and the office of corporate social responsibility. She applied for and was hired for the position.

Although Sr. Albertus readily acknowledges that there is no such thing as a “typical day” in her ministry, she explained that much of her work revolves around the social justice grants. The details are manifold and involve—minimally—keeping track of screening and application forms and preparing statistical charts and application packets for the reviewers. To a lesser degree, she is also involved in the shareholder and community development aspects of the CSR office. She prepares information for committee meetings and is also on hand to take minutes. During the “proxy season,” it’s Sr. Albertus’ job to handle mailings, proof corporate letters, complete mailings of corporation resolutions, and assist with primary filing letters and agendas.

Sr. Albertus’ work in the sponsorship office has been somewhat different over the past four years because Sr. Anne McNamara, director of sponsorship, works primarily from a west coast office and is present in the east cost office only for board meetings and leadership reports. This dual venue has necessitated Sr. Albertus’ having to learn more about the details of the office so that she can help Sr. Anne prepare for various meetings. A great deal of their day-to-day communication is by email and phone.

As in any position, Sr. Albertus’ ministry has its challenges but she is quick to acknowledge that her biggest challenge involves email. “It’s hard to believe but keeping up with emails is a real challenge—and getting rid of them,” she said, “especially now that much of our Social Justice Fund work is accomplished via email.” However, Sr. Albertus is quick to point out what she enjoys most about her work—and much of that enjoyment derives from the people with whom she works and the atmosphere that they help to create—an atmosphere that she describes as positive , liberating, and joy-filled. She described enthusiastically the gifts and contributions of each person with whom she works:

Sr. Nora Nash who works endlessly to make the world a better place and who can talk with company executives, politicians, Neumann students, and housekeepers with equal ease and concern
Tom McCaney who takes on some of the shareholder and community development and who shares both humor and a friendly spirit
Sr. Anne McNamara who knows how to ask and answer the hard questions in a compassionate way
Sr. Mary Teresa Coll who helps with a variety of jobs we can’t get to and who brightens the office with her light-hearted humor.

Sr. Albertus’ days seem filled to the brim with work—and they are! But she does enjoy her leisure time and finds relaxation in doing cryptograms, reading, armchair aerobics, and crocheting. Although she doesn’t have any “official” duties at her parish—Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Morton, Pennsylvania—she does serve as a lector. Together with the sisters with whom she lives, she participates in parish devotions and activities as much as possible.

Busy? Very definitely! But Sr. Albertus admits that she has learned to make choices. “In the past I played the guitar with a folk group and was on the choir,” she said. “But right now is seems there is a time and a season for all things and as I’m getting older, I just think of the enjoyment I did receive from those experiences.” Then she added, “I’m grateful to my sisters in community for helping me to grow—hopefully in wisdom, age, and grace!”