At their Congregational Chapter 2021, the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia set congregational directions for the next five years and elected a new leadership team to help move those directions into action. Sister Theresa Marie Firenze, OSF, was elected congregational minister. Born in Nyack, New York, Sister Theresa entered the Franciscan Sisters of Ringwood in 1973 and professed in 1976. The Ringwood Franciscans merged with the Sisters of St. Francis in 2003, a merger which she helped to facilitate. Currently she ministers as a caregiver, a tutor, and a spiritual director. As a principal for 25 years at St. Catherine of Bologna School in Ringwood, she put people first and harvested positive results. She became one of three principals to be first in the U.S. to lead a school to obtain its STEM certification. She was also named to Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers. Her previous ministry also includes being administrator of St. Joseph Residence in Ringwood—a position that necessitated being organizationally astute and able to collaborate with many individuals and organizations with compassion. She holds a B.A. in education from St. Peter’s University and an M.S. in religion and religious education from Fordham University. When asked how she feels to be entering into leadership for the congregation, Sister Theresa responded, “I trust that I will know what God is asking of me and God’s Providence will take care of the rest. ‘No risk, No gain!’”

In her new congregational role, Sister Theresa will be assisted by a four-person leadership team. Sister Celeste Crine, OSF, who will serve as assistant congregational minister, was born in Trenton, New Jersey, where she was a member of Sacred Heart Parish.  She entered the congregation in 1962 and professed her first vows in 1965.  Sister Celeste has a B.A. in history from Neumann University, an M.A. in spirituality from Creighton University, and a certificate from the Institute of Religious Formation at St. Louis University.  Currently she ministers as the sponsored-retreat coordinator at San Damiano Retreat Center.  Previous ministry work includes elementary education; assistant formation director; pastoral counseling; director of spirituality and hospitality for St. Joseph Family Center in Spokane, Washington; pastoral associate at St. Leo’s in Lincroft, New Jersey; and coordinator of spirituality/associate director at the School of Applied Theology in Berkeley, California. When asked about her leadership skill and style, Sister Celeste said, “My leadership strengths come mainly from the areas of spiritual leadership, collaboration, and relationship building.”

Sister Marian Patrice Leaf, OSF, was born in Darby, Pennsylvania, and was a member of SS. Peter and Paul Parish in West Chester.  She entered the congregation in 1978 and professed her first vows in 1980.  Sister Marian has a B.S. in sociology from Neumann University and an M.A. in social work from Marywood College. Currently she serves as an associate with the congregational charism team.  Previous ministry work includes parish facilitation in the YK Region of Fairbanks, Alaska, as well as medical social work and supervisory roles in social services.  She also served for a number of years as director of the Zambia Open Community Schools in Zambia, Africa, worked in a refugee camp, and taught English to Rwandan seminarian refugees. Sister Marian describes her leadership style as “one of leading from behind, relying on team work and consultation.”

Sister Florence Hee, OSF, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and was a member of St. Raymond Parish in Villas, New Jersey, when she entered the congregation in 1977.  She professed her first vows in 1980.  Sister Florence has a B.A. in religious studies from Neumann University, a M.Ed. in administration and supervision from Loyola University, and a Ph.D. in industrial and organizational psychology from Alliant International University.  Currently she serves as director of the congregation’s charism office.  Previous ministry work includes teacher and principal in elementary education, director of mission for the Catholic High School of Baltimore, assistant director of ministry services for her congregation, and adjunct instructor teaching a course in organizational and strategic leadership at Neumann University. She also served as coordinator of incorporated ministries for the Sisters of Holy Names of Jesus and Mary and facilitates meetings for other congregations.  Sister Florence feels her schooling and experiences have “strengthened my leadership capacities for future endeavors.”

Sister Karen Pourby, OSF, was born in Binghamton, New York, where she was a member of St. Ann’s Parish.  She entered the Angelic Sisters of St. Paul in 1973 and professed her first vows in 1976. However, she felt called to the Franciscan lifestyle and transferred to the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia in 1987. Sister Karen has a B.S. in elementary education from East Stroudsburg University and an M.A. in theology and religious studies from LaSalle University.  Currently she serves as an accounting assistant in the congregation’s finance department.  Her previous ministry includes elementary education and administration, pastoral associate and director of religious education, and open-heart patient therapist.  Sister Karen plans to enter leadership by “always looking forward, being well prepared and willing to give, share, and accept new ideas.”

Prior to the election of leadership, the delegates voted on several constitutional and directive changes and reviewed and affirmed the four themes of the 2021 Congregational Chapter: Our Life Together, Legacy, Sustainability, and Leadership. These four themes will guide the new leadership team in their work and goals over the next five years.  We are grateful for the generosity of these five sisters for accepting these leadership roles, and we offer them our many blessings, love, support, and prayers.