The weekend of August 10-11 was an exciting one for the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia as they celebrated the profession of vows and welcomed three women into the congregation—the first in a number of years. On Saturday, August 10 Sisters Maria Anna Dela Paz and Kathryn Ann Dutrow professed their first vows and on Sunday, August 11, Sister Kathleen Mary Flood professed her final vows as a Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia.

As the sisters choose to enter into vowed life, they publicly profess to God the simple vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience in accordance with the Constitutions of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia.  Rooted in faith and hope and sustained by charity, the sisters pledge to follow in the footsteps of the chaste, poor, and humble Jesus and to acknowledge the loving call to religious life.

Sister Maria Anna Dela Paz was born in Manila, Phillippines, to Stan and Maria Dela Paz. She grew up in New Jersey where she was a member of St. Anthony Parish in East Windsor and a graduate from Notre Dame High School in Lawrence.  She earned a BA in History from St. Peter’s University in Jersey City.  She entered the candidacy program in 2016 and the novitiate in 2017. Sister Maria credits her time as a volunteer with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps for her interest in religious life. “It opened my eyes to living in an intentional community, living simply, and working towards social justice,” she said. “This passion to work towards social justice, combined with my desire to live in an intentional, faith community brought me to discern religious life.”  After entering the congregation, Sister Maria Anna ministered at the Bayard House in Wilmington, Delaware. After profession, Sister Maria will work as the program coordinator for the Center of Student Success at the University of San Diego in California.

Sister Kathryn Ann Dutrow was born in Baltimore, Maryland, to Bernard and Doris Dutrow (both deceased).  She was a member of St. Joseph Monastery Parish in West Baltimore and graduated from Notre Dame High School. She earned her BA in Education from Notre Dame of Maryland University and a MA in Education from Loyola University.  She entered the candidacy program in January 2017 and the novitiate in September of that year.  Sister Kathryn Ann said, “I was drawn to a life of commitment to serving others in both ministry and in sharing the same journey we all take in getting to know ourselves and our God personally and in living for and with one another. Religious life offers the opportunity to do this in community and relationship with others who share that same desire.”  After entering the congregation, Sister Kathryn lived in Elsmere, Delaware, where she was a substitute at All Saints and St. Anthony’s Schools and also worked in religious education and parish ministry at Corpus Christi Parish in Wilmington. After profession, Sister Kathryn Ann will work as mission coordinator at the Catholic High School of Baltimore.

Sister Kathleen Mary Flood was born in Queens, New York, to Raymond and Virginia Flood.  She graduated from St. Vincent Ferrer High School and earned a BS in Computer Science from the NY Institute of Technology.  She continued her education with a Graduate Certificate in Theological Studies from Villanova University and a MS in Pastoral, Clinical, and Mental Health Counselling from Neumann University. Sister Kathleen entered into the novitiate in 2012 and professed her first vows in 2014.  Since that time she has been a student and pastoral assistant for St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Brant Beach, New Jersey. Prior to entering religious life, Sister Kathleen ministered and worshiped at Good Shepherd Parish in Perryville, Maryland, and performed her counseling internship at the Ministry of Caring in Wilmington, Delaware.  Sister Kathleen said of becoming a sister, “In serving the people of western Cecil County, I felt that I was being called to serve to a greater depth and breadth. What I wanted was to be open to where the Holy Spirit was guiding me and here I am.” Sister Kathleen will be the director of student services and spiritual formation at the Franciscan School of Theology on the campus of the University of San Diego in California.

The Sisters of St. Francis were founded in 1855 in Philadelphia by Mother Mary Francis (Maria Anna Bachmann). From its beginnings, the congregation ministered to the varying needs of God’s people wherever those needs existed—in education, in healthcare, in ministering with the immigrant, the elderly, and the orphaned. Today—more than 160 years later—the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia continue to live out Mother Francis’ vision. The congregation’s 390 members minister in approximately 19 states as well as in Ireland and Africa.

Although changing circumstances in society and the Church lead them to find new ways of proclaiming the Good News of God’s faithful presence in the world, their mission has remained constant: to live the Gospel message in the unique spirit of St. Francis of Assisi, faithful to the vision of Mother Francis Bachmann. They live their commitment to “take the necessary risks to be a healing, compassionate presence in our violent world, especially with women, children, and those who have no voice.”