Sisters and “Sisters”: A Profile of Sr. Geraldine and Sr. Aloise Paluszak
by Isabella Valentin
Many of the students know some of the Sisters working here at Lourdes, either in the library or in a classroom. But did they know that right here on campus ground there is a unique building dedicated to serving retired religious men and women? Our Lady of Grace Hall is an assisted living facility connected to Rosary Care Center. In this building, there are two special sisters, for they are more than just connected by faith, they are connected by blood. Sr. Geraldine and Sr.
Aloise Paluszak’s decision to enter the community began at an early age when they went to a small school called Nativity, which was taught by Franciscans Sisters. These Sisters were friendly and left positive imprints on the girls. In the evenings, they would spend time with the sisters, enjoying their company or playing games. The sisters’ mother would encourage them to join the plays the Franciscans would have. Geraldine and Aloise both loved being with them.
Aloise entered the community at the early age of 14 right from grade school. At that time, she didn’t want to go to a public school and had a wonderful relationship with the sisters already. In her heart, she knew she desired vocation. The first few months were difficult because she felt lonesome. She left her family! However, when her parents came to visit at one of the Franciscan festivals, something clicked and she continued her vocation. After the first few years, Aloise commented, “After that, I loved everything about it: the prayer life, the education we received, everything!”
Geraldine, in 6th grade, at the time of her sister’s decision, could not believe it. These sisters fought and argued, like normal siblings; yet, when Geraldine visited her sister again, she knew something changed. “She was wonderful to me. O my gosh, she was such a lady! So poised!? She remembered asking her mother, “What did they do to her? If that’s what they do, then I want to go.” And just like that, Geraldine entered the community, following her sister’s footsteps.
Once both entered the community, the whole family would visit and their mother was so happy and proud of her youngest daughters. “The sisters allowed us to visit our parents and family several times, despite the rules. I cannot tell you enough about how wonderful they were!?
Sr. Geraldine commented. Tragically, their parents never saw them veiled. With the support of family and the Franciscan community, the sisters stayed in their vocation and managed to keep their family strong and happy. Each sister had several years to decide if they really desired the veil and stay in the covenant. And although there were times in their lives they thought about a different path, both believed that the calling to Christ was the right decision. Having a deeper spirituality and connection with God is what they desired most. Both became teachers, Sr. Aloise a math teacher and Sr. Geraldine a science teacher. They taught first grade through high school and both expressed great joy from teaching. However, Geraldine admitted she really wanted to become a nurse. She received the opportunity of working with hospitals later in her career. Both sisters travelled around to Minnesota to Texas. While travelling, they met new groups of sisters and fell in love with their communities. In fact, Geraldine just retired last April.
Throughout their lives, they grew deeper into their spirituality and their love of St. Francis and other communities. While there may have been a few doubting times, they both knew their paths. They continue to show God’s love and care for creation by helping parishes nearby and volunteering when they can. They love visitors so perhaps one day you can visit them at Our Lady of Grace Hall, which is right behind Lourdes University.