congregation of the sisters of st joseph of peace
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"Taps on the Shoulder" by Sister Lucille Durso, CSJP

I sit here waiting for the Holy Spirit to tap my shoulder and inspire me to write of my journey over these past 60 years . . . In the beginning, my personal journey into this life as the younger daughter of Jean C. and John L. Durso, and as the baby sister of Joanne was truly blessed. I went all through Public School and was encouraged to investigate life as a Religious Sister by both Mrs. Margaret Hayes and Mrs. Elizabeth Cirelli in elementary and high school, as well as by my aunt, Sr. Mary Daniel, CSJP. As a child growing up in North Bergen, New Jersey, I had many loyal friends with whom I still associate. I enjoyed life to the fullest and found the foundation of my faith at the knee of my Mom and in my parish Church. Our priests and nuns were faithful and dedicated to our religion. My CCD teachers . . . especially Erma Mary Egan (McCarthy) ingrained that faith to even a deeper level of my soul. I became the Prefect of our parish Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary (the first public school student to be so honored in St. Bridget’s Parish). The Sisters of Saint Joseph of Newark who served at Barbara Givernaud Orphanage were my first contacts with the Congregation as a whole. Each of these people saw in me a desire to serve others outside of my immediate and extended families.

On September 12, 1954, I entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of Newark with every intention of becoming a Neurosurgeon and . . . they needed English teachers . . . for the schools we were opening in Bergen County. My Dad always said, “be the best of whatever you become . . .” so I embraced my teaching career and to this day I still interact with many of my former students. Ours was the first group to go the Juniorate (Villa Marie Claire) to do two years of study at Caldwell College and personal spiritual development. The treatment of the brain was still lurking in the recesses of my mind, so I eventually pursued the study of psychology . . . But that was after my Bachelors (Caldwell College) in English and secondary schools and my Masters (Fairfield University) in Religion and Psychology. I have much for which to be grateful as a Sister of Saint Joseph of Peace and primarily the opportunities offered me for the continued development and enrichment of my faith. I have also been afforded the opportunity of studying Hypnosis, Reiki III, Laying on of Hands, Alternative Healing, to name a few . . . I was co-partner in opening the Academy of Professional Hypnosis, National Association of Counselors and Therapists, and Creative Quest Center for Human Potential. In my attempt to reach all levels of those suffering or separated from the Sacred I have been afforded the opportunity of moving into areas not usually open to women religious; such as my trip to Beijing, China to present my paper on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to the Beijing Medical University Doctors and Nurses in 1994.

My years in California further developed the shape of my life and the structure of my journey by bringing me into a “community of 17 order Priests, Diocesan Priests, Xaverian Brothers, Women Religious from four different communities;” wherein we prayed, shared religious celebrations and meals, and played as members of one group. Along the path of my personal journey I have had the opportunity to become an international motivational speaker as well as a retreat director. Both of these gifts allowed me to become more of the voice, heart, ears, hands and feet of our brother Jesus.

In 1985, I became the “mother” to my four sons, Frederick, Edouard, Nikolin (now a Priest and Pastor of St. Lucy’s Parish in the Bronx), and Arjan (John) . . . Each of whom I love with all of my heart. These boys escaped from communism by fleeing their homeland, Albania, while they were young and strong enough to flee before they were killed . . . just for being Catholic.

In 1993, I left the field of education and was invited to join our Sisters who were serving the elderly infirmed at Saint Ann’s Home in Jersey City. I was encouraged to utilize my writing and begging skills and became the Director of Marketing and Public Relations. Sister Norah Clarke told me I could talk to and draw blood from a stone . . . I guess that was a pre-requisite for my job which I enjoy even to this day.

All in all, there have been fleeting moments of disappointment, but life as a Sister of St. Joseph of Peace has brought me more joy, personal development, enlightenment, opportunities for serving others in so many varied ways with a sense of camaraderie along my life journey for which I am eternally grateful. If my life is to have greater meaning I would encourage all whose hearts are too large to be satisfied in one small family, to look at the world and take on all those in need as their personal family. I invite you to journey with us and to become one with us and the God whom we serve with Love, Laughter, Joy and Fullness of Spirit. Enjoy a sense of wholeness as a Sister of Saint Joseph of Peace as you give meaning to your life.

Sister Lucille wrote this post on the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee in 2015 when she celebrated 60 years as a Sister of St. Joseph of Peace!

"So yes, we are forever beginning, and the best we can do is be very grateful that each new beginning is one more chance to grow. "

Margaret Byrne, CSJP