Saints Cyril and Methodius Sisters Linda Marie and Susan Pontz recently presented Father Ronald Rolheiser, OMI, with the 2020 Father Matthew Jankola Lifetime Servant Leadership Award for Education.
The presentation, which took place during a Faculty Colloquium at Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, was delayed because of concerns regarding COVID-19. The award was originally announced at a virtual ceremony on Oct. 25, 2020, where the Sisters of Saints Cyril and Methodius honored 27 teens who actively serve in their parish, school and community, and four adults who received the Father Matthew Jankola Lifetime Servant Leadership Award in the ministries of evangelization, education, elder care and ecumenism. The award was presented in person this spring.
Father Rolheiser is a community-builder, lecturer and writer. His books are popular throughout the English-speaking world and have been translated into many languages. His weekly column is carried by more than 80 newspapers worldwide. Along with his academic knowledge in systematic theology and philosophy, he has become a popular speaker in the areas of contemporary spirituality and religion and the secular world.
Before becoming President of the Oblate School of Theology, Father Rolheiser taught theology and philosophy at Newman Theological College in Edmonton, Alberta, served as Provincial Superior of his Oblate Province for six years, and served on the General Council for the Oblates in Rome for six years. He has been at Oblate School of Theology since 2005. Sisters Linda Marie and Susan Pontz both serve on the Faculty of Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio.
The Sisters also presented the 2020 Father Matthew Jankola Lifetime Servant Leadership Award in Eldercare to Susan Smith, RN.
Smith has worked with the Sisters of Saints Cyril and Methodius to establish a “home away from home” at Maria Hall in Danville in collaboration with Columbia Montour Home Health and Hospice, and now maintains the hospice home at Maria Hall under LHC Corporation. The Maria Hall hospice home has served nearly 750 guests and their families.
Smith began her health care journey in 1974 as a Cytotechnologist at Geisinger Medical Center. She received her nursing diploma from Geisinger in 1990 and from Bloomsburg University in 1993. She received her Nursing Master’s degree from College Misericordia in 1996 and has been a practicing RN for 28 years.
In virtual remarks offered to the students and other adult recipients, Smith said, “To the young Servant Leaders of the future, hospice identified a need for an alternative setting for hospice patients to receive end of life care when they were not able to remain at home and preferred not to reside in long-term care facilities. For 18 years, Columbia Montour Home Health and Hospice, and the Sisters of Saints Cyril and Methodius have worked together to serve the most vulnerable population, the dying, by providing compassion, and quality end of life care to the patient and his/her family. Dr. David Jeremiah recently published his book entitled “Forward: Discovering God’s Presence and Purpose in Your Tomorrow.” Based on his premise, as you go forward in your careers, be encouraged and inspired to show the infinite love of God our Father for His children most in need.”
In October the Sisters awarded the Servant Leadership Award to 27 outstanding high school seniors from the Diocese of Harrisburg. The virtual ceremony took place at the Basilica of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Danville. Over the past 18 years, the Sisters of Saints Cyril and Methodius have honored nearly 1,300 teens with the Servant Leadership Award, which recognizes distinguished high school juniors and seniors who are joyful witnesses, compassionate proclaimers, and enthusiastic builders of the Kingdom of God. The focus of the award is on teens who remain active in their faith, and who actively serve in their parish, school and community.
At the virtual ceremony, the Sisters also honored four adults who received the Father Matthew Jankola Lifetime Servant Leadership Award in the ministries of evangelization, education, elder care and ecumenism. Father Jankola was a priest from the Diocese of Scranton who was instrumental in recognizing the need for Religious Sisters to educate children, and founded the Sisters of Saints Cyril and Methodius in 1909.
By Sister Barbara Sable, SSCM, Special to The Witness