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Sister Andreata Naudziunas

Sister Andreata (Frances Naudziunas) was the fourth of six children born to Emilia and Andrew Naudziunas. She had one sister and four brothers, two of whom became priests. Sister Andreata described her parents as prayerful people who nurtured the life of faith in their children. In those days, the priests would make an annual visit to the home of every family in the parish. During one of these visits, the priest pointed to Sister Andreata and said in Lithuanian, “You will be a sister.” She was about six years old and had no idea what that meant, but those words became prophetic of her life call.

Sister Andreata graduated 8th grade form Oliver H. Perry School and continued her education at Nazareth High School where she was taught by Sisters. When she was nearing graduation from high school in 1939, she wrote a letter to Mother Maria, who was the General Superior at the time. In one part of her letter, Sister Andreata wrote, “Ever since I have been thinking more seriously about my vocation, I have been frightened a little but still my heart seems to have found a peace and quiet, so I earnestly believe I am on the right road.” As many can attest who knew her, Sister Andreata stayed on that right road, faithful and true until the end. She made her first vows on August 15, 1942, celebrated her Silver Jubilee in 1967, her Golden Jubilee in 1992, and had the joy of celebrating a true Diamond Jubilee in 2017 – 75 years as a Sister of St. Casimir!

Sister Andreata received a BA degree from Marywood College in Scranton, PA in secondary education, and continued studies at various times at De Paul University and Loyola University in Chicago IL. Her ministry in education spanned 33 years both the elementary and secondary levels. Sister Andreata taught in schools in Massachusetts, Illinois, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, and New Mexico. During eleven of the years in elementary education, Sister Andreata served a dual role of teaching and accounting as she offered her services in the business office of Holy Cross Hospital as an accounting clerk.

Sister Andreata’s ministry in secondary education began at Sacred Heart High School in Nebraska and continued at Villa Joseph Marie High School in Holland PA. Her teaching areas focused on business skills and accounting, shorthand, typewriting, English and social studies.

In 1970, Sister Andreata was elected General Treasurer of the Sisters of St. Casimir and came to live in the Motherhouse. This was the beginning of twenty- seven years in the ministry of fiscal management for our community and in our sponsored institutions. As General Treasurer, Sister Andreata served on the Holy Cross Hospital Board of Trustees and the Finance Committee, as well as the Finance Committee of Loretto Hospital.

After two terms of service as the General Treasurer, Sister Andreata returned to Villa Joseph Marie High School where she continued to teach and to serve in the business office of the school as well as at St. Joseph Home. In 1986, Sister Andreata returned to Chicago where she worked in the business office of Holy Cross Hospital for the next fourteen years. Fully engaged in the health care ministry, Sister Andreata had opportunities for education and training: improving communication skills and interview techniques and learning about pre-retirement issues and cost containment. One of her colleagues in the office wrote the following about her: “Working in the business office, transitioning from education was difficult for her, but she was willing to learn and willing to teach. She tried to understand new ways. She allowed us to express our opinions and we felt enlightened by her beliefs.” Sister Andreata continued to live at Holy Cross Hospital convent until 2006, serving in various capacities both within the hospital and also at the Maria High School Alumnae Office and in the St. Elizabeth Food Pantry sponsored by our community.

When Sister Andreata moved to the Motherhouse in 2006 she became a regular assistant in the Food Pantry for a number of years, helping to prepare the bags that would be distributed to people in need of additional food. Whatever Sister Andreata did was done to perfection, to the utmost detail. She was an excellent steward of all that was entrusted to her.

Sister Andreata once described her religious life in this way: “Religious life has been a kaleidoscopic experience. There were neither miracles nor apparitions just the joys and sorrows of ordinary living. Working with God’s people in small cities, in large cities, in coal mining towns, in rural areas, in the north and west, and in suburbia – all added color to the kaleidoscope.”

Sister Andreata had a very peaceful, gentle presence. Her face radiated her contentment with life, her love for the God to whom she had surrendered her life from a very young age. Her face radiated the conviction of doing everything to the best she was able and that sacrifice was indeed part of life. Her beautiful crocheted items which she donated to the community continue to grace the homes of many who were fortunate to be the recipients of her work. Her treasured memory was of the day Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago, came to the Motherhouse to celebrate the Eucharist with the first group of Sisters who would be leaving the Motherhouse for Franciscan Village. The Sisters had prepared prayer shawls for the Cardinal to bless. Among them was a special one that Sister Andreata had made for the Cardinal who was himself in treatment for cancer.

Sister Andreata was an avid reader. After moving to Our Lady of Victory Convent in 2014, one of the first things she did was to walk past the many bookcases in one of the rooms to see which books she might choose. In addition to her love of reading, she enjoyed the challenge of working the daily crossword puzzles from the newspaper. Her extensive vocabulary aided her in completing them with little assistance. Sister Andreata also had a gift for writing and painting a picture with the words she chose in sending birthday and feast day greetings to her Sisters and in letters to family and friends. Her typewriter was always on her desk and used frequently.

Sister Andreata was into walking before it became a popular thing to do. If she had a pedometer, it could have counted the number of steps she took in her walks around the Motherhouse yard, the grounds at Villa Joseph Marie in Pennsylvania and walking the circumference of Marquette Park in Chicago. She enjoyed the beauty of nature outdoors as well as indoors. Her yearly amaryllis plant brought her great joy as she watched it grow and delighted in the blossoms as they opened, displaying their beautiful color. When Sister Andreata returned home after her hospitalization and was settled in at Mother Theresa Home, she noticed the two huge blossoms on her plant that had opened to provide a warm welcome for her. The smile on her face was priceless!

We know that Sister Andreata was surrounded by a lot of love in her last days as she continued to experience diminishment, the love of her Sisters in community who visited and prayed for her, Sister Bernadette Marie, who served as her coordinator in the community at Our Lady of Victory convent, Sister Lawrence’s daily visits to Sister Andreata during meal times helping her to receive some nourishment in addition to her loving companionship. Special gratitude to Sister Elizabeth Ann who helped in every detail of Sister Andreata’s transition, not only with the material needs, but with kindness, patience, and love, answering all of Sister Andreata’s questions and concerns, sharing what was happening, and encouraging her every step of the way.

Sister Andreata wanted the blinds in her room to be kept open at night so she could look at the sky and see the stars as she thanked God for the day. Perhaps it was those stars that led her back to God to whom she promised her life and love so many years ago. We are grateful for Sister Andreata, and we are certain that she heard Jesus’ welcoming words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

to be kept open at night so she could look at the sky and see the stars as she thanked God for the day. Perhaps it was those stars that led her back to God to whom she promised her life and love so many years ago. We are grateful for Sister Andreata, and we are certain that she heard Jesus’ welcoming words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”