Mourning the Deaths of Franciscans

HNP Communications Franciscan World

The Provincial Office staff has learned of the recent passing of members of two English-speaking Conference provinces, as well as several Franciscan sisters.

Andres Rivero, OFM, 74, a member of St. Barbara Province, died on Sept. 21 from the effects of Covid-19. The Mexico City native, who was known for his Hispanic radio apostolate, came to the United States at age 30, when he was ordained a priest. On the same day of his ordination, he joined the Franciscans and began his novitiate year, which concluded with simple profession on Oct. 5, 1976, and solemn profession of vows six years later, in August 1982. He transitioned into semi-retirement in December 2012. He is buried at Old Mission San Luis Rey, California.

Louis-Andre Germain, OFM, of Holy Spirit Province in Canada, died on Oct. 5 in Trois Rivieres, Quebec, Canada. He was 82 years old. Most of his friar life was spent in mission ministry, serving as a missionary in Peru for 46 years.

Sr. Mary Lou Gossin, OSF, a member of the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany, New York, died on Sept. 18 at the age of 86. She was a teacher at Catholic schools in New York and New Jersey, and also served in administrative positions, including principal and superior, at St. George School in Jefferson, New York, and St. Agnes School in Blackwood, New Jersey. In addition to her education ministry, the Utica, New York, native was secretary to regional leadership in Assumption Convent, Wood-Ridge, New Jersey, Christ the King Convent, Haddonfield, New Jersey, and – in 1995 – St. Elizabeth Motherhouse in Allegany. After retiring in 2005, she volunteered as a receptionist at Sacred Heart Parish in Auburn, New York, and at St. Anthony Convent in New York City.

Sr. Laetitia Okoniewski, a member of the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters, Third Order Regular of St. Francis, died on Sept. 15 at St. Joseph Villa in Reading, Pennsylvania, where she had lived since 2014. She was 101 years old.  Raised in Wilmington, Delaware, she entered the Bernardine Sisters in 1943. After graduating from Villanova University and the University of Notre Dame, she began ministries in education, congregational leadership, and diocesan administration. She was an elementary and secondary education teacher in schools in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Washington, D.C. The Wilmington native also served as an instructor, dean of women, director of aspirants and postulants, and academic dean at colleges and universities. She held several positions in the order, among them superior, provincial superior, superior general, associate vicar for religious, director for religious, and local minister.

Sr. Eileen Walsh, OSF, 84, of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, died on Sept. 20 at Assisi House in Aston, Pennsylvania. She had been a professed member of the order for 62 years, ministering primarily in education and social work in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and South Carolina. Born in the City of Brotherly Love, where she was a member of St. Francis Xavier Parish and a graduate of Hallahan High School, she entered the congregation in 1956 and professed her first vows two years later. She earned a bachelor of arts degree in English from Neumann University in 1971, and later studied at Villanova University where she earned a master’s degree in counseling in 1990.

Sr. Francis Anne Harper, OSF, of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, died on Oct. 1 at Assisi House at the age of 93. A professed member for 72 years, the native of Baltimore, Maryland, entered the congregation in 1945 and took her first vows in 1948. She earned a bachelor of science degree in nursing from Villanova University and a master’s degree in health care administration from George Washington University. Although she began her ministry in elementary education, she ministered primarily in health care – serving in supervisory, instructor, and administrative roles at hospitals, medical centers, and assisted living facilities in Pennsylvania and Maryland. She also founded St. Joseph Living Center when she served as president and CEO of St. Joseph Hospital in Reading, Pennsylvania.

Editor’s note: Each month, HNP Today publishes news of the deaths of selected Franciscan brothers, priests, and sisters. Information should be emailed to the HNP Communications Office.

 – Compiled by Jocelyn Thomas