Women of Strength 2017

Dr. Milissa Bolcar

NOMINATED BY: Sister Frances Marie Duncan, OSF

​Dr. Milissa Bolcar, Class of 1986
 
From her first days at Saint Francis Academy, it was apparent that Milissa was one of the brightest and most determined of students.  Milissa’s contributions to St Francis Academy extended from National Honor Society to Musicals to Student Council and Science Fairs.  In each, she was a key component, bringing her commitment, dedication, consistent hard work and her quiet, unobtrusive nature.  She was one of the students who travelled to Harrisburg to receive the PA Energy Award for innovative projects in educating younger students in energy conservation.  She was also a top winner in the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science for her research on how an aspirin a day could ward off some common ailments, a concept which now has been verified by many advanced studies. 
 
Upon graduation, Milissa continued her studies in Chemistry at Bucknell University, graduating Magna Cum Laude, and went on to obtain her doctoral degree in Chemistry from Indiana University, Bloomington.   She taught at the college level after graduation and is presently a quality control chemist with Linde Electronics and Specialty Gases. 
 
Throughout all her years of studies and work, Milissa’s faith remained strong and her magnanimous nature remained evident in her devotion to her parish, volunteer organizations and the School Sisters of St Francis.  Throughout her years of study and work, she served as a lector in nearby parishes and returning to Bethlehem, she continued as a lector at Incarnation of the Lord Parish since 2003.   Where other young adults often keep changing parishes to find the best homilist or best choir, Milissa chose instead to stay and help her parish become stronger by being an active member and initiating changes.  In addition to being a lector, she also serves on the parish choir as a vocalist and instrumentalist and has done so since 2009.
 
Since 2003 she has served on the Parish Activities Group in organizing fundraisers, festivals and outings for the parish.  She served as the vice-president and is now serving as secretary for this group.  Milissa is a founding member of the St Vincent de Paul Society at Incarnation since 2012 and is currently its vice-president.  She coordinates the donations of food and items for the poor and has served in the food pantry monthly since 2013.   In light of her involvement, it is easy to see why Milissa was selected as a member of the new parish pastoral council this year.
 
Milissa continues to use her talents for the School Sisters of St Francis and other organizations.  She has been a member of the Star Struck Gala Committee since 2011 and is an instrumentalist for the Christmas Vespers hosted by the Renewal Center.  She also served as a lay witness on the Bishop’s Annual Appeal Committee from 2013 to 2015.  She has served as a judge for the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science, Region III meeting since 2009 and has been a blood donor since 1992.  Yet despite all this involvement in so many activities, Milissa remains a devoted daughter to her wonderful parents, a faithful friend to her sister and brother-in law and a doting aunt to her two nephews. 
 
Milissa deserves the Woman of Strength Award because she has remained a woman of high Christian values throughout her life.  Her life well depicts the strength of character, courage, generosity, persistence, optimism, integrity and Community service highlighted by this award.   ​

Teresa Sims Connors

NOMINATED BY: Alexandria Cirko

Teresa Louise (Sims) Connors   Class of 1966

They say great things come in small packages – if that is true, then nominating Teresa (Sims) Connors for the “2017 Woman of Strength Award” is the definitely the right thing to do. 

Terry is a person who loves life.  You can’t be in her presence for more than a few minutes without experiencing her tremendous sense of humor.  Whether the glass is half empty or half full, Terry looks for the best in every situation and person.

The Woman of Strength Award is meant to honor a woman who exemplifies the traits of strength of character, courage, persistence, integrity, Christian values, generosity, optimism, and service.  Perhaps the most outstanding in Terry are service and her tremendous generosity which comes to others, not only in monetary ways, but in her time and assistance at the office and out of work. Terry can always be depended on as a team player.  She is the first to offer help.  No job is too small or great for her to handle.  When an impromptu meeting or event arises, she steps it up right down to the last detail.  Any event planner would do well to watch her magic and see her personal touch come through as if it was in her own home.  In my opinion and in mutual agreement among her peers and colleagues, Terry exemplifies well each of these traits.

 Entering St. Francis Academy in 1962, Terry was involved in the Glee Club and took part in the Senior Class Play.  As a hard working student, her years at St. Francis helped to instill in her a spirit of determination and the strength of character she would need to meet the challenges of the work force.  
Over the years, Terry has had extensive and diverse experience in the fields of local and state government working for State Representatives Paul and Katherine McHale and federal government with US Representative Paul McHale in the 15th Congressional District. She worked in case management for the State Welfare-to-Work Program where she taught classes in Personal Development and Customer Service.  For the American Abstract Realty Company, Terry set up and maintained operations of the title company and was responsible for the management of the law firm’s operations, case development and logistics.  She is currently Administrative Assistant to both the Superintendent and Chancellor for Catholic Education for the Diocese of Allentown.

By those who have worked with her over the years, she is described as a hard-working, self-motivated person who displays a positive attitude and is intensely honorable, trustworthy, reliable, and sincere.  As a colleague and friend, I would describe Terry as a warm and caring person.  Her loyalty to our Superintendent and the mission of Catholic Education in the Diocese of Allentown is evident in her working relationships with colleagues, Administrators, teachers and parents – as she is the first voice they hear on the phone, the first face they see upon entering the Office of Education.  Terry’s professionalism and pleasant demeanor is key to putting at ease anyone who calls the Office of Education.  Her quick wit and jovial bantering with colleagues truly helps to make the mood of the Office enjoyable.

American Novelist, Roman Payne once wrote: You must give everything to make your life as beautiful as the dreams that dance in your imagination.  Let it be known that Terry is a great dancer – whether at a wedding or around the Office (on occasion).  Giving of her time, compassion and friendship is second nature to Terry.  This past June our Office mourned the sudden passing of a colleague.  It was a day filled with emotion, sadness and confusion.  Terry was on vacation but when she got the news that day she came right in to the Office to be with us – to grieve with us.  Everyone commented on her coming in while on vacation and her response was, “I was concerned about everyone, we are a family.”  That’s Terry – giving to others and not thinking about herself. 
Motherhood is one of life’s highest callings. Terry’s love and devotion to her children and grandchildren exemplifies this special vocation.  Terry knows the importance of seeing each of them as unique and is therefore insightful to their individual needs and will offer her support as needed.  Her heart is full of a mother’s pride when she speaks of each of them.  There is a ‘humanity bracelet’ which is inscribed with words that clearly defines a mother’s love: courage, trust, honor, family, truth, of course love!  Terry truly epitomizes these attributes with unassuming dignity.
 
In her poem, A Woman of Strength, Sharon Simani states:
A strong woman won’t let anyone get the best of her
but a woman of strength gives the best in what she does.

A strong woman makes mistakes and avoids the same in the future
but a woman of strength realizes life’s mistakes can also be God’s blessings and capitalizes on them.
A strong woman walks sure footedly
but a woman of strength also knows God will catch her when she falls.

A strong woman wears the look of confidence on her face
but a woman of strength wears grace.
A strong woman has faith that she is strong enough for the journey
but a woman of strength has faith that it is in the journey
that she will become strong. 

 
This is the Woman of Strength we see in Teresa Louise (Sims) Connors – giving her best in all she does, leaning on her faith and allowing herself to be guided by God’s love in all ways, showing compassion to those whom she encounters each day and walking her path in life with strength and conviction.  This is the Woman of Strength who is loved and respected by her children, Chris, Lisa & Bob, and Lynn and her grandchildren Andrew and Lauren, Jake and Olivia.
This is the Woman of Strength who my colleagues and I work with each day and greatly admire. 

Sr. Regina Ann Rokosny, OSF

NOMINATED BY: Sister Marguerite Stewart, OSF

Sister Regina Ann Rokosny, OSF

Woman of Strength is a title that covers a number of outstanding Christian qualities: courage, generosity, integrity, optimism and faith-filled service. A person who comes to mind, as I consider this title, is our Sister Regina Ann Rokosny.

I have known Sister Regina Ann for many years as the sister, friend, and co-worker and experienced many sides of this very special person ~ sides that perhaps first blossomed when we taught together at St. Francis Academy. And they continue to grow more fully to this present day. May I point out just a few.

Sister Regina Ann is a woman of prayer. As a School Sister of St. Francis she is called to live out the charism of our community ~ intimate union with God in the midst of apostolic service. She is faithfully present at daily community prayer and Mass. I am especially moved as I see her sitting quietly in our chapel each evening, after a full day of work. “It’s my favorite time” she tells me. A special time of prayer that she then takes with her and shares with the people she meets, as she helps to make the world a better place.

Sister Regina Ann taught for a number of years at our St. Francis Academy and was very dedicated to the total education of the girls. Her specialty was Math and Spanish. But her dedication went far beyond the classroom. She was in her glory as assistant coach of our basketball team, director of the cheerleaders and pep club. And when the time came for our yearly Broadway Musical, Sister Regina was there with her team working on the construction of scenery. Her energy and joyful spirit often turned the work into fun. This joyful spirit is still evident today. If you happen to walk into our gym when preparations are taking place for some function, you just might see Sister Regina Ann dancing about as she enters into the preparations. Might her second call be as a ballerina?

Compassion is a special gift for Sister Regina Ann. She reaches out to those in need of gentle kindness, recognizing when someone is sad or in need of someone to talk with. Always evident in the academy days, this can also be seen today. I believe she draws from her own inner strength, having had to deal with the death of her mother at a very early age.

I admire, very much, Sister Regina Ann’s gift of integrity. She is true to herself and makes every effort to treat others with respect and openness. When relational difficulties occasionally arise, she is honest and encourages openness in others, even if there is a personal cost.

Another outstanding quality of Sister Regina Ann is her service. In her growing up years in her home town of Emmaus, Pennsylvania, she was always helping her aunts who cared for her, as well as the sisters in school. Again, in those academy years, her energy and willingness to serve seemed endless.
After the closing of St. Francis Academy, Sister went on to teach in our St. Francis Academy in San Antonio, Texas. The young women she taught there remember her generous service and joyful spirit.

To fail to mention Sister Regina’s great love and care for the earth would be a huge oversite. As a true daughter of St. Francis, she is dedicated to doing all she can to make this world of ours a better place in which to live. In her free time, she is often seen outside in the garden planting, weeding and caring for our flowers. She is a strong advocate for care of the earth. In 2003, she received an award for fidelity in caring for the earth, from the Franciscan Federation.

Sister Regina Ann has held a number of important positions in the community:
Community Treasurer; Provincial Vicar; Provincial councilor; Novice Director

Presently, Sister serves as Financial Director at St. Francis Friary in Easton, Pennsylvania. True to who she is, Sister Regina, though her main work is with finances, often can be seen making beds or cleaning in preparation for an upcoming retreat. Or she may be weeding in the garden or just sitting and sharing with a staff member or volunteer. Or spending quiet time in the chapel.

I heartily believe that Sister Regina Ann is worthy of the title Woman of Strength. Her life of service, her dedication to her call to follow Jesus and her dancing spirit have endeared her to me and to so many others.

Pamela Tuskes

NOMINATED BY: Mary Gonzales, Class of 1973

​Pamela Susan Tuskes, Classes of 1973

It is my pleasure to nominate Pamela Susan Tuskes for the Woman Strength Award. Pam is a bright light in the community and has an infectious zest for life, her fun-spirit, organizational skills and commitment to quality have been the focus for all her accomplishments and also are her way of life. Pam’s quote is often “Just do it” and quickly adds “And do it Right!!”

Pam’s “Woman of Strength” characteristics began when Pam was very young. Pam’s strength of character as well as her persistent nature are noted in her love of family. Pam can be heard remembering how Pam’s grandmother taught to make fausnought/donuts and noodles early in life. And now Pam continues that tradition, as she frequently teaches her own granddaughter Madison cooking and baking. They all seasoned their delicacies with love. Pam also was instrumental in taking care of her mother and father-in-law when they became ill and before they were called to God

Pam’s Christian Values were displayed early in her life. Our Blessed Mother was always special to Pam as she served as the grade school May Queen and crowned the Blessed Mother in the May Procession at St. Anne’s as an eighth grader. Pam was a Legion of Mary and Teen’s Christian Action member at St. Francis Academy. Pam also sang solos for many weddings and funerals at her local Parish- Church while she was in college

While at St. Francis Academy, Pam’s optimism shone. She worked diligently as cheerleader, and member of the Pep Club. At Lock Haven University, she was a member of a Children’s Theatre Group and entertained many school children in the community. Her enthusiasm continues today as her family, friends and committee members remember her always with smile and warm spirit.

Pam commits to several charities for community service and is generous with her time. Favorite charities of Pam’s include Toys for Tots and Dreams Come True. These two charities demonstrate Pam’s commitment to underserved and chronically or terminally ill children.

Pam’s integrity was recognized by her peerswhen she was chosen to serve on the Board of Directors of the Easton Children’s Home. Her service as a Board Member for the United Way of Lehigh Valley for several years demonstrates her commitment to community service.

Pam has volunteered many hours at Notre Dame High School, serving on their Carnival Board, as a lunch mom, trip chaperone and as volunteer coach whenever needed.

Pam’s best qualities are noted in her dedication to St. Jane Frances de Chantal School and Church. She has served as a Room, Lunch, and Computer Mom for her children and more recently her granddaughter. She volunteered as a gym teacher and helped ensure that the school received the President’s Council on Fitness Award. She helped to begin the St. Jane’s female volleyball program which continues to this day.
Pam and her husband spearheaded the committee for, and helped build, the St. Jane’s School Computer room which continues to benefit all.
She served on St. Jane’s PTA for at least 10 years being Vice- President for 2 years. Many decisions were fundamental to continue a flourishing Catholic education for the children of Easton while Pam was on the Board.

Pam and her husband are the proud parents of three amazing children and six wonderful grandchildren. Pam’s grandchildren affectionately call her “Mers” and range in age 1 to 12 years. She spends several days a week with her grandchildren enjoying them and leading them by the example of her energy, hard work and acceptance for all people.

It is important to note Pam is a conduit of Christian Values. Pam’s son is continuing her legacy as an officer for St. Jane’s. Pam received much of her giving spirit from her parents. Even though her father sadly passed in 2014, her mother can be seen at daily mass, assisting with the parish, and even at St. Francis Center for Renewal for Retreats. Pam’s grandchildren are or will be attending catholic school.

Pam’s most recent accomplishment occurred as she co-coordinated a segment of the Saucon Valley Ladies Golf Outing where the proceeds went directly to a local charity – the Lehigh Valley Cancer Society. Pam and her group organized golf-hole sponsorships and giveaways. The Outing donated close to $ 6000.00 to this worth-while local cause.

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