Sister Florence Kruczek, OSF, 91

“I’m one of those Great Depression kids,” says Franciscan Sister Florence Kruczek. Born December 2, 1927, Sister Florence grew up in lean times, yet she was surrounded and sustained by faith. “My mother was deeply religious,” she explains. “Every day she made us (Sister Florence and her siblings) say our prayers aloud. She didn’t want us to skip any parts.”

During grades 1-8, Sister Florence was educated by sisters from what is now her religious community, the Bernardine Franciscans of Reading, Pennsylvania. She knew at a very early age that she was called to religious life. “One day, I jumped into church to make a visit to the tabernacle, but I stopped at the statue of St. Therese of Lisieux,” she explains. “I said, ‘Please Saint Therese, make me a sister just like you.’ And I have felt her companionship throughout my religious life.”

At age 14, Sister Florence entered the Bernardine’s aspirancy, which was a special program for high school girls who wanted to pursue a vocation to religious life. Upon graduation in 1945, she officially entered the community as a postulant and began both her religious formation and her training to be a teacher.

Sister Florence taught for some 50 years, ministering at every level from elementary school through college. Raised in a bilingual home, she had a natural affinity for languages and was asked by her community to study French. “That was the foresight of my congregation,” she says, “to tap into our native talents.” She studied both abroad and in the United States, ultimately receiving a doctorate in French from Penn State University, where she was working as a teaching assistant. From 1971 to 1996, Sister Florence taught French at Alvernia College (now University), an institution founded by her community. “I loved teaching,” she says. “I guess that was the gift God had given me. I enjoyed it.”

After retiring from teaching, Sister Florence continued to find other ways to minister. “I said, ‘My batteries are still running, so what do you want me to do now?’” She served for a time in campus ministry. “I was a presence for the students,” she recalls. “I loved that. It was just so good to be with them.”

These days, macular degeneration has caused Sister Florence to slow down a little, but she appreciates being able to spend more time in prayer. “If I can’t be out there for the troops (her sisters), then I can pray for the needs of our community, our Church, the world,” she says. “I wake up every day and say, ‘O Lord, thank you for the gift of another day!’”