Sister Miriam Therese Roncinske, SSND
June 23, 1929 – August 14, 2022
Mary Rita Roncinske was born in Rochester, New York, on June 23, 1929, the daughter of Katherine Agnes Duffy from County Mayo, Ireland, and Oscar Colomon Roncinske, a native of Rochester of Austro-Hungarian descent. Katie Duffy had emigrated from Ireland to join her sisters, Anna and Mary, in Rochester. Eventually, another girl, Patricia, and five boys, John, Richard, twins Gerard and Thomas, and Bernard completed Katherine and Oscar’s family. Mary wrote in her autobiography that at the time of the twins’ birth her mother had suffered from double pneumonia and she remembered her father saying, “Pray that God does not take Mama to heaven yet.”
All the Roncinske children were educated at the parish school, Holy Family, by SSNDs. When Mary was in the eighth grade, Sister M. Dosithea, Juniorate Directress at Fort Lee, New Jersey, gave a talk at Holy Family that inspired her. She later remembered that ever since First Communion she had asked God to “someday make me a Sister.” After consultation with the Pastor, Father Heisel, her parents consented that she go to the Juniorate, where she spent “four happy years growing spiritually, mentally, and physically.” Later she specially remembered thoughts from Sister Dosithea’s religion classes, and being in that “Little Red School House around the corner” with Sister Joannette. Her other teachers, Sisters Cordelia, Gerard, and Eymard, were also remembered gratefully in her autobiography.
On August 27, 1947, she received the bonnet at Holy Family, and in Baltimore she spent a very busy first year of Candidature in the Teacher Training School, where she described herself as an “avid student” of Sister Auxentia’s instructions. At St John’s, Bridgeport, she taught first grade in her second year. The Sisters gave her “so many little pointers for school work” she felt herself growing from their example and being “eternally grateful to them.”
Describing herself as “greatly desiring the Holy Habit,” Mary began her novitiate on July 16, 1949; she received the name Miriam Therese at Reception. First vows followed a year later on August 3, 1950, with perpetual profession on the same date in 1956. A Bachelor of Science in Education was awarded to Miriam in 1959 by the College of Notre Dame of Maryland (now Notre Dame of Maryland University) in 1959. She earned a Master of Library Science at St. John’s University, NY, in 1970.
First Profession began for Miriam Therese the quintessential SSND life of classroom teaching for 47 years. Her grade school missions took her to St. John School in Bergenfield, NJ; Notre Dame Lower School and Blessed Sacrament in Baltimore, MD; St. Peter and Paul in Rochester, NY; St. Anthony, South Ozone Park, and St. Joseph, 87th Street, NY. In high schools, Miriam Therese taught English at Holy Angels Academy, Demarest, NJ for 21 years, and was Librarian for seven years at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Dover, NH.
In 1997, she returned to Rochester to Bishop Kearney High School as Switchboard/Receptionist, before spending nine years in Parish Ministry at St. Margaret Mary Parish there. She continued to serve as a volunteer at Monroe Community Hospital, and later, for five years, was a part-time volunteer at SSND-sponsored Notre Dame Learning Center. A further 20 years of generous service!
Miriam Therese came to Wilton to retire and to offer her life in prayer and presence in 2017. In 2021, she was part of the early groups to go to Ozanam Hall in Queens for full-time care. In community she was quiet and kind, gently humorous. A great reader and avid fan of Mary Higgins Clark, Miriam Therese once, through a student whose family knew the famous author, got to speak with her on the phone, a highlight for a loyal fan.
Sister’s funeral was celebrated at Our Lady of Fatima Church in Wilton, on August 24, 2022. Sister John Vianney Zullo presided at the Wake, at which a niece and nephew spoke lovingly of their Aunt Mary. Led by Sister Edna Cole, Sisters prayerfully placed the usual symbols on the coffin and later served as pallbearers.
Pastor Father Reginald Normand presided over the Liturgy and gave the Homily. First Reader was Sister Bernadette Alfieri, while Sister Katherine Lawless read paragraph 47 from You Are Sent. Tom Roncinske, a nephew, prayed the Intercessions.
Burial followed at St. Mary Cemetery, Bethel, while a bagpiper, arranged by Tom, honored the Irish heritage of “Katie Duffy’s daughter.”
- Sister Kay O’Connell, SSND