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Two Sisters of St. Joseph celebrate 60 years of religious profession

OND Staff Report

The ceremonies and rituals associated with becoming part of a religious congregation vary. In 1956 following a 6-month novitiate, Rose Mary Toenyan and Pat Murphy received the habit of the Sisters of St. Joseph and their religious names: Sister Mary Barbara and Sister Mary Matthew. They pronounced First Vows in 1958 and, on Sept. 8, gathered with members of their community to praise and thank God for the graces and joys of their vocations.

During the 60-plus years that they have been Sisters of St. Joseph, their congregation discerned a call to be part of an American congregation of St. Joseph and separate from the French Motherhouse. The more recent merging with six other American congregations of St. Joseph has resulted in being part of the Congregation of St. Joseph. Without leaving Crookston, they have belonged to three congregations in their lifetimes.

Sister Rose Mary was born in St. Rose, MN, one of six children of the Rose Weber and Robert Toenyan who later moved to Blackduck, MN. Sister Rose Mary entered the novitiate in Crookston in 1955, professed First Vows in 1958 and Final Vows in 1963.

For 18 years, Sister Rose Mary served in community service devoting herself to various aspects of food service. Her recipe for “Bishop’s Bread” is still requested by women who attended St. Joseph’s Academy in Crookston. After being certified as an occupational therapist assistant from St. Mary’s Junior College in Minneapolis, Sister Rose Mary was an activity director and occupational therapist for 23 years, mainly at LakeWood Care Center in Baudette, Minnesota.

Sister Rose Mary retired in 2007 and currently resides at Villa St. Vincent in Crookston, maintaining a ministry of prayer.

Sister Pat was born in Crookston, Minnesota, one of four children of Zelia Charron and John Thomas Murphy of Fisher, Minnesota.

Upon graduation from St. Joseph’s Academy in Crookston in 1955, Sister Pat entered the novitiate in Crookston, professed First Vows in 1958 and Final Vows in 1963. She earned a B.A. in Elementary Education from the College of St. Catherine, an M.S. in Elementary School Administration from the University of Dayton, and an Ed.S. in Elementary School Administration from the University of St. Thomas.

From 1959-1982, Sister Pat taught third through eighth grades at St. Richard’s School in Richfield, Minnesota, St. Joseph’s Academy in Crookston and St. Peter’s School in Mendota, Minnesota. She also served as principal in the three schools. From 1983-1986 she directed RENEW for the Diocese of Crookston. From 1986-2008 she directed the Office of the Word in the roles of School Superintendent and Executive Director of the Pastoral Leadership Program.

Following her retirement from diocesan ministry in 2008, Sister Pat received a certification in Spiritual Direction from Creighton University in Omaha and was engaged in this ministry until the spring of 2018 when she withdrew temporarily for health reasons. She continues to serve the Sisters of St. Joseph in Crookston as the Coordinator of Community Life.