2017 Golden Jubilarians
S. Barbara Hagedorn
Born and raised in Cincinnati, Sister Barb went to St. William grade school and Seton High School. Upon graduating, she entered the Community on Aug. 28, 1966, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton’s birthday. With a bachelor’s degree in English from the College of Mount St. Joseph (now Mount St. Joseph University) in Cincinnati, and a master’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from the University of Dayton (Ohio), she began teaching at Catholic Central in Cincinnati (1970-1975) and Carroll High School in Dayton (1975-1981). Her ministry then took on an administrative role as she began work at the Sisters of Charity Motherhouse as Formation director (1981-1988).
In 1988, Sister Barb’s ministry took her to Colorado Springs where she would stay for some years in various positions, including administrator (Julie Penrose Center), researcher and writer (St. Elizabeth), and vice president of mission effectiveness (Penrose Hospital). She returned to Cincinnati when she was elected as a congregational councilor in 1995, and was in charge of the major renovation of the Immaculate Conception Chapel in the Motherhouse that was completed in 2000. She served on the council until 2003 when she was elected to two terms as president of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati (2003-2011).
The years she served as president were filled with many exciting moments for the Community, including the merger of the Vincentian Sisters of Charity with the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, and the creation of DePaul Cristo Rey High School. “The ‘professional activity’ that has meant the most to me has been my involvement in opening DePaul Cristo Rey High School,” she says. “The journey of being involved from concept to reality and now experiencing the second graduating class has been remarkable. Many people helped make this dream come true and I am so proud to be a part of this mission.”
Sister Barb now coordinates client services and front desk volunteers at Good Samaritan Free Health Center in Price Hill. She is on the boards for the Good Samaritan Foundation and Catholic Health Initiatives, and until recently was on the board for DePaul Cristo Rey High School. As she celebrates her Golden Jubilee with the Sisters of Charity, her hope is to “stay involved in meaningful ministry or volunteer work as long as possible. I will always be a vital part of living the mission no matter what I am able to do.”
S. Mary Alice Haithcoat
Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, Sister Mary Alice was introduced to religious life first with the Sisters of Mercy at St. Cecilia grade school and then with the Sisters of Charity at St. Mary/Marian High School. After high school, she entered the Community and started working toward a degree in education from the College of Mount St. Joseph (now Mount St. Joseph University) in Cincinnati. One decade later, she went back to school to receive a master’s degree in administration from Xavier University (Cincinnati).
Sister’s first love has always been teaching, she says. Her education ministry has taken her to three schools in various capacities: Holy Angels in Sidney, Ohio, as elementary teacher (1971-1979), St. Mary in Greenville, Ohio, as elementary teacher (1979-1984) and principal (1984-1993), and Piqua Catholic in Piqua, Ohio, as assistant principal and teacher (1993-2009), principal (2009-2011), and now second grade teacher (2011-). She is also heavily involved with the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) program in the Piqua parishes, citing the days spent preparing her second graders for the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist as some of her most special and dear memories.
Sister Mary Alice also has fond memories of mission trips she has gone on. “A few years ago, I had the privilege to go to the islands of Haiti and Dominica with a group of teachers and parishioners,” she says. They helped build houses in Haiti and visited their twinning parish in Dominica. “On both islands, we met some very special people who are truly happy and worship God with great joy and peace.”
When reflecting on the Year of Mercy as called for by Pope Francis, Sister Mary Alice’s hopes show her teaching spirit: “During these troubled times in our world, it is so important to be aware of God’s mercy and love. I feel, as a Sister and a teacher, that it is vital for me to communicate that mercy of God to my students by my words and actions. I want them to know that God’s mercy is more powerful than any hate or anger. I want them to grow up to be faithful disciples of Jesus who know and have experienced God’s great love and mercy.”
S. Georgia Kitt
Born and raised in Carroll, Iowa, Sister Georgia grew up in a loving, hard-working family that taught her the importance of faith by both word and example. She attended St. Joseph Grade School and Kuemper Catholic High School before attending Mount St. Scholastica College in Atchison, Kansas, to receive a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. It was during her senior year there that she discovered her passion for teaching after substituting for one of her professors, and she decided to become an educator. A year after her first introduction to the Sisters in South Holland, Sister Georgia decided to enter the Congregation.
Also receiving a master’s degree in guidance counseling from Xavier University (Cincinnati, Ohio), her education ministry first took her to Bishop Flaget Catholic School in Chillicothe, Ohio, as a counselor (1968-1970), then to Catholic Central High School in Springfield, Ohio, for 18 years (1970-1988) as counselor, teacher, assistant principal, and nine years as principal. “I was blessed to work with gifted, creative teachers there,” Sister Georgia says. “Their energy and dedication helped so many teens get excited about learning.”
After her long ministry in Springfield, Sister Georgia went to Bishop Fenwick High School in Peabody, Massachusetts, in the greater Boston area for 14 years, three of those years as math teacher and 11 as director of guidance. She fondly remembers her time in the area for the opportunity to work with other congregations of Sisters, as well as for the historical sites nearby that expanded her appreciation of the founding days of our nation.
Sister Georgia moved from Massachusetts to Cincinnati to serve eight years in elected leadership for the Community between 2003 and 2011. “Those years were especially blessed because of the women with whom I had a chance to serve,” Sister Georgia says. “Looking back, it was time blessed with God’s special graces and a supportive Congregation.”Sister Georgia started her current position as director of Communications for the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati in 2012, helping to spread the word of the Community’s actions and to continue the legacy of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, the Community’s founder. Of the future, she says, “Greater collaboration will deepen and expand our relationships while education will help us move beyond our differences. As we put trust in a promised future, we will act on that trust. God will be present in all of it.”
S. Patricia Wittberg
Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, Sister Pat attended St. Margaret of Cortona grade school and Marian High School. Sister says that she now believes that it was “providential” that she waited a year before entering the Community because she was able to be a part of the Western Novitiate in Pueblo, Colorado, in 1966, an experience that she says, “helped me mature in a way that I am not sure I would have otherwise.”
With a history degree from the College of Mount St. Joseph, Sister Pat’s first assignment was teaching social studies at St. Joseph Commercial High School in Dayton, Ohio, lasting from 1970 to 1982. “Teaching has been my greatest joy and greatest challenge,” she says. After initially having difficulty relating to her inner-city students, Sister came to prefer teaching economically disadvantaged students. “I believe it is what Mother Seton would want us to do,” she says.
After completing a Ph.D. in sociology at the University of Chicago, Illinois, Sister’s path changed again as she discovered a love for research and writing. While teaching sociology at various universities for 32 years, Sister conducted research at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Indiana, around the topic of the changes that have taken place in religious life. She explains that while some research had been prior conducted on the sociological aspects of ministries, no one had looked at the sociological aspects of the religious communities doing the ministry, which is what she focused on.
Today, she resides in Cincinnati and is continuing her work with sociology as a research associate for the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate. Her research and articles have not only impacted the sociological sphere, but also the Sisters around her as they learn new concepts, a detail that she is most proud of. “It certainly doesn’t matter whether they remember that I wrote about these things; what is important is whether knowing about them helps even one community survive and grow and offer the treasure of religious life to a new generation which is so in need of it.”Preserving avenues of religious life is Sister Pat’s greatest hope for the future of the Community as she celebrates her Golden Jubilee. “My hope is that the Sisters of Charity – and other communities as well – can cooperate with God’s grace to offer a wide variety of forms of religious life to the world. When I think of what a gift that religious life has been for me, I so wish more people could experience it. My life would not have been as rich, and I would not have been as whole a person, in any other vocation.”