Josephine Sferrella, IHM

Sferrella_JosephineSister Josephine Sferrella, IHM, 89, died Wednesday, Aug. 2, at her home, the IHM Sisters’ Motherhouse.

Josephine Marie Sferrella was born in Akron, Ohio, to Dominic and Mary (Frattura) Sferrella on May 30, 1928. She attended St. Mary School in Akron under the tutelage of the IHM Sisters, Monroe. In 1946, after high school graduation, she entered the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Monroe, and received the religious name Sister Mary Dominic. Her sister Pauline joined the community in 1951.

A bright and dedicated student, Sister Josephine began studies and earned a bachelor’s degree from Marygrove College, Detroit; a master’s degree in sociology from Fordham University, New York; and a doctoral degree in sociology and economics from Wayne State University. While working toward academic goals, Sister Josephine taught in Michigan elementary schools at Saints Peter and Paul, Ionia; St. Joseph, Trenton; St. Hugo of the Hills, Bloomfield Hills; St. Joseph, Erie; and in Detroit at St. Catherine, St. Patrick, Holy Trinity and Our Lady of Good Counsel. She was principal at St. Boniface, St. Anne and Holy Redeemer High School before joining Marygrove College as dean of Student Affairs. She was known as an outstanding elementary and high school principal and college administrator.

Her work as an educator and administrator led to direct involvement with the civic and business communities, influencing the greater community to take an active interest in the schools. Her experience gave her a holistic view of the helping professions.

With a gift for administration, Sister Josephine completed her doctoral studies and, in 1982, accepted a position with the Archdiocese of Chicago Office of Catholic Education. For 20-plus years, she served in administration, research and data consultation with Joseph Cardinal Bernadin. During her ministry, she was involved in various services for the IHMs, from the writing of Building Sisterhood, a published IHM history, to designing surveys for various community actions.

Sister Josephine retired to the Motherhouse in 2003 and continued active participation in serving her community of sisters as a member of the “Tech Committee” offering computer skills training and advancing the IHM website, and co-directing the Community Learning Process, which focused on various educational efforts for members. In recent years, a decline in health dampened her many involvements.

Sister Josephine is survived by her brother-in-law, Joseph Pace; niece, Maria Pace Smith; nephew Paul Pace; cousins; and her sisters in community. She was preceded in death by her sisters, Pauline (Jean Paul, IHM) and Gilda Pace; and brother, Paul. Read her Remembering.

Read some thoughts about Sister Josephine written by her niece, Maria.