2015 Jubilarian – Yvonne (Marie Bertha) Spenoso
Sister Yvonne Spenoso’s 94-year-old mother currently lives in the room that had been her third grade classroom in Akron, Ohio. After the school closed, it was converted to senior housing. Now, when they visit their mother, Sister Yvonne and her three siblings enjoy sharing tales of their elementary days of being taught by the Humility of Mary Sisters.
As a child, Sister Yvonne told people she hated school. She attended St. Mary High School in Akron where the IHM Sisters taught her. Her math teacher strongly influenced her to join the community. “I don’t know if I understood it as a calling then,” she says.
As a senior in high school, she met with the Mother Superior. Impressed, she was prompted to proceed with joining. Sister Yvonne was drawn to the IHMs because of her relationships with the sisters and their warm welcome.
She joined the community after graduating from high school in 1964 when the changes of Vatican II were just starting to take form. Her father was a bit skeptical of her commitment and expected her home by Christmas.
She lived and worked with wonderful teachers who were fabulous mentors. She began her ministries at St. Michael in Monroe, then went on to teach fourth and fifth grades at St. John in Monroe for five years. From there she went to St. Mark in Cleveland, where she taught fourth-eighth grades for 26 years. She also ministered in adult education and worked in the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) program. During her time in Ohio, Sister Yvonne completed her master’s degree in ministry at Ursuline College.
When she left St. Mark, she took a sabbatical year and then became the pastoral associate at St. Joseph in Strongsville, Ohio, where she was the head of the RCIA for seven years.
Currently, Sister Yvonne is the director of religious education at Holy Family Parish in Parma, Ohio, where she works with the sacramental programs and the RCIA.
Her greatest joy since joining the community has been the immense support she has received. “Through the years, whether it was in education or parish ministry or working with RCIA, the community and the many ecumenical ministers I have worked with have always supported me and encouraged me to be the best that I could be.”
Being involved with the RCIA has been a real highlight for her. “My own faith has grown and matured over the years. You don’t know what you have until you have to teach it or share it with someone else. And then you come to realize how important your faith really is.” Sister Yvonne is most grateful for the “community itself. It’s the people, the women who have gone before, who had the vision to call us to the place where we are.”