On Sunday, October 14th, Bishop Robert J. McManus DDS, presented posthumously the 19th Annual Retired Religious Award to our Sr. Mary Valenta Akalski, C.S.S.F. The Annual Retired Religious Award is presented to a vowed religious who represents all religious in the diocese.
The Mass was attended by students, faculty, staff, and parents from St. Joseph School, as well as Felician Sisters from Enfield, CT. During the presentation of the award, Sr. Paula Kelleher SSJ, the interim episcopal liaison to religious, spoke about Sr. Valenta. She explained that at this time last year, Sr. Valenta was chosen to be this year’s recipient. However, God called Sister to himself. Therefore, the decision was made to give the award to Sister posthumously because they wanted to honor Sister Valenta and the members of her wonderful community.
Sr. Paula went on to say, “Now Sister had three names. I don’t know if all of you know that. One of them was Bertha. That was the name she was given when she was baptized…Well, after sister was in community, they gave her the name, Valenta. We looked it up, and people looked around, and it means strength, and generous, and kind…Sister was all of those things! But she had a third name. Now in religious communities, people are usually called, especially communities of women, sister, sister this or sister that. Not so with Sr. Valenta. Sister was called, ‘Valie,’ because everyone loved her as she was. And, Valie is kind of short for Valentine. And, she was truly everyone’s Valentine. Everybody loved her…. We miss you Valie. We miss you very much!”
Following the presentation of the plaque by Bishop McManus to Sr. Jeanne, the St. Joseph School community and friends of Sr. Valenta gathered in the Cenacle beneath the Cathedral for a light reception. It was a wonderful opportunity to share stories of Sr. Valenta and reflect on the impact she had on all our lives.
The award will be hung in the hallway outside Sr. Jeanne’s classroom. When you look at the plaque, you will notice a small heart with the word “Valie” inscribed inside of it. Yes, Sr. Valenta, you will also hold a special place in our hearts!
To view the Mass and award presentation please click HERE.