On April 28, 2019 friends and family gathered at the Presentation Motherhouse in San Francisco to join four Sisters of the Presentation in a very special jubilee celebration marking seventy (70) years in the congregation. The four Jubilee of Grace celebrants were Sister Mary Christina Pizzorno, PBVM who entered the convent on January 5, 1949, Sister Mary Jane Floyd, PBVM who entered on May 27, 1949, Sister Merie Louise Sandstrom, PBVM who entered on July 1, 1949, and Sister Michele O’Connell, PBVM who entered on November 2, 1949. The chapel was filled with joy as the Jubilarians were seated and celebrant Father Tom Martin led attendees through a beautiful eucharistic celebration ending in The Irish Blessing. As part of the celebration, all the Presentation Sisters in attendance joined the Jubilarians in standing and renewing their vows. The festivities then continued with a delicious brunch honoring the four sisters complete with surprise video messages for Sr. Michele from her family in Ireland. It concluded with the Sisters thanking everyone who joined them in their celebrations and all who worked on the preparations for this wonderful day.
Meet the 2019 Jubilarians
Sister Mary Christina Pizzorno, PBVM
Sister Mary Christina was born on December 26, 1931 in Los Angeles, California. Her first introduction to the Sisters of the Presentation was when she enrolled in the first grade at Our Lady of Lourdes School in Los Angeles. She loved her time at Lourdes and eventually entered the congregation on January 5, 1949. Following her entrance, Sr. Mary Christina earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education from the University of San Francisco and spent her first two years teaching at Saint Teresa School in San Francisco.
Following that she returned to her beloved alma mater Our Lady of Lourdes School in Los Angeles where she taught on and off for over twenty-nine (29) years. Her teaching career and other ministries also took her to Saint Benedict and Miraculous Medal schools in Montebello, Saint Anthony school in Alhambra, Holy Trinity School in San Pedro, Saint Mary School in Gilroy, and Saint Joseph School in Berkeley. Sister Mary Christina also ministered for fifteen (15) years in Pecos and Albuquerque, New Mexico where she engaged in catechetical work, visited the sick and homebound and even started a credit union. While she loves and thinks about all the places she has been over the many years, her heart still belongs to Lourdes.
Sister Mary Jane Floyd, PBVM
Sister Mary Jane was born on December 2, 1930 in San Francisco, California. A graduate of Presentation High School, San Francisco, she entered the congregation on May 27, 1949. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree in History from the University of San Francisco. Her ministries included a myriad of teaching assignments at Saint Anne and Saint Agnes Elementary schools in San Francisco, Saint Patrick and Saint John Vianney schools in San Jose, Holy Trinity Elementary in San Pedro and Our Lady of Lourdes in East Los Angeles.
Inspired by the “worker priests” in France Sister Mary Jane left teaching in 1972 and served as secretary with Castle and Cooke in downtown San Francisco and later as secretary and assistant social worker at the Senior Day Health Program in Palo Alto. In both positions, she strived to be a presence of God in the workplace and used her more lucrative earnings to help support other Sisters involved in projects that endeavored to alleviate the oppression of the poor. In 1974, she also began what would become a forty-four (44) year ministry first as secretary and then as coordinator of the Women’s English and Tutoring Programs at the Catholic Worker House, a home for troubled teens founded by Larry Purcell and Sr. Joan Murphy, PBVM, in Redwood City. In addition to her ministries, among her greatest joys in her life were her two hearing dogs, Missy and Blossom, who served alongside her at both the Senior Day Health Program and Catholic Worker House.
Sister Merie Louise Sandstrom, PBVM
Sister Merie Louse was born on June 23, 1929 in San Francisco. An alumna of Presentation High School, San Francisco, she attended the San Francisco College of Women for two years prior to entering the congregation on July 2, 1949. Her fifty-two (52) year ministry in the classroom began in 1951 when she was assigned to teach the fourth-grade girls at Saint Anne School in San Francisco. Following that Sister Merie Louise went on to teach in all of the Presentation-staffed schools in San Francisco as well as St. Patrick School in San Jose, Saint Benedict School in Montebello, Saint Charles School in Albuquerque, Presentation High School in Berkeley, and Saint Joseph School run by the Sisters of the Sacred Heart in Atherton.
Outside of the classroom, Sister Merie Louise’s creativity also drove her pursuits in music, cooking, and exploration of the great wide world through the many outdoor activities she enjoyed with her family such as camping and sailing and the journeys she took to the Holy Land, the British Isles, and Europe where she was able find her grandfather’s hometown on the Island of Gotland, Sweden. Upon retirement from teaching in 2003, in contemplating the uncertain path that then and now lies before her, Sr. Merie Louise borrowed the following words from Dag Hammarskjold, a Swedish countryman, from his book Markings: “To everything that has been, thanks! For all that will be, yes!”
Sister Michele O’Connell, PBVM
Sister Michele grew up in a large family in an area of ten farms called Clonomera in the town of Ennistymon in the County of Clare in Ireland. Unlike many of the other Sisters whose introduction to the congregation came through attending a Presentation school, she attended the local school until she was thirteen then went to a boarding school run by the Sisters of Mercy. After her schooling, she worked in a Civil Service job in Dublin for a time before deciding to pursue religious life. Initially, she wanted to be a missionary in Africa, however her confessor at the time knew the Sisters of the Presentation and encouraged then eventually convinced her to enter the congregation in San Francisco. Not knowing any of the San Francisco Presentation Sisters, she traveled by boat to New York and then by train to Oakland where she was met by Mother Carthagh Quirke, PBVM and Sister Gertrude Quillinan, PBVM. She entered the congregation on November 2, 1949.
Following her entrance, Sister Michele earned a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree in Education from the University of San Francisco and a Master of Arts (M.A.) degree in Religious Studies from Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles. Her ministries included teaching almost every grade of Presentation elementary schools in Berkeley, San Francisco, San Jose, San Lorenzo, Gilroy, Morgan Hill, Los Angeles and San Pedro. Sister Michele also served as principal at Saint Mary Magdalen School in Los Angeles and Saint Catherine School in Morgan Hill and religion coordinator at Saint Christopher and Saint John Vianney schools in San Jose. In 1991 she was assigned to Presentation Center where she ministered in several different roles including secretary, hostess, bookkeeper, and development until she retired and moved to the Motherhouse in 2013.