Obituary Archive

This section includes available obituary information for Sisters who died prior to 2017. Obituaries for Sisters who died more recently can be found by visiting our News page.

Sister M. Aurelia Cerny, OSF

Posted by Administrator (admin) on Oct 24 2016
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Sister M. Aurelia (Mary) Cerny, a member of the School Sisters of St. Francis United States Province, died on Friday, February 12, 2016, at St. Clare Hospital in Denville, N.J. She was 81 and in her 62nd year of religious life.

Sister Aurelia was born in New York City, N.Y. on July 18, 1934, to John and Ann Julia (Balaga), both of Slovak descent, and was baptized in the church of St. John Nepomucene. She had one brother, Francis, who preceded her in death, and a younger sister, Margaret. During her early years, her family moved to Brentwood on Long Island, N.Y., where she was taught by the Sisters of St. Joseph in elementary school. Her family then moved to Clifton, N.J. at the end of her junior year in high school. She attended Pope Pius XII Diocesan High School in Passaic, N.J. for her senior year. During those formative years, her father instilled in her great self-confidence that she carried throughout her life, enabling her to accomplish what others thought to be impossible.

As a member of SS. Cyril & Methodius Church in Clifton, N.J., Mary joined the choir conducted by one of our sisters, Sister Mary Therese Sedlock, OSF.  This was her first contact with the School Sisters of St. Francis, who were teaching in the parish grade school. After graduating from high school in 1951, Mary worked for about six months and had the opportunity to spend time getting to know our sisters. It was this contact with our sisters that stirred within her a desire to follow her calling to religious life. 

Mary wrote to the provincial in Pittsburgh, Pa., and expressed her desire to enter our community. In January 1953, Mary’s pastor, the Rev. Lawrence Pollak, OFM, wrote that Mary Cerny, as a member of the parish, had given evidence of a religious vocation by her character and by her attendance at Mass and the reception of the sacraments. She had shown her love for God and her willingness to serve His people.

Mary was accepted at Mount Assisi Convent in Pittsburgh, Pa., by Mother M. Mildred Zaremba, provincial minister of the former Pittsburgh Province. She began her postulancy on January 31, 1953. On August 2, 1953, she was received into novitiate in Mount Assisi Convent Chapel and was given the name of Sister Aurelia. The following year she professed first vows and began her active ministry teaching the primary and middle grades at St. Patrick School in Canonsburg, Pa.; St. Anthony School in Clymer, Pa.; and SS. Cyril & Methodius School in Clifton, N.J. During the summers, she attended Mount Mercy College (Carlow University) in Pittsburgh, Pa. 

After her final vows in 1959, Sister Aurelia continued her ministry of teaching at the following schools in Pennsylvania:  St. Francis Academy in Bethlehem, St. Ann School in Emmaus and Blessed Virgin Mary School in Northampton. Sister then returned to St. Francis Academy to teach English, religion, science, math, French and political science until 1968, when she returned to Emmaus and taught math and science. During her years of teaching she earned a bachelor of science degree in secondary general science from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and a master of arts in education from Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J., majoring in administration and minoring in secondary education.

For the remainder of her ministry in education from 1971 to 2011, she served as principal in West Lawn and Emmaus in Pennsylvania and in New Milford, Closter, Demarest and Denville in New Jersey. She spent the last few years volunteering and caring for her family members while living at St. Christopher Convent in Parsippany, N.J. 

A few weeks before she died, she became quite ill and was taken by ambulance to St. Clare Hospital in Denville, N.J. A larger cancerous tumor was found in her colon, but she was too weak to undergo surgery, and attempts to build up her strength were unsuccessful. She was transferred to the Critical Care Unit and placed on a respirator. Sisters from Monocacy Manor in Bethlehem, Pa., were asked to take turns staying with her. On February 12, Sister Aurelia went into septic shock, which led to respiratory, heart and organ failure, and nothing more could be done for her. Sisters Xavier Bomberger and Georgette Dublino were with her throughout the day and into the evening. Later in the evening, after Sister Aurelia’s sister, Margaret Skladany, and her sons arrived, the respirator was turned off and she died peacefully shortly after. 

The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated for her on February 19, 2016, in Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel at Monocacy Manor, and she was buried in the convent cemetery.

Last changed: Oct 24 2016 at 2:39 PM

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