Sister Elizabeth Zilla

Sister Elizabeth ZillaSister Betty was born into a large, close, Slovak family in Ford City, Pennsylvania, north of Pittsburgh. She had two older sisters who also became School Sisters of St. Francis, probably because they were taught by our sisters at Holy Trinity School, only three blocks from their home. Both of her sisters died young, so Sister Betty is especially grateful to have lived a long and happy life.

Sister Betty was employed as a bookkeeper before entering our community seven years after graduation from high school. It didn’t take long for someone in the community to take notice of her bookkeeping skills. She was assigned to “help out” in the Business Office at Alverno College, and that assignment to “help out” lasted 52 years! Sister Betty served generations of Alverno students in various capacities. In 1997, she reduced her workdays and enjoyed semi-retirement for another eight years.

Sister Betty’s days weren’t completely filled with accounting duties and business management. She enjoyed several hobbies including cooking and baking, especially making delicious Christmas cookies. She also decided to learn the art of quilting. She was really into machine quilting, creating everything from bedspreads and wall hangings to table runners and placemats. Each project turned out more beautiful than the last.

In 2005, Sister Betty was invited to join a church group that makes quilted sleeping bags for the area’s homeless population. They are colorful and warm, and each includes a warm crocheted hat. That also led to making many baby quilts for the tiny preemies under the care of her niece in Pittsburgh.

Sister Betty has remained close to her wonderful family in Pennsylvania. Her brother’s and sisters’ families have expanded several more generations, and every effort was made to meet every spouse and child, which included travel to many parts of the country. Visits to family also included trips to Slovakia to visit her cousins and her parents’ birthplaces. She also enjoyed trips to historic and scenic spots.

Over the years, Sister Betty has enjoyed reading and watching professional baseball and football ,cheering on the Brewers and Packers as well as the Pittsburgh teams.

When asked what she is most grateful for now as she celebrates her 70th Jubilee, Sister Betty replied, “I am grateful to live at a loving and caring place.” She enjoys being in a place where she is with other School Sisters of St. Francis and can walk around and participate in the Mass and in various other activities. She is enjoying her present ministry of prayer and presence, and we are grateful for her many years of generous ministry in our community and the prayerful support she shares with us today.

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