Mary Ruzinski Smith

Mary Ruzinski SmithMary Ruzinski Smith is celebrating 40 years of being an associate this year. Mary was present – along with Sisters Fran Cunningham and Bea Dorsey and our now deceased Sisters Joselma Gartner and Kate Fink – as part of the group that generated the name of Mutuality when that area community was just coming into existence.

Mary grew up in the Milwaukee area, became a mother of two sons and five grandchildren, and still found time to attend Alverno College. Before graduation she encountered Sister Noel Le Claire, her former theology teacher, playing guitar in a Milwaukee parish and asked to join her. That was only the beginning of a series of trips to start a Friendship Center in Appalachia. Mary also spent several summers working with the sisters in between her teaching in the Milwaukee Public Schools.

It was at this same time in our School Sisters community that discussions where held considering Associate Relationship. In 1980, Associate Relationship became an official part of the School Sisters of St. Francis’ mission, in which lay persons were invited to share in the ministry of the community. It was then that Sister Noel invited Mary to become an associate. Today, Mary is in close contact with many associate friends and Beverly Oliveri serves as her contact person.

Mary has been involved in many community events over the last 50 years. She has served as assistant to the Area Coordinator twice and continues her role as secretary for each meeting. Mary was a Chapel Singer and a member of the Greenleaf Writers group. Many may have seen Mary serving at the Beer Gardens and last year’s Oktoberfest fundraiser. Mary currently serves on two committees: the U.S. Province’s 150th anniversary celebration committee and the 2024 Jubilee committee.

Mary cited two major accomplishments within her ministry as an associate. One was her collaboration with her best friend, Mary D’Amico, in winding down the Last Stop Shop ministry begun by Sister Geraldine Dahlman. The second manner of helping was her perseverance in offering her service in the early years of our area community, and faithfully continuing to be very active with the group today.

We congratulate you, Mary, and thank you for being an ever-faithful associate with our community!