Sister James Francis Mulligan—known as “Sister Jim” to many friends and former students—still
finds a way to attend many Cathedral Prep sporting events in Erie. She’s been a dedicated fan since the 1980s, when she began teaching at the all-boys school.
During her 32 years of teaching at Prep, she could be seen braving the strong winds that sometimes whipped in from Lake Erie as she walked to nearby Gannon University. She also taught at Gannon for 32 years.
Sister James Francis was born in Meadville, the daughter of the late James Francis and Luella (Duffy) Mulligan. She attended St.Brigid Elementary School and St.Agatha High School, both in Meadville.
Her parents, she says, inspired her in both word and example.
“No matter the trial or suffering, including a son killed in World War II, my parents exhibited a strong faith in God. They greatly influenced my faith and love of God,” she says.
Education characterized Sister James Francis’ ministries the past 70 years. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in English from Villa Maria College, Erie, she went on to earn a master’s from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wis.
She educated thousands of students in the Catholic tradition at the following locations in the Diocese of Erie: St. Peter Cathedral, Holy Rosary,St. Andrew, Villa Maria Academy and Elementary, St. Mark Semiry, and St. Leo High School, Ridgway. For 28 years, she also taught at Villa Maria College.
Sister James Francis received many honors for her teaching. In 2006,she received the Erie Deanery’s Teacher Hallmark Award, and in 2007 was honored for 60 years of service in Catholic education. The Serra Clubof Erie recognized her as its Outstanding Woman Religious.
In 2006, she received a papal cross for exemplary work for the Church and the Pope. Sister James Francis served her congregation as assistant superior and treasurer, and was councilor for spiritual life and finances.
Sister James Francis still tutors today and works in vocation ministry for the Diocese of Erie