“You shall love the Lord, your God… This is the greatest and first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22
Over 60 years of religious life, Sister Marie Timmons, SSJ, taught at 11 Catholic schools in the Diocese of Erie. But her teaching skills didn’t end there. She was a catechist and religious education director at several parishes in the diocese. One might even say she’s continually teaching in her role as archivist for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Northwestern Pennsylvania.
“I learned from my mother, as a young child, telling us that God comes first,” she says. “I would not be able to perform my ministry if I didn’t pray, attend Mass and do other spiritual exercises. It is vital for a religious always to give God our time and energy.”
She is inspired by the sisters who ministered before her and how they persevered in the face of great tasks and difficulties. “It certainly must have been through their prayers and guidance from the Holy Spirit,” she adds.
Sister Marie Timmons was born in Erie, the daughter of the late James and Beatrice (Kelly) Timmons. After attending St. Andrew School and Villa Maria Academy, she earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Villa Maria College, Erie, and attended various workshops in the field of education.
She entered the Sisters of St. Joseph on Aug. 28, 1957, from her home parish of St. Andrew. She professed final vows on Aug. 15, 1965. “It was early in second grade that I felt the call to religious life. Sister Marie Rene was my teacher and, although she was ill during the year, it was her patience and kindness I’ll always remember,” she says. “There were many other sisters I had during grade school at St. Andrew School who demonstrated the many virtues of the charism of the congregation and who also influenced me.” Sister Marie was personally inspired by her parents, too, and an uncle, Msgr. Louis Kelly.
She taught at several schools in the Diocese of Erie. She also ministered as a director of religious education and as a teacher of religious education. For several summers she was a camp counselor at Camp Notre Dame, Erie, and ministered in the summer learning program at Our Lady’s Christian School.
Sister Marie received many awards for teaching in the Erie Diocese. In 2006, she received an award for 28 years of teaching at St. Andrew School.
A new challenge presented itself in 2006 when Sister Marie began serving as assistant archivist for the Sisters of St. Joseph. She took over full responsibility of archival duties two years later. She continues to hold that position today. She is a member of both OH-PENN Archivists and Archivists for Congregations of Women Religious (ACWR), and attends numerous related workshops.