Sister Maria Onuffer, SSJ, was born in Lewis Run, PA, to John and Anna Hvizdak Onuffer. After graduating from St. Bernard High School in Bradford with the highest commercial honors, she earned a bachelor’s degree in business education from Villa Maria College, Erie. She received her Professional State Licensure in Nursing Home Administration from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
She credits the inspiration and dedication of the sisters who ministered at St. Bernard High School as what motivated her to listen to the call of the Spirit, often through much resistance. She was further inspired by witnessing the teaching ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph. She entered the Sisters of
St. Joseph in 1951 from Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Lewis Run and professed her final vows in 1957.
Sister Maria’s ministries included teaching at Villa Elementary, Sacred Heart, and Blessed Sacrament schools in Erie. She then moved into social services and geriatric health care at Saint Mary’s Home of Erie, for nearly 30 years. She served Saint Mary’s as a secretary, payroll clerk, business manager, assistant administrator, and administrator. She was presented with the Saint Mary’s Medaille D’or Award in 2007.
Following her ministry at Saint Mary’s, she joined the Saint Vincent Health Center staff. She worked in the Outpatient Behavioral Services department and at the Saint Vincent Women’s Diagnostic Center for 25 years. Before retiring, she served as a receptionist at the Hardner Building on the Saint Vincent campus.