With joy and gratitude, we celebrate the lives and service of our sisters celebrating jubilee milestones this year.
Jean Baptiste DiLuzio, SSJ
Jean Baptiste DiLuzio, SSJ, was born in Erie, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Antonio and Eralinda (DeDionisio) DiLuzio. She entered the Sisters of St. Joseph from Holy Rosary Parish in Erie in 1944 and professed her final vows in 1949. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish from Villa Maria College in 1952, a Master of Arts degree in romance languages from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, in 1957, and she did advanced studies at Catholic University in Washington, DC. In addition, she received a Fulbright grant to attend Universidad de Valladolid in Spain.
Sr. Jean’s work in the ministry of education included teaching at Blessed Sacrament School, St. Agatha High School, Meadville, and St. Leo High School, Ridgway. In addition, she taught for 25 years at Cathedral Preparatory School in Erie and, in 1994, was inducted into the Cathedral Preparatory School Hall of Fame. She served in administration at Villa Maria College, Erie. For her congregation, she served as executive secretary-treasurer, treasurer, and councilor and was a member of the formation team and board of directors. Sister Jean was an auditor in the Diocese of Erie Office of the Tribunal for 30 years. In 1996, she was awarded the Papal Cross “Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice” by Pope John Paul II. She served the Erie community on various boards, including Villa Maria College, Saint Mary’s Home of Erie, Cathedral Preparatory School, Harborcreek Youth Services, and Catholic Social Services. She also served on the Erie Diocese cemetery and priests’ retirement boards. In addition, she volunteered for Harborcreek Youth Services, Cathedral Preparatory School, and the Spanish Apostolate. Sr. Jean continues in active ministry in the SSJ Development office.
Dorothy Wilwohl, SSJ
Sister Dorothy Wilwohl, SSJ, was born in Pittsburgh, PA, the daughter of Edward and Catherine (Donahue) Wilwohl. She entered the Sisters of St. Joseph in 1954 and professed her final vows in 1959. She graduated from Villa Maria College, Erie, with a Bachelor of Science in elementary education and received a certificate in Library Science from Edinboro University in 1968. She also studied and attended workshops at the College of Steubenville and the University of Dayton. Sr. Dorothy served in the education ministry as a teacher and a principal. She taught at Villa Maria Elementary and served as a kindergarten teacher at Our Lady of Peace and St. John Schools. From 1967-1972 she ministered at St. John School as first-grade teacher, then as principal. When Our Lady of Peace School opened in 1957, Sister Dorothy was one of the first faculty members and continued to teach first and second grade for ten years. In addition, she was in charge of the Primary Resource Room at Villa Maria Elementary School. She received the Erie Diocesan Award for 35 years of teaching. Sr. Dorothy was Director of the Villa Maria Conference Center from 1991-2002 and served her congregation as secretary to the General Superior, assistant administrative secretary, and finance assistant.
Mary Millicent Zimmer, SSJ
Sr. Mary Millicent Zimmer was born in Erie, PA, the daughter of Albert and Mildred Zimmer. She entered the Sisters of St. Joseph on August 30, 1953, and professed her final vows on August 15, 1959. She spent her Canonical Year at the Motherhouse with various duties and study. She lived at Transfiguration House in Butler, where her prayer was her work. Sister Mary Millicent earned a Bachelor of Science in elementary education from Villa Maria College in 1968. She earned a Master of Arts in Theology from St. Bonaventure University, Olean, New York, in 1980.
Sr. Millicent taught at Blessed Sacrament and Sacred Heart Schools in Erie and Holy Rosary in Johnsonburg, PA. Her ministries included work in the office at St. Joseph’s Home for Children, the Diocesan Mission Office, Saint Vincent Hospital, Erie and Spencer Hospital, Meadville. In addition, she worked as a full-time religious education teacher for several years in Bradford, Mercer, Houtzdale, Meadville, and Erie. Sister Millicent presently serves as a part-time receptionist for the Sisters of St. Joseph and is actively involved in the SSJ prayer ministry. Previously, she was a pastoral minister at All Saints Parish in Sunrise, Florida, from 1983-2008.
Marilyn Zimmerman, SSJ
Sr. Marilyn Zimmerman was born in Erie, PA, the daughter of the late Louis F. and Bernice (McNulty) Zimmerman. She entered the Sisters of St. Joseph in August 1953 and professed her final vows in April 1969. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in education from Villa Maria College in 1963. In 1974, she received training in Ignatian Spirituality as a Spiritual Director at the Romero Center in Detroit, Michigan. She received an MEd in guidance/counseling from Gannon University in 1968 and did post-graduate training as a Gestalt therapist at the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland, Ohio, from 1994-1998.
Sr. Marilyn was a long-time school teacher who served at Blessed Sacrament, Villa Maria Elementary, St. Andrew, Holy Rosary, and Holy Spirit schools in Erie. She also served at Villa Maria College as director of admissions/counselor and was a pastoral minister at St. Luke Parish. In 1973, she founded Community House for Women, where she ministered for nearly 15 years. After she became a licensed professional counselor and certified spiritual director, she served at Ecclesia Center in Girard, PA, for many years. She was recognized as Gannon University’s Alumna of the Year in 1996.
Sister Marilyn spent four years committed to the people of the Amazon in Brazil and to pastoral ministry at St. Andrew Parish, Erie. Sister Marilyn’s ministry work also includes serving as Director of Campus Ministry and Director of Admissions at Villa Maria College, Erie.
Mary Drexler, SSJ
Sister Mary Drexler was born in Erie, PA, the daughter of Arthur and Clara Drexler. She entered the Sisters of St. Joseph in 1963 from Sacred Heart Parish and professed her final vows in 1971. She attended Villa Maria College in Erie, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education. She later earned a Master of Science in administration from Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH.
For 20 years, Sister Mary taught at various schools throughout the Erie Diocese, including Our Lady of Peace School, Erie; Our Lady’s Christian School, Erie; St. Bernard School, Bradford; Villa Maria Elementary School, Erie; Notre Dame School, Sharon; St. John School, Erie; and Villa Maria Academy, Erie. She was also an assistant administrator at Villa Maria Academy from 1984-90. For 13 years, she served her congregation in the Vocation/Formation office, and from 1999-2006 she was campus minister at Penn-State Erie – The Behrend College. She served as principal of Villa Maria Academy and later ECPS/Villa Maria Academy. In addition, she taught religious education at Holy Rosary parish and served as principal at Our Lady’s Christian School.
In 2019, she was elected to serve in leadership for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Northwestern Pennsylvania and was named president. She presently continues to serve in that capacity.