Meilissa and Her Parents

It was certainly an unexpected call from God! I grew up in a Catholic family, made my sacraments; however, I was not always a regular churchgoer. In 2003, I was a sacristan at the former Saints Peter and Paul Church in Rochester, NY when I learned the Sisters of Saint Joseph were starting a Teacher Mentoring Program. With anticipation of being surrounded by people supportive of my teaching interests, I joined the program which included living in community. As time went on, I was drawn to the life style, the welcoming spirit of the Sisters, and felt peaceful about my life for the first time in many years.

Melissa Gernon Teaching  4 year olds at Nazareth Elementary School

I attended Gannon University in Erie, Pennsylvania, where I received a BS in Education, and was certified as an Elementary and Early Childhood Teacher. In 1999, I received a Special Education degree from Nazareth College. I first started teaching Pre-School in 1994 and absolutely fell in love with this age group. Four year olds are my delight. They bring great joy to my life and help me see God’s unconditional love through their very innocence. I decided to become a Sister of Saint Joseph because God wouldn’t leave me alone. He kept calling me to this life and eventually I answered.

In 2007 I entered the novitiate, a two year period of study, reflection and service. During that time,
I joined other novices from across the country for a program at the SSJ Motherhouse in Orange, California. There we learned more about the history and mission of the Sisters of Saint Joseph.
I professed my first vows in 2009 and finalized my commitment to God at my Final Vow ceremony on May 2, 2015.

This is a great life. Some people fear the future of religious life. I don’t! I am encouraged by our first four Sisters who did not know where they were going or what they might be doing. They simply knew, trusted, and loved God. That is who I strive to be, a woman who knows, trusts, and loves God so deeply that no matter what the future holds, it will be a future full of hope transformed by the gentleness, peace, and joy of a Sister of Saint Joseph.