Published September 18, 2008
A long-time former superior at the Monastery of the Visitation was remembered at her funeral Mass. Sister Mary Jozefa Kowalewski, a sister of the order of the Visitation of Holy Mary, passed away Sept. 11. She was 83.
Born in Wilmington, Va., Sister Jozefa professed her final vows to join the religious order in 1960. She came to Georgia in 1982 and was superior of the small monastery in the suburbs of Atlanta for close to 20 years.
For 48 years, Sister Jozefa lived and worked in quiet contemplation as a cloistered nun. She also served for a time as president of the First Federation of the Visitation order in the United States.
Outgoing and capable, Sister Jozefa worked to improve the environment of the sisters at the monastery. During her time as superior, she was able to bring about a number of renovations that supported the work of the order, including a marble fixed altar, hand carved choir stalls from Ireland for the chapel and a new wing with a library and prayer room.
When the monastery here marked its 30th anniversary in 1984, she described the spirit of the order and its cloistered life. “We’re just little people who are able to live together because we love (God) so much,” she said, adding that without that great love, “it would be impossible.”
In a later interview, she said the modern world makes it hard to see God’s work.
“Things are so unstable outside. Here you have stability,” Sister Jozefa said. “People probably think our life is very boring. It is not. We pray. We make our work prayer.”
Mother Jane Frances Williams, who currently serves as the superior at the monastery, said that Sister Jozefa, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, had “a beautiful death.” She was able to go to Mass and receive Communion earlier that day, and she just passed away as she was going to sleep after evening prayer.
In a 1984 Georgia Bulletin article, Sister Jozefa commented on the grace-filled life at the monastery.
“This life is so beautiful,” she said. “There is no retirement. You can live it unto death. We don’t have to have a place for old people. They can live within the family.”
Archbishop-emeritus John F. Donoghue celebrated the funeral Mass on Monday, Sept. 15. Father John Kowalewski, brother of Sister Jozefa, gave the homily for the service, which was held at the monastery.
Prayers, remembrances and donations may be sent to the Monastery of the Visitation, 2055 Ridgedale Drive, Snellville, GA 30078