Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Visitation Sister Francis Joseph Roberts dies at 75

Published September 18, 2014

SNELLVILLE—Sister of the Visitation Francis Joseph Roberts died Aug. 11. She was 75 years old.

Frances Margaret Roberts was born Nov. 25, 1938, in Montgomery, Alabama. She was the only child of Baptist deacon George William Roberts Jr. and Frances Margaret Cunningham Roberts. She was born deaf and later learned to communicate by reading lips with the help of Dr. Mary Rose Costello, an audiologist at Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan, with whom she lived.

Daily contact with Dr. Costello, a devout Catholic, influenced Margaret Roberts to become Catholic. She was baptized May 28, 1960, at Holy Name Church in Washington, D.C. Margaret received the sacrament of confirmation at St. Matthew Cathedral in Washington, D.C., taking the name Mary Theresa.

She attended Gallaudet College in Washington, D.C. for three years. She received a degree in mathematics from Cardinal Stritch College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. During this time, Margaret felt called to enter religious life.

Mother Francis de Sales Cassidy, who established the Sisters of the Visitation of Holy Mary Monastery in Georgia, was impressed with Margaret’s simplicity and accepted her into the community.

At age 26, Margaret entered the community at the Monastery of the Visitation in Snellville. A former novice mistress described her as “strikingly beautiful, a genuine Southern belle.”

Margaret received the habit on April 21, 1966, and was one of the last to wear a wedding dress. She received the name Francis Joseph as St. Francis de Sales is patron of the deaf. Later, she requested that Mary be added to her name.

Sister Francis Joseph worked in the host room, where she baked and cut hosts for years. She was also the habit keeper and created patterns for making the habit and tunics.

Sister had a ready smile and a good sense of humor and because of her deafness became adept at listening with her eyes.

In her final years, Sister Francis Joseph was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Her parents and grandmother had all suffered from Alzheimer’s. She had been residing in a skilled nursing home before having a stroke.

A funeral Mass was celebrated Aug. 18 at the Monastery in Snellville.


Condolences may be sent to: Reverend Mother Jane Frances Williams, Monastery of the Visitation, 2055 Ridgedale Drive, Snellville, GA 30078-2443.