Published April 14, 2016
READING, Pa.—Sister Sponsa Beltran, OSF, died peacefully on April 6 at St. Joseph’s Villa, Reading, Pennsylvania. She was 91.
The oldest of eight children of Helen and Joseph Beltran, Sister Sponsa was the sister of the late Father Joseph Beltran of the Atlanta Archdiocese and Archbishop Eusebius J. Beltran, archbishop emeritus of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
She was born Rosarie Beltran on March 25, 1925. She was baptized in Maternity of the BVM Church (now Our Lady of Hope) on Park Avenue in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. She attended Marymount High School and Misericordia University (then College Misericordia) where she graduated in 1964 with a bachelor of science in nursing education.
From an early age, Sister Sponsa was fascinated by the lives of the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters and she could often be found assisting them with various projects. With her parents’ permission, she entered the order in 1944. Her greatest desire was to work with the poor in one of the order’s missions.
From early 1970 to late 2007, as a nurse missionary Sister Sponsa spent over 30 years caring for the poor and disabled of Liberia, West Africa. She helped them to survive a 14-year civil war, a five-year exile in the Ivory Coast, and repatriation to the outskirts of Monrovia, Liberia, where she founded Our Lady of Fatima Rehab Center. Through the years, she faithfully served the Lord as she cared for thousands of children and adults who were disabled, resulting from birth injuries, disease and ferocious accidents. Today, there are a multitude of handicapped children and adults living in the U.S. and around the world who were abandoned by their families and who owe Sister Sponsa their lives due to her unending love, care and acceptance.
Sister Sponsa is survived by her brother, Archbishop Eusebius J. Beltran; her sister, Helen Marie Beltran, of Panama City, Florida; her sister and brother-in-law, Angie and Henry Cebulski, of Conyers; her brother and sister-in-law, Frank and Carol Beltran, of Atlanta; and numerous nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews.
She was preceded in death by her brother, Father Joseph Beltran; her sisters, Dolly Beltran Carrier and Mary Ann Beltran Florence; and her nephew, Jerry Cebulski.
The Mass of Christian Burial was to take place on Wednesday, April 13, at Sacred Heart Convent Chapel in Reading, Pennsylvania, with interment to follow. Archbishop Beltran was to be the principal celebrant of the Mass.
Memorial donations may be made to the Jerry Cebulski African Disability Foundation, a memorial nonprofit founded by Sister Sponsa’s family to continue her work with the disabled of Liberia. Donations to JCADF may be sent to JCADF, 47 Harford Ave., Shavertown, PA 18708 or made online at www.africandisabilityfoundation.org.
More information about the work in Liberia may be found at www.facebook.com/groups/friendsofJCADF or by contacting Eileen Rockensies at firstname.lastname@example.org or 570-675-3397.