Sister Beatrice Leising, OSF 1945-2021
Educator, administrator and advocate for justice and the poor, Sister Beatrice Leising passed away Nov. 18, 2021.
Sister Beatrice, also known in religious life as Sister Jean Elizabeth, entered the Sisters of St. Francis on Sept. 8, 1963, and made final profession on July 3, 1971.
Sister Bea and her twin sister, Elizabeth, were born Jan. 4, 1945, at home during a blizzard to Walter and Mary Feldman Leising. Elizabeth only lived a few days. Sister Bea’s life continued along with her brother, Father John Leising and her sisters, Mary Leising Charles, Margaret Leising Pafk and the late Rita Leising Staebell as they grew up on a hundred-acre farm in Akron. Church, faith and parish life was very important to their whole family. Their parish, St. Patrick’s in Crittenden, was a mission church combined with St. Francis in Corfu. Cherishing family, loving nature, seeing dignity, taking pride in work, and enjoying reading were among the values they all learned and lived.
After attending St. John the Baptist School in Alden and Notre Dame High School in Batavia, Sister Bea entered the Sisters of St. Francis after which she continued her education at St. Clare Junior College, Medaille and Canisius Colleges. However, Sister Bea always maintained that reading and her life experiences, as well as those she has journeyed with, have been her primary teachers.
Sister Bea served as a teacher at St. Gregory the Great in Williamsville, St. Mary’s in Strykersville, and Infant of Prague in Cheektowaga. She also served as principal at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Harris Hill and St. James in Buffalo. Then, as she stated “following God’s prodding to be among the poor,” she helped to open The Little Portion Friary in Buffalo where a team of volunteers provided shelter and other services to homeless adults. Following 15 years of working at Little Portion, Sister Bea then served among her own sisters in community from 1997 to 2013 in various leadership roles. Most recently, she was a volunteer at St. Elizabeth School in Timau, Kenya, Africa.
Throughout the years, Sister Bea also served on various boards and committees including chairing the Peace & Justice Committee for the WNY Region of the Sisters of St. Francis, from 1993 to 2013, serving as a member of the board of directors for Holy Family Home, Williamsville, Mount St. Mary’s Long Term Care, Niagara Falls, Mill Street Foundation, Buffalo Diocesan Counseling Center, Sisters of St. Francis Financial Advisory Committee and Development Advisory Committee, VIVE Inc. board and chairing the Development Committee, member of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and VOICE, Buffalo.
One of Sister Bea’s treasured times was in 2007 when she was nominated and honored for the Franciscan Peacemaker Award presented to her at the annual Franciscan Federation Conference in Minneapolis in 2007. At that banquet, it was stated, “Sister Bea has been a steady and constant voice for justice. She has been engaged in untiring efforts to foster education and understanding of justice concepts among our sisters by raising our awareness of issues and concerns, prompting us to action.”
A funeral Mass will be offered at 10 a.m. Monday, Nov. 22, at SS Peter & Paul Church in Williamsville.