Sister Mary Lou Schnitzer, SSJ, 1951-2022
Sister Mary Lou Schnitzer, director of pastoral care at the Sisters of St. Joseph Residence in Clarence and a member of the community’s Leadership Team, died at Mercy Hospital April 12, 2022, after a short illness. She was 70.
The only child of Harold and Mary (Perry), Mary Lou was born in Buffalo June 28, 1951, and grew up in East Aurora. She earned a bachelor’s degree in social sciences and education at Nazareth College, Rochester, in 1973 and entered the Sisters of St. Joseph in September 1973. She pronounced her final vows in September 1980.
Sister earned master’s degrees in elementary education (1978) and special education (1983) from Buffalo State College. She taught primary grades at Mount St. Joseph Academy (1997-1982) and subsequently worked at Wyndham Lawn Home for Children and Gateway Home.
Friendship with the late Sister Karen Klimczak introduced Sister Mary Lou to prison ministry in 1985. She became a resident chaplain at Collins Correctional Facility 1989, received certification by the National Association of Catholic Chaplains in 1994, and became a full-time chaplain the same year. She served as coordinating chaplain 2004-2009.
After studying at the Jesuit Center for Spirituality in Wernersville, Pennsylvania, she offered spiritual direction and also served at St. Michael Church giving several types of retreats based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.
In retirement, Sister joined the pastoral care division of Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital and became a pastoral care chaplain at Park Creek Assisted Living Community. An interview at Park Creek described her as a woman who, “brought forth a beautiful spirituality to residents, their families and staff as well.”
Sister was elected to leadership positions in her congregation 2002-2009 and 2019. She was co-chair of the diocesan Leadership Conference of Women Religious and vice president of the board of trustees of St. Mary’s School for the Deaf.
A quiet woman, Sister Mary Lou enjoyed baking, swimming and needlepoint. The Taste of Buffalo was always on her calendar.
A funeral Mass was offered April 23 in the residence chapel.