Sister Mary Elizabeth Balthasar, OSF, 1925 -2023
Sister Mary Elizabeth Balthasar, also known as Sister Margaret John, a sister of St. Francis for 79 years, died at the Franciscan Villa in Syracuse, on Oct. 20, 2023. She was 98 years old.
She was born on Feb. 21, 1925, one of five children to John Balthasar and Margaret Eileen Dorsey and enjoyed growing up with her two brothers and two sisters. She was raised in Buffalo where most of her grammar schooling was at St. John the Baptist School in Kenmore. She attended high school at Mount St. Mary Academy, also in Kenmore.
Following high school graduation, she worked in an office for a year before enrolling in Mount St. Mary’s Hospital School of Nursing in Niagara Falls. One year later, in 1944, she entered the Sisters of St. Francis. During her novitiate, she taught at St. James School in Buffalo and Holy Redeemer School in Cheektowaga. After these years of teaching, while attending Niagara University, she worked either as an acting or assistant director of Nursing Service. She graduated with a B.S. in Nursing and joined the faculty in 1954. She returned to Mount St. Mary’s Hospital and enrolled in the School of Nursing. Following graduation, she served for two and a half years as acting/assistant director of Nursing Service at Niagara University.
She went on to earn additional degrees, including an M.S. in Psychiatrice-Mental health in Nursing, an M.A. in Sociology and Ed.D. in Educational Administration. After 41 years on the faculty of Niagara University’s School of Nursing, she retired in 1995, and began serving as a Kenyan Registered Nurse at the Timau Catholic Dispensary in East Africa. While serving with the missionary sisters, she was instrumental in training native women of Kenya to become nurses.
Even after her years in active ministry, she continued to enjoy traveling, lecturing and listening to classical music. When traveling by car, she often exclaimed: “Praise God for this magnificent beauty!” She felt that daily Mass and the reception of the Eucharist gave her a spiritual power and presence for each day. In her declining years, she devoted her time to prayer and being a loving presence to others, especially communicating often with members of her family who loved and supported her over many years.
A funeral Mass was held Oct. 27, at SS. Peter & Paul Church in Williamsville. Burial followed at Gethsemane Cemetery.