Sister Beatrice A. Manzella, SSJ 1934-2023
Sister Beatrice A. “Bea” Manzella, former principal at Mount St. Joseph Academy, died Oct. 26, 2023, after a period of declining health. She was 89.
Born Oct. 14, 1934, in Buffalo, one of five children, Sister Bea was the daughter of Dr. Anthony J. and Margaret (Carnivale) Manzella. Her father was a noted surgeon and chief of staff at Sisters Hospital and the former Emergency Hospital.
After graduating from Mount St. Joseph Academy in June 1952, she entered the Sisters of St. Joseph that September, taking the name Sister Peter Eymard, after the founder of the Society of the Blessed Sacrament, and pronounced her final vows in August 1960.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Mount St. Joseph Teachers College, later Medaille, in 1957. She received a National Science Foundation grant to study modern mathematics in the elementary school at the University at Buffalo and went on to complete a master’s degree in education in 1964.
She taught at Mount St. Joseph Elementary School for seven years, then joined the Mount St. Joseph Academy faculty in 1965, teaching geometry, chemistry and introduction to physical science. She received an appointment to participate in the Academic Year Institute at Michigan State University in 1965-66.
She took a unique approach to teaching. As co-director of a summer course for parochial school science teachers in 1966, she took a group of 55 nuns out wading in Cazenovia Creek to look for fossils to show them what kind of field trips they could take with their students.
Students throughout the area at first knew her as Sister Peter Eymard as they watched the science classes she taught on WNED-TV from 1959 to 1976. She resumed using her baptismal name in 1968, following Vatican II.
She became principal of Mount St. Joseph Academy in 1970. She returned to the elementary division to teach in September 1974. A year later, she was principal of the elementary school, a post she held for 16 years.
After she left, Sister Bea studied for a year at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, California, then was elected to lead the Sisters of St. Joseph congregation from 1993 to 2002 before she returned again to teaching.
She directed the Early Intervention Resource Center at Catholic Central School, taught at the Warde Center, became an adjunct professor of mathematics at what is now Bryant & Stratton College and tutored at Gerard Place. From 2009 to 2011, she was house manager for TRY (Teaching and Restoring Youth).
“I love teaching the underdog and seeing so many succeed,” she said.
For her long dedication to education, she received the God, Family and Country Award in 2012 from the Federation of Italian-American Societies of Western New York.
Survivors include a sister, Sister Margaret Manzella, SSJ, and a brother, Charles.
A funeral Mass was offered at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Harris Hill.