IN THE PEWS: For these nuns, East meets West

Last Updated on July 20, 2013 by Editor

Sister Mary Nicholas Amodio, left, and Sister Margaret Woods enjoy visiting the sick and homebound.


When East Coast meets West Coast, good things happen.

Sister Mary Nicholas Amodio, 88, grew up in Utica, received her sacraments at Mount Carmel and even sang in the choir.

Sister Margaret Woods, 80, on the other hand, is what the Beach Boys sang about – a California girl. She grew up in Culver City, Calif.

Today, the nuns are pastoral ministers for Mount Carmel / Blessed Sacrament Parish. They visit patients at St. Elizabeth Medical Center and Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare. They conduct communion services at Sitrin Rehabilitation Center and St. Luke’s Home, and visit the homebound throughout the Utica area.

Though they grew up on separate coasts, the women found their calling in a similar way – attending Mass.

“I always enjoyed going to church and serving in a variety of ways,” Sister Mary Nicholas said. “In fact, my father teased me, ‘Why don’t you just sleep in church,’ because I was always there.

“I was about 21 when I told my mother I wanted to become a nun, but she wanted me to wait until my older sister got married. ‘Ma, I said, she doesn’t even have a prospective husband.’ During World War II, I went to work at Rome Depot but never loss my desire to become a nun. So, I finally returned to my parents and told them I was going to become a nun.”

Sister Margaret felt the calling when she attended daily Mass, too, while in school. But there was competition for her attention.

“I liked school but had more fun playing sports,” she said. “I heard about Father Damien in grade school, who served the lepers in Molokai, Hawaii, and really felt called to this type of ministry. I was active in high school, especially in sports, and in my senior year was asked to remain at St. Monica’s as a junior varsity coach.

“This presented a slight dilemma as I had already been accepted by the Sisters of St. Francis in Syracuse,” Sister Margaret continued. “I asked my dear mother’s advice – stay home and become a coach or go and become a nun? She simply said, ‘Go and get it over with!’

“To this day I never regretted listening to my mother. I was never in Molokai, but I’ve been in ministry from coast to coast.”

Sister Mary Nicholas and Sister Margaret agree becoming a nun and serving others has been rewarding.

“Oh yes, and more than I could hope or imagine for,” Sister Margaret said. “I have received much more than I have given. I’m ever so grateful for God’s goodness to me.”

If the coast-to-coast dynamic duo could offer advice to anyone who might be considering a calling to the religious life, they would “let them know of God’s love for them and His faithfulness.”

“Religious life is a calling, and they will know it in their heart,” Sister Mary Nicholas said. “I would encourage a prayerful life and a friendship with Jesus.”

While many people are thinking of retirement well before they reach their 80s, that thought doesn’t even cross their minds. Both say they enjoy what they’re doing and plan to do it as long as they can.

And, Sister Margaret agreed with Sister Mary Nicholas when she said, “I have enjoyed life to the fullest and only desire to remain faithful to the Lord Jesus until He calls me home.”