Share this story

Katie Camario

Religious Sister Found Her Path to Genuine Peace

Right after high school, Sister Marlene Weidenborner entered the religious community of the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany New York, although she had no intention of staying.

“I entered so that I could get rid of the idea of being called to be a nun,” said Sister Marlene.

At the time, she had plans to attend college and was dating a U.S. Air Force military member, but the call to religious life wouldn’t go away.

“When God calls you, you may not like it at first but it’s there and it is a gift,” said Sister Marlene.

She entered the convent expecting to receive a clear indication that a religious vocation was not for her. Instead, she received confirmation that it was, and she stayed when many didn’t.

“For some reason or another God was calling me. I entered not wanting to enter, but not able to shake the idea that I should. So, I guess my heart was open enough to say, I will give God a chance,” said Sister Marlene.

Born and raised a Catholic, Sister Marlene attended Catholic grade schools where most of her teachers were religious women. This year, she is celebrating her 65th anniversary of religious life. She and other religious women and men celebrating jubilees in 2020 and 2021 were honored on October 30, 2021 at the Religious Jubilee Mass at the Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle.

Sister Marlene Weidenborner helped plan the celebration in her role as Diocese of St. Petersburg Vicar for Religious.

Her first assignment as a religious sister began just months after entering the convent. She was sent to teach 3rd grade at an elementary school in Niagara Falls, New York.

What followed, were many years of service in education. Sister Marline worked her way up from that elementary school teaching position, to superintendent of schools. She has served in many boards and has traveled to Jamaica and Brazil to fulfil leadership position duties.

Sister Marlene says that like her, we all have a calling, or vocation. Whether it’s a calling to married life, the single life or to the religious life, we need to be open to what God is asking of us, get in touch with it and then respond.

For Sister Marlene, entering a religious vocation meant God was calling her to something different, where she would find happiness. She says those who are discerning the religious consecrated life should pray and be open to the call.

“Find a good spiritual director, someone who can walk with you, who is wise, and who can get to know you. And, let God do God’s thing,” said Sister Marlene, “I believe that God is still calling people to religious life, I’m not sure people are listening, but if they do listen and God is calling them, then this is a path to their genuine peace, joy and happiness if they follow it.”

Likewise, she says parents can encourage their children to hear God’s call for their lives.

“All parents want their children to be happy and if God is calling your child to a religious life that’s where happiness will be found. It might be tough for you because you’re not going to see grandchildren from that child of yours, but if you know that they are happy, and that they are doing what they’re supposed to be doing, then that has to be an internal happiness for you as a parent,” said Sister Marlene.

Following that call is what Sister Marlene says has truly blessed her life because she is doing what she is supposed to be doing.

“I have found peace and joy and happiness. I have found good friends.  I think the bottom-line is, it hasn’t always been easy. But life for anybody isn’t always easy. There has always been a sense, of this is where God wants me to be,” said Sister Marlene.

If you are being called to religious life, or have questions about vocations please visit the diocese office of vocations page at

The following men and women religious were honored at the Religious Jubilee Mass on October 30, 2021 at the Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle in St. Petersburg. Congratulations to all our Jubilarians!

2021 Jubilarians

70 Years

Rev. Peter Fiore, OFM

Rev. Thomas Lind, SCJ

65 Years

Sister Marita Flynn, OSF

Sister Shirley Sweney, OSF

Sister Marlene Weidenborner, OSF

60 Years

Sister Lucia Brady, OSC

Sister Therese Carolan, OSC

Bishop Joseph Potocnak, SCJ

Sister Eileen Marie Woodbury, FSSE

50 Years

Rev. Paul F. Morrissey, SM

25 Years

Rev. Michael Jones, OFM

2020 Jubilarians

Sister Catherine Poirier, CSC

Sister Pauline Chouinard, SFCC

Sister Jeanne Williams, OSF

Sister Dolores Wehle, SNJM

Sister Renetta Graff, SND

Sister Joan Dawson, OSF

Sister Maria Pereira dos Santos, OSF

Sister Anne Dougherty, OSF

Photo Caption: From left, Sister Elizabeth Mathai, Sister Marlene Weidenborner and Sister Mary Romana Gomez celebrate Jubilarians at the Jubilee Mass reception.