Sister Roberta Hoolahan died on February 20, 2010, and was buried at Saint Joseph Villa on February 27, 2020. Sister Roberta was born 94 years ago in West Philadelphia and attended West Catholic High School for Girls. Roberta spent 74 of these years as a Sister of Saint Joseph serving most of this time in the Allentown, Harrisburg, and Philadelphia dioceses. At a young age, Roberta felt that God was calling her to a special work. In her time as an SSJ, sister realized relationships proved to be the basis of her spirituality. Sisters who lived with Roberta knew that she was “ready for any good work.” The sisters who lived with her appreciated her quiet and unassuming manner, her joyful presence, her great sense of humor, and her contagious laughter. This is the true definition of a Sister of Saint Joseph.
Roberta spent a plethora of years in education, many of which were at St. Andrew’s in Drexel Hill. She loved teaching children and being present to their families. Teachers at her school were quick to share that they learned so much by watching Roberta, and many wanted to imitate her. After years in the classroom, Roberta opted to remain at St. Andrew’s as a school receptionist. In this capacity, this SSJ always had a kind word, a warm smile, and an encouraging remark to each child or parent she encountered. In all of these exchanges, Roberta would remind the parent or the child that she would pray for them. Perhaps her generous and straightforward nature could be captured in her own words. When asked why she never learned to drive, Roberta responded, “I can only go straight. I can’t turn corners.” This woman’s life has led her “straight” to God.
When her death was announced at St. Andrew’s Parish, a parishioner asked S. Liz, “Is that our Sister Roberta?” Those words capture the reaction of all who knew her. Our Sister Roberta touched so many hearts and made a difference in so many lives. Thank you to Bishop Senior and Msgr. Grous, pastor of St. Andrew’s, for being present as we say farewell to Sister Roberta. May she rest peacefully and joyfully in God’s loving embrace. Our Sister Roberta now belongs with her God and Creator for all eternity.