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Sister Mary Carissima Kociolowicz, 95, educator April 6, 1915 -- March 22, 2011

Sister Mary Carissima Kociolowicz, a Felician sister for 77 years who taught both elementary and high school students in a long career as an educator, died Tuesday in the Blessed Mary Angela Care Center, Buffalo. She was 95.

She was born Helen Kociolowicz on April 6, 1915, in North Tonawanda.

She entered the Immaculate Heart of Mary Province of the Felician Sisters in Buffalo on July 26, 1933, and professed perpetual vows on Aug. 11, 1941. She was a member of Our Lady of Czestochowa Parish in North Tonawanda.

She earned a bachelor's in education at Mount St. Joseph Teachers College; a bachelor of social work degree from St. Patrick's College of the University of Ottawa; and a master of science in education from Syracuse University.

Sister Mary Carissima began her teaching ministry at St. Andrew School in Sloan and continued to teach in Catholic elementary schools in the Diocese of Buffalo.

Sandwiched between her years of elementary school teaching were two intermittent stays at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Home for Children in Cheektowaga, where she cared for older boys. She spent a total of 11 years assisting them in learning basic life skills. She was gifted in working with children by being kind but firm.

When Sister Carissima resumed teaching in 1957, she began what turned out to be a 27-year career as a high school math teacher, first at Sacred Heart High School in Syracuse, then Bishop Colton High School in Buffalo and Bishop Gibbons High School in North Tonawanda. In 1966, she returned to Sacred Heart to serve as an assistant principal and then principal.

In 1971, she was missioned to Cardinal O'Hara High School in the Town of Tonawanda as a math teacher. She also taught math at Villa Maria Academy in Buffalo before returning to O'Hara.

In 1989, Sister Carissima continued teaching math at Cardinal O'Hara High School on a part-time basis. Nine years later, she moved to Our Lady of Czestochowa Convent, where she assisted the sisters as a home aide.

She also worked with the parishioners in making pierogi, a project used as a fundraiser, and also took her turn leading a part of the daily rosary before Mass at the Church. Being in her home parish gave her the opportunity to enjoy time with her family members.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Friday in the Immaculate Heart of Mary Convent Chapel, 600 Doat St.

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