There’s no doubt about it: Sister Denise Mosier, OSB, was an extraordinary spirit. Family and friends consistently use the words joy and love when describing her.
Her sister, Mary Ann Lamb, recalls that Sister Denise wanted to enter the convent as soon as she graduated from the eighth grade in 1957.
“My mom just felt that was too young, so she insisted Denise attend high school first,” Mary Ann says. “But the summer after her high school graduation, she became a postulant with the Sisters of St. Benedict in St. Marys.” Within months, Sister Denise was in the classroom as an elementary school teacher.
“She loved to teach,” says Sister Marian Wehler, OSB, now working in Catholic Rural Ministry in the Oil City area. One year apart in age, she and Sister Denise each experienced the call to religious life. The two were dear friends.
Sister Denise also had a great love for Africa and spent several years as a missionary on the east coast of the continent, first in Ethiopia, then in Tanzania, where she and Sister Marian both taught at the seminary.
“We had many adventures together,” Sister Marian says. “She was so full of life and very personable. She always conveyed a warm and loving presence to people.”
Sister Denise loved teaching literature and English, and also approached her work in spiritual formation with zeal. According to Sister Marian, the theme of Sister Denise’s life was being a loving person modeled on Jesus.
“That was the heart of who she was,” Sister Marian says. “Being a teacher is wonderful, but you teach people much more by loving them. They learn more by the kind of person you are than you can possibly teach them from a textbook.”
Sister Denise also was not afraid to step off the beaten path. When her sister, Mary Ann, was married in 1975, Sister Denise accepted the invitation to be her maid of honor.
“Nobody had ever done that before, but she was willing to ask for permission,” Mary Ann says. Of course, Sister Denise wore her habit and served as a witness rather than a maid of honor, but she was thrilled to be a part of Mary Ann’s wedding.
So, it was a terrible shock for family and friends when, on August 1, 2010, news of Sister Denise’s untimely death arrived. She had been asleep in the back of a car on the way to the Benedictine monastery for the community’s summer retreat when the vehicle was struck by a drunk driver.
“Denise would have been the first person to forgive the driver,” Sister Marian asserts. “She knew how to love to the point of forgiveness.”
When Mary Ann and her brothers, John and Bob, wanted to commemorate their sister, Bob’s wife, Paula, suggested a scholarship. Bob thought it should benefit Catholic students of Saint Callistus Parish in Kane, their home parish. At the suggestion of Father Phil Pinczewski, then-pastor of Saint Callistus, the family turned to the Catholic Foundation. They established the Sister Denise Mosier Memorial Scholarship Endowment in 2014 to honor the life, work, and spirit of their beloved sister.
“Denise helped other people out all her life,” Bob says. “And she still is now, through the scholarships.”
“Sister Denise is somebody you don’t forget,” says Sister Marian.
The Sister Denise Mosier Memorial Scholarship Endowment ensures that even those who did not know her in person will benefit from her spirit of love.
“Denise helped other people out all her life. And she still is now, through the scholarships.”