“Religious life as a Sister of Charity is the right vocation for me. In hindsight, I wouldn’t want it any other way,” reflected Sister Edith “Edie” Strong. She entered the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill from Saint Bernadette Parish, Monroeville, Pennsylvania, on September 8, 1964. In the 50 years that followed, Sister Edie found within her community “an expansive compassion for the poor, a zeal for participating in the mission of Jesus, and a confidence that, with our lives engulfed by the Holy Spirit, immeasurable good can be done in response to the people whose needs cry out to God.”
After receiving a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Seton Hill University, Sister Edie’s early ministry assignments were at Saint Anselm Catholic Grade School and Elizabeth Seton High School, both in Pittsburgh. Her teaching career continued at her alma mater, Seton Hill University, where she taught math and computer science for ten years. During her tenure at Seton Hill, she earned a master’s degree in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin. Then in 1982, Sister Edie began a ten-year ministry at Seton Child Care Services, Inc. She served first as administrative assistant and later as executive director of the organization, which provided support services to families with young children in Westmoreland County.
Sister Edie’s career path took a different direction in 1993 when she began social work studies at the University of West Virginia. After earning a master’s degree in social work in 1995, she ministered in West Virginia as a mental health therapist at Seneca Mental Health Services, Inc., while also volunteering her services at her local parish. In 2002, Sister Edie was elected to the United States Provincial Council of the Sister of Charity of Seton Hill. During her five-year term in office, Sister Edie was active in raising awareness on social justice and environmental issues.
Since 2007, Sister Edie has ministered as a medical social worker with Medi Home Hospice, Inc. Scottdale, PA. As a member of the treatment team for hospice patients, she provides emotional support to patients and their families and facilitates difficult end-of-life preparations such as the completion of a living will, choosing a power-of-attorney, and pre-planning funeral arrangements. In addition, she helps with placement of patients and refers families for community resources. “I most enjoy visiting my patients. My goal is to offer an experience of God’s presence with them, an opportunity to find joy in the moment, an opportunity to realize the deeper meaning of their life, and, if they choose, an opportunity to talk about their faith and the end-of-life,” explained Sister Edith.
Sister Edie touched countless lives through many volunteer ministries. Most notably, Sister Edie has facilitated chapel services at the State correctional Institution, Greensburg; coordinated religious ministry at Westmoreland County Detention Center, Greensburg; served as the president of Economic Housing in Webster County, West Virginia; coordinated Webster County Work Camp in West Virginia; and has taught adult religious education at Saint Bruno Parish, Greensburg. Throughout her religious life, she has received numerous honors; however, the recognition Sister Edie prizes most came as a thank-you note written on the back of an envelope from a newly released prisoner who had few possessions, a long wait for a bus, and nothing to eat. His note was one of gratitude to Sister Edie for a super-sized burger meal she provided for him upon his release.
The thrust of her vocation as a Sister of Charity of Seton Hill can be summed up with a memory Sister Edie shared. “When Pope John Paul II visited the United States, I asked a prisoner if he had seen any of the media coverage of his welcome here. His response to me was simple, but life-changing: ‘No, that doesn’t much matter to me. You are the one who comes to see me.’”
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