Sisters of St. Joseph of CarondeletMay 27, 2022

Main News

25 Years as a Sister Is a Blessing and a Gift

by Kathleen Lamanna, Staff Writer, The Evangelist

Sister J. Elizabeth "Betsy" Van Deusen, CSJ, has had enough careers for several people - and she's still just about the youngest jubilarian among the Sisters of St. Joseph in the Albany Diocese. This year she's celebrating her 25th anniversary of religious life.

Sister Betsy has been in campus ministry, done disaster case management, headed Habitat for Humanity, led the St. Joseph Worker program and traveled around the world. When she looked back on taking her religious vows in 1992, however, she remembered being scared.

As a 25-year-old woman, Sister Betsy saw the vows as limitations and challenges. Now, at 53, "the vows, for me, are a blessing and a gift," she said. "I've come to know the vows as opportunities for blessings.

"We take three vows: poverty, chastity and obedience. I feel like they are freedoms."

By living out her vow of poverty, she explained, she is not "owned by" possessions. Obedience to God strengthens her religious life, and she is able to love freely by living chastely.

Early Thoughts
Sister Betsy encountered the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet when she was in high school in Cobleskill. A parishioner of St. Vincent de Paul Church there, she had a feeling that religious life was for her.

But she decided to go to college and live her life, following advice that, if she had "the call," it would still be there after she finished her education.

College was "wonderful," Sister Betsy said, and she didn't put much thought into religious life. After graduating from The College of Saint Rose in Albany in 1984 with a bachelor's degree in sociology and religious studies, the young woman worked at a bookstore and, later, at Unity House in Troy. Unity House serves people struggling with poverty, mental illness, HIV/AIDS, domestic violence and more.

"I had a great life," Sister Betsy told The Evangelist. But "I just kept getting the sense that something was missing."

The call was still there. She joined the Sisters of St. Joseph. Her mother initially worried that she was "throwing her life away," but both her parents came to accept her vocation and celebrated with her after she took her vows.

'Unfolding of God'

Today, Sister Betsy speaks of the "unfolding of God."

First, she headed St. John's/St. Ann's Center in Albany, which offers food and other aid for people in need. In 1997, on her 35th birthday, she became the director of church relations for Habitat for Humanity International, based in Americus, Ga.

(Click HERE to continue reading the article in The Evangelist!)


Sisters Jeanne Marie Gocha, Diane Zigo and Betsy Van Deusen