Phyllis Livignano was born in Cleveland, Ohio to Joseph and Concetta (Caputo) Livignano.
Her sister Marie (Sister Mary Trina) was two years older; she entered the Sisters of Notre Dame in 1956. The girls experienced a happy, loving home life, and saw the strength of both parents who dealt with physical challenges. Their mother became deaf at the age of 18 due to an injury. Their father, unable to walk until he was ten years old, had endured numerous surgeries in childhood. “Our parents taught us respect for people and property, and gave us a legacy of love to share with everyone we meet,” Phyllis stated in her autobiography. At Saints Anthony & Brigid School in Cleveland, and then at St. Peter’s High School, Phyllis was impressed by the dedication of the Sisters of Notre Dame, both as educators and as women religious.
Her own call to religious life would be fulfilled in God’s time. Phyllis cared for her parents over the next 22 years, which she described as “a blessing and a privilege.” She was employed by the Ohio Bell Telephone Company, spending 18 years as a long-distance telephone operator. The pace was hectic, and she prided herself on doing a good job. On days off, she joined friends, family members, and co-workers for picnics, movies, and her favorite pastime— cheering on Cleveland’s baseball team. If she could not attend in person, she tuned in via radio or TV. A loyal, life-long fan, she was always up to date on the game, the players, stats, and strategies.
In 1979, at the age of 40, Phyllis came to Chardon as a postulant. She met the 18-year-olds who were members of her initial formation group; the age difference was bridged by her openness and sense of humor. Her life experiences, professional training, and faithful prayer were building blocks for her new way of life. At investment, she chose the name “Josetta Marie,” combining the names of her parents and her sister, with St. Joseph the Worker as her special patron.
In varied ministries of community service, Sister Josetta Marie worked in the Health Care Center as an aide, and then as receptionist at the switchboard. She thoughtfully helped her sisters in countless ways. Later, she was an assistant in the Global Missions Office, eager to connect with prospective donors and to thank them for their generous support. For 21 years, Sister Josetta Marie’s delight was teaching second graders at St. Mary Parish School of Religion in Chardon, preparing the children for the sacraments of First Reconciliation and First Eucharist. Her cousins and other relatives, neighborhood friends and classmates, former students and their families are all part of her Notre Dame extended family. She and Sister Mary Trina were able to spend 16 years together in the provincial center, until Sister Mary Trina’s death in 2013. “All in all, I thank our good God for giving me so many opportunities in ministry and experience,” she wrote. Just last year, she celebrated her 40th anniversary of religious profession. Her life among us is cause for joy and gratitude.
The Mass of Christian Burial will be on Thursday, October 26, at 10:30 a.m. Visitation will be from 9:30-10:15. Mass will be live-streamed. Go to www.sndusa.org. Click on the Chardon Regional Center.
To make a gift in memory of Sr. Josetta Marie Livgnano, please click here.