Sister Maria Fest, formerly Sister Maria Goretti, is the current assistant to the provincial of the Provincial Leadership Team (since 2012). Prior to that, she has been in provincial administration for the Community (1991–2001; 2007–10). She entered religious life from St. Anne’s parish in Castle Shannon, Pa., and she cites the parish community, the Sisters of Divine Providence who taught there, and the parish priests for encouraging her vocation.
She earned a bachelor of science degree in biology from La Roche College, a master’s degree in chemistry from the University of Notre Dame, and a doctor of arts degree in chemistry from Lehigh University. Her dissertation, Chemistry Curriculum to Support a Master’s Level Nurse Anesthesia Program, was the basis for La Roche College’s Master of Health Sciences program.
Sister Maria began her ministry as a teacher, teaching students from elementary school through College. She was both a teacher and principal at Divine Providence Academy (1966-77). At La Roche College, she was director of financial aid and adjunct faculty member for health sciences (1977-81), and she was associate professor in health sciences (1984-90). She was executive director of Providence Connections, Inc. (1999-2007), the umbrella ministry for Providence Family Support Center and the former Amelia House.
In 2009, author Kathy Brunner interviewed Sister Maria for a chapter in her book One More Serving: Because Life is Meant to be Full, in which she discussed her diagnosis of Gillian Barre Syndrome in 2002 and her subsequent recovery.
La Roche College has honored Sister Maria with the annual Sister Maria Fest Award for Scholarship in Service in the Sciences, named in recognition of her contribution to the College, as well as the 2010 La Roche College Woman of Providence award.
A lifelong learner, Sister Maria is blessed with passion, curiosity, and seemingly boundless energy, which she brings to all that she does. Even though she does not practice in her field, science, she uses her education and love of science to define herself in relation to the Community’s mission and spirituality. “They fit together like hand in glove,” she says. “Co-creation, quantum physics, and the new science, along with health sciences, have spoken volumes to me about being a Providence Woman.”