Sr. Boleslava, DSF, pioneer Lacon Franciscan, dies at 96

LACON — The Daughters of St. Francis of Assisi have lost one of their pioneers.

Sister M. Boleslava Gazo, DSF, who emigrated from Slovakia to the United States in 1946 to form the American Province of the religious community and served as its provincial superior for more than 20 years, died on Oct. 2, 2009, at St. Joseph Nursing Home here. She was 96.

Father Harold Schmitt, the chaplain for the Daughters of St. Francis of Assisi, celebrated the funeral Mass for Sister Boleslava on Oct. 8 in the chapel of St. Joseph’s Convent. Burial followed in Immaculate Conception Cemetery, Lacon.

Born on Oct. 4, 1912, in Dolne Dubove, Slovakia, Sister Boleslava was the daughter of John and Josephine Gazo. She entered the Congregation of the Daughters of St. Francis of Assisi in 1927 and professed her vows on Aug. 15, 1930.

WHEN THE community was asked to send its Sisters to the United States to establish a foundation, 15 accepted the invitation and they made the trip in two groups. Sister Boleslava was among the second group to arrive in 1946 and became the first provincial superior.

She led the fledgling community for 19 years and would do so again from 1985 until 1988. During her first term, the Daughters of St. Francis of Assisi expanded their ministry to include St. Francis Hospital in Mountain View, Mo., which was founded in 1956.

Sister Boleslava became the first administrator of St. Joseph Nursing Home in 1965 and continued to serve in that capacity until 1971. A registered nurse, she also worked in the activity department.

In addition, she ministered to the elderly at Villa Santa Anna in Cleveland, Ohio.

Sister Boleslava was preceded in death by her parents, one sister and four brothers. She is survived by one sister, Ann Valentovicova of Slovakia.

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