Sister Mary Charlene Nowak, former formation director and vicar for religious in the Catholic Center of the Diocese of Buffalo, died Sept. 15, 2015, in the Blessed Mary Angela Care Center in Buffalo.
The former Patricia Nowak was born Nov. 28, 1937, in Buffalo, to Charles and Stella (Ozimek) Nowak. She joined the Immaculate Heart of Mary Province of the Felician Sisters in Buffalo in 1955, professing perpetual vows in 1963.
She graduated from Medaille College in Buffalo, receiving a bachelor's degree in education. Sister Mary Charlene also received a master's degree in sacred sciences from St. Bonaventure University and attended Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora and Notre Dame University in Indiana.
Sister Mary Charlene began teaching elementary school in Buffalo and Lowville. Twelve years later, she became coordinator of religious education at Holy Cross Parish in Buffalo, serving in the same capacity at Resurrection Parish in Cheektowaga and Blessed Sacrament Parish in Kenmore.
She became associate director at St. Ignatius Renewal Center in 1978, where she also served as a director of retreats and spiritual director.
She served the Felician Sisters as director of vocations, also directing the formation program, Pre-Tertian Sisters, and the Temporary Professed Sisters. She also was a religion teacher and campus minister at her alma mater, Villa Maria Academy.
Beginning in 1979, Sister Mary Charlene was active in the diocese's permanent diaconate program, teaching and serving as director of theological field education at Christ the King Seminary from 1993 to 2000. That year, she became vicar of religious in the Catholic Center, where she remained until 2008.
Sister Mary Charlene was elected to provincial leadership in 2007, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary Province merged in 2009 to become part of Our Lady of Hope Province. Sister Mary Charlene continued serving the permanent diaconate and organized weekend retreats at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Convent in Buffalo.
She experienced health problems later in life, resulting in heart surgery in 2010. As her health declined, she continued to take on progressively fewer assignments until she became a patient in the Blessed Mary Angela Care Center in 2014.
Sister Mary Charlene is survived by her cousins.
Visitation will be held at the Villa Maria complex on Saturday, Sept. 19, from 2-8 p.m. and on Sunday, Sept. 20, from 2-5 p.m. with Evening Prayer to follow.
The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated by Father Joseph Gatto at the Villa Maria Chapel on Monday, Sept. 21, at 10 a.m., followed by burial in St. Stanislaus Cemetery in Cheektowaga.