After devoting most of her life to spreading God's word in schools and in her own books, Sister Ruth Penksa, a Grey Nun of the Sacred Heart, has died from injuries sustained in a fire. Sister Ruth was rescued on Dec. 20 from a fire in her high rise apartment on Hertel Avenue. She was rushed to the Erie County Medical Center suffering from burns and smoke inhalation. She remained in the Burn Treatment Unit of ECMC for more than a week before passing on the morning of Dec. 28. She was the only one seriously injured in the fire.
"We are grateful for the concern the community has shown and for all the prayers," said Sister Sheila Stone, GNSH, a friend of Sister Ruth. "Her family and members of the religious community were able to be at her side."
Born and raised in Buffalo, the 82 year-old was once the Campus Minister at Erie Community College. Over the course of her life, she had taught at D'Youville College and Holy Angels Academy in Buffalo, Immaculate Conception School in Eden, in addition to schools in Pennsylvania and New York City.
She was also an author who referred to herself in one of her books as "the girl from Kosciuszko Street." "I'm not actually positive about why I chose to write," she told WNY Catholic in a 2010 article about her books. "By connecting my story with the Scripture, somebody else may say 'That reminds me of me.' So that's all the energy that went behind writing."
In the days before the fire, Sister Ruth still volunteered as a reader for the Niagara Radio Reading Service, which broadcasts daily readings of newspapers, magazines and books as a service to the blind and print-handicapped.
A wake will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 3 from 4-8 p.m. at Amigone Funeral Home, 1132 Delaware Ave., Buffalo. A Funeral Mass will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 4 at 9:30 a.m. at Assumption Church, 435 Amherst St., Buffalo.