The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet started a college in Albany devoted to inclusivity, academic excellence, a focus on the whole person, and meeting the needs of the dear neighbor.In 42 years of association with the College, most recently as its director of mission experience, Sister Sean Peters, CSJ ’67 devoted herself to reminding the community of what Saint Rose was all about.
As an alum, educator, administrator, trustee, and community supporter, she delivered her message in many forms. She brought students to Honduras and Guatemala to experience the culture and challenges through service work. She accompanied students to LePuy, France, to see where the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet formed and imagine the enormity of their plan. Closer to home, she saw the founding mission as an important reminder of College identity.
“Part of how a mission gets integrated and implemented is that the people who are attracted to the place already resonate with it,” she said. “So when they come here they already feel at home.”
Peters was involved in Reach Out Saint Rose and led trips to local cultural sites. She taught classes addressing ways to respond to social needs and held an annual weeklong observation of the College mission and heritage. More recently, she took part in a spoken dramatization of the Sisters’ decision more than 100 years ago to found Saint Rose.
When she left the College in 2020 to become director and member of the congregational leadership team of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet in St. Louis, Missouri, her longtime colleague Joan Horgan succinctly summed up her enormous contribution:
“I think to be around Sean is to know everything you need to know about our founders, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. She lives it with all the fibers of her being,” said Horgan, director of spiritual life at the College.
Born on Long Island, Peters came to Albany in 1963 to follow two older sisters who had graduated from Saint Rose. After a year, she entered the Sisters of St. Joseph.
She earned an education degree at Saint Rose and master’s and doctoral degrees in educational psychology from Rutgers. In addition to her many positions at Saint Rose, she served as vice president for academic affairs and dean at Fontbonne University (then Fontbonne College.)
Peters was drawn to the mission of Saint Rose as she came to see where the kindness and concern for others originated.
“Again and again, I saw these values manifest themselves in so many ways. It made clear that these values can transform the lives of students and all those associated with Saint Rose,” she said. “How could you not love a mission that has such power?”
When Thomas Murphy joined the counseling faculty, Sister Sean contacted him twice asking how he could serve the dear neighbor as part of his work.
“I’d never heard that before,” he recalls. “But as a clinical mental health worker, the heart of the job is the dear neighbor.”
He began offering his services to military veterans, supervised interns on a COVID-19 helpline, and provided continuing education to counselors. Murphy let Peters know he had heard her and responded.
“This was my introduction to Sister Sean, and the Sisters of St. Joseph Carondelet and Saint Rose,” he said.