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The Sisters of St. Joseph

“It is with both sadness and gratitude that I write to inform you that the Sisters of Saint Joseph will be withdrawing from Saint Leo Parish and Bishop McGuinness High School…It seems that once they arrive in North Carolina, our sisters never want to leave – a sentiment I know you can well appreciate.”

-Letter to Bishop Peter J. Jugis from Congregational President Sister Maureen Erdlen, SSJ


After a combined 80 years of dedicated leadership and service to St. Leo Catholic Church and Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School, Sister Anne Thomas Taylor, Sister John Christopher “JC” Tate, and Sister Emma Yondura will be retiring in June, returning to the motherhouse in Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania. Sister Erdlen said the retirement is necessary so the religious community can attend to the sisters’ long-term care needs.

We are grateful for the kindness and care these sisters, and their predecessors, have provided for generations of students. Since their arrival to the diocese in 1943, the Sisters of St. Joseph have been integral to the founding and flourishing of our schools:  Villa Maria Anna Academy in 1949, St. Leo School in 1953 and Bishop McGuinness High School in 1959.

Sister Emma has served in the diocese for four decades, beginning in Charlotte and then at St. Leo School as a first-grade teacher, facilitator of Catholic identity and afterschool care leader. First-graders have been her love since beginning as a teacher in 1970, and hundreds of students have learned from her how to strive to do theirvery best – as God is calling them to do.

Sister “JC,” as she’s known became a part of the Bishop family in 2001.  She taught chemistry for many years, demonstrating in her classroom that faith and science go hand-in-hand.  In recent years, she served as a substitute teacher in the science department and as attendance coordinator.

Sister Anne joined the Bishop community in 1996, first as a music teacher, then as dean of students. She helped build up the school’s theater arts offerings from an extracurricular program into its own department. Most recently, she has been a “spiritual counselor” for students who come to her to discuss their challenges, aspirations and prayer life.

The sisters have been role models for what it means to give oneself to others through a vocation to religious life. Their charism as Sisters of St. Joseph has been more than teaching – they have imbued our schools with love for God and others. Throughout their years of service, the sisters have become members of our families, taught thousands of students, mentored fellow teachers and exemplified Christian discipleship.  

The Sisters of St. Joseph do not have sisters available to assign to our schools, but we are exploring ways to continue our relationship through periodic visits and special projects.

Let us take time leading up to their retirement at the end of June to celebrate their legacy. Details regarding these opportunities will be available in the coming weeks.  


Sincerely yours in Christ,

Father Christopher Gober, Pastor, St. Leo Parish

Mr. Gary Callus, Principal

St. Leo Catholic School

Father Noah Carter, Chaplain

Mr. George Boschini, Principal
Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School