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Albany sisters serve in leadership roles in Catholic Charities

 Albany Province

Two Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet are making a difference by serving in leadership roles in Catholic Charities in upstate New York. Catholic Charities USA is a network of agencies that offer outreach programs and supportive housing, serving all persons without distinction in providing a wide variety of services in dioceses throughout the United States.

Charla Commins, CSJ

Charla Commins, CSJ

Born and raised in Syracuse, New York, Charla Commins, CSJ has been a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet for 60 years. Initially employed as a secondary English teacher for eight years, one summer, she got a taste for another kind of work in the inner city of Albany. “That experience really whet my appetite for more ministry in the field of social work,” she said. In 1975, along with three others, she was tapped by Sister Serena Branson, DC, the CEO of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany, to help expand Catholic Charities from just within the immediate Capital District into all 14 Counties of the region, beginning with Saratoga.

Sister Charla earned her master’s of social work degree from SUNY Albany in 1985 and became a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the years to follow. She was appointed executive director of Catholic Charities of Saratoga, Warren, and Washington Counties in 1988, a position she holds until this day. She has served many area organizations throughout the years and was a founding board member of the Domestic Violence/Rape Crisis Services of Saratoga County, the Hospice of Saratoga County, the HIV/AIDS Coalition, and the area’s first task force working to build a permanent shelter for persons who are homeless.

Through the years, addressing social problems has become more difficult, Sister Charla observes. “We’ll never end poverty, we’ll always have the rich and the poor, but it’s touching more people now than ever,” she said. “It will probably be here until the end of time. However, there are so many good people, agencies and faith communities helping others, it makes me hopeful. We can’t change the world, but we can help and improve individual situations.”

Betsy Van Deusen, CSJ

Betsy Van Deusen, CSJ

Betsy Van Deusen, CSJ, has been a Sister of St. Joseph since 1988 and has served in many different ministries including director of church relations for Habitat for Humanity International, in parish ministry and in social services addressing the needs of victims of domestic violence. In July 2022, she became the CEO of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany.

Sister Betsy is known for her ability to bring community organizations, volunteers, and staff together in an effort to assist “the dear neighbor.” During the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, Sister Betsy orchestrated the expansion of drive-through food pantries, in collaboration with community partners.

As CEO, Sister Betsy’s vision for Catholic Charities is rooted in the belief that “True compassion, support, and healing can only be achieved through collective effort. By uniting resources, skills, and compassion, it amplifies our impact and creates a network that uplifts the vulnerable, providing a more comprehensive and sustained approach to addressing societal challenges.”

Sr. Betsy directing a group at the Regional Food Bank

Sister Betsy directing a group at the Regional Food Bank in Albany during the pandemic.

Sister Charla and Sister Betsy have committed their lives to serving others, both personally and professionally. In their combined 96 years as sisters, they have done just that and will continue to fulfill the missions of the Sisters of St. Joseph or Carondelet and Catholic Charities now and into the future.

Category: Stories

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About us

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet are a congregation of Catholic sisters. We, and those who share our charism and mission, are motivated in all things by our profound love of God and our dear neighbors. We seek to build communities and bridge divides between people. Since our first sisters gathered in 1650, our members have been called to “do all things of which women are capable.” The first sisters of our congregation arrived in St. Louis, Missouri in 1836, and we now have additional locations in St. Paul, Albany, Los Angeles, Hawaii, Japan and Peru. Today, we commit to respond boldly to injustice and dare to be prophetic.


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