Sr Catherine Anne “Cathy” Cesnik

Sr Catherine Anne “Cathy” Cesnik

Lawrenceville, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, USA
Death 7 Nov 1969 (aged 26)
Lansdowne, Baltimore County, Maryland, USA
Burial Sharpsburg, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, USA
Memorial ID 61142401 View Source
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Catherine Anne Cesnick grew up in the Lawrenceville section of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She attended St. Mary Assumption Roman Catholic Church and School. The school was operated by the School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND), a teaching order. While attending St. Augustine's Catholic High School, she contemplated entering the religious life.

After graduation, Cathy moved to Baltimore to enter the Baltimore Province of the SSND in 1960 and took final vows on July 21, 1967. Her professed name was Sister Joanita.

She began her teaching career at Archbishop Keough High School on Caton Avenue (renamed Seton-Keough) when the school opened its doors in 1965. She taught English literature and oversaw the school's Drama Club. She was an energetic, enthusiastic and dedicated teacher. More importantly, she was supportive and alert to her students at the all-girls school.

As many religious did in the turbulent 60's, Sister Joanita (Cathy) requested permission to take a sabbatical from the Order. This was granted and Catherine moved with another nun into an apartment in the Edmondson Village area of Baltimore. She also decided to teach instead at Western High School beginning in the fall of 1969.

When Cathy failed to return home on November 7, 1969 after a short shopping trip she was reporting missing. On January 3, 1970, two hunters discovered her body in a wooded area near Monumental Avenue in the Lansdowne area of Baltimore. She had been killed by blunt force trauma to the head. Detectives investigating her death believe she may have encountered her murderer outside her apartment since her car was found parked in the complex the day after her disappearance.

In 1994, a law suit was filed charging a priest at Keough from 1965-1975 with sexual misconduct. Many believe Cathy may have been a confidant to those abused and was silenced to prevent disclosure. The priest died in 2001 and her murder remains unsolved to this day.

Bio by: Maggie Mac

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