Growing up across the street from a convent in Kansas City, Missouri, Roberta Furey always knew she was destined to become a Sister of Charity of Leavenworth. So it was no surprise to anyone that just two months after graduating from high school in the spring of 1953, she entered the community as a postulant. She was 17 years old.
Sister Roberta’s first assignment to teach third and fourth grade at Topeka Assumption School in Topeka, Kansas came two years later. She created lesson plans, taught her students the “Three Rs,” and worked evenings grading homework. “I was a little wet behind the ears, but there were plenty of other teachers who helped me,” she said.
In 1958, Sister Roberta was assigned to teach first, second, and third grade at Mount Saint Vincent Home in Denver, Colorado. She quickly came to consider Denver her home. She subsequently spent several years at an orphanage in Helena, Montana, but returned to Denver in 1965. “I was so happy to come back,” she said. Collectively, over three separate missions, Sister Roberta has served at Mount Saint Vincent for more than 46 years.
Like any mother would, Sister Roberta taught her young charges how to tie their shoes, ride a bike, wash their clothes, and even prepare a simple meal. “I tried to teach them skills they would need later in life,” she said.
In the summer of 1983, she hired a young 22-year-old to work as a lifeguard at the pool. More than 30 years later, Kirk Ward would be named executive director of Mount Saint Vincent. “She ran a tight ship,” Kirk recalls. “But it was apparent to everyone that she truly cared about the staff and children.”
Throughout her 46 years at Mount Saint Vincent, Sister Roberta has witnessed laughter, tears, triumphs and heartache. Through it all, she has upheld the Sister’s mission of serving children in need.
Mount Saint Vincent Board member Sue Jackson believes that Sister Roberta is deserving of all the accolades one can bestow upon her. “I’ve known Roberta for more than 12 years now, and I’m here to say, she is like no other,” Jackson said. “She is so kind and so thoughtful. I truly believe that she represents the very heart of Mount Saint Vincent.”
Father John Costanzo, who has known Sister Roberta for nearly 30 years, wholeheartedly agrees. “She has such a sense of fun,” he said. “She makes you realize that being a Sister is a joyful thing.” But he says it’s her unwavering devotion that truly sets her apart. “Every single day, she prays for the children,” he said. “Her dedication to the mission of the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth is steadfast.”