Ellen M. Benton and Siosiana V. Merz made their permanent profession in the Secular Franciscan Order as members of the St. Joseph Fraternity.
It is no coincidence that they chose to make their profession on Jan. 23, 2022 -- the feast of Saint Marianne Cope, who was a member of St. Joseph parish at the time the fraternity was founded in 1859 (and, according to some, who was one of the first members of the fraternity).
The rite of profession took place during mass at St. Joseph & St. Patrick Church. Presiding were Fraternity Minister Robert Stronach, OFS, and Celebrant Fr. Richard Riccioli, OFM Conv. (Church of the Assumption, Syracuse). Concelebrants were Fr. Richard Kapral (St. Joseph & St. Patrock) and Fr. Kevin Bunger (St. John the Evangelist Church, New Hartford).
Ellen received a Catholic education at St. Peter’s School in North Utica and at Utica Catholic Academy (Class of 1973). After a 28-year career in real estate development in Florida, she returned to her native Utica where she is evangelization coordinator for St. Joseph and St. Patrick Church. Ellen is enrolled in an online course in Church Management through Villanova University.
Siosiana was raised in the Methodist faith on the island of Tonga in the South Pacific. She met and married her husband, Douglas, while he was serving in the Peace Corps. She converted to the Catholic faith and entered the Church in 1986 at the Church of St. Mark in North Utica. Siosiana serves her faith community as a catechist for faith formation and an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. Siosiana is a mother of two, grandmother of two, and resides with her husband of 39 years in North Utica.