An East Williston resident and a member of the Sisters of St. Dominic of Amityville, Sister Francis Piscatella, turned 109 years old on April 20, making her the second oldest nun in the nation, according to the religious organization.
Sister Piscatella’s life has not lacked adversity, starting with her left forearm being amputated at just 2 years old.
Born in Central Islip on April 20, 1913, Piscatella has survived both world wars, the Great Depression, and now two worldwide health pandemics (Spanish flu and COVID-19).
This year was be the first birthday Piscaetlla was able to enjoy with family without social distancing, she told Newsday.
“It’s nice to have a birthday, especially when you’re 109. I can’t believe it. I’m still here,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed my life and I’m very grateful for the life I’ve had. I’m grateful all these people wanted to come see this old lady.”
Piscatella joined the Dominicans in 1931 after being turned away from several other religious communities due to her disability. Piscatella earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education at St. John’s University before becoming a grade school math teacher in Brooklyn.
Piscatella also spent 52 years teaching at Molloy College and worked at its Financial Aid Office before retiring at the age of 84.
For her birthday last year during COVID-19, the religious organization said in a statement on Facebook that Piscatella has kept a “low profile” since the pandemic hit in March 2020, and has had to celebrate her birthdays during the pandemic waving to friends, family and colleagues from inside her East Williston apartment.
The organization said then she has remained busy with attending virtual masses and spending a great deal of time praying. According to what Piscatella told Catholic News Service, there may be a much simpler explanation as to why she remains alive after 109 years.
“I guess God doesn’t want me yet,” Piscatella told Catholic News Service last year. “He just wants me to hang around.”
Contributing reporting by Rob Pelaez.