Sister Ellen Agritelley (formerly known as Sister Julie Stephen) was born and raised in New Britain, Connecticut, where her father owned and operated a popular diner. She grew up with her two older brothers and sister. All the family members worked in the diner where they learned the value of hard work.
She attended a public elementary school and junior high school. She then went to St. Thomas Aquinas High School, a recently opened school, because her friends were going there. She learned Greek at home and played the organ at the Greek Orthodox Church to which she belonged.
At Aquinas, she first met the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. She admired the Sisters who were excellent teachers and wonderful human beings. She was especially fond of her biology teacher, Sister Gertrude Mechtilde Murphy. After her graduation in 1960, she entered Notre Dame in Fairfield, Conn. To do that she had to be rebaptized and reconfirmed in the Roman Catholic Church.
After making her first vows in 1963, she went to the juniorate in Wenham, Mass.
Six months later, she was asked to return to Fairfield to teach music to the novices. Meanwhile, she studied organ at Emmanuel College in Boston, Mass., while Sister Bernadette Joyce (Sister Marie Elise) studied at Boston University. Sister Ellen earned a B.A. in Music Education and Organ from Emmanuel and an M.A. from the University of Hartford’s Hartt College of Music in West Hartford, CT. This degree was also in Music, Education and Organ. Later she earned a C.A.G.S. from Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Conn., in Administration, Supervision, and Curriculum Development.
Her first mission was to Sacred Heart School in Springfield, Mass., where she taught the second grade, directed the glee club and gave piano lessons. After this, she went to St. Mary School in Newington, Conn. In both places, her greatest challenge was teaching English because it was not her first language. As she taught it, however, she became skilled in the language.
Next, she was missioned to East Catholic High School in Manchester, Conn., for twelve years and then to to St. Thomas Aquinas, her alma mater, to intern as an administrative assistant. Subsequently, she served as a vice-principal at South Catholic High School in Hartford, Conn. She returned to Aquinas first as a vice-principal and then as principal.
After some years at Aquinas, she became an administrative assistant at Mercyknoll, a healthcare ministry of the Sisters of Mercy in West Hartford, Conn., where she transferred her administrative skills from education to healthcare.
In 1991, she was elected to serve a five-year term on the Connecticut Province Leadership Team. She then returned to Mercyknoll as administrative assistant and director of materials. After this she became the administrator of Julie House, a licensed residential care home for the Connecticut Province. In 2011, she was again elected to the Connecticut Leadership Team. Then she was appointed the EW Support Coordinator for Conn., western Mass. and R.I.. Finally, she served as Health Care Coordinator for the same area until she retired. Sister Ellen continues to offer consultative advice to the Julie House Administration.
Of all her various ministries, her time at St. Thomas Aquinas was her favorite because the students, mostly first generation young people from Polish and Italian families, were so motivated to learn. She is grateful for the diversity of ministries in which she served, learning much about education and healthcare. As an active community member, Sistere Ellen also volunteered on a variety of province and congregational boards and committees.
Her favorite scripture quote is: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68)