Sister Josette Gocella, SSJ, joined CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) of the River Region in Louisville, Kentucky, first as a volunteer and then, in 2011, as a staff member. She felt drawn to the mission of CASA, which is to advocate for abused and neglected children by training volunteers to act as their mentors. People from a variety of backgrounds become CASAs so they can get to know children, ensure they are receiving necessary care, and then report to judges in family court on their best interests.
As an Advocacy Supervisor, Josette was an asset to the organization. Despite the sometimes awful circumstances of our children and families, she was calm, collected, and non-judgmental. She deeply cared about volunteers and their wellbeing—often writing them cards of encouragement, commemorating their birthdays, and finding innovative ways to make them feel appreciated. She knew that by encouraging them she was helping them to become better advocates for children in need. Josette gave the same encouragement to other staff, often giving prayers or newspaper articles about their interests to let them know she cared. Besides her phenomenal work with volunteers, she gave back in so many ways. We were particularly grateful for her expert proofreading of our newsletters and all printed material. She even volunteered to keep the office tidy, which was no small task in an office of 12 people.
While we were sad to see her retire this year, we were grateful for our time together. Among us she truly lived the mission of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Northwestern Pennsylvania by “responding to the ever-changing needs of the world and serving the neighbor without distinction.”