Carmella was born February 17, 1924, youngest of six children to Salvator Credidio and Euphessia Grasso, who immigrated to the United States and settled in Hammonton, south New Jersey. At a young age, she and two of her sisters were sent to St. Michael's Home, Hopewell, NJ, run by the Franciscan Sisters of Philadelphia. Here Carmella enjoyed a happy childhood, learning songs, playing games, and attending school, graduating from 8th grade. She then went to Marlton, NJ where she studied for two additional years. After working a year, she entered the Franciscan Servants of the Holy Child Jesus in North Plainfield. She was the second American woman to enter in 1941. After her Temporary Profession of Vows in 1944, she spent a year performing household tasks in the Conventual Franciscan Seminary, which was at that time on the property of the Immaculate Conception Church in Trenton. Next Sr. Francis was transferred to St. Fidelis Minor Seminary of the Capuchin Franciscans in Herman, PA, near Pittsburgh. During these 16 years her duties were operating the dishwasher, housecleaning, and helping in other areas to keep everything in order for some 300 minor seminarians attending High School there. Her claim to fame was washing pots and pans next to a young boy Sean O'Malley who is presently Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston. He sent her a lovely bouquet of flowers for her 70th Jubilee of which she was beside herself with joy. After this, her next assignment was returning to Villa Maria Nursing Home… once again to operate the dishwasher three times a day and in between time, in housekeeping.
Sr. Francis filled her free time with daily walks outside enjoying nature and animals at the Villa. She loved playing the Harmonica at parties to add the special accompaniment to the songs. Besides this she had a natural talent of harmonizing, creating her own alto voice for every song. One of her favorite things was to tell jokes, which she continued up until a few week prior to her death. It was a special joy for her to invite children who may be visiting to go with her to see the chickens, ducks, and kittens that were near the vegetable gardens, or in the orchard. She also visited and befriended the of the people in the neighborhood of the Villa Maria.
May of 2006 she moved from Villa Maria along with the rest of the Franciscan Community to our former Institution located at St. Elizabeth's Home, Yardville. The house was comfortably full with 15 Sisters, our Chaplain, three adult women with developmental disabilities, two cooks, two housekeepers and the mother of one of the sisters. … Sr. Francis continued to clean and found simple, easy places to do so. She gave generously of her time to any need.
Early September, 2015 Sr. Francis suffered a serious stroke. She was immediately taken to the hospital and treated with no lingering serious limitations. From there she was transferred to McAuley Hall September 16. It took a few months to resign herself to this new place and new way of life away from the community. She fully became part of the community here, adjusting so well that she even took part in the Christmas Pageant as one of the sheep at the Crib.
Sr. Francis was very dear to us as a community member, and as a patient here at McAuley Hall. She loved to interact with others, residents and staff alike, delighting in exchanging a smile, a hand shake, or even a joke. We are grateful that she lived her "Franciscan Joy" to the full.