Sister Melissa Scholl, president of Canticle Farm, (center) is shown assisting a customer at the market several years ago. Scholl will leave the position to accept a new leadership post with the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany.

Over the past 20 years of its existence, Canticle Farm in Allegany has been guided in its leadership and growth by four Franciscan Sisters of Allegany.

The most recent president of the all-natural, community-sponsored farm, Sister Melissa Scholl, is planning to leave the farm as she has been promoted to serve the Congregation in an administrative position. She will hold the distinction as the last Sister to direct the farm as board members have decided to begin a search in the agricultural profession for a new leader.

“I have been elected as associate minister for the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany by the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany,” Scholl remarked. “As a result, it’s not possible for me to do justice to both jobs. I’m moving on from Canticle Farm when we find someone who can be the new executive officer.”

Scholl said the farm position has been renamed as Canticle’s new leader will be expected to answer somewhat more to the board of directors.

“We started a search committee and at this point we’re putting it out through the farm bureau, the newspaper and a variety of other places as a way of finding someone who will be able to do this position and take Canticle Farm into the future,” Scholl explained.

In addition to herself, Scholl said the three other Franciscan Sisters who directed the farm over the past two decades were Sister Anne Rothmeier, who was a founder of Canticle Farm, Sister Frances Cardillo and Sister Joyce Ramage.

“We don’t have any Sisters anymore” who could direct Canticle, Scholl continued. “Because we are becoming a smaller Congregation, we can’t guarantee that we can provide a Sister … it had to happen sooner or later and I’m glad it’s now so I’m here to assist. I will be assisting whoever we hire.”

Scholl will serve under Congregational Minister Sister Margaret Magee, who replaced Margaret Mary Kimmins who is currently working with migrants in Texas.

Scholl noted the changes in leadership roles will impact the Allegany Franciscan Congregation, which consists of Sisters from the United States, Brazil, Jamaica and Bolivia.

“We went down as missionaries and people from those countries joined us and became Allegany Franciscans,” Scholl said in providing a brief overview of the Congregation’s history.

Since the start of the pandemic, however, Sisters from the Congregation have not been able to visit the United States from their various countries.

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As for the current staff at Canticle Farm, Scholl said farm manager, Mark Printz, has been with the organization since its beginning 20 years ago and is an asset.

“He will definitely provide the assistance that is needed for whoever is new,” Scholl commented.

Along those lines, Canticle Farm recently celebrated its 20th anniversary with a small dinner and later was presented a Senate Proclamation in recognition of its service to the community by Sen. George Borrello.

The farm, located on South Nine Road, includes a retail market at 3809 Old State Road, which is currently open from from noon to 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays through Oct. 5. In addition to Canticle Farm produce, organic products such as eggs and meats are also sold at the market by local vendors.

The farm also has an education program to help members and others in the community grow their own produce. From its beginning, the farm has donated a portion of its produce to the needy in the community through food pantries and soup kitchens.

Scholl said she still plans to visit the farm when she is able and noted, “Canticle Farm will always be a part of me.

“It will still be a part of my lifestyle and not part of my job description,” she added.

Printz said he will miss Scholl, but is looking forward to working with a new director, as well.

“She’ll still be around but she’s about to get into more of a leadership role with the Sisters,” Printz shared. “Nothing is constant and that’s good because change isn’t terrible … I’m sad to see her go, but I know we’ll get a good replacement, we always do.”

As for farm news, Printz and Scholl said fall shares of produce are still available and can be purchased by visiting the market or calling the Canticle Farm office at (716) 373-0200, ext. 3358.

(Contact reporter Kate Day Sager at Follow her on Twitter, @OTHKate)

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