2016 Honorees and Biographies


Laudare ✠ To Praise

"Let your light shine before others in such a way that they may see your
good works and praise your Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16

John Tortolani

2016 Veritas Award Recipient


John TortolaniIn 1972, John Tortolani joined with two colleagues to form Brenner, McDonagh & Tortolani, one of the first financial consulting firms in the United States to focus on serving religious institutes in almost every aspect of business operations and financial management. As a result of his pioneering work in this field, John is recognized as one of the foremost authorities on the fiscal realities of religious congregations. His values, professionalism, and extensive experience have positioned BMT at the forefront of financial consulting for religious institutes, having grown the firm both nationally and internationally through the referrals of many satisfied clients.

Beyond his competence and professional expertise, his colleagues describe John as “the hardest working person in the firm.” His passion is to assist his clients to adapt to their changing environments so that they can enable the continuation of their missions—and that passion permeates BMT. Moreover, in a field often characterized by pressured demands and anxiety, John’s gentle presence creates an environment of calm, understanding, and genuine appreciation. The longevity of his relationships with staff and clients is a testament to how much he is admired and respected as an individual, colleague, and consultant.  

Since November 1975, John has been an astute and trusted guide for the Dominican Sisters of Sparkill in our efforts to ensure the future of our mission through wise stewardship of our resources and properties. In every aspect of his work with us, he has always demonstrated a deep respect and appreciation for our commitment to our mission and its influence on our decision-making processes.

For more than 40 years, John has been a “light” among us, serving with integrity, generosity, compassion, and sensitivity. For this reason and because of his deep commitment to bringing to fruition the hopes and dreams of so many congregations of women religious, we honor John Tortolani for his invaluable support in furthering of the mission of the Dominican Sisters of Sparkill.


Benedicere ✠ To Bless

“I will bless the Lord at all times.” – Psalm 34

John Paulding Engine Company No. 1
Sparkill-Palisades Fire District

2016 Veritas Award Recipient

Sparkill Palisades Fire Dept group photo

The history of the Fire Department in Sparkill is interwoven  with the history of the Sparkill Dominican Sisters. In 1899 a tragic fire that destroyed the Sisters’ St. Agnes Convent and Home for Children made the need for a firehouse evident to the surrounding community. In 1901, John Paulding Engine Company No. 1 was formed, named after the Revolutionary War hero whose alertness and self-denial is credited with the discovery of the British battle plans that revealed the treason of Benedict Arnold and saved the great American fortress located at West Point. Congress awarded John Paulding the first military decoration of the United States, the Fidelity Medal.

“Fidelity” is a word that captures well the spirit and service of the men and women volunteer firefighters we honor this evening. Founded in 1901, John Paulding Engine Company No.1 has been providing fire protection for 115 years to the residents and businesses of the later-formed Sparkill-Palisades Fire District. The relationship of the Engine Company with the Sisters has continued to grow and flourish over those many years. Its faithful volunteer firefighters have served selflessly, protecting the Sisters, the children in their care, and now the more than 300 men and women of Thorpe Village and Dowling Gardens, resident communities built by the Sisters in response to the needs of our seniors and frail elderly. The Sisters’ grounds continue to provide a place for the drills and practice exercises that keep the firefighters ready to serve the area.

The men and women of John Paulding Engine Company No. 1 are truly a blessing to the Dominican Sisters of Sparkill whom they so generously serve and protect. Grateful for 115 years of their unfailing support in helping us to carry out our mission, we celebrate and honor them for their dedication to the highest ideals of public service and their unfailing commitment to keeping their community safe. 

Praedicare ✠ To Preach

“Go into all the world and teach all nations.” – Mark 16:15

Sister Margaret Theresa Oettinger, OP

2016 Veritas Award Recipient

Sr. Margaret Oettinger
A native of New York City, Sister Margaret Theresa Oettinger grew up as a member of St. Catherine of Siena parish on the Upper East Side. She could never have foreseen that, more than 70 years later, she would be a beacon of light and hope for that same neighborhood through her ministry of spiritual care at Hospital for Special Surgery.

Sister Margaret entered the Dominican Sisters of Sparkill in 1962. After 16 years as an elementary school teacher in the New York Archdiocese, Sister Margaret left the comfort and security of home to serve as a missionary in Pakistan for eight years. In Pakistan her gifts for pastoral ministry became evident in her work at both parish and diocesan levels, her missionary work in the Punjab, and her ministry as a chaplain and patient advocate at Nishtar Hospital in Multan, one of the largest hospitals in Asia. When she returned to the United States in 1989, Sr. Margaret joyfully embraced the ministry of hospital chaplaincy and completed specialized training and certification in clinical pastoral education at NYU Medical Center.

In April, 1992, Sr. Margaret was board certified by the National Association of Catholic Chaplains and named Director of Spiritual Care at Hospital for Special Surgery where she currently serves on the HSS Management Committee, the Ethics Committee, the Palliative Care Committee, and the In­terdisciplinary Patient Education Council. In addition, she serves as the hospital’s liaison with the Dominican Friars Health Care Ministry of New York and the Healthcare Chaplaincy Network.

With great insight and sensitivity, Sr. Margaret Theresa Oettinger, OP, has been the face of God’s compassion, bringing to life the “good news” of the gospel for countless men, women, and children through her ministry of caring for the human spirit. We are proud to honor her for advancing the mission of the Dominican Sisters of Sparkill through her outstanding leadership in the field of hospital chaplaincy.