Today, November 9, 2008, is the 139th anniversary of the founding of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, Manitowoc, WI. Four young women in their twenties and early thirties, strong in their faith, professed their vows in 1869 and faithfully launched a religious community. This historic day in history was the first of many to begin a growing Sisterhood alive in living the Gospel and eager to serve the needs of the pioneer Church.
Most years since 1939, a Founders’ Day Program, a sharing of remembrances in the form of some home-spun entertainment, has been part of the Motherhouse day’s festivities. Here’s a portion of Sister Chiara LaValley’s script for this 2008 Pauline year including present day Sisters, St. Paul and Teresa Gramlich, one of the first Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity:
SMJ: Journey….I remember that Sister Donna Marie told us in the Old Testament/Hebrew Scripture Class that journey is deeply rooted in the Pentateuch. Abraham is called to a new land. Jacob must find God far from home. Joseph must go to Egypt. Israel must cross the desert to find a Promised Land.
SFA: St. Paul sure had a lot of journeys! I read that be traveled over 6000 miles! Can you imagine that? It was not too convenient either or easy! In learning about our Community history, our Sisters were called to journey lots of miles, too.
St. Paul: I was born a few years after Jesus was. My parents were strict observant Jews. We lived in the city of Tarsus which tells you that my family was wealthy. We also had prestige and importance by claiming Roman citizenship.
Teresa Gramlich: I, Teresa Gramlich, was born on November 23, 1842 in Schlierstadt, Germany. I am an ordinary settler’s daughter. I was only ten years old when I came to America journeying across the Atlantic Ocean with my family.
Other activities of heart-felt warmth on this significant and holy Franciscan day are the Eucharistic Liturgy and the cemetery service, remembering all the foundresses past, present and future….