After a member of St. Edward Catholic Community, Mackville, WI pointed out there are 4 Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity graduates of St. Edward on this recent Chapter photo, we declared this parish one of our seedbed of vocations. How did this happen? Sister Anne Marie Lom helped clarify this reality by answering a few questions.
Who were the pastors in those years?
There was only one pastor for 40+ years, Father Nicholas Gross.
He was very kind, never took a salary when things were short, but relied on parishioners bringing food, bakery etc. One year the parish bought him a car since he needed one and could not buy one for himself. My favorite memory of him was: if a parishioner had enough money, Father would often ask for money and explain why it was needed. If a parishioner did not have enough, Father assured him/her the parish had enough money.
My family did the janitorial work for years. My little sister got sent to Father’s house where he and his housekeeper, his niece, watched her so we could work… child care in practical circumstances! Father and his housekeeper came to our house for dinner several times a month. It was fun to have them and my mom was a great cook.
Who were the Sisters?
Sisters Alma Westenberger, Hermana Miller, Othelia Skowronska and Ernesta Ludwig were the Sisters I remember. Our one lay teacher was Mrs. Mary Gilles, mother of Sister Catherine Gilles. Mrs. Gilles knew I was interested in the convent so whenever Catherine would write her mother, Mrs. Gilles brought the letter to school and would read it with me (when I was in about 4th grade.)… a good example of lay people encouraging religious vocations and parents of sisters being involved with other parents.
Anything significant that you remember that planted the seed for the you?
Mrs. Kurey, Sister Annette’s mom, talked to my mom about any fears she had in permitting me to leave home at age 14. Then Elaine Kurey made all my required aprons, nightgowns, etc. on our entry list. My mom did not sew.
Sister Mary Ann’s parents were friends of my parents as we all shared a Dutch heritage. My mom talked to Dora Spanjers when Mary Ann wanted to come.
We all knew Father Dan Felton and his parents as well. He was in primary grades when I left home. He was always helping Father Justin Werner (pastor after Father Gross) when Dan was home from seminary. I would go home after Christmas or other big days and saw Dan serving at the altar.
So you see, we were all connected.
Another interesting fact is that my mom, when growing up in Little Chute, was in the backyard of the Vanden Hogan home. and down the street from Sister Estelle Vanden Heuvel’s family. When I wanted to enter, Mrs. Vanden Hogan (mother of Sisters Paula and Paulyn) talked to my mom about her fears as well.
My mom was close to the Dominican Sisters serving in Little Chute when she was a child. My mom and dad encouraged me and my contact with the parish sisters and our parish priest. They also took me to church for services eg stations etc. because I sang in the choir. On the other hand they never pressured me or suggested anything… just allowed me to evolve.