Franciscan Sister’s Vocation includes Call to Be a Nurse

January 08, 2016

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Community Director Sister Natalie Binversie shares the life of Sister Alanna Ring which includes the call to be a nurse.

From Iowa to Illinois

Margaret Joan Ring was born at St. Thomas Hospital in Marshalltown, Iowa on October 1, 1928 to Edward and Anna (McGinnis) Ring. She was the third of four children. She was baptized Joan at St. Patrick Church in Nevada, Iowa on October 21, 1928. Joan received the Sacrament of Confirmation at the Catholic Church of Our Savior in Jacksonville, Illinois by Bishop James A. Griffin, Bishop of Springfield, Illinois on April 27, 1941.

Joan grew up on a farm in the midst of the Great Depression which had caused financial problems for so many, including her family. In spite of Franciscan Sister Alanna Ringthe limited available funds and moving a few times they were a close knit family appreciating what they had. Joan attended a near-by one-room country school. At Christmas time in these early years two Aunts would buy the clothes requested on their Christmas list and they always included a card game, a board game or jigsaw puzzles.

When her father was not able to farm because of a lung disease the family moved to Jacksonville, Illinois and began operating a Family Grocery Store. Joan’s mother helped raise funds by baking bread, cakes and cookies to sell in the store. Her mother was also a wonderful seamstress and made clothes for the family for many years. A fond memory was the fancy outfits her mother made for Joan and her sister, Marilyn. They wore them for tap dancing performances, recitals, the County Fair and for different groups that requested them for entertainment. Another joy was when her Dad would play the violin and teach them songs.

The struggle to support the family in a slow economy caused her Dad to get a manufacturing job and eventually move the family to Peoria, Illinois. Joan was taught by the Dominican Sisters of Springfield, Illinois in her elementary school years. She completed her High School at the Academy of Our Lady in 1946 where she was educated by the St. Joseph Sisters of Carondelet. After graduating from the Academy she entered nurses’ training at St. Francis Hospital School of nursing in Peoria and received her Diploma in Nursing in 1949. Joan continued working at St. Francis Hospital and although she considered furthering her education in nursing she also felt a call to Religious Life. Sometime earlier her nursing supervisor gave her a holy card that said, “Jesus is calling you” and encouraged her to join the German Franciscan Order. Joan was of Irish descent and did not think this was a good idea. Her Pastor gave her the booklet entitled, “Career Women in Illinois.” In paging through the booklet there was a description of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity in Manitowoc, Wisconsin which interested Joan.

Lettters to Wisconsin

She wrote the following letter dated November 26, 1950:

Franciscan Sister Alanna Ring nurseDear Sister,

     I am a graduate nurse doing general duty at the present time. I have been thinking about entering the convent for quite some time but am undecided as to where I belong. Your Community was made known to me purely by accident. In a pamphlet I discovered it and became quite interested. Would you please send me information concerning your Novitiate. Also, I would like to know how many hospitals there are and where they are located. Thank you.                            

Sincerely yours, Miss Joan Ring

Dated December 10, 1950 Joan wrote the following letter:

Dear Sister Mary Ellen,

     Thank you so much for writing such a pleasant letter and sending the information concerning your Community and Hospitals. After reading the booklets thoroughly I have become very interested. However, I was sorry to learn that the Postulants are admitted December 8th due to the fact that I was planning on entering the Convent within the next few months. But, because I have become so interested in your Community I have changed my plans.

     You asked for some information concerning myself, so here goes! I am 22 years of age, a graduate from the Academy of Our Lady, Peoria and also a graduate from St. Francis School of Nursing with the class of 1949. I have been doing General Duty for the past 1 ½ years. I am one of four children living with my mother and Father. My oldest sister, 25, is married and has a son who is 10 months old. My brother, 23, is a graduate from Bradley University and is attending Georgetown University Law School. My youngest sister, 20, a Benedictine Sister, is teaching in a small town near Champaign, Illinois.

     Since I would not be able to enter your Community until next August, I was wondering if it would be possible for me to work in your Hospital until that time. I have been planning on leaving Peoria the first of the year but have not as yet made any plans. I have a girlfriend living with me at the present time and also a nurse, who would be interested in working. If there would be any opening I would appreciate it greatly if you would let me know as soon as possible. If you are unable to do this, please refer me to the hospital and ask them to send two application blanks with the possible openings. Looking forward to hearing from you again soon. I remain, Sincerely yours, Joan Ring.

Continue reading:Sister Alanna’s Wake Reflection

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