Franciscan Foundress Called 151 Years Ago

Sister JulieAnn Sheahan

June 05, 2017

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity celebrate the 151 year anniversary of foundress Teresa Gramlich responding to the call of God to go to serve in Clarks Mills, WI. Archivist Sister Caritas Strodthoff shares the history.

It was the beginning of Lent in 1866, 151 years ago, that Father Joseph Fessler traveled to the Immaculate Conception Parish in Clarks Mills and had his first view of the church property, his new assignment. Ash Wednesday that year was on Thursday, February 15. Teresa Gramlich reports “ When he had seen the condition of the Church, and congregation he found nothing there to rest his eyes on, nor his body, nor a place to board. So he came back the same day.” Every two weeks he returned to have services. At the end of May, he proceeded with his next endeavor…a teacher.

Mother Gabriel writes: “At the end of May…1866…he asked the good old Father Oschwald for one of his sisters, to go there to teach catechism to a class that were old enough to be confirmed and to see if there is a good number to start a school.” None were available. He then turned to Teresa Gramlich, a 23 year old young woman who was not a part of the Oschwald Sisters who could answer his prayers. She writes: “Father Joseph was a great friend in our family, so he got questioning me one day, would I take the place at Clarks Mills. I replied, if Father Oschwald wants me to go, I shall go”. It was just that simple.

Teresa only had a few days to set about planning for what teaching materials she would need, what few personal items she would take along, and where she would find a place to stay. On June 5, 1866—150 years ago—she was ready. She writes: “So he send a team on the 5th of June 1866 to bring me to Clarks Mills. The Feast of the Sacred Heart.” The next day she began her new life: teaching catechism and preparing children for the sacraments. From June until the end of August she “stayed with a family in the village all alone to my task.” She missed her family and the close community life she had experienced in St. Nazianz. Alone each day she taught religion to the children.

Is God calling you to come to Manitowoc, WI? We invite you to call or text us at 920-323-9632. It is that simple.  Consider a summer visit to Wisconsin!