Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Jan Villemure reflects on 50 years of consecrated life and service to God’s people.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.” This psalm verse from Jer. 1:5 states well the journey of the 50 year of jubilee which began 70 years ago in Newberry, MI, where I was the first born of Mary and Philip Villemure.Before that moment in time, God was preparing a strong Catholic family for me and my four siblings. My mother was adopted at the age of six, her new parents raised her Catholic. My grandmother was such a good example of dedication to the church, praying for some Villemures to become priests and sisters. I truly feel this was all in God’s plan for my journey and call.
After moving to Manistique at the age of three, I first met the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity. Sister Felicia Villemure, my Dad’s aunt, was stationed at St. Francis De Sales (SFDS) that year.
I attended SFDS through eighth grade. During the 8th grade year, Father Bill Richards and our teacher, Sister Anita, took four of us to Manitowoc, WI, to visit the convent. That same year some of the girls made a retreat at Marygrove. Following those events, I contacted Sister Una at Holy Family Convent. I entered Holy Family Academy as an aspirant in the fall of 1961. Here I met up with my great aunt again.
My high school and college years in the 60’s were a time of much change. Vatican Council II took place, the Beatles arrived, Kennedy was assassinated, the USA reached the moon, the Vietnam war was waged, and the Civil Rights Movement was front and center. The religious community changed also at this time, not only habits and religious names, but also rules. We were exposed to a new view of church, scripture, human rights, social justice and psychology.
During this time of change, my call as a Franciscan Sister and as a teacher remained very stable. I began teaching in 1969; from that time until now I have been a science teacher. I also taught religion classes at many of the schools and parishes. The call took me to Michigan, Wisconsin, Hawaii, California and Arizona. Involvement in the Silver Lake College teacher education department today allows me the opportunity to give back what I was given at Silver Lake College of the Holy Family and Holy Family Convent: a love for the church, for our faith and a passion for teaching. I caught it from our Franciscan Sisters and my teachers and hopefully I am passing this love to a new generation, 50 years later.
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