Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity from St. Agnes Convent traveled to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to visit our Sisters and other special places during spring break. (Warning: it may not look or read like your typical spring break!)
The first stop on Friday was at the Carmelite Monastery of the Holy Cross in Iron Mountain, Michigan. We visited Sister Maria of Jesus, the Mother Superior of the sisters. She is Sister Estelle Vanden Heuvel’s sister and Sister Anne Marie Selinsky’s classmate. We left laden with Kit Kat Bars, Peanut Butter cups, cake mixes and spaghetti sauce. They shared their abundance with us. We, in turn, shared with others at stops on the remainder of the journey.
Our next stop was in Crystal Falls, Michigan for supper. After a treacherous trip through a snowstorm that caused whiteouts, we reached Ann Nelson’s home in L’Anse, about 8:30 pm. Ann is Sister Jan Villemure’s cousin, and her home was our home base for the weekend.
Saturday morning Sister Carolee Vanness met us at Sacred Heart School in L’Anse, where we got a great tour of her place of ministry. We all headed for Chassell after the tour where we had a homemade soup lunch with the Sisters. Next on the touring agenda was a visit to Houghton Tech University, where Sister Jacqueline Spaniola ministers. We toured St. Albert the Great University parish, offices, and Campus Ministry areas. After the visit at Tech, we crossed the bridge to twin city Hancock, to locate Sister Jan’s grandparents’ home on Water Street. The house was located and the memories of family trips there in the 60’s and 70’s were brought back. We returned to Chassell for a game of Samba, Mass at St. Ann’s, Vespers, and a delicious pork roast supper, followed by one more round of Samba.
Sunday, Sister Jackie was our tour guide to the Keweenaw Peninsula. We headed for the monastery of Holy Protection, a Ukrainian Catholic Community of Monks in Eagle Harbor, Michigan. After meeting two of the three brothers, we prayed in the chapel for an hour. It was particularly touching to be praying for Ukraine from this holy place in Michigan with roots in the Ukraine. The next part of the trip was driving to the peak of the peninsula. Seeing 12-15 foot snowbanks, blue ice and many fir trees, eagles, a yard full of 30-40 deer were some of the highlights. We enjoyed a brunch at the Otter Belly Café. Next stop was supper with Maria Paula Kwesiga’s apartment. She is a friend of ours who has stayed with us several times at St. Agnes, as she took medical exams to obtain her MD license for the US. Maria is Ugandan, and has a license for Algeria. We are praying she gets an interview soon at places she has applied for residency. After supper there we all traveled back to Tech for the student Mass at 7PM.
Monday we toured some spots in L’Anse where Ann volunteers: the St. Vincent de Paul store and their pantry. We then headed to Republic to visit Sister Margey Schmelzle. She had a lunch for us, toured us through her home and St. Augustine Church.
The visits gave us a good view of the wonderful work our Sisters do in the Upper Peninsula. When we got home to pray Vespers on Sunday, the prayer card for our chapel that day was for the “Sisters who minister in the Upper Peninsula.” A perfect way to end our pilgrimage.