Franciscan Sister’s Restoration Hobby Becomes an Adventure

Sister JulieAnn Sheahan

April 27, 2023

When Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Caritas Marie LeClaire is not volunteering at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help or driving Sisters to appointments you will most likely find her in the “old dairy” turned workshop at our Motherhouse in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. For the past several weeks she has been busy restoring and repainting six statues and a crucifix for St. Anne Catholic Church in Somerset, Wisconsin. The church is being redecorated and they asked if she could fix and brighten up the statues. After they liked what she did for the first one, they brought down the rest of them.

Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Caritas Le Claire prays to the saint whose statue she is working on for their intercession and guidance in her restoration projects.

Sister often did small statues for the Sisters and others as a kind of hobby, including the nativity set used in the grotto at the Motherhouse. Then the Shrine asked her to do a Sacred Heart statue and parts of their altar. She has also done work on some of their stations. Word has been getting around that she does this type of work and now another church is talking with her about doing their statues.

Over the course of time, she has learned techniques from the internet—best materials to use and which are the professional sites that are willing to share helpful hints. She shares, as she demonstrates, that she never knew about a mop brush but that she loves it to blend in paint. She enjoys making old statues look new.

While Sister feels she has not used her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Functional Design as she had originally thought—she does often create her own religious art items including plaques, holy water fountains, statues, and rosaries from beads made in molds she made, herself. The Agonizing Crucifix is a popular item.

When the Association of the Precious Blood had a fire and lost their molds for the Agonizing Crucifix, Sister Caritas Marie wrote and asked them if she could make her own, not for sale, but to give people who wanted one, they gave her specific details on the wording, where it needed to appear on the wooden cross and how the blood on the corpuses need to be painted. Since then she has made numerous ones making some available for a donation in a local religious bookstore.


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