Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Postulant Jenn Bourquet shares her experiences of life at St. Anne Convent, Chassell, Michigan and shadowing Sister Jacqueline Spaniola, Sister Linda Brandes and Sister Hannah Johnecheck in their ministries.
It was a true delight to spend my mission week with three marvelous women of faith. Their desire for the Lord and sharing him with others was a beautiful to experience. Throughout their ministries, Sister Jackie, Sister Linda and Sister Hannah work with a variety of families, adults, and young adults. I truly enjoyed visiting with the adult men and women at the different senior centers as Sister Linda would bring them Holy Communion and spend time talking with them and praying the Rosary with them. It was a joy to hear their stories and learn about their backgrounds. One of the men, Joe allowed me to take one of his professional photography pieces.
Sister Hannah’s 1st and 2nd grade class was a lot of fun and excitement, the students were so happy and eager to learn. For the history portion of the class, the students were studying about Captain John Smith and the Jamestown colony. With my past experience working at Colonial National Historical Park on Jamestown Island as Park Ranger, I was able to teach the students about the history of colony as well as teach them 17th century dice game: Captain, Ship and Crew; that Captain John Smith and the others would have played. It was so wonderful to be able to share the information with the students and see them so engaged with learning about their nation’s history.
With Sister Jackie, it was beautiful to see how she and the college students truly connected on so many levels. Having spent a week with her and the students at SEEK and seeing how they positively interacted with one another. You could see how she was not only a mentor to them, but a friend as well. Most of Sister Jackie’s church programing was starting the week after I left.
Along with the Sister’s ministries, they also had a deep connection with parishes at St. Ann and St. Albert for they would often, before and after mass stand in the narthex area and meeting with the parishioners as well as going downstairs to hall and spending time with other parishioners eating donuts, bagels and drinking coffee, etc. It was during these encounters that you saw the deep respect that the church community had for the sisters and the deep respect the sisters had for them. It was wonderful, one night a couple from the church had invited the Sisters and I to come to dinner and a special blessing that they were having done at their house by a diocesan priest Fr. John who was a close friend.
Even with the Sisters busy ministry schedules and house duties, they made sure to pray the office together. They were also respectful of each other in making sure that they all had time for quiet prayer and reflection. In the evenings it was fun to spend time together watching the Hallmark Channel, talking and enjoying Sister Jackie’s amazing popcorn.
Overall, it was an outstanding week to see and experience our community’s charism and devout faith in full actions, for these Sisters are truly Christ’s hands and feet to all they serve.