Franciscan Sisters Pilgrimage to Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity are preparing to make a pilgrimage with many others to Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine, Des Plaines, Illinois. As we anticipate this moment of grace, we pray the words of St. John Paul II in 2002 on the canonization of St. Juan Diego in our prayer today. We share them with you.  If you see us on December 12, say hello – “Día bendito y viajes seguros.” (Photo of Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine, Midland, Texas)

Blessed Juan Diego, a good, Christian Indian, whom simple people have always considered a saint! We ask you to accompany the Church on her pilgrimage in Mexico, so that she may be more evangelizing and more missionary each day. Encourage the Bishops, support the priests, inspire new and holy vocations, help all those who give their lives to the cause of Christ and the spread of his Kingdom.

Happy Juan Diego, true and faithful man! We entrust to you our lay brothers and sisters so that, feeling the call to holiness, they may imbue every area of social life with the spirit of the Gospel. Bless families, strengthen spouses in their marriage, sustain the efforts of parents to give their children a Christian upbringing. Look with favour upon the pain of those who are suffering in body or in spirit, on those afflicted by poverty, loneliness, marginalization or ignorance. May all people, civic leaders and ordinary citizens, always act in accordance with the demands of justice and with respect for the dignity of each person, so that in this way peace may be reinforced. Click here to read more.


Franciscan Sister Serves as Translator on Haiti Mission Trip

Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Marlita Henseler is serving as a translator for a Diocese of Green Bay Mission Trip to Haiti. We share an account by one of the pilgrims on the journey and photos.

Day One

Well, we arrived at Pedro Santana last night about 9 pm after a long travel day and some exciting traffic getting out of Santo Domingo. The group consists of Jim Fitzgerald, Sister Marlita, Debbie Knox, Kathy Allen, Ken Deteville and me, Ed West.

Sister Maria and Sister Lidia were waiting for us and had prepared a wonderful dinner for us.

We are about to leave so this is short.

Day Two

Today was a learning day with Sister Maria. After breakfast, we drove to Los Cacaos, Haiti to see the pump that is being used to supply water to the fish farm.

The pump was fashioned from an old engine with a pump attached to one side of the shaft and pulleys on the other side. They were having issues keeping it primed. Maybe we will work on that another day. On the way to Los Cacaos, we stopped at a high point on the International Highway and took some pictures of the green trees on the Haitian side. Those trees have been planted since Sister Maria started work in the area and the area is slowly turning green and as a result, cooler (a relative term).


We then drove to the Ag Center. The 12,000 gallon cistern that we worked on in January is now complete and the second floor is being completed on a multi function building behind the classroom facility.

On my January trip, I had heard a story about Sister Maria borrowing a D8 Caterpillar from the Dominican Republic government and using it to build roads in Haiti. What I didn’t realize that the roads she built opened up the whole Los Cacaos region to commerce. Prior to her road building, the only way to get around the area was on foot or motorcycle.

A side note, I am using the Spanish spelling “Los Cacaos”, but I understand that the Haitian Creole spelling is “Los Kakaos.

All around the area, and now at the Ag Center in Los Cacaos, a bean called Guandul is being grown. It can be grown in the very poor soil and hot weather conditions. It is called the “bean from Congo” locally and is a source of protein. The Guandul beans grown at the Ag Center are a lot larger than the ones grown around the area due to the irrigation and attention to nutrients etc. Also being grown at the Ag Center are tropical sweet potatoes that provide a lot of nutrients for the local folks…

Franciscan Gospel Reflection: Second Sunday of Advent 2018

On this Second Sunday of Advent, we are serious in our desire to grow in our relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ. We share a Franciscan Gospel reflection and questions written by Fr. Paul Gallagher, OFM. They are edited by Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Anne Marie Lom and Joe Thiel. The excerpts from the Sunday readings are prepared by Joe Thiel. To read or download the complete pdf with excerpts for your prayer, please click here: Franciscan Gospel Reflection December 2 2018. Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner. Please include this information when printing.

Photos: St. Francis Chapel, Manitowoc, Wisconsin

Luke 3:1-6

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert.

John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one crying out in the desert: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'”


The first two verses of the gospel text ground the gospel in the civil and religious history of the day. Luke states that the events he records in his gospel took place at a particular time in the events of the world. Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate, Herod, Philip, Lysanias and even Annas and Caiaphas were all leaders who were associated with dark periods in their history rather than any sense of deliverance. Luke has deliberately placed John’s ministry (and Jesus’) within the context of these world events.

Luke also includes details that place these events in the context of the community’s understanding of their relationship as the chosen people of God. Naming the Jordan River as the place where John was baptizing (verse 3) would link John’s baptism with their ancestors’ wandering in the desert. The Jordan River was crossed as they entered the Promised Land, and it became a symbol of their entrance to a new life. Luke also reminds his community that John is the son of Zechariah and therefore a member of the priestly family, which is typically associated with the temple in Jerusalem. To find John in the desert baptizing would be an oddity and would arouse curiosity.

While the ritual of baptizing that John used is not described, it is understood as an expression of repentance or conversion. In this context, the Jordan River carries the symbol of preparing for a new way of living. This new way of living is given an eschatological character, which is reinforced by reference to the prophet Isaiah. The prophet describes the glorious coming of the Lord when he will be revealed to all. “A voice cries out: In the desert prepare the way of the Lord! Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God! Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill shall be made low; the rugged land shall be made a plain, the rough country, a broad valley.” (Isaiah 40:1-4)

Although these events took place in a remote and unimportant part of the world, Luke suggests that these events have a significance beyond what is apparent. They will impact all people and all of creation.

Reflection Questions

1. What do you know about the circumstances of your family, the world, and the church at the time when you were born?
2. When you think of the significant people and events of your life…
3. Why might people of the day travel out into the desert and be baptized as an expression of their willingness to repent and change their lives?
4. When you think of repentance in your life…
5. Have there been times in your life when repentance and forgiveness were more important or less important to you?
6. When you consider John’s role in his place and time…
7. Can you speak with God now about how this text asks you to look at your life, or the world around you, or about how waiting can be an instrument of God’s desire?

Discerning a Religious Calling and Violin Podcast

Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Novice Sister Cecilia Joy is taking violin lessons. How does learning how to play the violin relate to discernment and growing as children of God? Watch this video series to find out!

Click here to enjoy part one.

North Carolina Young Woman Called to be a Postulant

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Postulant Yazmin shares on God’s call to be a postulant. Yazmin is from St. Michael the Archangel Parish, Cary, North Carolina in the Diocese of Raleigh.

Hello Everyone! It is a joy to be here at Holy Family Convent. My name is Yazmin Martinez Lopez. I am originally from Mexico. My family and I came to live in the United States in 2008. We have been living in Cary, North Carolina for the past ten years. I have been discerning religious life for a long time but most seriously around two years ago. I contacted different Communities and I even went on a retreat in Mexico. But there was a time when I forgot about the idea of becoming a Sister. Then suddenly a friend from my home parish encouraged me to keep looking.

One day at daily Mass at St. Michael the Archangel Parish, the gospel was about the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). The priest, Monsignor Wall, talked about how this gospel had moved a man to work in Africa for the poor because he thought Africa was more like Lazarus. That just hit me at that moment. After I received the Eucharist I prayed to Jesus to show me a convent where I would be welcomed soon. Specifically, I asked Jesus to help me find it during that month, which was the month of March. I wanted it to be Franciscan because I knew that Franciscans are close to the poor. That day I looked at the website, Institute for Religious life, and I found out that the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity had a retreat coming up in March. I signed up and Sister Julie Ann contacted me. I came to the retreat and I loved it. Everyone was so welcoming.

After a week I wrote to Sister Julie Ann to ask for the application. So I applied, and it took me a month to get all the paperwork ready. I was so happy to hear that I was accepted. All my family and friends were so happy for me. My friends at church and priests supported me along the way.

My family brought me to the Motherhouse the 18th of August. It was hard to see them leave the day after. However, I am really thankful to be here. I have a sense of peace and joy. During the time I have been here I have seen that God has provided me with everything I needed. I am looking forward to serving God, the Community, and the Church.


Franciscan Sisters Host Visitors at St. Louis Convent

Franciscan Sister Sue Ann Hall shares news from Our Lady of Guadalupe Convent, St. Louis, Missouri.

Sister Sue Ann Hall and Sister Delores Vogt housed four delightful, spiritual, happy, and outgoing young women from an organization called Created Equal who met and talked with students at Washington University and St. Louis University about abortion. They displayed rather graphic posters by Planned Parenthood the two mornings before going to the Universities. Three young men with their group stayed elsewhere.

On October 13, while Sister Anne Marie Lom and Sister Julie Ann Sheahan were in Belleville, Illinois, Sister Delores and Sister Sue Ann went with the Cathedral Women’s Group to the Shrine of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne in St. Charles, Missouri. St. Rose is one of three patron saints of the Archdiocese. The other two are St. Louis of France and St. Vincent De Paul. St. Rose’s remains are in a sarcophagus in the Chapel dedicated to her honor. Like many who came to help in America they were poor and found their way into the hearts of the people they served.
Philippine’s last name, Duchesne, means “of oak”, and a fitting name who remained faithful through her trials and struggles. There are schools all over our country which she established. Unfortunately we did not meet any of the Sisters from the order.

Pope Paul VI Institute Becomes St. Paul VI Institute

Franciscan Sister Renee Mirkes updates us on the latest from Pope Paul VI Institute while still celebrating the canonization of St. Paul VI.

The first phase of our 42nd annual education conference that trains physicians in NaProTechnology and future teachers in FertilityCare brought national and International participants to Omaha the week of October 13th to the 20th.

The second phase of the conference in April will bring additional international students from Italy, Germany, Nigeria, and Australia. Although English is a second, third or fourth language for most of these people, they blend beautifully with the seventy plus American participants as they study and pray together, all the while relishing the canonization of St. Paul VI and the 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, the Church’s teaching on responsible family planning.

My privilege of serving on the Pope Paul VI Institute faculty during this conference is to witness up close and personal the generous commitment of these healthcare professionals to the call of St. Paul VI to develop a system of family planning that enables couples to confidently achieve or avoid a pregnancy in a way that totally conforms to their dignity as human persons.

Franciscan Gospel Reflection: First Sunday of Advent 2018

On this First Sunday of Advent we begin the first day of a new Church year. As we all pray for a deeper encounter with Jesus, we share a Franciscan Gospel reflection and questions written by Fr. Paul Gallagher, OFM. They are edited by Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Anne Marie Lom and Joe Thiel. The excerpts from the Sunday readings are prepared by Joe Thiel. To read or download the complete pdf with excerpts for your prayer, please click here: Franciscan Gospel Reflection December 2 2018. Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner. Please include this information when printing.

Photos: Motherhouse Bulletin Board, St. Bernadette Parish, Appleton, Wisconsin

Luke 21:25-28, 34-36

[Jesus said to his disciples:] “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.”

“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.”


The gospels of Matthew (24:3-44), Mark (13:3-37) and Luke (21:7-36) each contain a place where the disciples marvel at the beauty of the Temple of Jerusalem and Jesus predicts its destruction. The disciples inquire when this event will happen. Jesus responds by telling them that before this takes place, they will experience catastrophic events within creation, and human disasters, and they will suffer persecution and death. This description of future events in each of the synoptic gospels is known as a “little apocalypse.” Two weeks ago, on the 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, the gospel was a portion of Mark’s “little apocalypse.” Today’s text comes from Luke’s gospel.

Scripture scholars generally agree that Luke drew upon Mark’s gospel. However, while Mark wrote before the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, Luke wrote approximately 15 years after the Romans razed it. Luke tries to separate what has already happened from what is yet to come. The fall of the temple was emotionally disheartening for the Jews. Luke thus points to a much more vital event yet to come, which will be signaled by cosmic disturbances. These signs will signal the coming of Christ as Judge of the World.

The modern reader might hear the warning against giving in to carousing and the anxieties of daily life, and presume that Luke is addressing a social situation not very different from our own. However, Luke’s Christian community was a small splinter group of the larger Jewish community. In addition, most of the people of the day lived in dire poverty, wondering if they would have enough to make it through to the next day. They did not have the wealth to be concerned about getting drunk or be preoccupied with worldly possessions. When Luke addresses those who might be tempted to give in to drunkenness and the anxiety of the day, he is speaking to a very select group of people who are not only wealthy but also greedy. They are those who refuse to share the resources with those in need. In Luke’s day these people lived without honor. Luke is reminding his community that when Jesus returns, the whole of creation will be changed, and each person will stand before the Son of Man as an equal. There will be no privileged!

Reflection Questions

1. Recalling times of personal waiting, I…
2. When I was young, these days between Thanksgiving and Christmas were…
3. At this point in my life, change brings with it a sense of…
4. Luke tells the community of Christians that they should stand erect and raise their heads at the coming of Jesus. When have you prayed standing erect with your head raised?
5. When I consider people who live from day to day…
6. From the perspective of the Jews, God seemed to delay sending the messiah, and to the Christians, God seems to have delayed the return of Jesus. What do you think God wants to teach us by the experience of waiting?
7. How might you approach this season of Advent in a way that might open you to grace found in waiting?
8. Can you talk with God now about how you feel about waiting, or your attitude toward the changes taking place within your life, or changes in the world around you?

Just Gospel: Call to Be in the Service of Peace

“…Peacemakers truly ‘make’ peace; they build peace and friendship in society …And if there are times in our community when we question what ought to be done, ‘let us pursue what makes for peace.’ (Rm. 14:19)”

These words from Gaudete et Exsultate harmonize with Pope Francis’ prayer intention for the month which is a call to be in the service of peace. He asks us to pray “that the language of love and dialogue may always prevail over the language of conflict.” In the document on holiness, Pope Francis makes his call to be peacemakers very practical as he writes, “It is not easy to ‘make’ this evangelical peace, which excludes no one but embraces even those who are a bit odd, troublesome or difficult, demanding, different, beaten down by life or simply uninterested. It is hard work: It calls for great openness of mind and heart, since it is not about creating ‘a consensus on paper or a transient peace for a contented minority.’”
The prayer intention focuses on language, on our words. We can ponder the way in which we speak to and about those who are odd, troublesome or difficult, demanding, beaten down or uninterested. If we can use this language of love and dialogue with one another in our day-to-day interactions, we can begin to create an oasis of peace in our lived experience and plant some seeds of peace within the locales where we minister by our work and/or by our presence. Yet, we may wonder what effect this little step can have on the world scene where wars of words often lead to wars of nations. Perhaps a little fable will help us to consider action on this level.
This story comes from New Fables—Thus Spoke The Caribou by Kurt Kauter.
“Tell me the weight of a snowflake,” a mouse asked a wild dove.
“Nothing more than nothing,” was the answer.
“In that case, I must tell you a marvelous story,” the mouse said.
“I sat on the branch of a fir, close to its trunk, when it began to snow-not heavily—not in a raging blizzard—no, just like a dream, without a sound and without any violence. Since I did not have anything better to do, I counted the snowflakes settling on the twigs and needles of my branch. Their number was exactly 3,741,952. When the 3,741,953rd dropped onto the branch—nothing more than nothing, as you say—the branch broke off.”
Having said that, the mouse scampered away.
The dove, since Noah’s time an authority on peace , thought about the story for a while, and finally said to herself, “Perhaps there is only one person’s voice lacking for peace to come to the world.”
Could it be that yours or mine would be that one voice that could tilt the balance toward peace in any situation? Pope Francis writes, “We need to be artisans of peace, for building peace is a craft that demands serenity, creativity, sensitivity and skill.” Let us strive to hone our use of these qualities in crafting peace.

Franciscan Spirituality Podcast: Discerning Religious Vocation

Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Anne Marie Lom answers the question: How can Franciscan Spirituality help someone who is discerning Religious Life?

Click here for podcast. Sensing that this is helpful? We welcome your questions and are here to listen. Call or text 920-323-9632. Conversations are precious to us.