How did you first feel Called to Consecrated Life?
“…during Eucharistic Adoration I really felt the presence of God.”
Sister Mary Jane Schwartz (Home Diocese Marquette Michigan): I first felt called to Consecrated Life when I was a junior in high school. I went to a discernment retreat with the Dominican Sisters of Mary Mother of the Eucharist in Michigan. It was a good experience for me because at that time I was having difficulty in school and in classes and during Eucharistic Adoration I really felt the presence of God. It was late at night and I knew that I wanted to do what He wanted and to follow His will. I think that’s when I felt called to be a Religious Sister.
Sister Carol Seidl (Home Diocese Green Bay WI): I first felt called to be a Religious Sister when I was in grade school. We had the Franciscan Sisters from Milwaukee. They were great teachers and they would walk by our house during their evening recreations. They always stopped to talk to my family. My cousin, Sr. Judy Simons, was a Sister in my own Community. When she would have visiting Sundays, my whole family would pile into the car and come to see her. When I came into the Motherhouse I just remember all the joy and laughter from the Sisters here at that time.
Prayer was also part of my call. I would often pray on my knees in my bedroom when I was in grade school and high school. I would also take part in the 40 hour devotions at our parish. My family would often go to “the Chapel” at Robinsonville to pray. I felt God’s call in all these moments.
Sister Mary Jane Schwartz: Prayer was important to me as well. My whole family would pray the rosary and pray the Liturgy of the Hours. That was very opening to me as well. Having a prayer life and growing in my relationship with God.
How did you first feel or sense being called to become a Franciscan Sister?
Sister Mary Jane Schwartz: I was really introduced to the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity during Totus Tuus. I met Sister Jacqueline Spaniola and I got a name to the order. I researched them and found out their charism and then I came to visit. I came twice. It was my second visit that really brought me to the realization that, I felt peace when I came by myself for a week and I was really impressed with the hospitality and generosity of spirit that all the Sisters had…
I’d say the key moment for me deciding that this was for me that this was where I wanted to be was when one of the novices gave me a hug when she found out that I had done the application interview. That was the best moment that I had, that I was welcome, that this where God wanted me to be.
Sister Carol Seidl: One night when I was babysitting at the farmers’ children right down the road from my home, I read the Catholic newspaper which we didn’t have, The Compass in fact, and there was a little ad for the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, Manitowoc, Wisconsin to fill out and send it in to get information. I remembered then that this was where my cousin was a Sister and so when the information came I read it through with everything else and I felt called right then and there. Then I approached my parents and explained to them that this is what I really want to do. I was a senior in high school then. So to be honest, my mother thought ‘no way’. My father thought ‘oh yes it’d be great.’ So I finally decided. I did more praying again. And I thought, this was it. Then the Sisters came to visit. And that was it. Here I am. I was actually called to them. I think God calls in strange ways, mysterious ways.
How did you adapt to life at the Motherhouse as Postulant and Novice?
Sister Mary Jane Schwartz: I would say that the challenges for me that I didn’t think I would have, being from a large family, the community life, living with all the Sisters, wasn’t difficult. But keeping a good schedule. I like schedules but sometimes getting up early every day is tiring and balancing everything, the homework, the work, schooling and things like that. I am adapting as well as I can to everything.
“I felt very welcome by all the other postulants. I really enjoyed my postulancy…”
Sister Carol Seidl: When I entered we were a group of 15 postulants. And only three of us were not aspirants and had not gone to the high school here. I was called the new kid. I felt very welcome by all the other postulants. I really enjoyed my postulancy and growing in my prayer life and seeing the life of a Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity.
Novitiate- it was a time I really grew in my prayer life. I remember the winter months sitting by a radiator in St. Mary’s Chapel praying and feeling very close to God. We lived closer community in the Novitiate. Strong friendships were developed within ‘your crowd’, those that were in the same year as you are that last to this day. We’re still very close.
I loved my Novitiate years. It was a time to really find my vocation and to grow with it, especially my prayer life, just the friendships within our Franciscan family, too.
Sister Mary Jane Schwartz: I remember when I first saw it, I thought it was big, huge, like a castle. So I felt kind of like there was a lot of hallways and rooms. I love being outside, the gardens, the woods. That was very nice to see that.
“It was the joyful spirit of the Franciscan Sisters and also the prayerfulness…”
Sister Carol Seidl: My first impression, the Sisters were outside. and they were laughing, the joyful spirit really got me first you might say and these huge steps going up to the building. Little did I know that when I came back last year that those were the steps that I would shovel the snow on.
It was the joyful spirit of the Franciscan Sisters and also the prayerfulness of the Sisters, too. As a postulant, prayer was built into the daily routine of each Sister. Morning Prayer, Mass, Mid-day Prayer, Private Prayer, Evening Pray and appreciating ending the day with an evening prayer, which I still do to this day too.
It was a time I really saw prayer was part of our life, even though we are apostolic, a lot of physical work, mental work, we have a job to do we don’t pray all day prayer is interwoven in the hours, especially the hours of the Church. And I also see the joy yet today.