Free Franciscan Sister Vocation Activity Book

Franciscan Sister Martinella Janz created a Franciscan Sister Vocation Activity Book to share with primary teachers for their students. It answers two questions: Sisters, who are they? What do they do? It is easily printed on 4 pages back to back.

The text includes a simple glossary of terms e.g. Sisters, Family and Convent. In addition to sharing information about Sisters, students are encouraged to reflect on questions like: What are you good at? What do you like doing? Who do you pray for?

One Catholic School teacher in the Platteville, WI area recently sent this message after sharing the book with her students.

“We loved doing the books today! All the girls were asking me how you become a Sister and how you know if that’s what God wants you to do. And the boys were all wanting to know if there was something cool like that they could do They also wanted me to ask you if you would pray for them. They thought that would be so cool. Yay! I was showing them pictures of the convent and the Mississippi school and the Sisters there today, too! They loved it!”

Download a pdf file of the activity book. Click here: Franciscan Sisters Coloring Book by Sister Martinella Janz. Comments are ever welcome.

Pope Francis’ Intention: Christians in Africa

Franciscan Sister Kathleen Murphy reflects on Pope Francis’ May prayer intention for the Christians in Africa.

It is May, the month of Our Lady. Pope Francis has asked us to pray that Christians in Africa, in imitation of the Merciful Jesus, may give prophetic witness to reconciliation, justice and peace. There is such great devotion to Mary among the peoples of Africa and are these not hallmarks of our Mother in Heaven —reconciliation, justice, and peace?

An unofficial look at apparitions of Our Lady in Africa yields a total of 32 occurrences, some of which are approved and some which have not yet been proven. Yet, this survey indicates such a reverence for Mary. She is our perfect model of mercy, of witness. On the flip side of statistics, of the 53 nations of Africa 15 are embroiled in war and this does not account for the many tribal skirmishes and terrorist uprisings that plague the continent. It seems it is time for the Queen of Peace to come to the aid of her people.

Pope Francis said, “Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. She appears to us as a vessel filled to the brim with the memory of Jesus, as the Seat of Wisdom to whom we can have recourse to understand his teaching aright. Today Mary makes it possible for us to grasp the meaning of events which affect us personally, events which also affect our families, our countries and the entire world. Where philosophical reason and political negotiation cannot reach, there the power of faith, which brings the grace of Christ’s Gospel, can reach, opening ever new pathways to reason and to negotiation.” So much war and strife mars the ancient beauty of the African continent. So much tribal history keep old wounds open and festering. Let us make our prayers heartfelt as we remember these many suffering peoples.

St. Francis longed to travel to the lands of Africa to evangelize, to preach the Good News. Here, in Egypt he met with the Sultan and tried to bring an end to the 5th Crusade with all its violence. In the encounter between them, both Francis and the Sultan were changed. When Francis finally left to return to Italy, the Sultan showered him with many gifts and treasures. Because he had no interest in worldly wealth, Francis refused them all, except one special gift: an ivory horn used by the muezzin to call the faithful to prayer. On his return, Francis used it to call people for prayer or for preaching.

Francis also shared with his community his new and deep respect for his Moslem brothers and sisters, breaking down the cycle of enmity and misunderstanding that fueled the Crusades. Francis was especially struck by the Moslem five times daily prayer, and the practice of prostrations in worship of God; his letters urged Christians to adopt a similar practice: To make prayer a part of everyday life, in effect to remember God in everything you do. So, as Franciscans, we are called to lend our prayers to the cause of peace, justice and evangelization.

With Pope Francis we pray, “Blessed are you, Mary, for you gave the Son of God to our world. But even more blessed are you for having believed in him. Full of faith, you conceived Jesus first in your heart and then in your womb, and thus became the Mother of all believers. Send us your blessing. Show us the face of Jesus your Son, who bestows upon the entire world mercy and peace.”


Franciscan Sisters Say Aloha and Mahalo to Hawaii

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity bid aloha and mahalo to St. Theresa Parish, Kekaha, HI this June 2017. We do this recognizing the beauty and abundance of gifts in the people of St. Theresa Parish, Kekaha, HI to serve each other. Watch for more coverage on our Congregation responding to new sites in need of service and the celebrations of young women responding to God’s call to become Franciscan Sisters.

From 1946 to the present, Hawaii school children and parishioners have reaped the blessings of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity. On June 7, they will say their final ‘aloha’ as the last three sisters leave St. Theresa School in Kekaha, Kauai and move back to their ‘Wisconsin motherhouse and on to other missionary work…

The Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, were founded  in 1869 by Teresa Gramlich, Rosa Wahl and three other women who had come together three years earlier to teach catechism and start a school in Clarks Mills, Wisconsin.

Seventy-seven years later, on Aug. 7, 1946, four members of their growing congregation set sail for Honolulu from San Francisco on the S.S. Mariposa.

On Aug. 15, the Feast of the Assumption, Sister Rita Forgach, Sister Bridgetine Gauthier, Sister James Van De Hey and Sister Margaret Rufus stepped off a small plane on Kauai to begin their apostolate of education to the westernmost parish of the United States, St. Theresa in Kekaha…

Click here to read whole article.


Franciscan Sisters Celebrate Bishop Kicanas’ Priesthood Anniversary

Franciscan Sister Leonette Kochan shares on Bishop Gerald Kicanas’ recent 50th Priesthood anniversary celebration in Tucson, AZ.

Some of our Sisters from Tucson, Sierra Vista, and Casa Grande joined the Diocese of Tucson and the local Tucson community in the recent celebration of Bishop Gerald Kicanas’ 50 years of priesthood. The jubilee observance began with Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral, attended by large numbers of priests, deacons, vowed religious, and laity from the Diocese. Special guests also included clergy from many faith congregations as well as civic leaders. Attendance by seven brother bishops was led by Metropolitan Archbishop John Wester of Santa Fe. Archbishop Wester joined Bishop Kicanas’ sister, Barbara, and Rabbi Thomas Louchheim of Tucson in speaking with great love, appreciation and respect for Bishop Kicanas.

The many gifts that Bishop Kicanas brings to the Tucson Diocese and community and to the global Church were well expressed in the following words of those who know and have worked with him:

Fr. Sean Carroll, S.J., Director of the Kino Border Initiative: Bishop Kicanas has shown me and teaches us what it means to be instruments of mercy, of that gift we have all been given by God.

Kevin Courtney, Pima County and Southern Arizona Interfaith: Bishop Kicanas is a consistent voice on behalf of the poor, immigrants, refugees and all those on the margins.

Dr. Carolyn Woo, Past President of Catholic Relief Services, in traveling with him on behalf of CRS: Always in his eyes was a gaze that shone with empathy, love, pain at their suffering, and the promise that God is present.

Rabbi Thomas A. Louchheim: I think of him as our modern-day Betzalel, who built the Tabernacle in the Sinai Desert. God said of him, “I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom and in understanding and in knowledge in every kind of work.” This is descriptive of our blessed Bishop of Tucson. For his skill, understanding, and wisdom, we are most thankful.

The Diocese of Tucson and all whom Bishop Kicanas’ has touched in his 50 years as priest are richly blessed by this Servant Leader.


Consecrated Religious Teaches Children Life Skills

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Community Director Sister Natalie Binversie reflects on the life of Sister Anne Brochtrup, especially her years as a teacher of the primary grades. Read the entire reflection here: Franciscan Sister Anne Brochtrup’s Reflection

Over her many years of teaching, methods changed and new ideas of how to educate were introduced.  Sister Anne adapted to these changes while maintaining high educational standards.  Besides teaching the students reading and other academic skills she taught them life skills such as how to tie shoes, pull up socks, put on and buckle boots, zip or button coats.  Other teachings were the gentle reprimands to learn good social skills.  Some of Sister Anne’s typical statements and teaching techniques are found in the following quotes from a Post-Crescent newspaper article interview November 22, 1981.

  • To help develop listening skills, “Now we aren’t going to whisper while others are reading.” And another, “Let’s put our pencils to sleep in the desks while we listen.”
  • To teach a polite behavior, “What happened to the ‘thank you’?”  A child responded, “I’ll help you look for it!
  • To teach appropriate behavior when a first grade girl was kissing first grade boys who did not appreciate these advances, “Jamie, I think you should save your kisses for mommy and daddy.”  Well,” Jamie said, “I have plenty more than that.”  Sister Anne admitted that all of her methods did not always work! 

Wherever Sister Anne was missioned for her 53 years of teaching she found children to teach and love.  I quote her, “Where could I be so close to my Maker as when I teach a child to read or guide his/her hand in writing, so that someday he/she might write a book!”  In the end her deepest desire was to help mold and form the character of each child to help them love God more. (Children’s photos by Sister Carol Seidl, St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School, Casa Grande, AZ)

Called to be a Sister teacher? We invite you to click here.

Franciscan Sisters Image: Jesus Knocking at the Door

A captivating image, Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity feature ‘Jesus Knocking at the Door’, a stained glass window from Holy Name of Mary Cathedral, Sault Ste. Marie, MI. We pray for all young people God is calling to serve the Church whether as a lay person, priest or consecrated religious.  May they open the doors of their hearts and be generous in their ‘yes’ to God. 

Jesuits built Holy Name of Mary Pro Cathedral in 1668. In 1857, Venerable Irenaeus Frederic Baraga became the first bishop of the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie and this Church became the diocesan cathedral. In 1865, the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie became the Diocese of Marquette and St. Peter Cathedral in Marquette became the diocesan cathedral.

The present church, the fifth for the Parish, was erected in 1881. Canadian architect Joseph Connolly designed it Gothic Revival style. Franciscan Sisters recently took a pilgrimage to see this window when visiting students at Lake Superior State Newman Center.

Franciscan Sisters and Carmelite Nuns Discernment Retreat Review

On the 100th year anniversary of the Apparition of Fatima, Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity and Carmelite Nuns from Holy Cross Monastery Iron Mountain, MI welcomed 10 young women for a Silent Discernment of Spirits Retreat. Franciscan Sister Jacqueline Spaniola facilitated the sessions in the Grate Room. Our Blessed Mother’s powerful intercession was at work throughout the day.

St. Ignatius’ rules of discernment were presented with helpful examples. Retreatants were able to spend valuable personal time reflecting in silence on their own lives whether in chapel, social hall or outside. It was an awesome spring day.

Here’s some feedback from the young women themselves:

What touched your heart during this day of retreat?

  • Being able to interact with both active and cloistered sisters/nuns of different spiritualities
  • Ignatian principles of discernment
  • I really enjoyed learning about the two orders of Sisters.
  • Spending time to really open my heart to the Lord’s will
  • Being able to see the Sisters and getting a feel for their lives
  • Seeing where I’m already living the rules and having them explained and put in context
  • What to do in desolation was also helpful
  • The explanation of the Rules were beautiful and insightful.
  • There is not one right path to sainthood-many vocations put you on the right path

What part of the retreat did you find the most helpful?

  • Learning the Ignatian principles of discernment and being able to use the meditation/journal booklet
  • Having principles broken down into several talks
  • Lack of pressure to be discerning one particular vocation
  • All of it- learned a lot
  • Learning about the process of discerning God’s will
  • Making the pros and cons list for whatever you were discerning
  • Being able to talk with the Sisters-specifically the private spiritual direction with Sister Jacqueline
  • Talking with the nuns
  • The talks about the Rules of discernment, Q and A with Sisters, silence
  • Time for silence, meeting with the Sisters
  • The silence was helpful, silent time for prayer and meditation, opportunities for one on one questions with Sister Jacqueline was greatly appreciated.
  • The silent reflection times to work through in prayer all the information provided.

Are you in need of someone to listen to your own discernment journey? Carmelites can be reached at 906-774-0561. Franciscans are open to meeting you where you are for a face to face meeting. Call or text Sister Julie Ann at 920-323-9632. Consider some of our summer Franciscan discernment options at our Motherhouse. Click here.

Franciscan Sister Chooses Mother’s Name

On this Mothers’ Day Weekend, Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Sister Natalie Binversie shares the thoughtful story of Sister Mary Josephine Schmitt’s selection of her religious name. To read the whole account, click here: Franciscan Sister Mary Josephine reflection

Emma Marie Schmitt was the youngest of ten children born to Frank and Mary Josephine (Leonhard) Schmitt on November 28, 1923.  She was baptized in St. Wendel Catholic Church in Cleveland, Wisconsin on December 2, 1923.

She grew up on a farm near Cleveland, Wisconsin with her parents, seven brothers and two sisters.  Religion was important in the Schmitt home.  Praying the Rosary daily and Lenten Sunday Devotions were a must.  The kitchen chairs were the pews.  Saturday morning Mass became part of the routine.  Emma always took eggs, fresh fruit or meat for the four Sisters.  Delivering these items always gave her an opportunity for an extra visit with the Sisters.

Emma had the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity as teachers at St. Wendel School.  She had Sister Concepta and Sister Olga for teachers. When she was in third grade Sister Berchmans died.  When Sister Concepta told the class she added, “Now we need someone to go to the Convent and replace her.”  Emma answered, “Don’t worry, I will.”  The following year there was a class play with a Sister in it.  Emma was chosen for the part.  Her Mom sewed a simple coif and complete habit.  Her Dad was pleased when he saw her dressed up since he always wanted one of his girls to be a Sister.  Her vocation was nurtured at home and at school so after she graduated from eighth grade she did leave home to become a Sister.

Emma entered Holy Family Convent on August 25, 1937.  As she was getting ready for Reception and thinking of name suggestions, Emma talked to Sister Concepta about wanting her Mother’s name, Mary Josephine.  Read More: Franciscan Sister Mary Josephine reflection

Franciscan Sister at National Vicars Conference

Franciscan Sister Louise Hembrecht reports on a National Vicar Conference in Chicago, IL.

The Felican Sisters in Chicago hosted the 49th Annual Meeting of the National Vicars Conference for Religious. There were forty-seven vicars/representatives/delegates for Religious present from across the United States including Sister Louise Hembrecht, who serves as the national secretary for the conference. The four regions of the country take turns planning the meeting with the executive officers. This year it was the Western Region who did the planning. Their theme was Remembering the Journey: Opening the Doors of Hope.

The keynote speakers, Sister Lynn Levo, CSJ, and Brother Bill Short, OFM are known to the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity because both have been speakers at the Motherhouse in past years. In addition to the keynotes on Transformation and the recent Vatican document on “Brothers,” there was a session on Immigration laws given by Sister Mary Ellen Burns, ASCJ. Breakout sessions were held on Canon Law, Consecrated Virgins, and Vocations. Several groups greeted the Vicars/Representatives/Delegates and explained their roles in being available to the needs of Religious.

Father Hank Lemoncelli, OMI, the representative from the Dicastery of Consecrated Life, Apostolic Life, and Secular institutes came from Rome to attend the conference. At one of the meals, he again complimented our Community on its Vocation Manual and said that he continues to offer it to other Communities as a guide.


Franciscan Sister Coaches School’s Tournament of Truth

Franciscan Sister Anna Maar assisted with the 2017 Tournament of Truth held at St. Benedict School, Cambridge, OH. It was the 11th annual one.

 The event was initiated by the Diocese of Steubenville Office of Christian Formation and Schools, Paul D. Ward, director.

It has been held in various locations throughout the diocese, most recently in schools in Marietta, Cambridge and Steubenville. This year’s competition was held in Bishop John King Mussio Central Elementary School, Steubenville.

Typically, students in second through eighth grades participate. Categories for competition include those in grade 2-4 (candidate); 5-6 (postulant) and 7-8 (novice).

Competitors this year were from St. John Central School, Bellaire; St. Benedict School, Cambridge; St. John Central School, Churchtown; St. Mary School, Marietta; St. Mary Central School, Martins Ferry; St. Mary Central School, St. Clairsville; Bishop John King Mussio Central Elementary and Junior High School, Steubenville; St. Sylvester Central School, Woodsfield.  A total of 226 students competed.

Teams are asked questions to determine the winners. In the final rounds, Diocese of Steubenville Bishop Jeffrey M. Monforton quizzes the youth and awards the winning trophies.

Winners were from St. Mary Central School, St. Clairsville; Bishop John King Mussio Central Elementary School, Steubenville; and St. Benedict School, Cambridge.