Young Adults Explore Franciscan Consecrated Life

Early this year  Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity received an invitation from Jessica Bauer, a junior at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota in Winona, MN. She was planning (in collaboration with the campus ministry office) a vocation exploration to help discerning students understand and get a first had experience of a variety of men’s and women’s religious communities. On May 13-14 students arrived at our Motherhouse in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.

The students received a grant from the Forum of Theological Exploration that supported the desire to expose students to religious life.  Our guests had dinner with Postulant Hilda and our Novices. Women continued the conversation during recreation with those in Initial formation.

Franciscan Friars Minor of the Assumption BVM Province who serve our Sisters  and Holy Family Memorial were also generous in hosting a conversation on religious life at the friary. Opportunities for prayer and tour were also part of the road trip stop.

Saint Francis and Memorial Day Prayers

What prayers might a follower of Saint Francis say on Memorial Day remembering loved ones who have sacrificed their lives for our country and others who do their duty to keep us safe from harm today? One could, but may not, choose the anonymous text called the Peace Prayer or Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace or the Prayer of Saint Francis often associated with our founder, but not among his writings. Given Saint Francis’ own rule was an inspiration of many thoughtful texts from the Old and New Testaments, how about imitating him and contemplate the Word of God? After all, Jesus prayed with Scripture as well.

Saint Francis choose to see the good of others over his own desires.  He was willing to serve the common good, even when it hurt. With that in mind on this Memorial Day, here are three possible verses to ponder with our hearts. May we, too, respond to the call to sacrifice in our own lives. Saint Francis, pray for us!

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. Jn 14: 27

Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong. Your every act should be done with love. 1 Cor. 16:13

Though an army encamp against me, my heart does not fear; though war be waged against me, even then do I trust.
One thing I ask of the Lord; this I seek: to dwell in the Lord’s house all the days of my life. To gaze on the Lord’s beauty. Ps. 27:3-4

Franciscan Sister Presents at Florida Catholic Medical Association Meeting

Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Renée Mirkes comments on her participation in a Florida Catholic Medical Association Meeting. Sister Renée directs the Center for NaProEthics, the ethics division of the Pope Paul VI Institute, Omaha, NE.

I [Sister Renée Mirkes] had the privilege of giving two lectures at the Florida Catholic Medical Association meeting in Venice, Florida in the last months. The keynote lecture, entitled The Domino Theory Revisited, recounted the moral fallout from the first domino of contraception. The second lecture discussed the ethics of various applications of the revolutionary genetic editing tool–CRISPR-Cas9.

The best part of the whole experience was working with the marvelous physicians pictured here who comprised the planning committee for the event. They are an inspiration in today’s healthcare world!

Franciscan Gospel Reflection: Most Holy Trinity

The Lord bless you with abundant graces this Trinity Sunday! Franciscan Gospel reflection and questions are 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 May 27 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 Xavier Cathedral, Green Bay, Wisconsin; St. Joseph Parish, Cold Spring, Kentucky


Matthew 28:16-20

The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”


Matthew devotes only twenty verses (chapter 28) to the resurrection. It would be worth reading the chapter in its entirety. But here is a summary of the events as they are recorded by Matthew.

Both Mary and Mary Magdalene went to the tomb as dawn arrived on the first day of the week. They witnessed an earthquake and an angel rolling back the stone from the cave. The angel instructed them to go to the disciples and tell them, “He has been raised from the dead, and he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.” (Matthew 28:7) The Marys left the tomb fearful yet overjoyed and ran to the disciples. On their way they encountered Jesus himself who told them, “Do not be afraid, go tell my brothers to go to Galilee and there they will see me.” (Matthew 28:10) They were frightened but ran to tell the disciples. Soldiers who had been guarding the tomb told the high priests what had happened. The chief priests and the leaders met and decided to bribe the soldiers to say that Jesus’ disciples had come in the night and carried off the body. The soldiers took the money and did as they were told. The people of Judea still tell this story. The remainder of the chapter is the text for this Sunday’s gospel.

The gospel text for today demonstrates that the Marys were faithful to what they were commissioned to do: go tell the disciples. Despite being caught in the two emotions of joy and fear, they acted. The opening of the text reminds the reader that the disciples were also faithful to what was asked of them. They were instructed to go to Galilee to meet Jesus. They too were caught between two emotions: doubt and worship. But they were still commissioned “to make disciples of all the nations,” to baptize, and to teach. (Matthew 28:19-20) Jesus’ earlier instruction to the disciples not to enter a pagan or Samaritan area had now been set aside. (Matthew 10:5) They were to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In actuality it was not until the end of the first century that the Christian community baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but Trinity was at least somewhat understood. The Christian community was still developing its understanding of the Trinity.

The fact that we will gather to celebrate this feast is evidence that the disciples were also faithful to the commissioning they received from Jesus in today’s gospel. They were faithful, as well as all those who came after them have been faithful in passing on their relationship with God from one person to the next, down to us. Because of this faithfulness from generation after generation, we gather as a Church to celebrate our relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Reflection Questions

1. How do you experience God as Father, as Son, and as Holy Spirit?
2. When you enter into times of personal prayer, do you find you pray to one person of the Trinity more often or even exclusively? Has that changed over the years?
3. How do you understand your relationship to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit?
4. When the disciples saw Jesus, they worshiped and they doubted. What does that suggest to you about their relationship to Jesus?
5. Jesus’ command is that we are to make disciples of people of every nation, to baptize, and to teach everything that Jesus taught. Where do you find examples of our faithfulness to this command?
6. Where are the places that you are trying to live Jesus’ instruction?
7. Can you take some time to talk with God about how you are feeling as you listen to this gospel?

Celebrating 25 and 75 Years of Consecrated Life

Each year Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity celebrate the jubilees of our Sisters with appropriate emphasis at the time of 25, 50, 60 and 75 years. Jubilee years are counted from the date of our first profession. Find Community Director Sister Natalie Binversie’s words to Sister Maria Casetta, Sister Mary Jane Mertens, Sister Charles Ann Champeau, Sister Marie Kolbe Zamora and Sister Veronica Schad.

Good morning on this joyous occasion of great celebrations. Today is the Feast of Pentecost, the Birthday of the Church! What a wonderful day to celebrate the Jubilees of our Sisters who professed the Vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience 75 and 25 years ago!

Congratulations to the Wellsprings of Hope: Sister Maria Casetta and Sister Mary Jane Mertens who celebrate your 75th Jubilee! Celebrating with you are 15 classmates who have joined the Communion of Saints: Sister Ronald Held, Sister Anne Brochtrup, Sister Jean Heppler, Sister Blanche Bilodeau, Sister Janet Tess, Sister John Bosco McKee, Sister Martin Flavin, Sister Mary Dolores Meyer, Sister Mary Kevin Mitchka, Sister Mary Regis Traubert, Sister Mary Angela Micke, Sister Mark Szczepanik, Sister Constantine Fabian, Sister Kristin Pollak, and Sister Mary Veronica Gressel. We know that they are with us here today and interceding for all the needs of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity.

It has become a tradition in the past few years to honor the Sisters celebrating their 75th Jubilee by giving a donation to a charity of their choice. This year Sister Mary Jane has chosen Peter’s Pantry which is a supplemental food pantry that distributes perishable and non-perishable food to those in need. Sister Maria’s choice is The Crossing which is a non-profit organization whose primary concern is for children, enabling parents to better provide for, nurture and give value to their families. Thank you Sister Mary Jane and Sister Maria for witnessing this outreach to the poor and the less fortunate.

Special congratulations to the Spouses of the Holy Spirit who celebrate 25 years of Vowed commitment: Sister Charles Ann Champeau, Sister Marie Kolbe Zamora and Sister Veronica Schad. Your title is a reminder of the Holy Spirit’s dynamic presence in your life and in the life of the Church. In the Eucharistic celebration this afternoon we will hear about the first Pentecost. It was the time when the followers of Jesus were called to realize their potential. The disciples found the ability to leave the security of their upper room and head down into the market place to share the Gospel message of Jesus. When the Holy Spirit came they were able to act in the power of God. That was your call and continues to be the call for all of us to be missionary disciples of the New Evangelization.

Thank you to all the Jubilarians for your witness as a Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity. You are assured of our prayers. Enjoy this day with Community, family and friends. God bless you!

Franciscan Sister Called to Use Gifts

Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Community Director Sister Natalie Binversie shares on the many talents God bestowed on Sister Renita Tadych. Read the entire reflection: Franciscan Sister Renita Tadych Reflection

Sister Renita loved being a Sister and a teacher. As a teacher she taught in Ohio, Michigan, California, Illinois, Nebraska, Arizona and Wisconsin. Sister Renita taught Elementary Grades for 13 years, High School for 16 years, 20 years in College and two years were spent as an Elementary School Librarian. Sister Renita also loved being a student. She prized the educational opportunities given to her which broadened her knowledge base and enabled her to share so much more with her students.

Since her dissertation covered Franciscanism in the Nature Poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins she presented a course three different summers for Continuing Formation either for audit or for credit. The past few years she has led Book Discussions. She was beginning to outline the book chosen for this summer, Treasures Uncovered: The Parable of Jesus. From her perspective now, many unknown treasures have been uncovered for Sister Renita.

When asked about her special talents, skills, hobbies and interests Sister Renita said she liked to knit, crochet, draw, play piano, sing, cook, read, sew and tutor. Sister Renita said, “God gave me many talents and I hope that by sharing them with others I can enhance their lives and their perspectives on life. My deepest joy, however, is not being a teacher, though that is a close second. My deepest joy is trying to be the religious the Lord wants me to be. Being able to see the good in things that happen and not ‘sweating the small stuff’! …. When my health broke down and I could no longer go out to teach, I realized that this was part of the ‘small stuff’ and that the Lord would set it aright.’” Sister Renita earned many prestigious awards in her lifetime. In the past few years we can add the achievements of the International Sister Students whom she encouraged and challenged in her tutoring. Read more Franciscan Sister Renita Tadych Reflection

Called to be a Franciscan Sister? Click here.


Franciscan Gospel Reflection: Feast of Pentecost

Saint Francis of Assisi discerned the Holy Spirit’s action in his life often. On this Pentecost Sunday we invite you to pray with three possible Gospel texts for the feast. The first, John 7:37-39 is for the Vigil Mass. Either John 14:15-16, 23b-26 or John 20:19-23 are texts for Masses on the Feast. Franciscan Gospel reflection and questions are 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 May 20 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. Find here just one reflection.

Photos: St. Francis Xavier Cathedral, Green Bay, Wisconsin

John 20:19-23

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. (Jesus) said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”


The third Gospel text for Pentecost is also from John’s Gospel. The text presents a different kind of experience of the Holy Spirit coming upon the disciples than is found in the Acts of the Apostles 2:1-11(the first reading for Masses on the Feast).

The disciples have gathered on the first day of the week, that same day as the resurrection. The Sabbath was celebrated on the last day of the week and looked backward over the past week. It was also an occasion to remember what God had done in their history. The first day of the week looks forward to the week ahead. Jesus’ presence with them now is not about the past events of his death and resurrection, but about what they are being commissioned to do from this point forward.

While the disciples have gathered in fear, they are sent out just as the Father sent Jesus. They have some real reasons to be afraid that those who arrested, tried, and crucified Jesus may move against them, too. However, the presence of the risen Lord is not impeded by the physical restraint of a locked door. But he is the same Jesus who was crucified, and he shows them his wounds. He stands in their midst, not above or apart, and greets them with, “peace.” This greeting is the common greeting of the day, and it is also a prayer for health, prosperity, and all good that comes with the end times. Jesus stands among them as the fulfillment of that greeting. Jesus breathes on them the Holy Spirit – an action that mirrors God breathing life into Adam. The disciples receive the power to both bind and forgive sins. The expression names the two extremes, like north and south, or body and blood, and it is intended to communicate the full range of power between the two extremes. In John’s Gospel, sin is defined as the refusal to accept Jesus and his teaching. By asking the disciples to be agents of forgiveness, Jesus is commissioning them to be agents to reach out to those who have rejected Jesus and his teachings. The text seems to use the energy that is present when two opposites are brought together to describe the new energy that is released by God upon the disciples.

Reflection Questions

1. Do you know people who primarily live life for the future? Do you know people who primarily live life out of the past? Which are you more like?
2. Do you know people who primary live life in fear? Do you also know people who primary live life with hope? Which are you more like?
3. Have there been occasions when you were aware of dangers or risks but you acted in a way that did not let fear dominate your actions? What was your motivation?
4. How do you experience the presence of the Holy Spirit in your own life?
5. Have there been times when the Holy Spirit seemed to be present in a dramatic way and times when the Spirit has been gently present to you… as gentle as your own breath?
6. How has God sent Jesus into the world? If you are sent in that same way, what does that mean for you?
7. Can you take time now to talk with God about your awareness of God’s presence in your life, your desire to be an instrument of peace and reconciliation for another, or the fear that keeps you locked up?

Franciscan Calendar: Saint Paschal Baylon

During this month of May, Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity focus fittingly on Franciscan Saint Paschal Baylon. His parents named him Paschal because he was born on the feast of Pentecost in the year 1540 at Torre Hermosa, Spain. As providence would have it, he also died on the feast of Pentecost.

As a child, he was attentive and obedient to his parents and had a zeal for doing good. While tending the cattle, and watching the sheep, he grew in strength and responsibility, characteristics any parents would want for their children. God called him to consecrated life as a lay brother among the Friars Minor at Monteforte.

Saint Paschal of Baylon was humble and cheerfully assumed the most burdensome duties. He was also very devoted to prayer. Paschal fostered special devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and to the Blessed Sacrament. The Eucharist proved a constant means to rekindle his zeal to love God and others. He died in 1592 at the age of fifty-two.

A few other interesting tidbits:

  • At the time of his death, the body of St Paschal Baylon was intentionally covered in lime in an attempt to rapidly destroy his remains. This was done so that there would be no offensive odor from the decomposing body when the crowds viewed his body. Miraculously, the lime had no effect. The grave was later exhumed and the body found preserved.
  • Pope Paul V beautified Paschal. Pope Alexander VIII canonized him in 1690. Later, in 1897 Pope Leo XIII announced Saint Paschal of Baylon the patron of all Eucharistic societies and congresses.

Franciscan Sisters Host Conventual Franciscans’ Postulants

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity recently hosted the Conventual Franciscan Postulants and their director Brother Paschal Kolodziej. It was a time to get out our Community history and review our long time relationship with the friars.

On March 19, 1900 there was a movement to strengthen our ties with the Franciscan Order. Archbishop of Milwaukee, the Most Reverend Frederick Katzer, inaugurated the affiliation of our Congregation with the Franciscan Order of Minor Conventuals. This meant in addition to sharing in all the spiritual favors granted to the First and Second Orders, our Congregation would be under the Minister General of the Order of Friar Minor Conventuals and more directly under the jurisdiction of the Provincial of the Province of Syracuse, New York. The Provincial of the Friars had the right and duty to preside at the regular General Chapter and to conduct elections. Later this affiliation was changed so that we continued to participate in all the spiritual favors, but were not under the direct authority of the Friars. Needless to say, relationships in the Franciscan Family are ever cherished and not forgotten.

Sister Mariella Erdmann, our Postulant directress,  received this message from the Conventual Franciscan Postulants on their return to St. Bonaventure Friary, Chicago, Illinois:

Thank you for such a wonderful and grace-filled overnight stay at the Sisters’ convent last week. Br. Paschal and all of us postulants that were able to make it are very grateful for the warm welcome and hospitality you and the Sisters showed us, as well as the fun times with Hilda and your novices. Please know of our prayers for you and your Community.

Franciscan Gospel Reflection: Ascension of the Lord

Special  Franciscan greetings of peace and joy on the Ascension of the Lord (7th Sunday of the Easter)! Most dioceses in the United States celebrate the feast of the Ascension on the 7th Sunday of Easter. Therefore, the background and reflection questions here will focus on the gospel for that feast. Franciscan Gospel reflection and questions are 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. If you would like to read or download the complete pdf with excerpts for your prayer, please click here: Franciscan Gospel Reflection May 13 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. Agnes Parish, Green Bay, Wisconsin and Immaculate Conception Convent, Yuma, Arizona

Mark 16:15-20

He [Jesus] said to them, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents (with their hands), and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God. But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.


The early Christians understood the Lord’s ascension as part of Jesus’ resurrection, and not as a separate event in the life of Jesus. This understanding is illustrated in Luke’s gospel. The events of that first day of the week include the three who go to anoint the body of Jesus and Peter all encountering an empty tomb, Jesus’ revealing himself to the disciples on the road to Emmaus, his appearance and commissioning of the disciples in Jerusalem, and lastly his ascension. In Luke all these things happen on the first day of the week.

On the first day of the week Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the Mother of James went to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus. They found the tomb empty and were asked by two men in dazzling garments, “Why do you seek the living one among the dead?” They returned to the disciples and announced what had happened. Peter ran to the tomb and found only the burial cloth. That same day, two of them were on the road to Emmaus when Jesus himself began to walk with them, but they did not recognize him. The two were telling Jesus of the things that had happened in Jerusalem, and of the hope that they had had in Jesus. They also told Jesus that on that day some women were at the tomb and did not find the body of Jesus, but returned instead with an astonishing story that they were told in a vision that he was among the living. Then Jesus, still not recognized by the two, reinterpreted the events in light of the scriptures. That evening when they entered the town of Emmaus, the two invited Jesus to stay with them, and it was there when they broke bread together that they recognized him. They returned at once to Jerusalem and found the eleven and the disciples gathered. Those gathered told the two that the risen Jesus had appeared to Simon. And while they were all still speaking Jesus appeared. He invited them to touch him and ate some fish to reassure them that they were not seeing a ghost. Then Jesus opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and commissioned them to be his witnesses, and promised to send “the promise of my Father up you.” “Then he led them out as far as Bethany, raised his hands, and blessed them. As he blessed them he parted from them and was taken up to heaven. They did him homage and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and they were continually in the temple praising God.” (Summary of Luke 24, quoted 24:50-53)

Therefore to think of this feast as a commemoration of an historical event in the life of Jesus that took place separate from the resurrection would not be appropriate. Rather, the feast is an opportunity to reflect on one aspect of the full revelation of God, that is, the Resurrection.

The gospel text itself tells of the signs that will accompany the disciples’ preaching. The signs that are mentioned in this text are mostly those reported in the Acts of the Apostles. By putting them in the future at the end of the Gospel, the author is giving his hearers a great deal of assurance that Jesus is still present with the community even after the Ascension. Jesus’ presence however has changed, from an individual person distinct from them to one who is now present in the person of the disciples.

Reflection Questions

1. What are your experiences of departures in your life? (For example: moving away, going to different schools, ending a relationship, or death.)
2. When have you initiated the departure, and when has it been thrust upon you?
3. Were there any moments of blessing that arose because of the departure for you, or for the other, or for your relationship?
4. When have you felt the absence of God in your own life?
5. How were the disciples changed by Jesus’ ascension?
6. In opening line of this gospel text, Jesus asked the disciples to go into the whole world and preach the gospel to every creature. When you hear these words today, what do you hear God asking of you?
7. Can you talk to God about how you feel about being sent into the world to proclaim the gospel, or about any sense of loss that you are feeling at this time of your life, or about some other idea that arose within you from this gospel?