Franciscan Sister Reflects on St. Louis Our Lady of Guadalupe Convent

The Archdiocese of St. Louis is sharing a video on our Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity who offer a welcoming presence to those working to end abortion. Archbishop Robert J. Carlson states that “This Convent is a powerful witness, directly across the street from the city’s abortion clinic in the Central West End in the city of St. Louis.”

Sister Sue Ann Hall and Sister Delores Vogt are featured in the youttube video below. Please join us in prayer for this work of the Archdiocese of St. Louis.


Franciscan Sisters Charism Introduction Part I Podcast

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity offer a series of brief reflections on our Community’s Franciscan charism. We hope you find learning about our life enjoyable and enlightening.

Click here to view the first youtube video.

To learn more about our life and how we serve in the Arch/Dioceses of Green Bay, Marquette, Lincoln, Columbus, Steubenville, St. Louis, Jackson MS, Tucson and Phoenix, contact us here.

Imperial’s St. Patrick Hosts Catechist In-Service

Franciscan Sister Rochelle Kerkof shares on a recent Catechist In-Service at St. Patrick, Imperial, NE.

Grant Deanery recent Catechist’s’ In-Service Gathering focused upon the Communion of Saints and one’s personal Call to Holiness as outlined in Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation: Gaudete et Exsultate. Catechists from the nine deanery parishes assembled at St. Patrick Parish Hall in Imperial. A meal provided by the deanery and local Altar Society members provided relaxing time in fellowship and sharing for all Catechists and presentors. Each of the four deanery pastors provided a personal witness of one of their favorite Saint’s life and apostolic activities including reflection questions or comments for the catechists to reflect upon and discuss.

  • Fr. Matthew Eickhoff presented St. Therese of Lisieux-The Little Flower and asked how her childhood experiences helped to form her spirituality as an adult.
  • Fr. Thomas Bush spoke about St. Anthony Mary Claret expressing that Saint’s personal ‘recognition of the gift of salvation’ and realization that one is to ‘share the stewardship of God’s grace…humbly’.
  • Fr. Lothar Gilde shared one of his favorite Saints which is the Egyptian Saint of Alexandria, St. Athanasius. He pointed out to the group the contemporary challenges of St. Athanasius and how bravely and persistently he remained steadfast in the apostolic doctrine of Jesus’ nature against all odds thus preserving our Catholic identity and heritage.
  • Fr. Christopher Miller took up a more modern Saint to showcase and that was St. Josemaria Escriva who was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2002. St. Josemaria Escriva’s mission was to awaken within the laity their baptismal call to personal holiness in daily life.

Chapter 1 of the Apostolic Exhortation, Gaudete Exsultate, was highlighted and distributed to each catechist for their own personal review and prayerful study at their leisure.

The evening program concluded with the sung ‘Litany of the Saints’ let by Father Eickhoff, Dean of Grant Deanery region.

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.

Facebook link to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Des Plaines, Illinois.

Franciscan Gospel Reflection: Thirty-first Sunday of Ordinary Time

Pondering this Thirty-first Sunday of Ordinary Time, 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 November 4 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: Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Holy Family Convent

Mark 12:28b-34

One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?” Jesus replied, “The first is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, ‘He is One and there is no other than he.’ And ‘to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself’ is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that (he) answered with understanding, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And no one dared to ask him any more questions.


The text for last week’s gospel was Mark’s account of Jesus’ healing of Bartimaeus. That text is at the end of the tenth chapter of Mark’s Gospel. The eleventh chapter begins with a description of Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem. (Mark 11:1-11) The rest of the chapter follows with other events that are leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion: cursing a fruitless fig tree (Mark 11:12-14, 20-25); the chasing of the merchants from the temple (Mark 11:15-19); and the questioning of Jesus’ authority by the Jewish religious authorities (Mark 11:27-33). In chapter twelve Mark describes Jesus telling the parable of tenant farmers who refused to give the owner his share of the harvest (Mark 12:1-12); the Pharisees, joining with the supporters of Herod, try to trap Jesus with questions about paying taxes (Mark 12:13-17); and the Sadducees try to embarrass him with questions about life after death. (Mark 12:18-27) These encounters lead to Mark’s account of the scribe coming to Jesus with his question about the greatest commandment – the text for this Sunday.

Unlike most of the questions addressed to Jesus, this scribe approaches Jesus with respect, seeking his opinion. One of the things that stand out in this text is a lack of hostility between the scribe and Jesus, especially given where this text is located within the gospel. Prior to this in Mark, when the scribes and the Pharisees have a question for Jesus, it is with the intention of trapping and/or discrediting him before his followers and the crowds. Jesus responds to such situations with a question of his own that turns the tables on them, brings honor to him, and brings shame to his opponents. Here Jesus’ response is short, direct and to the point. But more important, the tenor of the dialogue is one of mutual respect. The scribe, in verse 32, compliments Jesus’ insights and rephrases Jesus’ teaching in his own words, a gesture of respect for Jesus and his teaching. Jesus, for his part, recognizes in verse 34 that the scribe is not just restating what he heard, but has made it his own belief, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”

Jesus’ response to the scribe’s question is not new doctrine. He draws on two texts from the Hebrew Scripture: Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. While Jesus’ answer draws on texts from the Hebrew tradition, the uniqueness of Jesus’ answer is that he combines two different texts, something that rabbis never did. Those who heard Jesus’ response would also hear it as a call to treat people with the same respect that they treated God. For them, love was not about how one felt, but honor one showed by one’s action. This point is made even more strongly by the way that Jesus and this scribe have been able to treat each other in this dialogue, given the growing tension that is characteristic of others who represent religious and Roman authority at this point in Mark’s gospel.

Reflection Questions 

1. When you recall situations of conflict in your own life…
2. Pretend for a moment that you were present when this scribe approached Jesus in Jerusalem, with all the events that Mark has described having taken place. What would be going on inside you as you hear the scribe ask his questions?
3. What would be going on inside you as you hear their conversation?
4. If you were asked what is the most important commandment…
5. When you hear Jesus say simply, the first commandment is “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength,” you…
6. When he adds that the second is “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you…
7. Do you love yourself?
8. Can you talk with God about your own desire to love God, or to love your neighbor, or perhaps some concern that arises from this gospel?

Franciscan Sister Honored at Xavier High School

Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Mary Ann Spanjers was selected as a Distinguished Alumni into the Xavier Alumni Hall of Honors for 2018.  The induction ceremony took place on the morning of Friday, October 5, 2018, during an all-school assembly at Xavier High School, Appleton, Wisconsin, as part of Homecoming Week. Sister Mary Ann was also invited to be present for the homecoming parade and game. Her comments at the assembly follow. Read her entire message of gratitude: Francisan Sister Mary Ann thank you

There is a great quote from St. Francis of Assisi, the patron of our Franciscan Community:
“Start by doing what is necessary
Then do what is possible;
and suddenly you are doing the impossible”

This quote connects the virtues of faith, hope and love with so much of my life!
The faith my immigrant parents had to come to the U.S. with so little, to work hard and provide my sisters and me with a future that would never be what it is today if it were not for their faith and courage to do what is necessary
The faith I have learned though doing the everyday challenges and invitations of life, working, building relationships, studying, praying, teaching, learning, serving correcting papers—doing what is necessary
The faith I have witnessed in the many students I’ve had like Evelyn, the daughter of a single immigrant mom, who in spite of being diagnosed with cancer her sophomore year, going through treatments throughout her junior year managed to maintain her high academic average and become valedictorian of her class with a full ride to Georgetown where she is studying to become a pediatrician. Doing what is necessary

Then do what is possible—

Having hope that no matter what things will work out is no easy thing! I learned from my Franciscan Sisters that it is possible to discover God’s will in one’s life! I learned this from the Sisters I have been blessed to know and who have walked with me through our formation when we were younger and to this day; that it is possible to live this life and be happy! That it is possible to become a teacher or a nurse practitioner, or bursar, vocation director or administrator and God will be with you guiding you in ways you never expected.
Having hope is discovering that when one prays it is a lot about waiting to see how Jesus will respond. Having hope is watching my students at our San Miguel Cristo Rey school in Tucson, come to believe that they will be able to achieve their dream of being the first one in their families to graduate from college because they are first generation children of immigrants.

and suddenly you are doing the impossible

This is all about the theological virtue of love—any of you juniors or seniors remember the theological definition of love??? An act of the will/a choice
It is in choosing to love that one finds true meaning in one’s life. I experienced love, acceptance and support of my high school friends who are here today! The times we spent together growing up here will always be in my heart, you were with me when my Dad died, you helped me get through what seemed impossible.

Read more: Francisan Sister Mary Ann thank you

Franciscan Sister Attends Bi-Annual Suzuki Convention

Recently, Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Marcus Steede (cello teacher), Emma McAlister (Holy Family Conservatory of Music violin teacher) and her friend, also a music teacher,  drove to Minneapolis, Minnesota for the bi-annual Suzuki Convention. There were at least a thousand students (all school age), parents, and teachers from all across the United States, Canada, Mexico, South America—even Alaska.
Besides many excellent lectures and concerts there were master classes by out-standing teachers on violin, cello, harp, flute, piano, guitar and recorder. Sister Marcus shares her thoughts on the experience.

There were many first rate sessions but a few were truly exceptional. Carnival of the Animals by Saint Saens, a set of ten pieces representing various animals was performed by elementary and middle school students as piano duets accompanied by a small ensemble. The music was superb, played with energy, enthusiasm, and humor. For instance, one piece made fun of piano players. The two boys began and it sounded terrible so they stopped, one boy stomped across to the other piano and turned the music over (it was upside down). Then they began again—not much better, the second boy stood up, shook his finger as if to say, “That was your fault!” Finally all was fine and they continued to the end.

For the first time ever there was a cello ensemble of students from Canada, South America, and all over the U.S. The three pieces they performed were in different moods—one was slow, gentle and elegant; one was a fast, energetic classical number; and the last was contemporary, wild and jazzy. It sounded like rock and the kids really got into it.

Of all the wonderful lectures I was really impressed with one titled “Celebrating Black violinists and Composers.” According to the presenter, a very talented young violinist and her six-year old daughter, there were black composers as early as the 18th century of the same caliber as Mozart and Haydn. She, Rachel Barton Pine, would talk about the composer and his music; then her daughter would play the piece. Rachel has done much research and has hundreds of pieces written by black composers.

The icing on the cake was the pipe organ played on Sunday by a fantastic organist. After Mass he performed a Bach postlude—so exciting! The convention, as always, was informational, illuminating and entertaining.

Franciscan Sisters Lead Michigan Bible Vacation School

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Sisters Elizabeth Ann Miller, Veronica Schad, and Marsaia Kaster, conducted a Bible Vacation School in Spalding, Michigan. Twenty students arrived to join in the fun, learning, exploring, and praying.

The older students studied, worked out skits, and projects about various saints while the younger ones, including 4 and 5 year-olds used “binoculars” and went on hikes to find God-sightings. They also visited various places in the church, learned about appropriate church behavior, etc!!
On Thursday all rode the bus to DeYoung Zoo in Wallace, Michigan and saw many of God’s great creatures! Singing on the bus helped us have fun and prepare for Friday’s Mass where everyone received a little “rock” (in honor of Peter, the Rock) on which was drawn a fish with the Greek letters: IXOYE, meaning “Jesus, Christ, Son of God, Savior.” Hopefully during the year, we will hold that “Jesus Rock” and be reminded that we too are his friends and He asks us “who do you say that I am?”
Wednesday evening, after a potluck supper, Sister Marsaia led an interactive presentation on marriage and family issues from 5-8:15 pm

McConnaha Named Franciscan Sisters’ Sponsored Ministries CEO

MANITOWOC, WIS. — Scott McConnaha has been named president and CEO of Manitowoc, Wis.-based Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Sponsored Ministries (FSCCM). McConnaha has been with FSCCM for the past 10 years. He has served as acting president and CEO there since June 1.

“Scott McConnaha is a servant leader. He considers his work his vocation, a call from God to collaboratively serve the church in Catholic healthcare and Catholic higher education,” said Sister Natalie Binversie, Community Director of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity and the chair of FSCCM’s Board of Trustees. “He has knowledge and experience in areas needed in this time of transition and change,” she added.
“I am thrilled and humbled to be asked to serve as this system’s leader,” said McConnaha. “Over the 10 years that I have been a part of this wonderful ministry, I have gotten to witness the tremendous good that our organizations do in their communities and I am looking forward to many more years of helping to carry out the mission of our Franciscan Sisters.”

Since 2008, McConnaha has served at FSCCM, first as director of corporate relations and then as vice president of mission and strategy. From 2002-2008, he worked at the St. Louis-based Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA), first as a communications manager in the mission and ethics department and then as editor of CHA’s official journal Health Progress. McConnaha holds master’s degrees in English (University of Missouri-St. Louis) and theology (St. Louis University) and an MBA (University of Scranton). He is a fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives and a veteran of the U.S. Army.

The Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Sponsored Ministries is a not-for-profit corporation established in 1985 (formerly named Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity HealthCare Ministry) to monitor and manage the health care ministry of the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity. The health care ministry spans three states—Wisconsin, Nebraska and Ohio—and has existed for over 100 years. In 2012, the name was changed to Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Sponsored Ministries to reflect the addition of the congregation’s Silver Lake College of the Holy Family, located in Manitowoc, to the corporation. Collectively these ministry organizations have more than 4,000 employees. For more information, visit

Note: Looking for a beautiful Pilgrimage Reflection on solitude? Scott published such a prayer aid. Find it on the FSCCM website. Click here.

Novice Poem: Our Flag in Paschal Mystery

Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Novice, Sister Cecilia Joy, offers an Independence Day poem, Our Flag in Paschal Mystery.

Our Flag in Paschal Mystery
Our flag moves majestically in the wind.
Her colors speak to a history of a people who longed to be free, obtained freedom, and yet freedom remains a battle cry today.

and Blue.
These colors point to our country, our home.
But our flag’s colors also whisper a mystery,

beyond wars that were believed impossible to win,
and dreams that came true despite opposition.

Do you hear it? Do you see it, in these colors unfurling?

A mystery of how Jesus sacrificed, rose, and gave birth to the Church,
Similar to the sacrifice of our ancestors, our home which has grown, and our nation which is loved by a Father in whom we trust.

A mystery. A mystery.

A mystery in Red.
A valiant Son of God sacrificed in the hardiness of a humiliating death,
but it was not the end.

A mystery in White.
A blinding light as death is conquered, tyranny surrenders,
and we begin again,
and continue to in the promise of new tomorrows.

A mystery in Blue.
Jesus ascended, the Holy Spirit descended, and a Church began.
A Church vigilant with persevering hearts in the face of even death,
But they had already died to self out of love.
It is this love we carry with us as a Church today.
As not only Catholics, but Americans who persevere today.
As a people who hope today, and pray today,
And believe God answers prayers.

Our flag moves majestically in the wind. Her colors speak to a history,
but they also speak to a mystery,
A mystery we see and live today.