Sister Anne Marie Selinsky, OSF
Sister Anne Marie Selinsky reflects on her call becoming a Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity.
Hometown: Green Bay, Wisconsin
“The Lord has done great things for me. I am filled with joy.”
(Adapted from Ps. 126:3)
Sixty years! Time has a way of moving on, and each year seems to go faster than the previous one. But when I slow down to recall events of the past 60 years in community, as well as all the prior years in my family, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for God’s goodness!
God has blessed me with a wonderful faith-filled family: Parents (Josephine and Edward Selinsky) who sacrificed to raise seven children (I am the second oldest) and give us a good Catholic education when times were tough, and 3 brothers and 3 sisters who grew up teasing and joking in the normal give and take of family life, and who still love each other no matter what. They are now instilling good values in their own families and situations. Mom and Dad are certainly looking out now from their heavenly home, still interceding to help us and all their descendants grow in love as we have all now entered our senior citizen years. Indeed, the Lord has done great things for me. I am filled with joy.
I entered the convent after 8th grade from St. Joseph Parish in Green Bay where our sisters taught. God has also blessed me with this community of Franciscan Sisters who support and challenge each other to grow in every way on our journey of life. The ups and downs of community life and ministry may be challenging at times, but are also rewarding. I spent over twenty years as a school music teacher and church musician and liturgist, as well as giving private music lessons in Waukesha, Two Rivers, Oshkosh and Green Bay, all in Wisconsin. I encountered many talented students who were eager to learn and to share their musical ability with others. For sure I learned much about the interaction of students with parents and teachers. Indeed, the Lord has done great things for me. I am filled with joy.
I was privileged to have a sabbatical year (the CREDO program) at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, which was a valuable and memorable year of relaxed learning in religious studies where I encountered and was enriched by meeting persons from many countries around the world. The program included a month-long pilgrimage to the Holy Land and places where St. Paul worked in Greece and Rome. This was definitely a year that I will always remember and treasure for how it expanded my outlook on life and international relationships, and how Scripture comes alive for me since I have walked where Jesus physically walked and saw things that His human eyes also saw. Truly, the Lord has done great things for me. I am filled with joy.
After this wonderful year, I began doing pastoral ministry work to homebound, hospitalized and grieving persons in Manistique, MI, Zanesville, OH, and Green Bay, WI. My life has been enriched by sharing in the experiences of mostly older people at vulnerable times in their lives as well as sharing in their joys and sorrows. I was privileged to care for my mother in her last years. She was a faith-filled woman whose example of trust in God and love of others shined through her being until her dying day. I also served four years as Local Director of St. Rita’s Health Center. This was a new learning experience for me. I came to know and appreciate the work and suffering of our elderly sisters, and how beautiful their ministry of prayer and suffering benefits themselves and others. I am grateful for my time there. These experiences were growth-filled; some were challenging, all were rewarding. For sure the Lord has done great things for me. I am filled with joy.
There were other blessings in my life, too, some of which were unexpected. One was to make a Franciscan pilgrimage to Assisi and Rome, which helped me appreciate even more our Franciscan Heritage. Seeing the places where St. Francis lived, ministered, grew in grace, and began the Franciscan Way of Life was a wonderful experience that touched my heart, my soul, my whole being. Another was a surprise pilgrimage to Lourdes and Fatima by a benefactor who wanted me to companion my sister, Sister Bernadette, whom they were sponsoring. This was indeed a powerful time, seeing the faith of crippled and sick people coming to be healed, whether it be physically, mentally, psychologically, or spiritually. Yet another blessing was the gift of cancer. A gift, you say? Yes. I was forced to be totally dependent on God through medical personnel and treatments, giving up my own wishes and desires and turning everything over to the One in whom I place my trust. Very powerfully I felt the prayerful support of community, my family, friends and acquaintances as I survived this dreaded disease three times. My faith was strengthened through it all. The Lord has done great things for me. I am filled with joy.
In each of the places where I have ministered, I have lived and worked in both large and small local communities with many sisters who have influenced me in different and special ways. Acceptance of one another with our different personalities and ideas helps us to grow in love and holiness. Our common prayer together daily and a retreat annually are important to me. Living in community is definitely a blessing. There is no way I can ever recall all the wonderful people I’ve met and the things I’ve experienced in my life. The memories I have through all these years are great treasures. I continue to feel young at heart, and my love and gratitude to my family, to our Franciscan community, and to our God continue to grow. I look forward to the years ahead!