Sister Nancy Kinate, OSF
Sister Nancy Kinate reflects on her call to be a Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity.
Hometown: Rural De Pere, Wrightstown, Wisconsin
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!
In reflecting on my more than eighty years of life and sixty as a Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity, I am filled with much gratitude. From the beginning, my story has been authored by such a loving God Who with my good parents, Polly and Bill, brought me into this world during World War II. My earliest memories are of a child who felt loved and especially comfortable in three places: home; school, and Church. As my world expanded, these settings have become nuanced but have remained center stage and consistently providing me with so many wonderful and sometimes challenging experiences and encounters.
The Kinate home and family life were full of life and much laughter. I am the eldest of ten children, five sisters and four brothers. Mom and Dad taught us to work hard; pray harder, and play hardest as they worked, prayed and played right along with us. The family home changed geographically over the years, but I consider living along the Fox River in rural De Pere and attending St. Paul (now St. Clare) Church in Wrightstown and the eight years in the parish school to be the pivotal setting where I consciously began becoming attracted and attached to a loving God in a personal and permanent way.
Even before I went to the parish school, I remember the big beautiful church where I liked looking around at everything and watching people of all ages, shapes, and sizes being quiet in prayer. It all made me so curious. Then starting school with the Franciscan Sisters became such an adventure, especially with Sister Julia Marie Van Denack, my first-grade teacher. The Sisters made learning about life and God so exciting and interesting. Playing school and Mass with my younger siblings became part of my home ritual. Of course, I was always the teacher or the priest. Those eight years with the Sisters and the close-knit family life of that small town were such a comfortable environment to grow in learning more about life, God and the Church. It was just like an expanded home setting.
Only God could have pulled me out of those comfort zones to go to Manitowoc for high school and start the journey of becoming a Franciscan Sister. I remember Mom and Dad being supportive but not particularly enthusiastic about my decision. The trip to Holy Family Academy in the family station wagon on August 25, 1957 had me seriously questioning why I was doing this to all of us. By August 30th, my mother’s birthday, homesickness hit hard, and I cried more tears that day than I had or have cried in my entire life. Gentle, motherly Sister Mary Aelred Schaefer coaxed me to try just one more week. She convinced me I would enjoy getting to know more of the Sisters, the teachers, and the other students. She knew how much I liked reading so she introduced me to the expansive library at the Motherhouse which also housed the college library at that time. Sister Mary Aelred’s kindness won, and I soon felt at home with the students and Sisters. Even though, homesickness would tempt me now and then over the years, I am so grateful to this dear Sister for helping me that first and worst time. Then the very next August, the extra blessing and bit of home joined me when my sister, Jane, came to Holy Family Academy.
From that time on, the Sisters, Holy Family Convent and my future mission communities, gradually became more and more home to me. My family ties are strong and time with them remain cherished blessings as I admire their working, praying and playing so hard to be good people and raise loving families. Their example motivates me to be a better Franciscan with the grace of God for them and all the Church.
My journey these many years through formation, profession and ministry is too lengthy to narrate here, but a consistent theme is: God has been and continues to be so loving to me, for me, and with me.
“Truly it is God who graces my life with so much GOoD for which I am grateful beyond words as I celebrate these sixty years as a professed Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity in this community of such loving and faithful women.”