Franciscan Sister’s Call includes Serving in Michigan Parishes

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Sister Natalie Binversie reflects on the life of Sister Colleen Sweeting. Here’s a snippet of her reflection. For the entire sharing, click here: Franciscan Sister Colleen Sweeting Reflection

Sister Colleen loved her years as an educator. In eleven years she taught every elementary grade except First Grade. Sister Colleen was a principal for 21 years. As the years went by, Sister Colleen’s love for Scripture and Theology deepened. She became more interested in adult faith formation and wanted to minister in a different capacity in a Parish setting. Sister Colleen was granted the permission to attend Loyola University in Chicago. In 1990 she earned a Master’s Degree in Pastoral Studies.

After her studies were completed, there was an opening for a Pastoral Administrator in DeTour, Michigan. Sister Colleen ministered for ten years in the small towns of DeTour and Drummond Island. In 1999 Bishop James Garland appointed Sister Colleen to St. Christopher’s Parish in Marquette, Michigan. This is where Sister Colleen ministered for 18 years. In an interview at the time of being missioned to St. Francis Convent for the 2017-2018 year, Sister Colleen told the U.P. Catholic reporter, “I most liked being with people in all of my assignments. I’ve liked being part of their lives, not just when they’re sick and dying, but the good parts, too. I’ve worked with people of all ages, ministering to their spiritual and physical needs. It has been a wonderful opportunity, especially to live in Marquette, a college town. I will miss the spirit of the people. I will also miss being close to the water. I love water.”

Sister Colleen enjoyed cross country skiing, camping, being outside in nature, reading, listening to music, cooking, watching Packer football games and visiting people to up-lift their spirits.

At the time of her Jubilee Sister Colleen wrote, “The Lord’s Spirit is very evident in my everyday life. I thank the Lord for the gift of my vocation and the many people I worked side by side with as teacher, principal and pastoral coordinator. I have been given so many wonderful opportunities and I am grateful for each one. All is gift and my life has been deeply enriched by all of them. St. Paul expresses it so well in his letter to the Corinthians: I give thanks to my God for the grace of God, bestowed on you in Christ Jesus, that in Him you were enriched in every way.


Just Gospel: Call to Be in the Service of Peace

“…Peacemakers truly ‘make’ peace; they build peace and friendship in society …And if there are times in our community when we question what ought to be done, ‘let us pursue what makes for peace.’ (Rm. 14:19)”

These words from Gaudete et Exsultate harmonize with Pope Francis’ prayer intention for the month which is a call to be in the service of peace. He asks us to pray “that the language of love and dialogue may always prevail over the language of conflict.” In the document on holiness, Pope Francis makes his call to be peacemakers very practical as he writes, “It is not easy to ‘make’ this evangelical peace, which excludes no one but embraces even those who are a bit odd, troublesome or difficult, demanding, different, beaten down by life or simply uninterested. It is hard work: It calls for great openness of mind and heart, since it is not about creating ‘a consensus on paper or a transient peace for a contented minority.’”
The prayer intention focuses on language, on our words. We can ponder the way in which we speak to and about those who are odd, troublesome or difficult, demanding, beaten down or uninterested. If we can use this language of love and dialogue with one another in our day-to-day interactions, we can begin to create an oasis of peace in our lived experience and plant some seeds of peace within the locales where we minister by our work and/or by our presence. Yet, we may wonder what effect this little step can have on the world scene where wars of words often lead to wars of nations. Perhaps a little fable will help us to consider action on this level.
This story comes from New Fables—Thus Spoke The Caribou by Kurt Kauter.
“Tell me the weight of a snowflake,” a mouse asked a wild dove.
“Nothing more than nothing,” was the answer.
“In that case, I must tell you a marvelous story,” the mouse said.
“I sat on the branch of a fir, close to its trunk, when it began to snow-not heavily—not in a raging blizzard—no, just like a dream, without a sound and without any violence. Since I did not have anything better to do, I counted the snowflakes settling on the twigs and needles of my branch. Their number was exactly 3,741,952. When the 3,741,953rd dropped onto the branch—nothing more than nothing, as you say—the branch broke off.”
Having said that, the mouse scampered away.
The dove, since Noah’s time an authority on peace , thought about the story for a while, and finally said to herself, “Perhaps there is only one person’s voice lacking for peace to come to the world.”
Could it be that yours or mine would be that one voice that could tilt the balance toward peace in any situation? Pope Francis writes, “We need to be artisans of peace, for building peace is a craft that demands serenity, creativity, sensitivity and skill.” Let us strive to hone our use of these qualities in crafting peace.

God’s Call: Michigan Woman Responds

Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Natalie Binversie reflects on the life of Sister Mary Louise Skutz. Read the entire reflection: Franciscan Sister Mary Louise Skutz Reflection

Sophie Mary Rose Skoezylas was born on May 10, 1925 to John Joseph and Helen Veronica (Guzior) Skoczylas in Cross Village, Michigan. She was the third youngest of nine children. She was baptized on May 17, 1925 at Holy Cross Church in Cross Village. Sophie was confirmed there on May 20, 1941.

Sophie’s parents immigrated to the United States from Poland and met in Camden, New Jersey. After they married, they worked to save money to buy 40 acres of farmland twenty four miles from the Mackinaw Bridge. This is where Sophie was born. She had four brothers and four Sisters. When she and her siblings were old enough to attend school they went to Holy Cross Grade School where the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity taught. The Franciscan Friars were the priests in the parish. Her parents chose the Catholic School over the nearby Public School because they wanted their children to learn the Catholic Faith.

After her grade school was completed, Sophie moved to Petoskey, Michigan and attended St. Francis Xavier High School where the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity taught. Sister Gabriel Kerner was the music teacher and taught Sophie to play the piano accordion. Her favorite teachers were Sister Ann Patrick Graney and Sister Margaret Krueger. These Sisters planted and nurtured the seed for Sophie’s vocation. They were easy to talk to about anything that was a concern. They helped Sophie discern her vocation through their affirmation and encouragement, through their loving care and understanding. Sophie had won the Valedictorian Scholarship to St. Mary’s Nursing College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She told the Sisters that she would check out the idea of being a Sister after nursing College. Sister Gabriel was to have told her, “Don’t give your old bones to Jesus. Go now! We have training for nursing and three hospitals you can nurse in.” Read more: Franciscan Sister Mary Louise Skutz Reflection

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Discerning Your Call to Franciscan Life? We Invite You.

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity invite you to discern with us. Here’s an invitation from our home in Manitowoc, Wisconsin to you. Click here to watch our latest Calledtobe channel podcast.

Call or text Sister Julie Ann at 920-323-9632 to plan your own visit at Holy Family Convent  or invite us to meet you where you are.

God Called Young Woman from Milwaukee

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Community Director Sister Natalie Binversie reflects on the life of Sister Francine Goodman called by God from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Manitowoc, Wisconsin.

Mary Lois, who was often referred to as Lois, had a younger sister, Barbara, and a younger brother, John. She was taught by the Notre Dame Sisters in grade school as well as in High School. Some of the Sisters recognized that God was possibly calling her to be a Sister and asked her if she thought of being a Sister. She replied, “That’s a lovely compliment, but I don’t think so.” The truth was that Lois was thinking about being a Sister. She came from a family where religion and faith were important and central in the life of the family. There were a number of religious in her family, so this was an accepted vocational calling to follow. Lois was an inquisitive child and frequently asked her Mother questions about the spiritual life.

Mary Lois met the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity while she was attending Messmer High School in Milwaukee. Sister Jane Francis Doolan was one of the Sisters teaching there for a year. Sister Jane Francis heard from Lois’ friends that she was interested in being a Sister. Sister Jane Francis invited Lois to go with her to visit Holy Family Convent. This visit gave Lois the affirmation she needed that this was where God was calling her to be a Sister. When she saw the Convent building she felt like she belonged here.

To read the entire reflection, click here: Franciscan Sister Francine Goodman’s Reflection

Is God calling you to become a Franciscan Sister? We invite you to a Discernment of Spirits Retreat June 29-July 1. Call or text Sister Julie Ann at 920-323-9632 of your interest.

Franciscan Sister and Nurse Responded to God’s Call

Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Community Director Sister Natalie Binversie reflects on the life of Sister Mary Felice Wellman. To read the entire reflection, click here: Franciscan Mary Felice Wellman reflection

Jane wanted to be a nurse, so after high school she went to Good Samaritan School of Nursing in Zanesville, Ohio, graduating in 1950. While in Nursing School Jane got to know more members of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, since they were her teachers. After graduation Jane worked at St. Francis Hospital in Cambridge.

Jane also was acquainted with the Sisters of Charity from Mount St. Joseph where one of her Aunts, Sister Catherine Therese, was a member. When she felt that God was calling her to be a Sister she wrote the following letter to Mother Edna dated May 27, 1950:

Dear Rev. Mother Edna,
Please may I be permitted to enter your Community? I have prayed, longed and given serious thought to know God’s will in my regard. At first I had the consent of my parents. Now I do not and the difficulties and problems appear insurmountable.

My father visited me today and has asked me to wait till I have taken State Board examinations which are in November. His reasons for this request are based primarily on financial embarrassment and the refusal of my mother to acquiesce to my desire. My mother hasn’t been herself since I told her what I really want to do. My father feels that if I wait until after November, it will give me a longer time to think about the matter and also give mother more time to see God’s holy Will in my regard. These clouds seem to hang heavy over my head.

Mother, I do want to do the right thing regarding my vocation and also my parents and yet I don’t want to hurt them. I would appreciate any help you may give me in this matter. Should I continue to work here at Good Samaritan Hospital until November, or would you advise me to go to the Convent in August without necessary items? In the meantime I will continue to pray to Our Lord for grace to accomplish my main desire to serve Him as a Franciscan Sister. Thank you.
Jane Wellman

Jane eventually did receive permission to enter the Convent after taking her State Boards. She sent her pre-entrance medical record and application to Mother Edna in a letter dated August 14, 1950. In this letter she wrote, “I am eagerly looking forward to my arrival in Wisconsin in November. I have been praying and studying hard that I will write a successful State Board.” Jane had her physical for entrance done by Doctor Fred Phillips who was a surgeon on staff at Good Samaritan Hospital. He was described as a gentle, kind-hearted, grandfatherly type of man. His closing comment to Jane was, “I bet you $5.00 that you will not last five years in the Convent.” At the end of five years she received five dollars in the mail from him.

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Pope Francis’ Vocations Intention and One Sister’s Call

Sister Kathleen Murphy reminds us of Pope Francis’ April prayer intention of Vocations, while Sister Natalie Binversie’s shares the call of  Sister Florence Piotrzkowski. Sister Florence’s family is a model of prayerful support, the kind of family Pope Francis sees as tremendous blessing in our Church today.

April marked World Day of Prayer for Vocations. In that spirit, we pray with the Church, that young people may respond generously to their vocations and seriously consider offering themselves to God in the priesthood or consecrated life.

Prayer and sacrifice for the gift of vocations is nothing new to us as a community. We do it in some form every day, and God continues to bless us in His own time. This is a good month to increase our prayers and sacrifices in union with the whole Church. It is a good time to re-read the stories of the calls of Francis and Clare. It is a good time to reflect on the blessings of our own vocation.

This is a good time to consider the fact that no vocation comes out of a vacuum. As Pope Francis says, “Vocations are born within the Church. From the moment a vocation begins to become evident, it is necessary to have an adequate “sense” of the Church. No one is called exclusively for a particular region, or for a group or for an ecclesial movement, but rather for the Church and for the world. “A sure sign of the authenticity of a charism is its ecclesial character, its ability to be integrated harmoniously into the life of God’s holy and faithful people for the good of all.” In responding to God’s call, young people see their own ecclesial horizon expand; they are able to consider various charisms and to undertake a more objective discernment. In this way, the community becomes the home and the family where vocations are born. Candidates gratefully contemplate this mediation of the community as an essential element for their future. They learn to know and to love their brothers and sisters who pursue paths different from their own; and these bonds strengthen in everyone the communion which they share.”

Let us take some time to thank the Lord of the Harvest for our own vocation and for the ecclesial nature that St. Francis brought to our spirituality as he sought to have his little band blessed by the Church.

Read about Sister Florence’s call to be a Franciscan Sister: Franciscan Sister Florence Reflection