Franciscan Sister Presents to Omaha Serran Club

Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Renee Mirkes shares with Nebraska’s Omaha Serrans on her ministry of NaProTECHNOLOGY.

On April 9th, I had the privilege of addressing one of the three very active Serra Clubs of Omaha about the work of the Pope Paul VI Institute, particularly how its women’s health science of NaProTECHNOLOGY and its natural system of family planning, the Creighton Model FertilityCare System, provide an antidote to all the moral fallout in our culture from the contraceptive mentality.

I’ve never been so enthusiastically applauded on two scores: first, that I, a religious Sister, am actively involved on a national scale in doing this kind of work in the Church and, second, that the city of Omaha houses the headquarters for NaPro and FertitlityCare. I was reminded of the many, many holy, committed Omaha natives with whom I have the privilege to rub elbows every day. Pictured above is the president of the OSC-West (left) and members of the organization who were responsible in booking me as a speaker for April’s meeting. Dear people all!

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 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

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Franciscan Sister Follows Mother’s Advice

Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Community Director, Sister Natalie Binversie, reflects on the life of Sister Ronald Held. Read the entire document here: Franciscan Sister Ronald Held Reflection

Dolores Marie Held was born on April 14, 1925 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Frank and Veronica (Hartmann) Held. She was Baptized at St. Michael’s Church in Milwaukee on April 19, 1925 and received the Sacrament of Confirmation there on October 7, 1938 by Bishop Samuel A. Stritch, later to be known as Cardinal Stritch.

Dolores was the oldest of six children. She attended St. Michael’s Elementary School and was taught by the Notre Dame Sisters whom she admired very much. Her vocation story is rooted in her infancy. As a very small child, she was choking and turning blue. Her mother told God that she would give Dolores to Him if He saved her life. God took her up on that promise. Dolores did not know of her Mother’s prayer until many years after her profession. Her strong desire to become a Sister was first realized when she was in the Third Grade. Her mother supported and nurtured her vocational desire, however, she told Dolores that she would have to wait until she was 18 if she wanted to be a Notre Dame Sister.

Dolores’ Mother had been educated by the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity in Kiel, Wisconsin. She told Dolores how wonderful the Sisters were and what a beautiful Motherhouse they had. So at the age of 14, Dolores wrote to Mother Generose on May 12, 1939… Read more: Franciscan Sister Ronald Held Reflection

Franciscan Religious Witnesses to Vocation as Teacher

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Community Director Sister Natalie Binversie reflects on the life of Sister Pavel Morin. Read the entire account here: Franciscan Sister Pavel Morin reflection

On June 26, 1951 Therese wrote the following letter:

Dear Mother Edna,
I’m very interested in your order and would like to join. Please send me the necessary papers so that I may apply for admittance. Thank you,
Therese Morin

On August 13, 1951 Therese’s pastor, Rev. Raymond J Garin, wrote the following letter:

To whom it may concern,
Therese Morin, a member of my Parish, has informed me of her wish to become a member of the Order of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity. I have known her for a number of years and I feel reasonably sure that she was in earnest when she told me of her desire. I have been very favorably impressed with her piety. She assists at Mass and receives Holy Communion practically daily. Furthermore, I feel practically certain that she is morally suited for the Convent. She impresses me as a good, clean-cut girl, of excellent character. And whatever I have heard others say concerning her was to her credit. Therefore, I feel justified in recommending Therese to the Convent of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Rev. Raymond J. Garin
Administrator of St. John’s

Therese was accepted to enter Holy Family Convent on August. 23, 1951. On her Reception day, June 13, 1952, she received the name Sister Pavel. She attended Holy Family College earning a Bachelor of Arts Degree on July 28, 1965 with a Major in Education and a Minor in English. Sister Pavel was an excellent Primary Grade teacher for 38 years in Wisconsin, Arizona, Ohio and Michigan. She was very generous and caring.


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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Franciscan Sister Facilitates Eau Claire Discernment of Spirits Retreat

Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Jacqueline Spaniola directed 20 young people in a Discernment of Spirits Retreat day at the Eau Claire Ecumenical Religious Center March 3, 2018. Father Dan Oudenhoven and Campus Minister Savannah Siegler were open to exposing students to St. Ignatius’  22 Rules of discernment.

Here’s some feedback from the students about the silent retreat day.

What touched your heart?

  • Realizing that prayer is not always talking. Prayer is listening.
  • Developing my relationship with Christ through desolation
  • The ability to sit in silence and reflect the Lord’s plan and direction
  • The silence really helped me think about things that I needed to work on and let God into my life.
  • Learning the rules of discernment especially patience and how God tests us
  • Really sitting down and understanding a discernment process
  • I really loved learning the rules of discernment and having tangible ways of knowing what is from God.

What part of the retreat was the most helpful?

  • It was very helpful to be able to take a break from my busy life to stop and reflect and listen. Then, it was very helpful to then be able to talk to Sister J about what thoughts were running through my head.
  • Knowing how to decipher evil spirits and good spirits. Also knowing about how consolation can bring evil spirits into our thought process
  • I think it was helpful to learn how to hear God’s voice and determine how to know if you are doing his will.
  • daily discernment affects big discernment.
  • mentioning that we shouldn’t ‘break off too much to chew’ so that the devil can tempt us in that way.
  • what is God’s will for my life and not being selfish
  • the note sheets and resources-having Sisters here with us.
  • greatly appreciated how methodical it was. This really helped with clarity of mind.

Is God calling you to a Discernment of Spirits Retreat? Click here for coming options with Franciscan Sisters and contemplative nuns.

Franciscan Sister on Point Catholic Busy Student Retreat Team

Invited for the recent Point Catholic Busy Student Retreat, Stevens Point, Wisconsin, Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Julie Ann Sheahan served on the team of directors ministering to 60 students who committed themselves to the week. Campus Minister Wendy Mitch and Father Tom Lindner planned and organized the retreat with the theme ‘Get Centered’.

Students committed themselves to the following things:

  • Set aside time each day for four days to pray on your own.
  • Meet with spiritual director for a half hour each day for four days.
  • Dinner will be served every night. Join as your schedule allows.
  • Join retreat participants for praise and preaching each night. And if your schedule allows, gather for Mass each day.

Knowing students have just begun to learn the ways in which God is part of their daily lives, retreatants also received helps for what to do after the retreat on how to develop patterns of personal prayer so their relationship with God can continue to grow. This included reading the Scripture readings used at daily Mass and St. Ignatius’ examen.

Other Retreat directors included: Father Frank Corradi, Father Dennis Lynch, Alexian Brother Patrick McCabe, Marge McCardle, Father Billy Dodge, Sister Stephanie Spandl, SSND, Pat Pintens and Sister Sandy Setterland, SSJ-TOSF.

Franciscan Sister Moderates a Session at a International Congress in Rome

In this 800th anniversary of the life of Saint Bonaventure, Franciscan Sister Marie Kolbe Zamora moderated a session at a special International Congress in Rome, Italy highlighting this Franciscan friar. She shares her experience.

2017 marked the 800th anniversary of Giovanni Fidanza who, as a Friar, became renown as Bonaventure of Bagnoregio. Franciscans committed to the Franciscan Intellectual Tradition celebrated this important anniversary in a variety of ways. The Pontifical Gregorian University, in collaboration with the Pontifical University Antonianum and the Pontifical University of St. Bonaventure sponsored a 3 day international congress in Rome (November 15 – 17, 2017) entitled Deus Summe Cognoscibilis (God the Most Knowable of All Reality): The Relevance of St. Bonaventure’s Theology. Conference organizers brought together esteemed Bonaventurian scholars from Europe and the United States to demonstrate the relevance of Bonaventure’s theology for today. A year out from the conference, Sister Marie Kolbe Zamora received an invitation to moderate one of the scheduled sessions entitled “Trinitarian Institution of the Sacraments.” The panel for this session included Wayne Hellman, O.F.M. Conv. as the main presenter (who presented in English), a young theologian from the Antonianum (whose response to Wayne Hellman’s paper was delivered in Spanish) and a theologian from the Gregorian (whose response was delivered in Italian).

Well before the conference, the work of moderating tasked Sister Marie Kolbe with mediating an online conversation (via email) between all three presenters to ensure that their texts complemented one another. In some cases, she suggested editions to their papers in order to strengthen the “live” conversation in Rome. During the Congress, Sister Marie Kolbe 1) moderated the presentations to guarantee that there would be enough time at the end for a live debate with the audience and 2) moderated the live debate by directing questions (whether written or oral) to the appropriate panel member.

Sister Marie Kolbe in the Church at the Antonianum after the closing Mass celebrating the feast of Elizabeth of Hungary.

The days of the conference began at 9 a.m. and ended at 9 p.m.. The morning included 4 hours of panel presentations / debate, followed by a 2 hour lunch break. The afternoon recommenced with another 4 hours of panel presentations / debate followed by Mass and a late supper. Sister Marie Kolbe likened the experience to “being present to a living bibliography. All of the scholars whose work contributed to my own dissertation were making presentations and engaging in conversations that were enlightening and even inspiring. This is the first time I have been able to listen to such Bonaventurian experts live. It was a real blessing.” Thankfully a good number of Sister Marie Kolbe’s colleagues from her time in Rome also participated in the conference, making it possible to continue what she calls “important pilgrimage conversations”.

The work of moderating continues as she edits a number of the English language presentations, preparing them for the publication that will serve future scholars as a record for all of the contributions made at this Congress. “It was an honor to have been asked to contribute to this very important moment in Bonaventurian studies as well as to have been asked to contribute an article to the volume that will be published. I remain grateful for the investment that the community made in my education / formation that has made such contributions possible.”

Franciscan Sister Gifted in Mathematics Serves Others

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Sister Natalie Binversie reflects on the life of Sister Mary Fidelia Mindemann. Sister’s  gift of mathematics allowed her to serve in many ways. Read the whole reflection here: Franciscan Sister Mary Fidelia’s Reflection

Sister Mary Fidelia completed her High School at Holy Family Academy in 1938. She went on to Holy Family College to receive a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1942 with a Major in Math and a Minor in French. In 1958 she earned a Master’s Degree in Math from Notre Dame University, South Bend, Indiana. To support the subject areas she was assigned to teach and to keep up-dated Sister Mary Fidelia also took classes throughout her active ministry years at the Universities of Michigan, Vermont, Wisconsin and St. Louis in the subject areas of Chemistry, Physics and Administration.

Sister Mary Fidelia taught in High Schools in Ohio, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin for 22 years. She was High School Administrator for 20 more years. For 13 years she taught Math at Silver Lake College and worked part time in the Finance Office. She loved working with numbers. She prided herself in having a good mind! She enjoyed telling stories of her teaching days and had high praise and esteem for her former students. Some of them kept in contact with her. Sister Mary Fidelia enjoyed people, cats, crocheting and fishing.

At the time of her jubilee she reflected on the many blessings of her life in Community. God was always with her to answer problems and give solutions to her concerns. One of her concerns was her obligation as an only child to care for her parents. When her parents needed help in old age, they moved to the Nursing Home in Manitowoc that was a part of Holy Family Hospital. Later her Dad moved to St. Mary’s Home. In her words, “Solutions were readily at hand.” Read more: Franciscan Sister Mary Fidelia’s Reflection

Do you enjoy mathematics? Is God calling you to use your gift with numbers for others as a Franciscan Sister? We invite you to click here.