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 Sister Walks for Life in Nebraska

Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Rochelle Kerkhof and several students and adults from the Southwestern Grant Deanery traveled five hours to attend the Nebraska Walk for Life. An estimated  4, 000 people were gathered in Lincoln on Saturday, January 26. On Friday evening, prior to event, hospitality was provided by the parents of Rev. Lothar Gilde, Pastor of St. Patrick’s, Imperial.

“The Walk for Life is the largest, longest-running First Amendment demonstration in the state, and I expect that will always continue, until we win this battle one day,” said Sandy Danek, president of Nebraska Right to Life and one of the event’s organizers. The crowd were vigilant and respectful, hopeful for change in our country at large.


Franciscan Sister Inducted to the Order of the Fleur de Lis Hall of Fame

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity are proud to congratulate Sister Laura Wolf who was inducted to the Order of the Fleur de Lis Hall of Fame at the University of St. Louis Law School. Other inductees included Jack Boese ‘72 and Hon. Michael Wolff.


The SLU LAW Order of the Fleur de Lis Hall of Fame is the highest honor from Saint Louis University School of Law. As a Catholic, Jesuit university, Saint Louis University’s mission is the pursuit of truth for the greater glory of God and for the service of humanity.

The University seeks excellence in the fulfillment of its corporate purposes of teaching, research, health care and service to the community. It is dedicated to leadership in the continuing quest for understanding of God’s creation and for the discovery, dissemination and integration of the values, knowledge and skills required to transform society in the spirit of the Gospels. This pursuit is motivated by the inspiration and values of the Judeo-Christian tradition and is guided by the spiritual and intellectual ideals of the Society of Jesus.

Sister Laura served as president of the Manitowoc, Wis.-based Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Sponsored Ministries, Inc. (FSCCM) until recently.  She is widely recognized by bishops, fellow women and men religious, and lay leaders throughout Catholic health care and higher education for her consistency and courage in calling to the table the hard, vexing questions that face the church’s ministries.

She has demonstrated a gift for framing these questions in a way which brings people together around the common goal of service to these ministries and the people who depend upon them. She holds a joint degree in law and health administration from St. Louis University.

Called to be a Franciscan Sister, Teacher and Nurse

Franciscan Sister Adrianna Schouten shares a reflection on the life of Sister Marion Gilles. Read the entire reflection here: Franciscan Sister Marion Gillis’ Reflection

Marion Mary Gillis was born on September 30, 1930 to Albert and Lillian (DeBoth) Gillis. Marion was the middle child of five, with two older brothers and a younger brother and sister. She was baptized at St. Joseph Church in Green Bay, Wisconsin by Reverend A.J. Schueller on October 12, 1930.

The first three of years of school began at Chappell School about a mile from their home. For the remaining grade school years they attended the newly built St. Joseph School which had 8 grades and 8 Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity. Marion attended St. Joseph Academy where she was taught by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondolet. After graduation in 1948, Marion worked for the Green Bay Food Company as a comptroller.

In a letter to Mother Edna, dated April 24, 1952 Marion wrote
“I can’t quite make up my mind if I want to be nurse or enter the convent…I have been working since I left high school. I am now 21 years of age… I am now hoping very soon to get some sign from God as to what my vocations is to be… If I meet the needed qualification I would like to give the convent life a try.”
Very Truly Yours, Marion Gillis.

In a letter from Sister Mary Ellen, Mistress of Postulants date April 29, 1952, Sister wrote
“You mentioned that you wondered whether to become a nurse or enter a convent. We have a suggestion – why don’t you do both…If you have the necessary qualification you will most likely be permitted to follow the nursing profession. Of course in religious life the will of God is made known to us by our Superiors… You will discover that your happiness will be a result of their choices.”

Sister Marion entered Holy Family Convent on August 23, 1952. She was received on June 13, 1953 and was given the name Sister LaSallete. She returned to her baptismal name in the late 1960’s.

Sister Marion attended Holy Family College. She taught grades 1-6 from 1955 – 1960. She entered the Good Samaritan Hospital School of Nursing and graduated from there in 1963. From St. Louis University she earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 1967. She earned a Master of Science in Nursing from University of Texas in Austin in 1973. Read more.: Franciscan Sister Marion Gillis’ Reflection

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.


Franciscan Sister Serves as Translator on Haiti Mission Trip

Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Marlita Henseler is serving as a translator for a Diocese of Green Bay Mission Trip to Haiti. We share an account by one of the pilgrims on the journey and photos.

Day One

Well, we arrived at Pedro Santana last night about 9 pm after a long travel day and some exciting traffic getting out of Santo Domingo. The group consists of Jim Fitzgerald, Sister Marlita, Debbie Knox, Kathy Allen, Ken Deteville and me, Ed West.

Sister Maria and Sister Lidia were waiting for us and had prepared a wonderful dinner for us.

We are about to leave so this is short.

Day Two

Today was a learning day with Sister Maria. After breakfast, we drove to Los Cacaos, Haiti to see the pump that is being used to supply water to the fish farm.

The pump was fashioned from an old engine with a pump attached to one side of the shaft and pulleys on the other side. They were having issues keeping it primed. Maybe we will work on that another day. On the way to Los Cacaos, we stopped at a high point on the International Highway and took some pictures of the green trees on the Haitian side. Those trees have been planted since Sister Maria started work in the area and the area is slowly turning green and as a result, cooler (a relative term).


We then drove to the Ag Center. The 12,000 gallon cistern that we worked on in January is now complete and the second floor is being completed on a multi function building behind the classroom facility.

On my January trip, I had heard a story about Sister Maria borrowing a D8 Caterpillar from the Dominican Republic government and using it to build roads in Haiti. What I didn’t realize that the roads she built opened up the whole Los Cacaos region to commerce. Prior to her road building, the only way to get around the area was on foot or motorcycle.

A side note, I am using the Spanish spelling “Los Cacaos”, but I understand that the Haitian Creole spelling is “Los Kakaos.

All around the area, and now at the Ag Center in Los Cacaos, a bean called Guandul is being grown. It can be grown in the very poor soil and hot weather conditions. It is called the “bean from Congo” locally and is a source of protein. The Guandul beans grown at the Ag Center are a lot larger than the ones grown around the area due to the irrigation and attention to nutrients etc. Also being grown at the Ag Center are tropical sweet potatoes that provide a lot of nutrients for the local folks…

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 Sister’s Family History Centers Around a Table

Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Natalie Binversie reflections on the life and ministry of Sister Mary Jane Mertens. Read her entire reflection here: Franciscan Sister Mary Jane Mertens Reflection.

The family farm where Mary Jane grew up was located two miles west of Kiel. When Mary Jane was nine years old her Grandpa and Grandma Mertens came to live with Mary Jane’s family. In a Jubilee reflection Mary Jane wrote, “The family table in our kitchen was the center of much family history. It was there that we shared, not only food, but our stories and lives. Lots of laughs could be heard. Arguments were settled by looking it up in the encyclopedia that her mother had saved from her teaching days. Many rosaries were prayed kneeling at the kitchen chairs around the table during Lent and during times of special need. After supper Dad and the older boys did the milking and the rest of us cleaned up and had play time. Then the table became a school room for us to do our lessons.”

Mary Jane and her siblings walked the two miles to Church and to School. This is most likely where Mary Jane developed a great love for walking. If they hurried, however, they sometimes got a ride from Sister Lucy and Sister Marie Bernadette Dorn’s Dad who was going their way.

Mary Jane met the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity when she went to Saints Peter and Paul School. In all of her growing up years, she always wanted to be a Sister. When she was in the eighth grade her mother said to her, “If you want to be a Sister, we had better go to see what it is like.” After getting a tour of the Motherhouse and meeting with Mother Generose, Mary Jane came home with application papers.

Are you in need of seeing what it is like to be a Franciscan Sister? Call or text Sister Julie Ann at 920-323-9632 or click here for possible discernment options: FSCC_Fall Retreat Banner_2018_8.5x11_ENG

Blood Sisters Prepared Franciscan Sister for Religious Life

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Community Director Sister Natalie Binversie reflects on the life of Sister Joanne Plain. Just like St. Clare, she was blessed with blood sisters who supported her call to religious life. To read the entire sharing, click here: Franciscan Sister Joanne Plain Reflection .

Margaret Mary Plain was born on August 23, 1932 to Frank and Gladys (Cleary) Plain in Oconto Falls, Wisconsin. Margaret Mary was baptized at Saint Anthony Church in Oconto Falls on August 28, 1932 and confirmed there on April 18, 1945 by Bishop Bona. All of her siblings were girls. The oldest girls in the family were twins. Jean died when she was 4 months old and Joan died when she was two months old. Margaret Mary was the fourth of nine children. As she wrote in a Jubilee reflection, the name Margaret Mary was never used unless she was in trouble. Her nick name was Momie.

Momie attended St. Anthony School which was staffed by the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity. She was impressed that a group of Sisters were always on the playground during recess playing baseball and volleyball. Momie and her sisters would help carry the Sisters’ things to the Convent in their wagon. Momie found school studies challenging. Since the students were usually in double grades her sisters would report back to her parents. The Sisters and her parents supported her as best that they could. This impressed Momie deeply.

When Momie told her Mom that she wanted to be a Sister, her Mom was reluctant. In a reflection on her vocation story, she wrote:
My mom was just like so many other moms – she didn’t want to see her little girl grow up. When still in eighth grade, I told her that I wanted to go to the Convent with my classmates, she thought I was too young. If she lived in the era of the TV hit, “Who Wants to Be A Millionaire,” I would say that she used one of her lifelines. Mom contacted her Reverend Brother who worked in the Southern Missions. He gave the decision that became my “final answer.” If I didn’t like it, he said, I could always come home.