Franciscan Sisters Visit St. Mary, Woodstock Illinois

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Sister Carmen Marie Diaz, Sister Julie Ann Sheahan, Novices Sister Cecilia Joy and Sister Concepcion and Postulant Yazmin were recently in Woodstock, Illinois, home to St. Mary Church and how could we forget, the site of the movie Groundhog Day. Yes, Sisters watch movies, too, and pay attention to details that make a geographical place like Woodstock time-looped. While enjoying comedy, we are even more serious in visiting places where people come to our own Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity website, linger awhile and return another day. Our mission was to find out who lives in Woodstock, Illinois.

First, St. Mary Church is truly exquisite. In this house of God, it is an every day occurrence to walk through etched glass doors opening to a sacred space with vivid stained glass windows that tell many stories. A magnificent angel mural towers the sanctuary. It is obvious the souls who frequent this church know what is most important in life. St. Francis would love how the building was restored, but more so that God’s house was overflowing with folks.

Good deeds were plentiful. Father Burt Absalon and Father Louis Tosto were greeting the people left and right. Families talked to one another after Mass. Home grown vegetables were free for those who wanted them. Our own event flyers inviting young women to come and see our home in Wisconsin were welcome on the announcement boards.  We, ourselves, were also humbled when those at the noon Spanish Mass  applauded when Father Burt introduced us and asked us to stand.

Let’s just say a recurring visit to Woodstock would be a joy in the future. It’s a real place where church is a community. St. Mary Parish is near other buildings filmed in the classic Bill Murray movie.  Don’t miss this haven of prayer.

Franciscan Sisters Lead Michigan Bible Vacation School

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Sisters Elizabeth Ann Miller, Veronica Schad, and Marsaia Kaster, conducted a Bible Vacation School in Spalding, Michigan. Twenty students arrived to join in the fun, learning, exploring, and praying.

The older students studied, worked out skits, and projects about various saints while the younger ones, including 4 and 5 year-olds used “binoculars” and went on hikes to find God-sightings. They also visited various places in the church, learned about appropriate church behavior, etc!!
On Thursday all rode the bus to DeYoung Zoo in Wallace, Michigan and saw many of God’s great creatures! Singing on the bus helped us have fun and prepare for Friday’s Mass where everyone received a little “rock” (in honor of Peter, the Rock) on which was drawn a fish with the Greek letters: IXOYE, meaning “Jesus, Christ, Son of God, Savior.” Hopefully during the year, we will hold that “Jesus Rock” and be reminded that we too are his friends and He asks us “who do you say that I am?”
Wednesday evening, after a potluck supper, Sister Marsaia led an interactive presentation on marriage and family issues from 5-8:15 pm

Franciscan Sisters Serve Nine Rural Nebraska Parishes

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity begin ministry in nine parishes in the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska.

IMPERIAL (SNR) – The nine parishes of the Grant Deanery recently welcomed two women religious to the area to work in parish and youth ministry.

Sister Monica Mary DeQuardo and Sister Rochelle Kerkhof of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity from Manitowoc, Wisc., arrived July 25.

Sister Monica Mary is not totally new to the Diocese of Lincoln. She served in the John XXIII Diocesan Center between 2007-2010 as assistant director of religious education under Father Christopher Barak.

“I am extremely happy to be back in this diocese. I know it will be a wonderful experience,” she said. “I appreciate the Catholicity here and the dedication of the priests and all the people who minister within the diocese.”

Sister Monica Mary will assist Father Lothar Gilde in multiple roles of daily parish life at St. Patrick Parish in Imperial.
Sister Rochelle Kerkhof has previously worked in Catholic elementary and high schools as principal and teacher in the Omaha Archdiocese. During those 10 years of service, she participated in youth ministry events such as summer school camps, middle school retreats, Cursillos and TEC weekends.

Read more.

McConnaha Named Franciscan Sisters’ Sponsored Ministries CEO

MANITOWOC, WIS. — Scott McConnaha has been named president and CEO of Manitowoc, Wis.-based Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Sponsored Ministries (FSCCM). McConnaha has been with FSCCM for the past 10 years. He has served as acting president and CEO there since June 1.

“Scott McConnaha is a servant leader. He considers his work his vocation, a call from God to collaboratively serve the church in Catholic healthcare and Catholic higher education,” said Sister Natalie Binversie, Community Director of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity and the chair of FSCCM’s Board of Trustees. “He has knowledge and experience in areas needed in this time of transition and change,” she added.
“I am thrilled and humbled to be asked to serve as this system’s leader,” said McConnaha. “Over the 10 years that I have been a part of this wonderful ministry, I have gotten to witness the tremendous good that our organizations do in their communities and I am looking forward to many more years of helping to carry out the mission of our Franciscan Sisters.”

Since 2008, McConnaha has served at FSCCM, first as director of corporate relations and then as vice president of mission and strategy. From 2002-2008, he worked at the St. Louis-based Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA), first as a communications manager in the mission and ethics department and then as editor of CHA’s official journal Health Progress. McConnaha holds master’s degrees in English (University of Missouri-St. Louis) and theology (St. Louis University) and an MBA (University of Scranton). He is a fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives and a veteran of the U.S. Army.

The Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Sponsored Ministries is a not-for-profit corporation established in 1985 (formerly named Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity HealthCare Ministry) to monitor and manage the health care ministry of the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity. The health care ministry spans three states—Wisconsin, Nebraska and Ohio—and has existed for over 100 years. In 2012, the name was changed to Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Sponsored Ministries to reflect the addition of the congregation’s Silver Lake College of the Holy Family, located in Manitowoc, to the corporation. Collectively these ministry organizations have more than 4,000 employees. For more information, visit

Note: Looking for a beautiful Pilgrimage Reflection on solitude? Scott published such a prayer aid. Find it on the FSCCM website. Click here.

How Ohio Franciscan Sisters Receive a Car

Always trying to  gratefully and reverently use what we need, Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity at Christ Our Light Parish, Cambridge, Ohio recently were gifted with a new car. The new vehicle provided by pastor Fr. Paul Hrezo and the members of the parish will be helpful for transportation needs of our Sisters’ ministries at St. Benedict School  and throughout the parish. Of course, it also provides for the Sisters’ grocery shopping needs, as well as attending the surrounding area’s community-wide and diocesan events.

Thank you to our Benefactor, Ruth Fox, (sister of Sr. Eloise Biedenbach), who donated her car to the St. Benedict Convent Sisters eight years ago. It has made many trips over the years. The vehicle made a great trade in and assisted with the purchase of the new car.

We pray daily for our benefactors at each meal time. This is a community practice begun early in our soon 150 year history expressing our gratitude for God-sent people in our lives.


Franciscan Sisters Assist in St. Gregory Vacation Bible School

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity participated in the St. Gregory Vacation Bible School, July 28 – Aug 3, 2018, at St. Gregory Community building, St. Nazianz, Wisconsin. It was a week of growing in community and growing in faith together.

Invited for the activities, Sister Veronica Schad, Novices Sister Colleen, Sister Clare Rose and Sister Cecilia Joy entered in the theme Shipwrecked – Rescued be Jesus.


23 young people and volunteer leaders traveled  to different learning stations which invited everyone to enter Jesus’ everlasting love, filling them with excitement, awe, and laughter.

The hope is that the children will know Jesus and keep Him close always.


Franciscan Sisters Save Monarchs

Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Caritas Strodthoff shares on how the Franciscan Sisters are saving monarch butterflies.

Recent articles fill newspapers about saving the monarch population. Here at Holy Family Convent a large aquarium comes in handy every year…in our efforts to “Save the Monarchs!!” Milkweed abounds along the lake and in the gardens. Undersurface of leaves are checked for tiny eggs and baby caterpillars once the monarch is seen flitting around the garden.

This year has been a true bumper crop for butterflies. Thus far 39 butterflies have survived the journey from egg to chrysalis to butterfly. The miracles of life are so evident watching the growing caterpillar go thru all the stages of change. Today has been the best day: Five new monarchs have flown off to repopulate the world!!

Names are given to each caterpillar along with dates: birth, chrysalis, butterfly!!

Two of 6 caterpillars can be seen munching away on the milkweed provided daily. You can do this, too. Any jar, vase, cup can hold milkweed leaves for feeding with lid on top for a place to hang when time to become a chrysalis.

Monarch butterfly at convent garden in Manitowoc Wisconsin

It’s amazing to watch this miracle of life take place…and one never tires of watching the caterpillar grow large and larger, munching and munching and, of course, “pooping, too”! Cleanup never ends. But ‘Saving the Monarchs’ is worth every bit of the work put into them. God’s evident.

Franciscan Sisters save monarch butterflies garden photo


Franciscan Sister Shares Nepal Chapel Progress

Last February, Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Doris Jurgenson shared about the building of a Catholic chapel in Tulachan, Nepal. St. Andrew the Apostle Parish, Sierra Vista, Arizona was collaborating with Father Silas Bogati to build the St. Andrew Chapel.

Monies pledged in the name of Father Greg Adolf, pastor of St. Andrew the Apostle Church, Sierra Vista, Arizona and Sister Doris who serves in this faith community, are making this worship place possible. Here is an updated photo of this house of God. Compare the progress with this original image.

Franciscan Sisters’ Quasi Chapter

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity are preparing for our General Chapter in 2019. This event convenes during our 150th year of founding. How fitting since the purpose of this gathering is to protect the intention of the foundresses concerning the nature, purpose, spirit and character of our pontifical Congregation. Equally important is the promotion of suitable renewal in regards to the wholesome traditions of our Congregation, to elect our Community Director and her Council, and to treat major business matters.  The timing is a clear sign of hope that our foundresses continue to walk with us.

In preparation for the General Chapter, we had a recent Quasi Chapter. Quasi means ‘as if’. The Chapter Planning Committee, (Sister Jane Kinate, Sister Marcolette Madden, Sister Anne Turba, Sister Elaine Turba, Sister Pamela Catherine Peasel) organized days to include prayer, Community input and voting to allow all members to participate and contribute their thoughts as if we were in a General Chapter. We used St. Mary Chapel as our sacred meeting space, because it accommodated all of us for seating. The Blessed Sacrament was removed and brought back in procession for prayer times.

Written Response forms were submitted by all who spoke. This material will be put in the hands of elected delegates from the Community at large in the months ahead in preparation for the General Chapter June 2019. Please do pray with and for us.

Healthy Community Living Important to Franciscan Sisters

Desiring to live a healthy Community life together, Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity hold an annual health day addressing issues important to the Sisters. This summer Sister Anne Marie Lom facilitated a summary and application of cognitive behaviors that would improve communication and assist with normal conflict resolution. Information was given to assist an individual in personal transformation.

Cognitive Distortions and their implications for community living and for ministry were discussed. David D. Burns, M.D.’s concepts were commented on.

  • All or nothing thinking (if I’m not perfect, I’m not at all effective)
  • Overgeneralization (use of “always” and “never”)
  • Mental filter (pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it)
  • Discounting the positive (positives don’t count as much as negatives)
  • Jumping to conclusions (interpreting things negatively when there are few or no facts to support that conclusion)
  • Magnification/Minimization (exaggerating importance or shortcomings, make less of desirable qualities)
  • Emotional reasoning (assume that your negative emotions reflect the way “things really are”)
  • Should statements (addiction to an ideal, things “should” be a certain way)
  • Labeling or Stereotyping (I am a loser, my child is dumb, my family is a mess)
  • Personalization and blame (holding myself personally responsible for an event that isn’t entirely under my control…where did I/we go wrong?)

Sister Anne Marie, a trained Franciscan Spiritual Director and member of our Congregation’s General Administration, accepted questions and insights from the Sisters.