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 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.
Sincerely,
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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