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confianรงa Our Ministry Continues WINTER - SPRING 2014 / A Publication of the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate - Joliet, IL


A Welcome from Sister Dolores Zemont

A publication of the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate 1433 Essington Road Joliet, IL 60435 (815) 725-8735

Dear Friends,

Editor/Layout Design

L ucy Sanchez Dir ec tor o f Co mmunicatio ns l s an c h ez@jo lietfrancis can s . o r g

Copy Editors Sr. Carlene Howell Jennifer Cmolik

INSIDE THIS ISSUE Our Ministry Continues




Associate’ Corner


Meet My Ministry


At Journey’s End S r. S r. S r. S r. S r.


A lc u i n Ke l l y Pat r i c i a Da v i d Tec l a Sn y d e r Jun e Ma r sh a l l Rita Gr e e n e

Mission Statement Led by the Spirit, we embrace the Gospel life by commitment to Franciscan values and respond to the needs of our time through prayer, community and ministry. © 2014 - Joliet Franciscans

On the cover: Sister Dolores Zemont and Sister Margaret Noser speak at the Anniversary Mass in Brazil on December 15, 2013.

Isn’t that the way it always goes? You plan for months for a very special event. It finally arrives and then, before you know it, the memories are all that remain. This is how it is with the celebration of our 50 years in Brazil which took place in December. The celebration is over, but the wonderful memories will linger for a very long time. Seventeen Sisters and one Associate traveled to Brazil in December to join with our 19 Sisters serving there. During our time together, we traveled to many of the places in Brazil where our Sisters served over the years. We visited a Children’s Home, were treated to a Christmas program at San Damiano School, and spent time with residents of a nursing home. Visits were made to cemeteries to honor our Sisters who served and died in Brazil. This is just the tip of the iceberg of the many activities that filled our days. Although Mass was celebrated all along the journey in three different churches - each one unique in its own way – the major celebration took place on Sunday, December 15 in Santa Helena, where we first arrived on December 15, 1963. We were honored to have Bishop Jose Luiz Majella Delgado as the celebrant of the Mass. The church was filled to capacity and beyond. Many of our Sisters participated in the liturgy in a variety of ways by carrying symbols unique to the congregation in the entrance procession at Mass, participating in the offertory procession, in the choir, and as lectors. A dinner followed, to which 800 Brazilians came! I asked each of our Sisters to write a reflection of her experience in Brazil. We are happy to share those with you in this issue of Confiança, along with reflections from our Brazilian Sisters and a number of photos taken by our Sisters. I have many thoughts, as well, on my time in Brazil during this wonderful celebration, too many to write about in this letter. But if I were to share just one thought with you it would be that I hold in my heart and memory the deep affection the Brazilians have for our Sisters, and they for them. I am flooded with memories of the beautiful people of Brazil and their initial acceptance of our first missionaries from the United States. How quickly this acceptance grew in the hearts of many young Brazilian women who joined those early missionaries becoming Sisters with us in our ministries. Together with the people of the towns and villages where we ministered, we have sown seeds that have grown and born fruit. Although we are no longer present in some areas where we had worked, the ministries that we began, alongside the Brazilian people, continue and flourish, a tribute to the spirit of confiança that has grown among us. You were with us in Brazil through your prayers for our Congregation. The Sisters in both the United States and Brazil remember you in prayer, too. We ask that God bless you for all that you do through your many ways of supporting us. Continued on the bottom of the next page



Advancing the Mission Hello Everyone! As you read this, we are a few months into 2014. Hopefully, the worst of the winter weather is over and you are looking forward to Spring. As this issue of Confiança is the first since the 24th Annual Franciscan Autumn Feast took place, we want to acknowledge our sponsors and guests who made the event a successful one. Based on the many phone calls, emails and notes we received from some of our 278 guests, the 24th Annual Franciscan Autumn Feast - A Ministry of Presence was a huge success. One of the nicest compliments we received was, “It was a great party!” Over $40,000 was raised to benefit the Mission and Ministry of the Sisters in the United States and Brazil. We are grateful to our sponsors: Cole Taylor Bank; Lincolnshire Properties; Brown & Brown of Northern Illinois; Northern Illinois Steel Supply; Fred C. Dames Funeral Homes; Advantage Chevrolet of Bolingbrook; Minarich Graphics & Supplies; Kalmar Investments; Henry Bros. Co.; First Midwest Bank; Great Lakes Advisors; D’Arcy Buick-GMC; Andromeda Technology Systems; Tracy, Johnson & Wilson, Attorneys-at-Law; Franciscan Learning Center; Rocco & Roxanne Martino; Bill & Margaret Benoit; John & Jeanette D’Arcy; Ken Resh; David & Nancy Takashima; Ann C. O’Brien; Natalie Bayci; Jay & Lori Bergman; Mark & Sharon Dames; Marie Gallo; Roy & Pauline Hefer; Mr. & Mrs. David Heniff; Elaine Hershbarger; Jennifer Kacvinsky; Charles Lenhart; Donna M. Mays; Helen M. McCormick; Mrs. Chet Millweard; Ronald & Diana Nawrocki; Mary Ruth & Virginia O’Donnell; Rita Ohlson; LeEtta Perry; Carol C. Platt; Jim & Fran Naal Sczepaniak; Linda Sticklen; and Dr. & Mrs. Lawrence Wyllie. We appreciate the generosity of those who donated items for the Silent Auction and Basket Raffle, our Associates who donated gift cards for the Gift Card Raffle, all who bought raffle tickets and of course, our guests. A special thank you to our stellar committee: Marcia Bianco, Lucy Brogla, Jeanne Jacobs, Claire Millweard, Julie Murphy, Marianne Murphy, Sister Nadine Overbeck, Sister Albert Marie Papesh, Michele Phelps, Jean and John Roach, Fran Naal Sczepaniak and Cheryl Shaw.

Mark your calendars for the 25th Annual Franciscan Autumn Feast on Sunday, October 19 at the Patrick C. Haley Mansion in Joliet. And since you have your calendars out, think about joining Nan Nagl us at “Afternoon Director of Mission Advancement Tea at the Abbey” scheduled for Sunday, June 1 at the Jacob Henry Mansion, also in Joliet. We are happy to introduce a new feature called, “Connections.” As I talk to some of you, I often ask how you know the Sisters. More often than not, you were taught by the Sisters. Some are childhood friends or colleagues. Whatever the connection is, we are asking you to share it with us. Perhaps we can feature you in an upcoming issue of Confiança, our monthly ENews or our website. In the meantime, please enjoy reading about Margaret Benoit’s connection. She is a former student and a long time friend of the Sisters. The Sisters appreciate your generous response to the 2013 Christmas Appeal. I ask you to continue your support this year by making a donation to the 2014 Retirement Appeal arriving in mailboxes shortly, perhaps in honor or memory of a former teacher. Your support makes an impact on the lives of our retired Sisters beyond what you can imagine. Please know that you are remembered in the prayers of the Sisters. Until next time, enjoy the miracle of each new day.

Although we have one major milestone behind us, we now begin preparing for the next one which takes place next year - the 150th anniversary of the founding of our Congregation. Stay tuned! Peace and everything good,

Sister Dolores Zemont, OSF President



Our Ministry Continues As mentioned in Sister Dolores’ letter, below are the reflections of our Sisters who were in Brazil during the 50th Anniversary. “How could my heart not be filled with gratitude and pride, and be humbled as I witnessed such expressions of love, appreciation and respect for the Irmãs Franciscanas (Franciscan Sisters) throughout those days of celebration!”

Sisters Peggy Quinn, Dolores Zemont and Margaret Noser walking in the procession during the Anniversary Mass.

“My heart is filled with music, language, tastes and sights. The time was filled with cultural richness and sharing of customs; learning how things are done in another part of our world is good. And while all that was gift, I was most touched by the people celebrating our Sisters and our history. It was so heart-warming to see the hugs and smiles and expressions of gratitude toward our Sisters.”

“...Whether we spoke in Portuguese, English or some homemade combination of both languages, each activity – the praying and the singing, the sharing of stories or the laughing together, the playing of games or visiting various sites, there were feelings of love and excitement. I thank God and our Congregation for making this prayerful, joyous experience a reality.” “The gracious and warm hospitality of the Sisters of Brazil was the highlight of my visit. Obviously, much preparation had been made for our coming. We were welcomed with much love and affection. Each one radiated a desire to make our stay enjoyable.” “This recent celebration was a time of witnessing fruition. It was a time of experiencing our younger members assuming new roles of leadership. There was an obvious spirit of ownership and of recognizing the giftedness of one another. The celebration at the founding mission of Santa Helena gathered close to 800 people to give thanks for the work of our Sisters.” Sisters enjoying each others’ company.

“Our Congregation’s presence is a precious and enlightening treasure for me. It has been an energizing opportunity to delve deep down into the living missionary spirit and legacy of Jesus the Christ, St. Francis of Assisi and Mother Alfred Moes. It is a special blessing to have my heart and my whole being renewed and burn with the same original missionary vigor.” “I have seen Brazilian roads change from red soil and dangerous rugged roads to asphalt highways. More significantly, I have seen young Brazilian girls mature into confident generous Franciscan religious women. It demonstrated how the people of Brazil have been touched deeply by the love and dedication of our Sisters. Our Sisters have inspired and directed an entire generation of lay leaders for the church. How amazing!” Sister Jane Nienaber and Irmã Rosa Maria Lima dos Santos.



“I am grateful to have had, and will never forget, this experience of celebrating the 50th anniversary of our Sisters in Brazil!” “I am most grateful for this opportunity to revisit Brazil and am very appreciative of the warm hospitality extended to us by our Sisters and the people of Santa Helena.” “Being with the Sisters of Brazil, celebrating fifty years of Franciscan presence, sharing this journey with Sisters of USA and the enthusiasm of all who stayed home continue to bring joy, gratitude and pride in being a Joliet Franciscan.” “I thank God for the blessings of those 50 years, especially for the women called to serve in Brazil, and for the diversity of missions and ministry within our North/South American Congregation. Experiencing such times together strengthens our bond of knowing we are one and uphold each other as we journey . . . wherever . . . responding to Jesus’ prayer, “That ALL may be one!”

Even though Sisters Débora and Terry have a language barrier, they share a special bond.

“Entering the airport at Brasilia, surrounded by “Brazil-ness” gave me a little taste of what immigrants must face and feel when they attempt entry to the U.S.; it was easy for us, but my heart ached when I realized what others must face. One more moment of deep gratitude!” “…Most of all, I reflect on the opportunity to be with our Sisters and see where they live and where they ministered. Much of our communication was hampered by my not knowing more than a few words in Portuguese. Obrigada (thank you) went a long way. And I say OBRIGADA now! ” “…We, North Americans and Brazilians, did a lot of traveling during those ddays and we did it by bus. What a place to form Community! Watching women from the two countries, speaking different languages, sitting with w aand enjoying each other is still seed for reflection. Not only did we enjoy eeach other, we cared for each other and showed it - a hand on the stairs, passiing out water, retrieving a forgotten item, letting a seatmate rest instead of ttalking. Yes, these are little things, but isn’t that what life is all about? ” ““My heart and soul felt immersed in grace as we celebrated our 50 year Anniversary Mass in Santa Helena. Looking around at the expanse of 800 A ppraying people, I thought again of how we are all special in God’s eyes. God iis so generous and loving!” ““Going back to Brazil after 42 years was like stepping out of a time macchine! All the places I remember from the early years have changed. There iis so much growth and progress — new churches, roads paved, and towns have become cities. Best of all, the spirit and mission of the Congregation is h Sister Sandi visits the daycare center powerfully alive in the ministries of our growing Brazilian community.” which is a ministry of our Sisters in Brazil.

Continued on Page 10



Connections At SFA, Margaret became acquainted with the Joliet Franciscan Sisters. Sister Vivian Whitehead was Margaret’s biology teacher and, as she says, “was a fabulous teacher!” Sister Vivian also became her mentor. It was the beginning of a connection that flourished over the years and became a friendship that both Sister Vivian and Margaret enjoy until this day. Sister Vivian said recently, “I’ve known Margaret since she was 13! She is a wonderful woman.” Margaret brought in the scrapbook she made of her time in Alabama.


hink of the many connections in our lives. Internet. Cell phone. Electrical. Flight. The list could go on. Would you agree, however, that the most enduring connection we have is the one we have with people? Welcome to Connections. You, the readers, are the best at sharing with us what your connection with the Joliet Franciscans is. Beginning with this issue, we will feature a connection between you and the Sisters. In this issue, we share Margaret Benoit’s connection. Margaret Kennedy Benoit was raised in Wilmington, Illinois, a town about 15 miles south of Joliet with a population today of over 5,000 citizens. She attended her first three years of school in a oneroom school house and later became a student at St. Rose of Lima Grade School in the 4th grade. When it came time for high school, she boarded the bus to St. Francis Academy (SFA) in Joliet, sometimes staying overnight with her grandparents who lived in Joliet.

Margaret would go on to attend the College of St. Francis (CSF) and again have many of the Sisters as her teachers. By this time, Sister Vivian was also a member of the CSF faculty and once again, became Margaret’s biology teacher. Margaret majored in English with a minor in Music. Recently Margaret shared one of her CSF experiences. “When I was in College, Sr. Rosaire (Schlueb) directed a small group of girls who liked to sing. She named us the Lyric Singers. That was when ‘Up With People’ was popular-we did a lot of their songs with actions, and had a lot of fun. Over our winter break, Sister took our show on the road. We drove 2,800 miles and did 15 performances in five States. We performed in schools where the Joliet Franciscan Sisters were teaching, as well as for some adult groups. The highlight of the trip was a fun tour of New York City.”

and learned of a teaching opportunity at St. Mary School in Fairfield, Alabama. In September 1945, the Joliet Franciscans began teaching in St. Mary School in Fairfield, Alabama. Two rooms were set up at the rear of the church as classrooms. Not a single Catholic child was enrolled. By the end of 1962, the school was operating in a newly-built, two-story brick building in a parish of more than 400 baptized Catholics. Having made the decision to seize the opportunity in Alabama, Margaret says, “Sister Vivian drove me and a friend and another Sister to Fairfield, Alabama over our Spring break that year (1969) so I could see everything and meet Father Nicholas and the Sisters who were living here.” During that visit, Margaret signed her one-year contract. As the summer of 1969 drew to a close and a new school year approached, Margaret packed the car and with her parents accompanying her, made the long drive to Alabama to begin a yearlong adventure she has chronicled in a well-worn scrapbook. The scrapbook is filled with photos and notes from her young students, copies of letters sent home and her own reflections written over the course of the year.

In her senior year at CSF, Margaret was seeking an opportunity to do something which would have an impact on others. She considered the Peace Corps, but was not sure she wanted to leave the United States. She sought the thoughts of her mentor and friend, Sister Vivian, Sister Vivian and Margaret have a special friendship.



While in Alabama, she lived in the convent with Sister Lauren Wiegman (the school principal), Sister Janet Tucci, Sister Rosemary Winter and former Sister Patricia Dowd. Although slightly older than Margaret, Sister Pat became her close friend and remains so today. Together they went to J.C. Penney where Margaret would apply for and receive her first credit card. When her year of teaching in Alabama was over, Margaret returned to Joliet and began a career that lasted more than 30 years, teaching grades 1 through 5 at Parks School and Dirksen School, both in Joliet. Along the way, she met Bill who would become her husband. They have a daughter, Beth. Margaret remembers Sister Vivian somehow managing to get into the maternity wing to visit her after the arrival of Beth. As Margaret says, “Sister Vivian has been there for all the important things in my life.”

Top: Margaret and the Lyric Singers at the College of St. Francis. Bottom: Margaret volunteers at Our Lady of Angels Gift Shop and at the Tuesday noon sing-a-longs where she sings and plays piano.

Margaret’s connection with the Joliet Franciscan Sisters continued over the years as family members became residents of Our Lady of Angels Retirement Home (OLA), a sponsored institution of the Congregation. Margaret’s mother, Kathryn, was a resident for six years at OLA before she died at 100 years of age in October 2013. Margaret visited her mother every day and at one point was encouraged by Kathryn to get involved in doing some volunteer work at OLA. And so she did! For the past four years, Margaret has been leading a weekly sing-a-long for the residents, as well as working in the OLA Gift Shop.

can bring. Kathryn shared with Sister Rosemary her memories of Margaret’s year in Alabama, both the ones of concern but also the ones of pride a mother has in a child.

It was also during this time that Margaret reconnected with Sister Rosemary Winter, who ministers at OLA. Sister Rosemary would spend time with Margaret’s mother, helping her through some of the anxious moments failing health

We appreciate Margaret’s generosity in sharing her time and memories with us. Clearly, through her connection, the Sisters have made a lasting impact on her life. And she has made an impact on theirs, as well!

Mark Your Calendars Prayer Evenings Fourth Tuesday each month Joliet Franciscan Center - 7:00 pm

Afternoon Tea at the Abbey June 1, 2014 Jacob Henry Mansion, Joliet, IL - 2:00 pm

Prayer Breakfast April 23, July 23, September 24 & December 10 Joliet Franciscan Center - 7:00 am

25th Annual Franciscan Autumn Feast October 19, 2014 Patrick C. Haley Mansion, Joliet, IL - 3:00 pm

Bluestem Earth Festival 2014 May 10, 2014 University of St. Francis - 10:00 am - 4:00 pm WINTER/SPRING 2014


Associates’ Corner Mr. LaVerne S. “Bitz” Brown April 19, 1924 - November 9, 2013 It is with great sadness that we mourn the loss of our Associate, Mr. LaVerne “Bitz” Brown. Bitz and his wife, Dorothy “Dottie” became Associates in 1988. They were the first recipients of our Joliet Franciscan Heritage Award in 2010. Bitz will be fondly remembered for his generosity and kindness. LaVerne “Bitz” Brown was born in Joliet, Illinois, and attended both grade school and high school locally. He received his in Mechanical Engineering from Northwestern University. After serving in the U.S. Navy in World War II, Bitz married his high school sweetheart, Dorothy, “Dottie.” A year later, Bitz and his good friend, Paul Lambrecht, founded Brown and Lambrecht Earthmovers. Bitz was well-known throughout the Joliet area. He was a life-long member of St. John the Baptist Church. He received many awards for his dedicated service and generosity. Bitz was a member of many organizations and boards. He was a member of the University of St. Francis’ Board of Trustees, and after his tenure, was awarded Trustee Emeritus status and the Doctor of Humane Letters by

the University. Bitz also served on the Advisory Board of the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate and in 2010, Bitz and Dottie were honored with the Joliet Franciscan Heritage Award. In 1988 Bitz became an Associate of the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate. Sister Bernadette Sifferlin was his Companion Sister. In his application Bitz stated he wanted to become an Associate to help further the work of the Congregation. He believed that the Sisters were “what they said that they were, they lived and practiced the life of Francis.” May God bless you, Bitz. We are grateful for the years you spent as an Associate and friend to our Congregation. May you now enjoy the presence of God whom you loved and served.

Bitz, Sister Bernadette and Dottie

Ask and You Shall Receive! By: Julie Kowalczyk There is a quote from Scripture (Matthew 7:7) which says, “Ask, and it will be given to you, seek and you will find...” this has certainly applied to a recent experience I had at our Gathering in early August. Several of us had the opportunity to meet Sister Rosemary Fonck during the Associate trip in April, 2013 to Good Shepherd Catholic Center in Alabama (sponsored by the Edmundite Missions). We asked her how we could continue to help her meet the needs of the people there. As we all know, these are people who truly depend on her ministry. She requested school supplies for the children since school would be starting soon. Knowing that this was the time when school supplies were on sale, I sent a quick email to all of my friends, many who are teachers and know and understand this need. God moved their hearts and we were able to gather quite a bit of school supplies! I immediately sent out about eight boxes of supplies to Sr. Rosemary. To save on postage, I saved the rest of the school supplies for a trip we would be taking down to Alabama in November. We also received over $600 in donations that would also help the children get school supplies. Since Sister Rosemary also mentioned that she could use kitchen items of any kind, we again sent out a request to the Sisters and Associates in our Franciscan family. I asked and certainly I received. I have been overwhelmed by all of the items that were brought in. My garage and basement were piled high with boxes, filled and ready to go to Alabama. On November 10, Sister Rose Marie Surwilo, John Block and I drove my SUV, with a trailer attached, to deliver all of the items that we had collected for Alabama. Sister Rosemary is also seeing this Scripture passage come alive, thanks to the generosity of many of you and the goodness of our God. We hope to continue to make these trips to Alabama in the future of course, weather permitting!



Meet My Ministry I first lived at Sts. Peter and Paul School where I taught both 3rd and 5th grades. A couple of years later, the school was closed. It was difficult, since our Congregation had served here for nearly 102 years! It was consolidated with 2 other schools in the neighborhood. The new school was called Jesus Our Brother and I taught both 2nd and 3rd grades. Unfortunately, this school also closed. I then taught 2nd grade at Our Lady Gate of Heaven for 11 years before we again closed our doors. It was for my work here that I received the Dr. Nathan Jones Special Achievement Award. This award is in recognition of dedicated service and leadership in the Black Catholic Community. It was presented by the Office For Black Catholics on October 4, 2003. Sister Jeanette Willenborg with two second graders. S

Sister Jeanette Willenborg has been a teacher for the past 42 years and has received awards for her dedication and commitment. She is a 2nd grade teacher in Boulder, Colorado. By: Sister Jeanette Willenborg, OSF


s a child I was fortunate to have the Joliet Franciscans as teachers. Our grade school was a two room school house in the small community of Lillyville, Illinois. Because the farming community was 100 % Catholic, they petitioned the Reverend Mother of the Joliet Franciscans for teachers and three Sisters were sent. We were blessed with Sisters as teachers for many years, even though it was a public school system. It was the Sisters’ love of teaching that instilled in me the desire to be a Sister who teaches elementary children. I entered the Congregation in 1966, when the Church was going through a lot of changes. The Joliet Franciscans were also experiencing many different changes in ministry as well. When I entered, teaching was what one expected to do. Today we minister in many different kinds of ministries. My goal, while attending the College of St. Francis, was to become a certified teacher. I graduated with my teaching certificate in 1971. I then served the Archdiocese of Chicago for the next 33 years, teaching in four different schools. Because it was in the inner-city, we went through a lot of changes. We witnessed the closing of schools, churches, and convents.

Then came St. Michael’s School where I taught 4th grade. All of these schools were on the South-side of Chicago. At St. Michael’s School, I was awarded the 2008 Educator of the Year Award in recognition of outstanding performance and commitment to our youth. It was presented by the South Chicago Chamber. In my acceptance speech I was able to talk about the wonderful work our Sisters had done at Sts. Peter and Paul, St. Francis de Sales and Our Lady of Guadalupe Schools in Chicago. In 2009, I was asked to move to Boulder, CO. I became a substitute teacher in the Denver Archdiocese. The next year I was hired at Sacred Heart of Jesus in Boulder, where I am still teaching today. I live with Sister Mary Rose Lieb and our Associate, Mary Lewis, in the foothills of Boulder. We are surrounded by God’s beauty and try to be good Franciscans living in harmony with everything that comes into our neighborhood. The Sacrament Program is very important for the 2nd grade students. The students are prepared for the Sacraments of Reconciliation and First Holy Communion by the classroom teacher. During my first three years, we also had to work with the parents and students as we prepared the students for Reconciliation. We facilitated meetings in homes, just like the first Christians did, with the parents only, before the reception of First Holy Communion by the students. This year, with the arrival of a new pastor, preparation for the sacrament has changed. Fr. Chris, our pastor, now works with the parents to refresh their knowledge of the sacraments.



This past October 4th, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, my class was responsible for planning the school Mass on that day. The students did all the readings and shared with everyone The Canticle of the Creation. All of the students and teachers were asked to bring a STUFFED animal with them to school and Mass. St. Francis is known for many things but one thing was his love of the creatures in nature. This is my 42nd year of being a classroom teacher and the ways of teaching students have constantly been changing! We rely totally on technology these days with electronic grade books, report cards done on the computer, lesson plans written on-line, communication with parents done by e-mail and the use of a school website. Sister Jeanette Willenborg (holding plaque) was awarded the 2008 Educator of the Year Award in recognition of her outstanding performance and commitment by the South Chicago Chamber. She is pictured above with Sisters Nadine Overbeck and Peggy Quinn at the award ceremony.

Our Ministry Continues

I strive daily to bring Jesus to the students and to the faculty who share with me the responsibility of showing Jesus to the students and their families. Please pray for all teachers as we always try to discover the best way to work with every child entrusted to our care.

(continued from Page 4)

Reflections from some of our Sisters in Brazil “The presence of so many North American Sisters who came to give us support and share with us this moment, was so beautiful and so significant in the history of our Congregation!” “Receiving the Sisters who live in the United States, I felt more connected with them and feel that God is very generous with all of us and sent us so many gracious, lovable and generous Sisters.” “For me, the visit of the Sisters was a grace. I greatly enjoyed meeting each one and I also appreciated their flexibility, because they were always attentive and grateful for everything that was proposed.” “I personally felt that having so many of our Sisters with us was a real sign of support and encouragement to continue this mission in this holy land.” “The Sisters who came from the United States were joyful, trying to understand us and did everything possible to please us, even without knowing how to speak our language. Love and fraternity united us in an almost perfect way.” “Interest, concern, support, love of one another were so evident during those days! And those days will never be over. Thank you for coming. Thank you for participating so willingly in everything. Thank you for being community with us in Brazil!” 10


Many people spoke of the gratitude and deep love they have for our Sisters in Brazil.

At Journey’s End Sister (Mary) Alcuin Kelly, OSF July 23, 1917 - October 4, 2013


orn in Sidney, Nebraska, on July 23, 1917, Agnes Kelly was the third of twelve children born to Francis and Anna (Reinke) Kelly. As a young child, her family moved to Falls City, Nebraska. Raised in Saints Peter and Paul Parish, she attended Lake Side Public School and Sacred Heart Academy where she was taught by the Ursuline Sisters. Following her two older sisters, Bernardine and Marie Terese, Agnes also made her way to Joliet, Illinois, to become an aspirant with the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate. She attended St. Francis Academy and as her 16th birthday approached, with a supportive recommendation from her aspirant mistress, Sister Apollonia, and enter the Postulancy in the fall of 1933. In August 1934, she was received as a novice by Mother Thomasine and given her religious name, Sister Mary Alcuin. Two years later, she professed her first vows and proceeded on her journey of 80 years of consecrated life as a Joliet Franciscan Sister.

1955, she made the very most of her education and delighted in every opportunity to further the love of music among her Sisters and her students. Making the study and appreciation of music accessible to the many and not simply the privilege of the few, she enabled others not only to perform and understand music, but also to create music and comprehend the connections between music and lived experience.

Blessed from an early age with a natural giftedness for the performing arts, Sister Alcuin was both a talented musician and dedicated music educator. Graduating from the College In her later years, Sister Alcuin distinguished herself not of St. Francis in 1938, she was admitted to the American only as a lifelong learner, but also as an accomplished Conservatory of Music in Chicago five years later. There, artisan. With diligence and joy she sought to deepen her she studied the violoncello, her understanding of the Franciscan favorite instrument. Over the course tradition through various courses of 67 years, from 1936 until 2003, and workshops on the writings and she instructed and encouraged legends of Francis and Clare as countless students. Whether she was well as the spiritual treatises of Boteaching a class or giving a private naventure. She tirelessly crocheted lesson, she held fast to the convicafghans, scarves and booties for tion that “music’s only purpose young and old alike. An avid reader should be for the glory of God and drawn into the stories of others, the recreation of the human spirit.” she also possessed a contemplaAmong the highlights of her own tive readiness to ponder her own musical endeavors and accomstory as she returned to God all that plishments, she took great pride in she had received - body, mind and being part of the “Sisters’ Summer spirit. Fondly remembered for her Orchestra” at the College of St. kindness and quiet disposition, SisFrancis, where Sisters from various ter Alcuin also was known for her communities studied and performed frontier frankness, her ethic of hard Sister Alcuin Kelly celebrated her 75th Jubilee music together so as to provide the work, her personal striving to grow in 2009. broader Joliet community with an in grace and to experience music as experience of live musical concerts. a “vehicle of the Holy Spirit.” Eager to “love God and serve her students at the highest level of competency,” Sister Alcuin went on to do further Sr. Alcuin died at OLA on October 4, 2013. She is buried graduate studies at the American Conservatory of Music, in the Joliet Franciscan Sisters’ plot in Romeoville, IL. We this time with a particular focus on Public School Music. give thanks to God for the life of our Sister Alcuin. Granted a Master of Music Education degree in June of



At Journey’s End Sister Patricia (Mary Francis de Sales) David, OSF May 2, 1937 - October 21, 2013


orn in Toledo, Ohio, on May 2, 1937, Patricia was one of two children born to Anna (Liszak) and Frank David. She was a devoted daughter and a loving sister to her younger brother Frank. From childhood on, she was a joyful and gentle presence in the lives of everyone who knew her. Educated by the Joliet Franciscan Sisters at St. Francis de Sales Grade School in Toledo, young Patricia’s Hungarian heritage and ethnic identity were nurtured at St. Stephen Church, where later in life she would return to minister.

As an adolescent moved by the Spirit of God, she made her way from Ohio to Illinois at the age of 14, and as an aspirant at St. Francis Academy, she began to examine the call to follow Jesus as sister, disciple, teacher, and companion. Embracing her vocation with enthusiasm and a song in her heart, she became a postulant in September 1954. In August of the following year, she was accepted as a novice and given the name Sister M. Francis de Sales. In the estimation of many, her religious name was a perfect fit. Her natural affinity for the young, the poor, the vulnerable and those on the margins was evidenced in countless and creative ways.

and generosity, she also became acutely aware of the challenges facing so many elders, especially those who were alone and at risk. Turning to the educational resources available at Lourdes College in Sylvania, Ohio, she studied gerontology and soon began working as a clinical geriatric therapist until funding for Intergenerational Services, Inc. in Northwestern Ohio was discontinued ddue to government cutbacks in Mediccare. As a consequence of her firsthand eexperience, Sister Pat became increasiingly more sensitive to the plight of eldders made poor and vulnerable precisely bbecause they were unable to access the hhuman services they needed. Invited to sserve as a long-distance member of the Board of Our Lady of Angels RetireB ment Home (OLA), Sister Pat provided m bboth wisdom and insight.

On August 12, 1957, Sister Francis de Sales made her first profession of vows and embarked on a 43-year long adventure in the ministry of teaching. Completing her undergraduate studies in history IIn 2000, upon her return to the Joliet and education at the College of St. Franaarea after the deaths of her parents and cis, she later went on to earn a Master’s uuncle, Sister Pat and those who loved degree from DePaul University. With hher began to notice subtle changes inequal measures of enthusiasm, hopefulddicative of the early onset of dementia. ness, discipline and delight, her passion Despite her condition, Sister Pat reD “to teach as Jesus taught” was contagious Sister Pat always had a smile on her mained steadfast in her commitment to face and brought joy to others. and manifested on a daily basis among her care for the Sisters and residents of Our beloved first-graders at St. Coleman School in Pompano Lady of Angels for as long as possible, knowing that one Beach, Florida, her energetic middle-graders at St. Jude day in the not too distant future, she would find her place School in Joliet, Illinois, and countless students in other no longer serving, but being served. grades and other schools in Illinois and Ohio. And so, little by little, our Sister Pat graciously returned to In 1986, as Sister Pat’s aging parents and Uncle Joe began God all that she had been given - body, mind and spirit. to need more direct assistance and support because of illness and disability, she returned to the Toledo area and Sister Patricia died peacefully at OLA on October 21, began a new chapter in her life. While responding to the 2013. She is buried in the Joliet Franciscan Sisters’ plot in particular needs of her loved ones with affection, concern Romeoville, IL. We give thanks to God for the life of our Sister Pat.



At Journey’s End Sister Tecla (Mary Cephas) Snyder, OSF March 21, 1923 - November 15, 2013


ister Tecla was born in Mansfield, Ohio, on March 21, 1923, to the late Anna Santos and Lester J. Snyder, and baptized Thekla Adilla Snyder, at St. Peter’s Church. She was the third of five children. After attending Hedges Grade School and Mansfield Senior High School and inspired and encouraged by the Joliet Franciscans teaching at St. Peter’s, Tecla entered the postulancy of the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate on September 4, 1940. She completed her senior year in high school and graduated from St. Francis Academy in 1941. Entering the novitiate in August of 1941, Tecla was given the name Sister Mary Cephas. Two years later she made her first profession, and in 1946 pronounced her final vows to which she was faithful for 70 years.

While she was a postulant, Sister Tecla was allowed to go home to Mansfield during her mother’s illness and again when her mother died, something she would always remember gratefully. It may have been her mother, Anna Santos, who gave Sister Tecla her love for the Spanish language and culture. Majoring in Spanish at the then College of St. Francis, she subsequently received her Master’s degree from the University of Notre Dame. Sister Tecla also studied in Madrid, Spain, as well as Guadalajara, Mexico. Her love for Spanish culture and her own prayer life led her to study the great Spanish mystics, John of the Cross and Theresa of Avila. Sister Tecla’s love of learning included a deepening of her spiritual life. This took her to Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, for a year of theological studies ranging from Old and New Testaments, the Church and Social Justice and perhaps her greatest love, liturgy and spirituality. Summers found her studying at universities in California, Arizona and Colorado.

and colleagues at CSF. Her participation in the summer grant program from the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1976 and her nomination and selection to serve a six year term in the Danforth Associate Program in 1978 were evidence of her professional expertise. In the curriculum vitae required in the Danforth nomination Sister Tecla wrote: “My concern is not only to teach students intelc lectually, but to help to educate each one l as a a whole person, intellectually, morally, socially and physically.” s In I 1985, she gracefully asked for early retirement at the end of the CSF school year t in i 1986. In her retirement letter she wrote: “I “ have permission from our Congregation to study and prepare this coming year t for f my second career. I am most grateful f for my Congregation’s support and encouragement. Changes are not easy, e but b they are necessary. (We were ‘never promised a rose garden.’)” p So S Sister Tecla began again, this time teaching in her hometown of Mansfield, Ohio, at St. Peter’s High School for one year and then becoming a student herself at Gonzaga University in Spokane in 1987-88. Her teaching days were not over as she again returned to Joliet and Joliet Catholic Academy where she taught until 1996. Sister Tecla continued serving the Congregation she so loved in a variety of ways at the Motherhouse, Guardian Angel Home, and, since 2008, at Our Lady of Angels Retirement Home.

A young Sister Tecla standing in front of the College of St. Francis

Sister Tecla began her ministry of teaching in 1945 at SS. Peter and Paul in Chicago. In 1951 she returned to Joliet, and along with teaching at St. Francis Academy, she was Assistant Mistress of the aspirants at St. Francis Preparatory. She endeared herself to many young high school girls who were aspiring to become Joliet Franciscans. In 1957, Sister Tecla returned to her beloved Ohio to teach at Central Catholic High School in Toledo.

A new chapter began in her life in 1959 when Sister Tecla returned to Joliet to teach Spanish at the College of St. Francis. Sister Tecla gained the respect and love of both her students

We thank our God for this joy-filled, loving woman whom so many affectionately called “Tecky.”



At Journey’s End Sister June (Donald Marie) Marshall, OSF August 21, 1934 - November 26, 2013


orn in Toledo, Ohio, on August 21, 1934, June Rose Marshall was the eldest of five children born to Eleanore (Schroeder) and Joseph Marshall. She began her elementary education at Sacred Heart School in Toledo. In second grade, she transferred to Immaculate Conception School in Darby and after graduating from eighth grade, she attended Central Catholic High School for two years. Inspired by the Sisters whom she knew as teachers, June experienced a call to religious life, and in September of 1949 she became an aspirant with the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate and completed her secondary school education at St. Francis Academy in Joliet, Illinois.

On September 4, 1951, June entered the postulancy and on August 12, 1952, she was received into the novitiate and given the religious name, Sister Donald Marie. She made her first profession on August 12, 1954, and began teaching in the primary grades. She made her final profession on August 13, 1957, and continued teaching until 1960. In the spring of that year, she experienced uncertainty about her vocation to religious life. She requested to leave the Congregation of her own accord and was granted a dispensation from her vows from the Holy See. She returned to Toledo and served as a lay teacher with the Ursuline Sisters at St. John School in Point Place for two years. The Ursulines encouraged June to continue to discern the will of God in her life. As a consequence, she remained open to “God’s holy manner of working” and eventually returned to the Joliet Franciscans in September of 1962, where she was re-admitted to the novitiate as Sister Donald Marie.

During the summer of 1974, immediately following the profession of her final vows on June 9, Sister June completed a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education at the Toledo Hospital where she trained as a hospital chaplain. This prepared her to work as pastoral minister of St. Peter Parish in Mansfield, Ohio, where for eleven years, she provided care to the sick and elderly as well as to new parents preparing for the baptism of their children. In 1985, Sister June moved to Swanton, Ohio, to care for her aging parents. She was hired as a hospital chaplain on the oncology unit of Mercy Hospital in Toledo where she was highly regarded for her concern and compassionate care. In 1990, Sister June returned to the Joliet aarea and reinvented herself yet again, tthis time as secretary for the Center for Correctional Concerns, a position she C hheld for close to ten years. In 2000, due tto a series of health concerns, she beccame a resident at Our Lady of Angels Retirement Home, where she devoted R hherself to volunteer ministry and community service. In 2011, Sister June m moved to Resurrection Life Care Cenm tter in Chicago where, despite her own ddeclining health, she was valued by aall for her generous spirit and pastoral ppresence, especially among those with ddementia and those close to death.

Committed to the ministry of elementary school education, Sister Donald Marie taught in a number of parish schools in Illinois and Ohio from 1963 through 1974. However, having received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from the College of St. Francis in July of 1965, she remained In her spare time, Sister June stitched beautialert to the changes that were occurful needlework pieces and gave them as gifts. Reflecting back on her life with an eye to what was yet to come, Sister June ring in the Church and in the world. In observed: “I want to be everything in the future that I wasn’t in the wake of Vatican II and the renewal of religious life, Sister the past. I am going to try to repay (although to some extent it June recognized that the “Sister of the future” was being called is impossible to do so) our Almighty God for what I consider to consider new opportunities for ministry which led her to the greatest gift He could possibly have offered me, namely, pursue a three year experience in the social service department a second chance.” We give thanks to God for the life of our at Mercy Hospital in Toledo, Ohio. Sister June.



At Journey’s End Sister Rita (Mary Alexander) Greene, OSF July 6, 1919 - December 8, 2013


ister Rita was the fourth of nine children born to the late Helen (Scheiblich) and Michael Greene on July 6, 1919, in Columbus, Ohio. She grew up in Holy Rosary Parish and attended St. John the Evangelist grade school. After her first year of high school at Holy Rosary, she came to Joliet, Illinois, and entered St. Francis Preparatory, completing her high school education at St. Francis Academy. Her two aunts, Sisters Evelyn and Lydia Scheiblich, now deceased, had joined the Sisters of St. Francis many years before and may have influenced Rita to come to Joliet.

On September 8, 1935, Rita became a postulant with the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate. A year later, on August 12, 1936, Rita entered the novitiate receiving the name Sister Mary Alexander. Pronouncing her first vows on August 12, 1938, Sister Alexander then became a full time student at the College of St. Francis in Joliet. In the fall of 1940 she began her ministry of teaching at St. Bernard grade school in Joliet where she taught kindergarten, first and second grades for four years. Sister Alexander made her final vows on August 12, 1941. In 1944 she moved to Sacred Heart parish in Hubbard Woods, Illinois, where she taught kindergarten, second and fifth grades for the next ten years.

Reporter: “The Diocese in Agana, Guam, needs teachers.” Sister Rita writes: “At that time, I wanted a change, and the thought of a little adventure fascinated me. . . .God’s world is filled with wonders, and I wanted to continue to be aware of them, especially as an artist.” Sister Rita spent three years in Guam before returning to Joliet. Teaching seminarians at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Romeoville, Illinois, followed by a year coordinating the art program at the Franciscan Learning Center in Joliet filled the next two years. Once again, the stirring returned and Sister Rita began discerning the movement of the Spirit within her. She wrote: “How does one try to convince others that she feels a calling deep within her to do a certain thing?” She thought maybe being with our Sisters in Brazil was the answer, but that was not to be. Then the call of Guam returned. Sister Rita wrote: “I have tried to put Guam in the past by throwing myself wholeheartedly into my present work. At times I thought I had succeeded but now I realize a force stronger than myself is calling Sister Rita receives her missioning statement me to return.” from then President, Sr. Mary Rose Lieb.

Her summers were filled with weeks at Marybrook Academy in Maumee, Ohio, Guardian Angel Home and CYO at St. Raymond in Joliet. Advanced study began at Siena Heights in Adrian, Michigan. But then, in 1954, Sister Alexander began her summer studies at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., returning to Joliet in the fall to begin teaching art at the College of St. Francis. She graduated with a Master of Fine Arts in 1958. Further studies during summers took her as close as Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and as far as the University of Florence in Italy, as well as ten weeks of study in Yugoslavia. After 22 years of teaching at the College of St. Francis, something began to stir within the heart of Sister Rita. The stirring grew when she read an ad in the National Catholic

Thirty-four years ago, Sister Rita wrote, “My aim in religious life has never been to acquire a great name for myself as an artist but to be of service to others.” They are words that marked her entire Franciscan life, a life of service to others. On December 8, 2013, Sister Rita died peacefully at OLA and is buried in the Joliet Franciscan Sisters’ plot in Romeoville, IL. We give thanks to God for the life of our Sister Rita.



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Confianca Winter/Spring 2014  

A publication of the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate, Joliet, IL.

Confianca Winter/Spring 2014  

A publication of the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate, Joliet, IL.