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Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate

confianรงa a Portuguese word meaning faith and trust.

Happy 145th Anniversary WINTER 2010/2011

A welcome from Sister Mary Rose Dear Friends, Welcome to the Winter issue of Confiança. May the great gift of Jesus-with-us bless you and yours this Christmas and throughout the New Year. This past August, the Joliet Franciscan Sisters inaugurated a year-long celebration of the 145th anniversary of their founding by Mother Alfred Moes. As part of the celebration, we were honored to have an exhibit covering our history at the Joliet Area Historical Museum from June 6th through October 10th. I know many of you visited the exhibit and have shared your kind thoughts with us. But for those of you who did not have the opportunity to visit, we are sharing a part of the exhibit in this issue of our magazine. And, we will provide more of the exhibit in our Spring 2011 issue. Our Sisters and Associates were asked to share some of their reflections with you. These are heartfelt stories, which I am sure you will enjoy. I am delighted to tell you that Sister Jennifer Byrnes, currently a second-year Novice, will make her first profession of vows January 8, 2011. In August, Sister Deborah Gaughan entered our Novitiate. In Brazil, Irmã (Sister) Beatriz de Sousa made her first profession of vows January, 2010. In July, I was honored to receive Irmã Ana Claudia Pontes Rezende final profession of vows in our Congregation. Additionally, last Spring, six women formalized their commitment as lay Associates of our Franciscan Congregation. These signs of new life within our Congregation fill us with hope and gratitude. Sr. Mary Rose’s letter continues on page 15.

Confiança is a publication of the


Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate 1433 Essington Road Joliet, Illinois 60435 Phone: (815)725-8735

Editor - Nan Nagl Director of Mission Advancement Layout and Design - Lucy Sanchez Copy Editor - Sr. Carlene Howell, OSF

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.

145 Years, Serving God, Serving Community Reflections


Group visits Brazil


On the Front Cover: General Superiors/Presidents, past and present, celebrate the 145th Anniversary of the Congregation. Pictured from left are Sisters Vivian Whitehead, Mary Jean Morris, Mary Rose Lieb (current president), Rosemary Fonck and Elaine Murphy. Not pictured: Sister Maria Pesavento.




© 2010, Sisters of St. Francis

Advancing the Mission Hello everyone! We’ve been busy over the past few months. On October 24th, the 21st Annual Franciscan Autumn Feast was held at the Bolingbrook Golf Club. Over 230 people were in attendance and approximately $31,000 was raised. In light of the difficult financial times our country lives in, we are extremely appreciative of the support we received. A number of individuals, businesses and organizations were very generous with their support as sponsors and as Silent Auction or Basket Raffle donors. It’s important that we recognize and thank them for their participation. If I’ve left anyone’s name off of the list, it is unintentional. Sponsors and Friends: Mr. & Mrs. LaVerne Brown, Brown & Brown Insurance, Great Lakes Advisors, Inc., Bill & Margaret Benoit, D’Arcy Motors, Northern Illinois Steel Supply Co., Mrs. Pat Ruth, Henry Bros. Co., Minarich Graphics & Supplies, Inc., Provena St. Joseph Medical Center, Rayalco Software, Remco Medical, St. Anthony Church, Joliet, IL, Tracy, Johnson & Wilson, Attorneys-at-Law, Advantage Chevrolet, Wayne and Jane Bessette, Lois Considine, Robert M. Kochevar, Susan Martin, Helen M. McCormick, Mrs. Chet Millweard, Rita Ohlson, Ann Orlosky, Peter C. Relli, Mayor & Mrs. Arthur Schultz, Mrs. Fran Naal Sczepaniak, Linda Sticklen, Richard Streitz, Nancy VanGiesen, Dr. & Mrs. Arthur P. Wilhelmi, Dr. & Mrs. Lawrence Wyllie, and Pauline M. Yatsko. Silent Auction and Basket Raffle Donors: Sr. Lucille Adelmann, Al’s Steak House & Banquets (Joliet), Margaret Benoit, Sr. Kay Francis Berger, Joseph & Marcia Bianco, Caesar Bianco, Sr. Sue Bruno, Sr. Maria Bui, Bob Campbell Photography (Joliet), Cemeno’s Pizza (Joliet), Chicago Wolves, Chicago White Sox, Chicago Bears, Lynn Conrad, Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant (Chicago), John & Jeanette D’Arcy, Dolores Dean, Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa (Galena), Franciscan Autumn Feast Committee, Franciscan Learning Center (Joliet), Sr. Pauline Anne Furiel, Grant’s Appliances & Electronics, (Joliet), Sr. MJ Griffin and Family, Matt and Dolores Gross, Heritage Bluffs Public Golf Course (Channahon), Vicki Hodgman, Sr. David Ann Hoy, Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra (Frankfort), Sr. Mary Ann Jerkofsky, our friend Joe, Joliet Franciscan Center Staff, Joliet Franciscan Archives, LuAnn Kinney, Sr. Leomarie Luecke, Judi Mayer, Sr. Marie Miller, Mrs. Rosemary Miller, Mrs. Chet Millweard, Sr. Mary Jean Morris, Marianne Murphy, Fran Naal Sczepaniak, Nagl Family, Panera Bread, Sr. Albert Marie Papesh, The Portiuncula Center for Prayer (Frankfort), Providence Catholic High

School (New Lenox), Ravinia Festival (Highland Park), John & Jean Roach, Sr. Sandi Salois, Peggy Schick, Servants of the Nan Nagl Director of Mission Advancement Holy Heart of Mary (Kankakee), Cheryl Shaw, Shedd Aquarium (Chicago), Siegel’s Cottonwoods Farm (Lockport), Sisters of St. Francis (in US and Brazil), Sr. Kathryn Stimac, Tallgrass Restaurant (Lockport), Sr. Nicholas Tosseng, Rita Travis, Sr. Juanita Ujcik, University of St. Francis (Joliet), Sr. Helen Vahling, Sr. Loretta Vetter, Dr. Henry & Amy Vicioso, Walt Disney World (Lake Buena Vista, FL), White Fence Farm (Lemont), Sr. Rosemary Winter, Sr. Dorothy Clare Zuleski, Sr. Helen Zulka and many friends choosing to remain anonymous. The Canticle of the Future is the congregation’s planned giving society. We ask you to consider joining this group. In doing so, you will help to secure the current and future ministries of the Sisters. For the list of Canticle of the Future members, please visit our website. You might consider remembering the Sisters in your will, or as a beneficiary of either an insurance plan or an IRA. Please contact the Mission Advancement office at 815-725-8735 for more information on planned giving. Finally, I want to say thank you to all of you who remember the Sisters in some way. You make a difference not only in their lives, but also in the lives of all those to whom they minister. I ask that you continue your financial support in 2011 in whatever way you can. You are in the prayers of all of the Sisters, in both the United States and Brazil. Please also keep them in yours. Until next time, enjoy the miracles that each new day brings.

Winter 2010/11


145 Years: Serving God, Serving Community From June 6 through October 10, we were honored to showcase pieces of our 145 year history in our exhibit “145 Years: Serving God, Serving Community” at the Joliet Area Historical Museum. Although many of you from the Joliet area were able to visit the exhibit, we want to share as much of it as we can with all of you on the pages of Confiança. Keep in mind that what you are seeing today is only a portion of the entire exhibit. We’ll present more to you in our next issue. But for now, we hope you enjoy it.

Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate I

magine leaving behind your family and your home to answer a calling. Armed with a knowledge of math and music, art and architecture, and the ability to speak English, French, German and their Sr. Barbara Moes,OSF native Luxembourg language, Maria Catherine Moes, who would go on to become Mother Alfred Moes, and her sister Catherine, the eventual Sister Barbara, took a leap of faith in 1853 and traveled to the United States to begin a new life of service to God and community.

Mother Alfred Moes, OSF First General Superior of the Congregation


raveling first to Wisconsin and spending time in Milwaukee before going to Indiana where they lived with two other Congregations, the Moes sisters, along with two companion sisters, were accepted into the Franciscan Third Order Regular in 1863. Within months, this group of Sisters had begun teaching at St. John the Baptist School in Joliet. In 1865, Mother Alfred traveled to Allegany, New York to meet with Fr. Pamfilo da Magliano, where on August 2nd he named her the first General Superior of this new congregation, the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate.

Left: Mother Alfred and Sister Barbara’s House in Luxembourg is the third house on the left.




s the Congregation grew during her years as General Superior, Mother Alfred answered the call to send Sisters wherever the need arose. She opened St. Francis Academy in Joliet. She provided aid to the victims of the Chicago Fire in 1871 and traveled to Tennessee during the yellow fever epidemic to help the Sisters there, but arrived too late as some had already died.


hen Bishop Foley of Joliet required that she be replaced as General Superior, she was commissioned by Mother Alberta, the new superior, to build an academy in Rochester, Minnesota at the request of the local bishop. After the opening of the Academy of Our Lady of Lourdes, Bishop Foley of Joliet ordered Mother Alfred’s separation from the Joliet Franciscans. Twenty-five Sisters went with Mother Alfred to begin a new Congregation in Rochester while ninety-nine remained in Joliet.

St. Francis Convent and Academy in 1871 located on the corner of Broadway and Division Streets in Joliet. Sold to the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart, it was eventually demolished in 1964.

A New Beginning M

other Alfred’s schools in Rochester flourished. When an 1883 tornado devasted the area, the schools were opened to the vicitms. Mother Alfred immediately recognized the need for a hospital. Dr. William Mayo was asked to plan and staff a hospital at the Sisters’ expense. St. Mary’s Hospital was opened in 1889 and today is part of the Mayo Clinic.

Above: Statues of Mother Alfred and Dr. William Mayo are located at the entrance of the clinic.

Right: Prayer card given at Mother Alfred’s funeral.


other Alfred returned to Joliet for a visit in 1898 the only visit since her separation from the Joliet Franciscans. She died on December 18, 1899, having lived a life of service to God and to community. Mother Alfred Moes and her sister, Sister Barbara, who died on November 23, 1895, are buried side by side in Rochester, Minnesota.

Winter 2010/11

145 Years: Serving God, Serving Community

Beginning of the Congregation


The Motherhouse: 520 Plainfield Road I

t was the late 1870s, and the Joliet Franciscans needed more space to accommodate the growing Congregation and the St. Francis Academy students. Mr. William Strong offered to sell a piece of land on Plank Road (bordered by Taylor, Douglas and Wilcox Streets) to the Sisters for $3,425.00 if they would guarantee the building of an educational institution on the property. With the necessary approval obtained, the Sisters became the owners of the property in November, 1879.

OďŹƒcial opening Mass was celebrated on August 15, 1882, Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.


he groundbreaking took place on October 4, 1880. The cornerstone was laid on May 15, 1881, and work progressed steadily. By the second week of August, 1882, Mother Celestine Sontag led the Congregation to the new Motherhouse. The Sisters sold their former Motherhouse to the Sisters of St. Francis of the Sacred Heart where it would eventually become St. Joseph Hospital.

Cornerstone at the Motherhouse


s the needs of the Congregation changed over the years, expansions and improvements to the original structure continued.


Transformation of the Chapel

ith fewer Sisters and with older members of the Congregation now living at Our Lady of Angels Retirement Home, the Joliet Franciscans first sold the Taylor Wing and then the remainder of the building to the University of St. Francis in 2004.

T Above: Major renovations are completed in the St. Joseph Chapel circa: 1898-99.

he Sisters have fond memories of their Motherhouse, especially St. Joseph Chapel, which is still used for many Congregation celebrations.

St. Joseph Chapel as it appears today. Sisters gather for Installation of the 20082012 Central Administration.



Beginnings of Guardian Angel Home


ver the years, the Hartmann children would be joined by others, always living in the Motherhouse with the Sisters. In 1897, a cottage behind the Motherhouse became the first Guardian Angel Home. The original Guardian Angel Home was located on the grounds of the Motherhouse at 520 Plainfield Road in 1897. Left: Fifteen children were staying at Guardian Angel Home when this picture was taken in 1897. Their names are listed on the blackboard.

Right: Leander Thompson at the age of 17 months, was the first baby admitted into the orphanage.

One of the original orphans, Sister Cecilia Hartman, joined the Congregation in 1873.


s the number of children grew, the need for space grew as well. In 1898, the Fox Estate on Buell Street was purchased and within a year fifty children were in residence. The need for additional space continued until, in 1925, ground was broken and the cornerstone laid for the building that still stands today on Theodore Street and Plainfield Road.

Winter 2010/11

145 Years: Serving God, Serving Community


he care of children has always been at the core of the Sisters’ work. So, when John Hartmann, who had lost his wife in the 1864 fire at St. John the Baptist Church, asked the Sisters to care for his children, they said, “Yes” without hesitation. These simple acts of compassion and caring were the beginning of the Congregation’s commitment to the care of orphaned children.


Expansion of Guardian Angel Home A

lthough primarily a home for orphaned, neglected or dependent children in its first seventy years, societal needs were changing in the late 1960s. Foster care was now becoming a viable alternative for these children. After a comprehensive study of community needs, the Sisters responded with major changes to its programs at Guardian Angel Home in 1971. Programs were developed to help children with severe emotional needs or who were in crisis. In 1973, Guardian Angel Home became a licensed child welfare agency. And in 2005, its name was changed to Guardian Angel Community Services to reflect the wide array of services that are now offered.

The Fox Estate was purchased in 1898.

Today: Guardian Angel Community Services N

o doubt, Mother Alfred would be very proud of what Guardian Angel Community Services has become. The mission of Guardian Angel Community Services is “to improve the quality of people’s lives so that they may become empowered to realize their God given potential.” Groundbreaking invitation sent in 1925.


he mission comes alive through a variety of programs designed and implemented to help women and children who look to Guardian Angel Community Services for support, nurturing and, in some situations, assistance with stabilizing their lives.


hildren in grades K through 6 receive tutoring and mentoring through the Before and After School Enriching (B.A.S.E.) program. B.A.S.E. fosters the desire to learn and excel in academic success in a safe, supportive and well-supervised environment.


Dedication ceremony took place on May 16, 1926. Cardinal Mundelein blessed the new building.

8 6


n the summer, children ages 4 to 12 continue to learn and have fun through Camp Explore. The program gives children the opportunity to participate in a variety of activities including computer programs, leadership training, cultural/ethnic awareness, fire and home safety and, of course, sports and games.

Programs and Services t he Dillard Harris Educational Center, students receive more support and structure than what is provided in their regular schools. With a therapeutic approach designed to meet their emotional and educational needs, students are assisted with developing the skills they need to return to their regular schools.


hildren who are removed from their parental homes due to neglect or abuse are placed in safe and nurturing environments through the Foster Care Program. With caseworker support, both the foster family and child are assisted through a variety of hurdles they might face. The ultimate goal for the child is to achieve permanency.


stablished in 1985, the Exchange Club Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse offers a variety of services designed to maintain or reunify families affected by child abuse or neglect. The services include the Parent Aide Program which offers support and assistance to those experiencing challenges as parent. Through this program, parents learn to meet their children’s needs which, among other results, strengthens the family unit. Parenting classes, counseling and an adolescent support group are also among the services.


hrough the Sexual Assault Service Center, both adult and child victims of rape and/or sexual assault receive support services designed to help them regain control of their lives. These services include: a 24-hour hotline; medical advocacy; legal advocacy; individual and group counseling; prevention education and professional training.


rom its beginning in 1983, the Groundwork Domestic Violence Program has provided the critical resources to break the cycle of family violence to its victims. All domestic violence victims have the right to human dignity, control of their lives, well-being

Guardian Angel Home still stands today on Theodore Road and Plainfield Street in Joliet.

within their families and the ability to exercise their legal rights. Through Groundwork, program participants have a 24-hour hotline available to them, emergency shelter, legal advocacy, individual and group counseling, and support groups/community presentations.


amed for the late Mrs. Sue Manner M Turk and honoring her m many contributions to Guardian ia Angel Community Services, ia S Suzy’s Caring Place provides the th victims of domestic violence th a home in which to stay for up to to two years. During this time, the t women learn life skills and th participate in individual and group counseling which aids them in becoming complete individuals again, free from domestic violence while living in a safe environment.

145 Years: Serving God, Serving Community



uardian Angel Community Services was incorporated in the State of Illinois in 1973 and provides programs for both children and women. It is a sponsored institution of the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate.

Winter 2010/11


Mother Alfred’s Dream Realized W

hen Mother Alfred came to the United States, her hope had been to work with the Native Americans in Wisconsin. Although she herself would never achieve this goal, beginning in 1897 and continuing still today, Joliet Franciscan Sisters have committed themselves to serving the people of the Bayfield and Red Cliff area of Northern Wisconsin.


n 1879, the Sisters were invited to join the Franciscan Fathers of the Sacred Heart Province of St. Louis in establishing the first Catholic school in the Bayfield-Red Cliff area. A small two-room log cabin located halfway between Bayfield and Red Cliff served as both the school and the Sisters’ home. Over the next few years, the Sisters would open more schools in the area.


n 1880, the Congregation took charge of the Sister Johanna Albert taught sewing at St. Mary’s Institute in Bayfield. government-owned Indian Day School at Buffalo Bay, which was on the Red Cliff Reservation. Two of the earliest teachers at the school were Sister Seraphia Reinick and Sister Victoria Steidl, who served in Red Cliff for 37 and 68 years respectively. In appreciation for their many years of service, the Sisters were adopted into the Chippewa tribe in a special ceremony.


n March 29, 1947, St. Francis of Assisi Church, school, convent and rectory all burned to the ground in Red Cliff. In 1960, after much prayer and deliberation, a decision was made by the Congregation to consolidate St. Francis of Assisi School in Red Cliff and Holy Family School in Bayfield.

Convent burns down in Red Cliff.


ome Sisters were born, lived and died in the Bayfield area. The first Native American Sister was Sister Cordula Neveaux who was educated by the Sisters in Bayfield and joined the Congregation in 1891. Today, another Native American, Sister Grace Ann Rabideau, can be found working in the same Bayfield area.


ooking back to the beginning of the Congregation’s history in Bayfield, the Sisters have collectively ministered to the Native American population for over 900 years and still counting! Sister Cordula and Sister Grace Ann in 1966.



Jail Ministry in Joliet, Illinois s early as 1877, the Sisters worked with women prisoners in caring for the Chapel at Stateville Penitentiary. By 1924, the Sisters taught elementary school subjects, music fundamentals and shorthand to the incarcerated women at Stateville. Twenty-one women were taught in the first class.


hen Father Gervase Brinkman arrived as chaplain in the late 1940s, the Sisters’ choir was formed to sing the Mass at Stateville Prison. Eventually, choirs both in English and Spanish were formed from the prison population.

Sisters leaving Stateville Prison in 1954.


he Sisters also composed music for the prison liturgical services. Sister Raphael Wand’s Mass in Honor of Our Lady,which was later used nationally, was composed for singing at Stateville and bore the original title, “Mass of Our Lady of Joliet-Stateville.” Banners were created for the prison chapel by one of the Sisters.


ather Gervase said, “The influence of the Sisters was greater than was at once apparent. They were objects of curiosity and memory. Seeing a Sister meant so much to a man who had not been to church for years. It recalled to him his grade school years and what the Sisters had once taught him.”


he Sisters became involved with the youth in detention homes. Students were tutored in math and reading at the Youth Center on McDonough Street in Joliet. At the Cook County Juvenile Detention Home in Chicago, Sister Meg Guider counseled young Catholic girls two evenings a week. “I am present to these girls,” she said. “I help them find out what they are afraid of and what they should be afraid of.”

145 Years: Serving God, Serving Community


Sister M. Raphael wrote the Mass in honor of Our Lady of Joliet-Stateville in 1953 at the request of Fr. Gervase.

Winter 2010/11


Ministry to the Incarcerated Continues I

n 1979, Sister Vivian Whitehead, with the blessing of the Congregation’s Governing Board, established the Center for Correctional Concerns at the Will County Jail. Since its beginning, more than 1,800 residents have received their High School Equivalency (GED) Diploma while incarcerated. Now in its 30th year, the Center provides counseling, social services and educational programs for the incarcerated residents, assists them after their release and provides citizens with opportunities for education and action relating to the criminal justice system.

Sister Vivian Whitehead began the Center for Correctional Concerns at the Will County Jail (Joliet) in 1979.


egardless of who we are, where we come from or what choices we make in life, we are all children of God. Throughout their history, the Joliet Franciscans have ministered to people wherever they are called to do so. This includes ministering to the incarcerated.

Sister Juanita Ujcik Honored I

Above: Sr. Juanita Ujcik helps an inmate at the Will County Jail.

n 2009, Sister Juanita Ujcik received the Pax Joliet Award from the Diocese of Joliet for her work at the Center for Correctional Concerns. In her acceptance speech, Sr. Juanita said, “I accept this award on behalf of all the people who have served the incarcerated through the years, especially to our Sisters who started preparing the altars on Collins Street in the 1890s, the Sisters who taught on McDonough Street, to the Sisters who sang at Stateville, and to the many Sisters who prayed and provided services at the Center for Correctional Concerns. I also dedicate it to the men and women who have worked in this diocese for many years.” Left: Pax Joliet Award given by the Diocese of Joliet to Sister Juanita Ujcik in 2009.



Reflections We asked the Sisters to share with us what being a member of the Congregation meant to them, why they decided to become a Joliet Franciscan, or something about their ministries. Our Associates were also able to talk about how they became involved or about a ministry they pursue. What follows are their reflections. “The Invitation” I can pinpoint exactly when the idea of becoming a Joliet Franciscan began its persistent and annoying presence in my mind. I was just 14 years old. My freshman homeroom teacher, Sister Tecla (formerly Sister Cephas) at Saints Peter and Paul High in Chicago corralled me into “volunteering” on a Sr. Carlene Saturday morning to help her clean our Howell, osf classroom. Usually several girls showed up to “volunteer,” but not that Saturday! I was alone with my teacher – and we were going to scrub baseboards! I tried to stifle a moan, but she heard me and laughingly commented that I’d be scrubbing lots of baseboards after I entered the convent. To myself I said, “Never, no convent for me!” Not wanting to sound the way I felt, I politely said to Sister that she’d be the first to know if I ever did decide to become a Joliet Franciscan. From that time on, through sophomore and junior years, I was haunted by what Sister had said to me about someday entering the convent. I prayed for it not to happen. I even attended daily Mass so that it would not happen! My future seemed bleak! Then, one day during a religion class focusing on vocations, Sister Tecla explained that even an uncomfortably persistent idea about entering religious life might truly be a serious invitation to do just that! She went so far as to say that such a call might be an invitation from God to begin a journey that would bring one great happiness and fulfillment. She told us that we didn’t have to say “yes” to the invitation. But she also added that saying “no” could result in missing an experience of a lifetime! That class changed my way of thinking about God’s call and invitation. I began to pray to do what God thought was best for me – and how would I ever know what that was? The answer came to me in subtle ways. I felt drawn to pray differently, for something instead of against something. I then went to high school retreats with friends who shared my values and supported me in the attraction that I felt to the Joliet Franciscans. Then there were my best school teachers who radiated a peace and joy that I wanted to experience. Some are now deceased but I still truly feel their presence – Sisters Ambrose, Ada, Tarcisius, Josine, Daniel. And, of course, Sister Tecla, still very much alive and joyful, and a blessing to all who know her.

After my junior year, I applied for entrance into the Joliet Franciscan community. Fifty-nine years have passed since the day I entered, and I can honestly say that despite life’s ups and downs, I have had no regrets, only a deep sense of belonging – of being in the right place.

“Where one of us is, all of us are” Being asked to reflect on the impact of the Joliet Franciscans in my life is comparable to asking the impact of God in my life. Having entered our Congregation 50 years ago, I have been and continue to be informed and inspired by our Sisters, Associates, and all those we connect with in ways that are only of the Spirit, “working overtime in my life,” as I always say.

Kathleen Rossman, osf

My favorite Church feast is that of All Saints which ties in with one of the concepts from our Constitutions which enlivens me every day, and that is, “Where one of us is, all of us are” (not a direct quote). Can you imagine how blessed I feel, knowing that a part of me is everywhere we are. And, of course, that extends to our world, that I/we are in solidarity with every man, woman and child…..sharing in our world’s sufferings and joys. We are all on the journey to being Saints and we have all our ancestors, all our Sisters who continue to inspire us and support us. Many days I feel very limited in my ministry at the University of Dayton, but as I spend time with these students, in the residence halls, in my “Living with Loss” support group, with the GLBT community, with international students, I know I bring all of my sisters here with me, and that they are also enriched by knowing that these young men and women who are the future of our Church and of our world are so gifted, creative and giving in ways beyond our imaginations. I am truly blessed to be a Joliet Franciscan.

Winter 2010/11


Reflections continued “My Life with God”

Sr. Rosemary Winter, osf

I have decided to share my story with my Sisters and others. I have recently been diagnosed as legally blind due to macular degeneration. I have had it for 38 years. I feel I have been totally blessed that God has let me keep my sight and continue driving up until now. I thank God everyday for His goodness.

Fifty years have passed now and I have celebrated my Golden Jubilee as a Sister in our community. I look forward to many more years. God said, “I have called you by name.” This is so true for me. In November of 1939, my grandma had cancer of the spine. My mom would go over to grandma’s house and do her wash. One day, grandma called my mom to her bedside to talk with her. She told my mom her unborn baby was going to be born on February 14, 1940, at 10:00AM and it would be a girl. She made my mom promise to name her Rose. On Christmas Eve, my grandma sat up in bed and told everyone “Merry Christmas,” then fell back on her pillow and died. On February 14, 1940 at 10:00AM, I was born. My mom wanted Mary in my name so she named me Rosemary. I never wanted to be a Sister. Sister would come down the aisle and asked me, “Don’t you want to be a Sister like the rest of the girls?” I would always say, “No.” I only knew I wanted to have as many children as I could have (I thought 20). God in his sense of humor later on made me a teacher. In third grade, my music teacher told the class, “If you want to know what God wants you to do with your life, just kneel down by your bed and pray three Hail Marys before you get in the bed.” I started doing it in third grade and in fifth grade I got my answer. Sister Vita came to teach us math for one day in fifth grade. She was writing on the board and turned around to face us. I looked at her and I knew God wanted me to be a Sister. Convent Money I was signed up to go to the Ursulines. In 8th grade the girls went to St. Francis Convent in Joliet. I returned home and told my parents that God wanted me to go to Joliet. They were disappointed because they were happy I would be in town by joining the Ursuline Sisters. I began getting ready to come to Joliet.



One day as I was on my way to Mass, my mom said, “When you go to Mass, ask God to send us some money so you can go to the Convent.” I went to church and asked God for some money. We were a poor family with 13 children. While I was at church, my brothers went by the dump to climb on rocks and boards. They found a dresser there and pulled out all the drawers. In the last drawer was a white envelope with money in it. They ran home with it and Mom counted it. There was $500.00 inside. She called the police who told her she had to put it in the newspaper. If no one claimed the money after three days, we could keep it. No one claimed the money, so we got to keep it. Mom paid the bills, sent me to the convent and bought my brothers each an Indian belt for finding the money. I thanked God over and over for this miracle. The Gift In 1991, I got very sick and almost died. The doctors had little hope that I would make it. I was going in and out of consciousness for a whole week. Something happened to me during that time and God sent me a gift. He gave me the gift of a near-death experience which I will be grateful for the rest of my life. In a dream, I raced down a black tunnel and my life went before me. My family and friends passed me and I knew I was leaving the earth. I wasn’t one bit afraid because I saw the light coming towards me. I broke into a whiteness that was not of this earth. It was full of peace, joy, love and happiness. The light kept coming closer and as soon as it touched me, I knew I was coming back to earth. I was never afraid to die, but I always wondered what it was like up there. So God took me there. I am so blessed and thank Him everyday for His love and goodness to me. “God Is Never A Second Late” I made retreat one year and was filled with many things I wanted to talk to God about. I heard His familiar voice say, “Be still and know that I am God.” So I waited three days for God to respond to my questions. Finally, I told God I was tired of waiting to hear from Him. So I told Him I was going to open up my Bible and asked Him to speak to me. I thanked Him in advance. I opened my Bible to Habakkuk, Chapter 2: 1-4. The words came up from the page. I read them and the words went back to their place on the page. I love the last line – “God is never a second late.”

The Rocking Chair I went to Dixon, Illinois to start a preschool. I was given a supply catalog and told to make a list of what I needed. I made two lists: one for the cheapest items, the other one was my dream list. The salesman came back the next week and said, “I can’t believe it. Everything Sister has on her list is on sale.” I just smiled and told God thank you. I had my room all set up and told God there was one last thing I would like in the room – a rocking chair. I wanted a high back rocker with flowers carved on it, right behind the head. I thanked Him in advance and didn’t think any more about it. A week later, a man came to the school office carrying a rocking chair with flowers carved at the top. The man said, “This is for the new preschool teacher.” He left and I never got to thank him personally. I certainly thanked God for my gift. Retirement Plans I handed in my resignation and was asked what I wanted to do next. I really wanted to work at Our Lady of Angels Retirement Home, visiting all the Sisters and helping them prepare for their funerals and deaths. I was told I really wasn’t needed there so they sent me on a sabbatical. I went with an open mind and asked God to let me know what I should do. On the final week of sabbatical, I heard these words. “You have so much to give to others. So go to Joliet and be there for your Sisters. I will bless you, My child.” I came back and told our Congregation’s president that I had to live in Joliet. She said, “Who said?” I said, “God said.” After that, I had no more trouble finding something to do. I have been at Our Lady of Angels almost six years now and have loved every day. I am so happy there and I know that is where God wants me to be. Well, this is my life story with God. God has been so good to me all my life. I will always be grateful.

“We are Standing on the Shoulders” I rejoice in being a part of the 145 years of our Joliet Franciscan Congregation. I am reminded of the song, “Standing on the Shoulders,” as we celebrate this 145th anniversary. I am blessed in being a Joliet Franciscan for 20 years; so as we celebrate, I’m feeling the support of many of our members, past and present. The song says, “I am standing on the shoulders of the ones who came before me.”

Sister Mary Rose’s letter continues from page 2

As I close this short letter of welcome, I want to thank you for your presence in our lives. All of our Sisters, here in the US and in Brazil, appreciate your prayers and the financial support that you provided not only in 2010, but throughout the years. We have been called to serve the people of God and we do so, in part, because of your kindnesses. You and yours are fondly remembered in our daily prayers.

Peace and all good,

b Sister Mary R Rose Li Lieb President & General Superior Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate

For onto us a Child is born Sr. Jane Nienaber, osf

Over twenty years ago, Sr. Stace Janisen and Sr. Elizabeth Ann Hurley, my friends who came from the same congregation as I, invited me to

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Reflections continued consider the Joliet Franciscans. They knew I would love the congregation as much as they did. Then I began to “stand on their shoulders” along with the many who came before them. I continue to “stand on their shoulders” as they are now both experiencing their eternal life. I learned of the witness of Mother Alfred Moes, a woman of vision and conviction; she inspired me then and continues to do so now. I have formed valuable relationships with sisters and associates who carry on the dream of Mother Alfred. We are bonded in living our Franciscan life with courage and passion as we stand on her broad shoulders. I treasure being a part of this 145 years as I work with our sisters at Our Lady of Angels as Spiritual Life Coordinator. As the sisters face the struggles, limitations and consequences of all that is part of aging, their many caring acts of kindness are often unannounced, yet so effective. In the richness of their challenges and in their joy and faithfulness, I know that I am “standing on their shoulders.” These women hold so much of our congregation history and their lives and stories tell our common story, our heritage. A line from the song says how I feel about these wonderful women: “They are saints and they are human, they are angels and they are friends.” The twentyone sisters who passed at OLA since I’ve worked there have touched my life and “I am grateful for their vision, for their toiling on this earth.” Celebrating 145 years as a congregation is celebrating our heritage of gospel living as Franciscans. We stand on the shoulders of Jesus Christ who is the presence and strength of all who have lived before us, who shows us how to be human. We stand on the shoulders of Francis and Clare as we each continue in our ministries. In our congregation, in relationships and in outreach through our varied ministries, we stand on the shoulders of one another.

“I Am Stronger For Their Courage and I Am Wiser For Their Words”

Sr. Lois Prebil, osf


When Sr. Jane and I talk about the 145 years of the congregation, we find much in common. We share a spirit inspired by Mother Alfred Moes at its foundation and we share the hopes and dreams of the congregation today. We see ourselves together with our contemporaries “standing on the shoulders.”


When I felt called to religious life, one thing I didn’t ponder was which community to join. I was “standing on the shoulders” of strong, well-educated and beautiful Joliet Franciscans throughout elementary school, high school and college. The first Joliet Franciscan I met was Sister Nepomucene, my kindergarten teacher. She stood shorter than her name and a trifle taller than I! It was easy to see into her eyes. That was the beginning of my lifetime relationship with the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate. The congregation was then only 79 years old! Now, as a member of the congregation for close to 50 years, I have known hundreds of our sisters, many who came before me. I think of Sister Miriam Edward who survived living next to our freshman dorm room. And I recall Sister Joanne who taught me English and also how to meditate while in high school sodality. The song reminds me, “I am stronger for their courage. I am wiser for their words.” During these years I have experienced deep loss as many have passed on to eternal life and others have left the congregation. A characteristic I have witnessed in all my sisters, past and present, is a profound commitment while living and serving fully and authentically. “I imagine our world if they hadn’t tried. We wouldn’t be so very blessed today.” I feel moments of raw pride. Some examples I share: whenever a new person puts her heart into becoming a member; our region of Brazil and their stories at our Chapters; when I know ‘that’s me’ where our constitutions say “each Sister is the Congregation to those she serves;” and when I hear about our sisters or associates and know the contributions they make in their corner of the universe. And more, I experience feeling a pride with all women and men religious and touching stories of their lives! “We can see beyond the struggles and the troubles and the challenge when we know that by our efforts things will be better in the end.” My kindergarten teacher, now Sister Rose Spatny, a lovely, joy-filled woman, continues to teach me and always reminds me that I am her pupil. Sister Miriam Edward, now Sister Loretta Wagner, with a spirit of caring and delight reminds me that I am still her “college girl.” Sister Joanne, now Ms. Kathryn Scriven, keeps periodic contact by email. “They lift me higher than I could ever fly.” As all women religious of the U.S. are now experiencing the visitation by Rome, I have reflected more thoroughly on what religious life means to me and to us Joliet Franciscans. I believe we have met challenges of the past and will meet this one. We continue to grow and change, sometimes with

caution but also with much courage! I love the directions we have taken. With authenticity and a spirit of discipleship, we have responded to the vision and values of Vatican II. “We know that by our efforts things will be better in the end.”

“Every Tree Has a Story” Celebrating 145 Years since Mother Alfred Moes and Father Pamfilo Da Magliano established the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate in Joliet, Illinois, allows us to be so grateful for the many bench marks along the way. Sr. Loretta Vetter, osf

Someone reading this may remember an evergreen tree which was brought from Bayfield, Wisconsin by Sr. Vincentia Brown. It grew near the Lourdes Grotto. I recall another huge tree that grew on the banks of the Mississippi River, near the Cape Girardeau bridge. The Vincentian Seminary Campus was a retreat center for me for several years. Over the years each new class of Seminarian students inscribed their initials and the years of anticipated Ordination. As the tree grew taller, the roster grew higher and longer. Most of us have heard stories of the mighty triple Oak that has overtaken the turrets of the gray stone at 603 Taylor Street on the USF campus. Another tree whose story I am proud to tell is our Class’s Golden Jubilee Tree. As our class was planning for our 50th Jubilee, Sister Clare Edward Whalen suggested a blue spruce as our special class tree. Our tree was planted in the Spring of 1998 in a place of honor just East of the Calvary Shrine. During our Jubilee Week in June a Blessing Service with prayer and a generous sprinkling of Holy Water took place. Many Sisters participated in this blessing. We classmates took turns carrying water to keep it growing during the dry Summer and several Summers that followed. Each year as we returned from our Missions, we had an opportunity to check the growth of our Jubilee Tree. For our 60th Jubilee in 2008, after the celebration at St. Raymond’s Cathedral, we returned to the USF Recreation Center for Jubilee Dinner with family, Sisters and friends. Yes, we paid our respect to our class tree but the USF campus was undergoing many external changes.

Not long after, we learned that our Jubilee Spruce was being moved from her original place to become the official Campus Christmas Tree. She continues to hold a place of honor on the USF campus. A Special Lighting Ceremony each December allows her to lift her branches higher in praise of God’s Incarnation. This is the story our Jubilee Tree proclaims: “Glory to God in the Highest; Peace on Earth to All.”

“We Are All Prophets” I enjoyed being at the Gathering. I was able to relax, I giggled, I learned and I meditated on the sharing of the sisters and other associates. After the report by the JPIC Commission, the topic was “Process and Sharing on Prophets.” When we gathered in smaller groups for sharing, I was with four sisters - one of whom was my prayer partner.

Associate Elizabeth Luong

I was nervous at first, but then I felt very honored and happy. This was a time to listen and a chance to learn, I told myself. The sisters were very patient with the questions I had. When we discussed the prophets, the image of Mother Alfred came to my mind. The day before, we gathered around her statue for prayer. My eyes fixed on her hands holding a little girl’s hands. I thought Mother Alfred had the image of Our Lady, so loving, gentle and warm, yet so strong. She stood behind her children to support, holding those little hands and leading them to walk one step at a time. I pondered the idea that we always look at someone big to be prophets. I always admire the work of all the prophets in the Bible; the big and the not so big ones. The small prophets in the Bible are still God’s chosen “big people” to me. From our conversation, I learned that we could all be little prophets with commitment, with passion and with God’s grace. The following weekend, I went to our prayer meeting with the spirit of a little prophet. Most of our Prayer group members are elders. With confidence I shared with them what I learned from the meeting. There are many things we can do to be a “little prophet.” We can witness by spreading God’s word by the way we live and act. I told them of the little girl held by Mother Alfred. One day that little girl will grow and become a little prophet. She too, will take her turn to hold little children’s hands, and she will lead them to walk, one little step at a time.

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Mission Group travels to Brazil T summer our Congregation This ssponsored our first ever mission trip to Brazil for college age and tr yyoung adult women. This was a llife changing experience for all of uus. “ “Christ has no body now but yyours, no hands but yours. Here oon this earth, yours is the work to sserve with the joy of compassion.” W With these powerful words of a Barb Bar arb b Kwiatkowski, Kwiatko Kwia tkowsk wskii OSF song written by Steven C. Werner, Vocation Director we began the Commissioning Service of our North American missionaries to Brazil--Rosalinda Candiotti, Elisabeth Schei, Clare Kessler, Charisse Yenko and Sr. Barb Kwiatkowski (me!). As I listened to the words of this song, my heart was full of mixed emotions. For the past year and a half, Irmã (Sister) Simone from Brazil and I had talked, planned and organized to make our dream of a joint service opportunity and cultural exchange a reality. The day had finally arrived! After our commissioning, we were sent off to the airport by our Sisters, family members and friends for our flight to Brazil. Simone and a small group of Brazilian women (Ana Carla, Debra, Francielli, Grazielli and Maria) awaited our arrival in the city of Goiânia where we were to begin our experience.

Members of our mission group pose with one of the residents from Vila Cotolengo.

We spent our first day in Goiânia getting some much needed rest after our almost 24 hours of traveling as well as spending time meeting and getting to know each other. Then off to the Casa da Juventude (House of the Youth) a kind of drop in center for disadvantaged young people. There we spent sev-



Charisse blowing up balloons during our street fair.

eral days learning about each others cultures and engaging in team building and group dynamic activities. We toured the city of Goiânia and learned about some of the problems faced in the big cities of Brazil. Another day was spent learning about the land reform movement in Brazil and meeting people who had been violently forced out of their homes and off their land by the government who had promised and given them the land in the first place. We were all moved by the faith and courage these people displayed in the face of such violence and oppression as we watched a video that one citizen had taken during the incident. For the next phase of our trip, we traveled to the town of Trindade and the Vila Cotolengo, a large complex operated by the Daughters of Charity for people with mental and physical disabilities. There are not many facilities of this kind in Brazil. The Vila has over 250 residents ranging in age from toddlers to senior citizens. The Sisters there were willing to let us work wherever we felt we wanted to help. Some of our group helped to feed kids unable to feed themselves. Others of our group helped with equestrian therapy and visited with the women in the group homes on the grounds of the Vila. Several of the women in our group gave manicures and styled hair in the women’s psychiatric ward. We were all struck by the happiness and positive disposition of the residents we met. One young man told us that he felt that the only real disability in life exists when a person has a heart that doesn’t know or show love. From Trindade, we traveled to Hidrolândia, a small town about a half hour outside of Goiânia. There we worked for the next week visiting and doing outreach to the 300 families of the neighborhood of Bela Vista. Bela Vista is only about 4 years old. The neighborhood started when the government

Ways To Give gave the land to the people as part of the land reform movement. Along with the land, promises were made for other amenities that have not as yet come to pass. A school is just being built and there is no Catholic Church in the neighborhood, although many of the families are Catholic. We broke into 4 small groups and visited every family in the neighborhood, inviting them to the events we had planned for later in the week: a street fair for little kids, an afternoon for teenagers and a Mass on our last evening in Bela Vista celebrated by a Franciscan priest who is a friend of Simone’s. Over a hundred little kids attended the street fair and had a blast participating in games, having their faces painted, blowing up balloons and eating popcorn. Over 30 teenagers learned how to do street dancing and painted a mural on the wall in front of Dona Sonia’s house that served as our home base during our visits. Over 80 people attended the Mass celebrated in the street outside of Sonia’s home our last evening in Bela Vista. We were touched once again by the generosity and openness of the Brazilian people. Relationships were built and friendships formed in our time spent in Bela Vista. Rosalinda holds onto one of

After our experience in Bela the newest residents of Bela Vista, we traveled about 4 hours Vista. to the town of Maurilândia to share in the celebration of our Sister Ana Claudia’s final vows. The liturgy and festivities were an exclamation point to 3 weeks of experiences that definitely marked our lives. It has been my experience, as I’m sure it has been for you, that in giving of ourselves we receive much more in return. So it was for those of us on the 2010 Mission Trip to Brazil. We discovered that mission is not only about putting our hands to work for God, but it is also about opening our hearts to show our love of God to others and receive it in return. The group received a blessing at Mass before leaving for Brazil. From left: Charisse, Rosalinda, Sr. Barb, Elisabeth and Clare.

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