MANITOWOC — In celebration of their 150th anniversary, the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity welcomed a special guest to their motherhouse in early July.
French-born Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States since 2016, celebrated Mass on July 5 as part of a three-day “Celebrating the Call” community gathering. He was joined by five concelebrants, including Bishop David Ricken.
“I’m very pleased to be with you at this celebration to give thanks to God for the many blessings that have come to the church,” Archbishop Pierre said at the beginning of an 18-minute homily during which he honored the sisters for 150 years of service.
“I want to express Pope Francis’ spiritual closeness and heartfelt congratulations for this momentous occasion in the life of the (Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity) community and to assure you of his prayers. … For these 150 years the sisters have been shaping and forming hearts and affirming the dignity of each person.”
Following Mass, Archbishop Pierre and Bishop Ricken joined most of the community’s 221 sisters for dinner in the motherhouse cafeteria. Steaks for everyone in attendance were donated by more than a dozen cattle ranchers in and around West Point, Neb., where the sisters are active in both education and health care endeavors.
Archbishop Pierre was appointed apostolic nuncio by Pope Francis as his personal and official representative both to the church in the United States and to its government.
“We appreciate having the archbishop come and celebrate with us,” said Sr. Natalie Binversie, who in June was reelected to a second six-year term as community director for the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity. “Being the apostolic nuncio, and representing Rome and Pope Francis, it is a great honor to have that representation to celebrate our 150th.
“And, of course, it’s always an honor as well to have Bishop Ricken here with us.”
Near the conclusion of Mass, all of the sisters bestowed their traditional blessing of St. Francis on Archbishop Pierre, Bishop Ricken and all of the concelebrants.
Bishop Ricken expressed gratitude for Archbishop Pierre’s trip to Manitowoc and for everything the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity do for those near and far.
“Thank you, sisters, for your presence, for your hard work and for your dedication to the mission, and may all of us grow as missionary disciples on the way,” he said.
The Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity were founded Nov. 9, 1869, and are celebrating their anniversary with activities throughout the year.