Nine girls experience life in the convent
Bay Settlement sisters invite pre- and early teens to see how they live
By Judy Price
BAY SETTLEMENT - Life is full of tough decisions. And Sr.
Laura Zelten knows that kids in their pre-teens and early
teens are forming ideas about some important "life"
Not just "what will I do?" but also "who will I be when I grow up?"
So Sr. Zelten, director of Vocation Ministries for the
Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross (Bay Settlement
Franciscans) invited a small group of girls to "get the
scoop" on one option: life as a vowed religious woman.
On Aug. 15, nine girls from seven parishes in the Green Bay
Diocese arrived at the sisters' home to get a close-up look
at life in the convent.
While A Day With the Sisters could only provide a "sample"
of life at the convent, Sr. Zelten wanted the girls to
"discover the many flavors" of religious life.
"We want to create an opportunity for the girls to see that
women from all walks of life are called to serve God," Sr.
Zelten said. "Sisters today are pray-ers, teachers, nurses,
social workers, missionaries, artists and leaders We use our
gifts to respond to today's diverse needs.
"We want these girls to see that you can be an individual as
part of a religious community - we feel that we live life
more fully in community - and we want them to see an
accurate picture of our lives," Sr. Zelten said.
To show the girls an accurate picture, the sisters invited
the girls to participate in their daily prayer, liturgy,
meals, work, and fun.
Fr. Richard Mauthe presided at Mass in the Community Chapel.
He invited the girls to stand around the altar to welcome
them to fuller participation in the liturgy.
Each girl was paired with a "Pew Partner" for evening prayer
to learn about the importance of daily prayer in the
Washing dishes, scrubbing vegetables, and picking windfall
apples were on the day's chore list, and the sisters were
happy to have some extra help.
Chelsea Novinska from St. Phillip Parish in Green Bay said
the chores were fun because everyone was working together.
But all work and no play makes a dull sister. So they also
enjoyed games and sang songs around a campfire in the
As they ate corn on the cob from the sisters' garden, the
girls were able to satisfy some curiosities by asking
questions of the sisters.
-- What's the best thing about being a sister?
-- How old were you when you first thought about becoming a
-- Why did you decide to become a sister, and what did your
friends and family think?
The girls learned that sisters are ordinary people who
continue strong relationships with their friends and
families. They were surprised to learn about the sisters'
diverse lives and ministries.
Abby Bonde from St. Isidore Parish in Newton said, "I was
surprised about all the different places where the sisters
can work. I think it would be nice to have all these people
to talk to."
Kristine Phillips of Holy Martyrs of Gorcum Parish in Green
Bay added that just one day was not long enough. She hopes
that next time she can stay "for a whole week"
Stephanie Lambert, a seventh grader from St. Mary Parish in
Manitowoc learned that life in the convent is "normal," and
that "Sisters are real people." She said she was surprised
to learn that there are many different congregations of
sisters throughout the diocese and the world - each with
unique gifts and ways of life.
Stephanie's mother, Mary Lambert, hoped that her daughter
would learn "what life in the convent is really like," and
is happy that Stephanie had this opportunity. Lambert said
that she will likely send her younger daughter if the event
is held again.
Sr. Zelten said she is grateful to parents such as Mary
Lambert who are cultivating a Christian spirit in their
children. She said she hopes to create "more opportunities
for the sisters to open our hearts and our doors to people
interested in learning more about religious life."
(Price is director of public relations for the Bay Settlement Franciscans.)