The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin  Special


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Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin
January 11, 2002 Issue

Sisters cite family, teachers,
for support of call

Called by God: Sisters reflect on their vocation

"How did you know you were called to Religious Life? Who supported you in your decision?" Some of the members of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross at Bay Settlement were asked these questions. Below are some of their responses:

Sr. Elise Cholewinski:

I believe I first felt a call to religious life when I was the Blessed Mother in the first grade Christmas pageant. As a child, I felt a strong attraction to the Story of Jesus and the church's liturgy.

When I was deciding to enter the convent, the peace I felt inside was the surest clue that I had a vocation to religious life. The person who supported me the most, although she did not realize it, was my dear mother. Often when we would discuss dating and falling in love and how you decide whom you should marry, she would say, "When you find someone whom you love so much that you know you would do anything for that person, that's the one." I found Him.

Sr. Renee Delvaux:

My call to religious life came during my elementary school years. I felt a deep love of God in my heart, loved daily Mass and personal prayer, and was especially drawn to the lifestyle of my teachers, the Bay Settlement Sisters. Their warm and joyful spirit was evident. I felt called to live and serve as they did.

After expressing my desire for religious life, the Sisters supported and encouraged me in my decision. During my high school years, the Sisters and I kept in contact, and I happily entered the Bay Settlement Franciscan Community upon completion of high school.

Sr. Margaret Mary Halbach

My vocation to religious life has always been a gift to me. Having been a difficult pregnancy, my mother promised Mary that she could do whatever she wanted with this child if only he/she would be born healthy. I was, so from then on, my mother dedicated me to Our Lady on many occasions. Mom did not share this story with me until my final vows celebration! She did not want to sway me in my choice and decision.

My parish pastor, Fr. Henry Schmitt was the one to actually begin the process for me. (I think my Mom shared my story with him.) My parents and family were very supportive of me and the family never stopped being caring and supportive of my life choice with the Bay Settlement Franciscans.

I find my daily support of my vocation with the Sisters with whom I pray and share Community, locally and communally. My decision to live life to its fullest is made each day.

Sr. Mary Kabat:

As a little girl, I read the life story of Therese of Lisieux. The chapters of the children's version came to the house over time and I always looked forward to the next. I decided I wanted to be a Sister too. But I didn't know any Sisters who laughed like her, had a regular family like hers, enjoyed daily life like her, loved God in simple ways like her ... until my family moved to St. Jude Parish in Green Bay.

There they were -- Sisters whom I could see praying, working together, laughing, visiting with their family members, helping the needy in simple ways. I was so attracted to them. I joined their youth choir, I taught religious ed. classes with them, I stayed after school to be with them. When several suggested I think about joining them, I didn't have to think too hard. My heart had been waiting. With the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross, my call to love God by being a Sister had found a home.

Since that day of entering the Community, the call of Jesus to be his follower and friend has continued to grow. It has called me to be teacher, to be a principal, and now to serve my Sisters as Community Secretary. I am Sister wherever I go and wherever I am. I hope others experience God's love, joy and peace because they have been with me.

Sr. Angela Palm:

I see the call to religious life like that of the Epiphany -- slowly evolving during grade school as my teachers, the Sisters of St. Francis and parents showed me the way through their lives.

At 16, after my father had died I set out on a journey in search of a way to exemplify these ideals by joining the convent. To leave all behind, not realizing fully what you were doing, was simply stupid some said, yet I had the support of my mother especially as these wise men had each other. Epiphanies (manifestations) made themselves known to a Sister through the cross (sufferings -- Herods) the Word (Scripture -- study, liturgy and others) and Eucharist. Those wise people of old found Christ in a house (Eucharist), so I find Him in others wherever they are as a teacher and pastoral minister. Did they ever get home? Hopefully, they did -- the heavenly one which we can all experience as we look up to the star.

Candidate Jane Schaefer:

I continue to discern the call to Religious Life because I believe God has and continues to invite me to a life of total service. Jesus says to me, in the same way He said to the first disciples, "come follow me."

The desire to serve God with my whole being is greater than any other thing I could possibly want. I have received tremendous support from my family, friends, and the parish teams I have been privileged to work with.

Sr. Carlotta Ullmer:

On retreat Sunday in my junior year of high school, I read about St. Francis. I was filled with a deep yearning to love Christ and the poor as he did. The yearning endured and grew stronger as I spent my senior year with its typical dating and social life.

With joy in my heart I entered St. Francis Convent blessed with the support of family, teachers, pastor and friends.

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