A trek from Ohio to Manitowoc
After 100 years, students see their Sisters' home for the first time
By Laura Putzer
Over the past 100 years, more than 200 Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity from Manitowoc have left an impression on a small Ohio community. Last month, 23 students and 25 adults from St. Agnes Parish in Mingo Junction, Ohio, traveled to the convent for their first look at the home of the sisters who served their school since 1902.
"This year marks the 100-year anniversary of our sisters serving the St. Agnes community," said Sr. Donna Marie Kessler, archivist for the Manitowoc community, who helped coordinate the event. "Members of the parish were trying to figure out how to celebrate, and they realized they had never seen where their sisters came from, so they decided to make the trip."
The seventh- and eighth-grade students, along with parents and other adult chaperones, spent a day in Chicago before moving on to a Brewer game in Milwaukee, finally arriving late at night in Manitowoc. The next day was spent touring and learning the history of the convent.
"They were very impressed with the tour and the size of the convent community," Sr. Kessler said. Srs. Monica Mary DeQuardo and Sr. Rochelle Kerkhof, vocations directors, joined in leading tours of the convent and Silver Lake College.
The day ended with Mass in the convent's 1890 chapel. St. Agnes' pastor, Fr. William Cross, presided. A cookout followed, put on by the family of St. Agnes principal, Sr. Leonette Kochan.
"It was really such a nice thing for them to travel all that distance," Sr. Kessler said. "They were thrilled with the hospitality and the atmosphere of the convent community. They are lovely, just lovely people."
Another group from Mingo Junction, primarily senior citizens, will arrive Oct. 12 to visit the home of the sisters.
Mingo Junction is a small steel mill town near Steubenville, Ohio. The town and parish opened St. Agnes School in 1899. Its enrollment peaked at 428 in 1965 with a faculty of five sisters, five lay teachers and a sister principal. Today, St. Agnes has pre-K through eighth grades, with an enrollment of 96 students.
Since 1902, 26 women from St. Agnes, Mingo Junction, have entered the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity in Manitowoc.