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Bay Settlement Sisters:
125 Years

 Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, WisconsinMarch 10, 2006 Issue 

Reflections on 125 years of service
to diocese and beyond

Bay Settlement Sisters reflect on their roots

Special Section:
125th anniversary
of the Sisters of St. Francis
of the Holy Cross,
Bay Settlement

 Related article:
 • Education at the base, hospitality at the core
    Community began because a priest
    needed teachers for his one-room school

 Only in the Print Edition ...
 Articles found only in the 12-page supplement
 to the Mar. 10 Compass print edition:

 • Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross:
   125 Years

 • Bay Settlement Sisters carry Christ's
   mission around the Bay and beyond

 • Associates began because they wanted
   to share in the mission

 • Bay Settlement community has always
   strived to meet needs

 • Sisters prepare to leave their longtime home
   for a new convent nearby

 Subscribe to print edition

This year, on March 14, the Sisters of Sr. Francis of the Holy Cross at Bay Settlement mark their 125th anniversary as a diocesan religious community. To mark that event, The Compass asked the Sisters to reflect on three questions about their community. Here are their responses.

As you think of our 125 year history -- what most strikes you?

What impressed me the first day I met my Sisters as a 5th grade student at St. Jude Parish and what I have tried to live is their personal and human touch in ministry. Later I would learn that the concern for the whole person and every need, worry, or joy of their lives carried on the life of our founder Fr. Daems. Our presence in the parish, school, hospital, and so on has always been as important as what we do there. -- Sr. Mary Kabat

What strikes me most about our 125 years is that there were so many changes with our situation going back to some of the early years, where we are (now) having less sisters and with our associates we do not have permanently vowed members. But like them we depend on God as we carry out our mission. -- Sr. Angela Palm

God's unbounded goodness overwhelms me! I feel deep gratitude that I have been called to walk with the faith-filled women in my Community and to minister side by side with them in this Diocese. As Anthony Podavano said, God does not ask us to be successful but to be faithful. With God's grace, we have been faithful servants. -- Sr. Sally Ann Brickner

We are still here and we are a vital segment of the Green Bay Diocese and have been a vital segment of the Apostolic Vicariate of Bluefields, Nicaragua. I have become much more aware of that last fact during this past month. I returned to Bluefields two years after we withdrew as a congregation from the mission. The bishop, the priests, and many of the people have let me know that the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross have been a significant part in the history of the Vicariate and that we are sorely missed. -- Sr. Agnes Fischer

As I think of the span of 125 years, I reflect on the wondrous gifts God has given each of the Sisters throughout the years. Those gifts have been shared with so many people in teaching, relating to one another, caring for the elderly and sick, offering hospitality to people. -- Sr. Marilyn Herr

The dedication and selflessness in which the Sisters have served the Diocese of Green Bay and beyond! The openness of the Sisters to re-tool themselves for the various calls to ministries. -- Sr. Laura Zelten

What strikes me most is each Sister's prayerful acceptance of suffering. It was her belief that brought her closer to the Lord Jesus and St. Francis. For them she vowed her life. -- Sr. Mary Audri Tlachac

I am amazed at the sacrifice, courage and hard work of the Sisters. Hospitality has also been a hallmark of our Community to this very day and explains why we have such good friends. In every period of our history, these friends have been so supportive and generous to this very day. -- Sr. Joanne Goessl

I am struck by the mystery of our call and response. We had humble beginnings in 1881 in responding to the needs of the immigrants and then moved in the Spirit, continuing to respond to the needs of the times. For 125 years, we have participated in Jesus' mission of proclaiming the reign of God. It is awesome!! -- Sr. Renee Delvaux

As I think of our 125 year history, what most strikes me is how life has changed and how we've been enriched by those who have gone before us. We are grateful to our Sisters who have gone before us! -- Sr. Ruth Ann LaBine

When I ponder 125 years of the Bay Settlement Sisters, I feel very grateful for Father Daems who had the insight and courage to risk founding a Community. When I think of our Sisters from the very beginning up to the present time, I feel humbled and grateful. -- Sr. Regina LeMere

As I thought of our 125 year history, I was struck most by hour our Community has changed - not only in our ministries but also in our life styles. -- Sr. Marie Goretti Marcelle

I remember the women who made this a time of wonderful reflection. In my memory, I see the highly educated and the barely educated, the successful, the marginally recognized or remembered, those who slipped away from us too soon, those who lived beyond expectation, those we never had a chance to really mourn or share a last goodbye, those we laughed and prayed with and taught with and witnessed their self-giving, those who gave their all, that this Community on the Bay might celebrate 125 years of history." -- Sr. Louise Hunt

I was struck by the growth of our community, not so much in numbers, but in understanding the part every event of our pilgrimage day (Aug. 12th) played in that growth. -- Sr. Alice Mae Malliet

I think of our pioneer Sisters and all the hardships they experienced. If it wouldn't have been for them, we wouldn't be here. They surely were strong, faith-filled and courageous women. Today our lives are rooted in the Cross, Word, and Eucharist. This grace and dependence upon God gives us the strength and energy we need in responding to the needs of our times. I am honored and privileged to be one of the Sisters continuing this ministry to build the Lord's kingdom. -- Sr. Cecelia Blonde

I am struck when I think of the many different women who, over these years, have committed their lives to membership in this community and to service in the Church. -- Sr. Jackie Cappelle

What strikes me most is how, through all these years, we have consistently lived out what we say in our Charism Statement: "We compassionately respond to the needs of our times." From teaching in rural parishes, to doing pastoral work in mission territories, to caring for the sick and the elderly, to working in the inner city, to preaching retreats to women in recovery, to communicating with people on death row, to educating catechists, we have continually taken the Gospel to those who are most in need of hearing it, proclaiming a message of peace and justice, of love and hope. -- Sr. Elise Cholewinski

The fact that I am just a small piece in the bigger picture of many women on whose shoulders I stand who have tried to make a positive difference in our world. -- Sr. Fran Bangert

I am struck or impressed by the many wonderful women who have been and are currently in our Community. By living simply with one another they radiated and are radiating true joy in building the Kingdom of God. -- Sr. Christine Wochos

As I look back, what strikes me is the constant change - change of ministries, losses of schools and other places like the Chapel, loss of so many Sisters, change of life style, etc. -- Sr. Charlene Hockers

Our pioneer goals - to educate the immigrants from France, Belgium, Germany, Holland and other European countries are still being reached as we teach our modern day immigrants "English as a Second Language." Our mission has always been based on the needs of the times. Today we are still teaching, healing and promoting social justice in today's world. -- Sr. Claudette Jeanquart

What strikes me most as I think of our 125th year history is that we Sisters of St. Francis have been called to change and grow in our faith daily as we listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and to others. Our lives have visibly changed: through how we live our lives daily, pray together, and even our exterior clothing. Our values and mission remain the calling of our lives and Eucharist is the Center that calls us to live, serve and love one another and God's people wherever we are. -- Sr. Gerri Krautkramer

What most strikes me is how our community responded to the needs of the times. We began teaching immigrant children in the Bay Settlement area. As time went on, we adapted to the needs of the times moving into religious education and then into pastoral ministry both in parishes and health care facilities. All along we responded to the needs of new immigrants - from the beginning of our community in 1881 to the present day when a number of our members volunteer to teach English and other skills to the new immigrants in this part of northeastern Wisconsin. -- Sister Rose Jochmann

For you, what has been the best thing about being a Bay Settlement Sister?

Standing on the shoulders of great women, and being surrounded by loving and giving people, with the continual opportunity to grow personally, emotionally and spiritually - plus the privilege of serving a Great master - is the best thing about being a Sister of St. Francis of the Holy Cross. -- Sr. Jeanne Jarvis

We have been Gospel-spirited, down-to-earth sisters - close to the people of the communities where we have served, sharing their joys and pains and challenges. -- Sr. Maria Drzewiecki

The Best thing about being a Sister of SSFHC is the longstanding friendships with Sisters and Associates, both a comfort and challenge, that have brought me to who I am in this moment in time, and the many, many relationships that have been formed through the various ministries in which I have been involved and in whom I have found God. -- Sr. Fran Bangert

Belonging to a community of women who love God, love Francis, love people and love each other. -- Sr. Mary Kabat

Living with such good women who strive daily to walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. -- Sr. Sally Ann Brickner

The best thing about being a Sister of the St. Francis of the Holy Cross is the support and companionship of the Sisters, the real friendships and sense of belonging to a wonderful family that we experience, the love we share that people can see and sense as they get to know us, our ability to be and do so much more together than any of us ever could alone. -- Sr. Agnes Fischer

Being apart of a group of women who dedicate themselves to the mission of Jesus and serve others in a variety of ways. Living and serving with women who value prayer, hospitality, and living a simple community life. Being Franciscan! -- Sr. Laura Zelten

The best thing about being a Sister of St. Francis is the Holy Cross itself - as it is a symbol of the nearness of Jesus and St. Francis. -- Sr. Mary Audri Tlachac

Not so much now, but years ago we were known as the "farming Sisters" because we actually did the milking on our farm, took care of the animals, planted a huge garden and had fruit trees. We still have the garden and fruit trees. This "earthy example" depicts what I like about our Community. We put our hands to what needs to be done be it manual labor, cleaning, canning, gardening or praying. It is said of our founder Father Edward Daems, OSC, "He was as at home with the sickle and scythe as he was with the chalice". His attitude has also been ours. I believe I was attracted to this "earthiness" of the Community when I entered and is partially what people over the years refer to as "the unique Bay Settlement spirit." -- Sr. Joanne Goessl

How profoundly privileged I feel to share in the mission of Jesus to further the reign of God through my religious vocation in this religious community. -- Sr. Renee Delvaux

The best thing about being a Sister of St. Francis of the Holy Cross is that there is richness in our living/sharing together and having common goals. -- Sr. Ruth Ann LaBine

As a member of our Community, I feel a deep, spiritual, inner connection to the Sisters who have gone before me and our present members. It is an awesome feeling to know that I am one of them. -- Sr. Regina LeMere

The best thing about being a Sister of St. Francis of the Holy Cross is being able to carry out my ministry of teaching while living a simple life with the care and support of my Community members. -- Sr. Marie Goretti Marcelle

The best thing about being a Sister today is my ministry. I have been in contact with people all over the world. People I would never have met before. It broadens my mind and helps me understand the different cultures in the world. It is a great learning time for me. -- Sr. Alice Mae Malliet

The best thing about being a Sister of the St. Francis of the Holy Cross is my dedication to God within a Franciscan community sharing in common all I have and all I am. -- Sr. Cecelia Blonde

The best thing about being a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross is being that member of a Community of women who are committed to this Community and to serving the people of the world and of the Church. -- Sr. Jackie Cappelle

The best things about being a Sister of St. Francis of the Holy Cross are living in a spousal relationship with Jesus Christ, living and ministering in union with wonderful women who have dedicated their lives to God and the Church, and knowing that in the work I do in the Church today I am embodying the spirit of our Father Daems and our pioneer Sisters. -- Sr. Elise Cholewinski

I can be for others what I couldn't be alone. My Community has been a tremendous support for me. -- Sr. Christine Wochos

The best thing about being a Sister of St. Francis is the journey of ever deepening our lives through integrating the Franciscan values and our personal and communal prayer lives. -- Sr. Gerri Krautkramer

Standing on the shoulders of great women, and being surrounded by loving and giving people, with the continual opportunity to grow personally, emotionally and spiritually - plus the privilege of serving a Great master - is the best thing about being a Sister of St. Francis of the Holy Cross. -- Sr. Jeanne Jarvis

To have such a diversity of sisters, yet sharing prayer and faith values while supporting and challenging one another. -- Sr. Maria Drzewiecki

The best thing about being a Sister of St. Francis of the Holy Cross is "community." I am very supported in so many ways by the members of our community -in prayer, in daily living and in ministry. -- Sr. Rose Jochmann

In your past 125 years - what do you think are the most important accomplishments of your Community?

We have witnessed simplicity of life among the people of this Diocese, living the charism of St. Francis and our founders - Father Daems and our early Sisters. We have had a spirit of renewal, reading the Gospels and the signs of the times. All is grace. All is for God's glory. -- Sr. Sally Ann Brickner

Our witness of love and service to the Diocese of Green Bay, the Apostolic Vicariate of Bluefields, Nicaragua, and other dioceses where we have served. -- Sr. Agnes Fischer

Working for Peace and Justice on local and global levels. Being a witness for others on how we can live diversity (celebrating one another's gifts). Remaining faithful to our vowed life in a society where commitments are easily broken. -- Sr. Laura Zelten

In our past 125 years, our most important accomplishments are: deepening daily faith for each Sister who has encountered trials. Through the grace of prayer to Jesus and St. Francis, a Sister can turn that trial into the joy of triumph. Over the years, such Sisters have learned to accept the will of a loving God. -- Sr. Mary Audri Tlachac

I know our Sisters have made a difference in people's lives. Often I meet persons who ask about a specific Sister they either had as a teacher, or who cared for their parents at the McCormick Home, or prepared them for sacraments. It is clear that these connections were positive influences that affected their own faith lives and involvement in the Church. Such realities are what being a Sister is all about as we hope to lead and journey with others to God. Totaling all our Sisters over 125 years and all the person's whose lives we have touched leaves a strong legacy that God has done great things through us. -- Sr. Joanne Goessl

How we have touched the lives of so many people, bringing them to know the love of God in their lives, and very specially through our many years in the teaching ministry have prepared them to be wonderful Catholic lay leaders in the Church today. -- Sr. Renee Delvaux

I feel that one of our most important accomplishments is that we have enriched our diocesan parishes, by our presence and our love for the Church ... and that they have enriched us!! -- Sr. Ruth Ann LaBine

Some of our greatest accomplishments are our continuous trust in God and one another. We have ministered to many in education, to the less fortunate and poor, to the sick and elderly. We are in different areas of ministries now but it is our continuous trust that "if we do our best" God will bless us. -- Sr. Regina LeMere

In our past 125 years, I think our most important accomplishments are the work we have done in Nicaragua and in British Columbia as well as the teaching we have done in the Green Bay Diocese. -- Sr. Marie Goretti Marcelle

I think one of the most important accomplishments has been in the schools. We laid many good foundations for people especially in our diocese and beyond. We gave them something to build good Christian families, good personal morals and a good education. -- Sr. Alice Mae Malliet

- being women of prayer - living simple lives - being warm, joyful and hospitable women - living a true Franciscan spirit of humility, poverty and love for all of life. -- Sr. Cecelia Blonde

Our most important accomplishment, I think, has been our presence to the people of the Church of Green Bay, Nicaragua, British Columbia, Texas, etc. Our life of hospitality and simplicity has made its mark! -- Sr. Charlene Hockers

It is difficult to name "our most important accomplishments" over these 125 years. If I were to listen to persons who have been educated by our Sisters, and when I hear that their most important faith formation happened at such a place as St. Mary's School then my heart is glad and thankful that somehow God has used me or us as instruments of His presence. For example, I was talking with a neurosurgeon yesterday, who shared that he prays during every surgery he performs and that he believes that his faith is rooted back in his elementary years at a Catholic School where our Sisters taught and I was on the faculty at the time. I believe the most important accomplishments are left up to God and to the people who have opened their minds and hearts to God's message through us over the years. -- Sr. Gerri Krautkramer

I think that having touched the lives of so many people throughout these years is a tremendous accomplishment. In addition, I would consider our Missions in British Colombia and Nicaragua as a major accomplishment. Thirdly, inviting Associates to be a part of our Community has also been a blessing for us. -- Sr. Christine Wochos

I would hope that our greatest accomplishment has been a visible Presence of God among all with whom we have lived, worked, and ministered. -- Sr. Jeanne Jarvis

Being authentic women of the Gospel and of the Church, responding to the needs of each time and place: parish schools, religious education, pastoral and health ministries, formation of leaders in the Church and society, outreach to the poor and minorities, and promotion of justice, peace and solidarity in our world. -- Sr. Maria Drzewiecki

a) Our efforts to be faithful to the call of Vatican II to renew by returning to the spirit of our founder and St. Francis in every aspect of our lives: community life, mission, spirituality. This call has opened us to change, yet be rooted in the Cross, Word, and Eucharist.

b) Responding to the needs of each time with joyful, compassionate, and loving hearts even with fewer members.

c) Sharing our spirituality and mission with the laity in Associate Relationship. -- Sr. Fran Bangert

In our past 125 years, some of our most important accomplishments are that we have made public statements and taken action in the areas of peace and justice. Currently this includes action on behalf of new immigrants, taking an active part in JOSHUA, speaking out against the death penalty and supporting peaceful negotiations (not war) in resolving world conflicts. -- Sr. Rose Jochmann

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