Four Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart celebrate Jubilee this year. We ask God's blessing upon these women and the beautiful, unique journeys of faith and service they have traveled.
From little on, Sister Colleen had a strong longing to be a Sister. This was deepened as she spent much time with our Sisters at St. Michael in Schererville, IN, doing small tasks for them. Over the years, Sister began attending Mother of Perpetual Help devotions and would then stay later, asking our Blessed Mother to intercede for her and help her to know her vocation. Eventually she heard God’s call and entered our congregation in 1948. Because she had lived a simple life with her mother, her older sister Gloria and her twin Collette, convent life was not a big adjustment. After Profession, Sister entered the field of education. Instructing children was very life-giving for her and brought her true joy, especially preparing the children for the sacraments. She worked hard to make sure every student achieved, whether in her own classroom, tutoring, or working with others as a teacher aide. One of her trademarks was her perfect handwriting, which was admired by all. To this day, Sister shows a keen interest in others and is always willing to lend a listening ear in person or on the telephone. Sister’s special craft is knitting beautiful baby sweaters and caps, which have been given to Right to Life agencies, our gift shop and baskets for Fraternitas. Sister Colleen would like to be remembered for the simple life she led, not needing many earthly things.
By the end of her junior year, Sister Mary Peter knew that she wanted to become a Sister. So in 1958, she entered our congregation, participated in the formation program, and joyfully professed Perpetual Vows in 1966. Sister was missioned to St. Vincent’s Home for Children in Freeport, IL. There she nurtured and cared for the babies and toddlers in the Baby House. Later she moved to “The Big Side” and became House Mother to 13 boys ages 6-11. Sister developed a special relationship to this spirited group of children and fondly referred to them as “my boys.” Today she still can rattle off their names and even tell you a little about the specialness of each one. She remembers these years as the happiest in her ministry career. Sister went on to serve 35 additional years in our health care facilities as a Nurse Aide, Central Service Aide and a Medical Records Clerk. Now in retirement, Sister continues to share her presence with others, especially at the reception desk, making all visitors feel welcome. For 10 years, she weekly visited our Sisters residing at Presence Villa Franciscan in Joliet, bringing them clean clothes, mail, treats and the latest community news. Like her favorite saint, St. Therese the Little Flower, she does many small, kind deeds that often go unnoticed. When asked how she wishes to be remembered, Sister said as prayerful, thoughtful, helpful and always smiling.
After continual nudging from the Lord, Sister Margaret Anne entered our congregation in 1958. Having been a Catholic for only four years, she appreciated learning more about Jesus, the Church and religious life during her novitiate. Following Profession and completing a nursing program, Sister ministered as a nurse and then as Director of Nursing. In 1979, Sister was elected Vicaress of the congregation. During that time, she started working for our Brazilian Missions and eventually began our Garage Sales. In addition, she served on the corporate boards of our ministries in California and Illinois. Following a third term on our Leadership Council, she began a ministry in the Marriage Tribunal in the Rockford Diocese. After 16 years, Sisters retired to the Motherhouse and continued her involvement in the Marriage Tribunal. She continued to work closely with our Associates in the Rockford area and also formally organized our Volunteer Program. Ministry has been an important part of her life, but of even greater importance to her is her faith journey and desire, need and goal to become the person God is calling her to be. Sister loves her God, and as the song says, “God is the center of my life.” That is her goal, and that is what gives her passion for life. Equally special to Sister is the Jubilee Year during which, as the scriptures promise, God gives abundant graces and blessings.
After seeing an FSSH ad in Our Sunday Visitor, Sister Ellen Mary felt “the call” and soon entered our congregation in August 1968. In the novitiate, Sister was given a taste of health care ministry that would later span over 35 years. During those years she ministered as a Nurse-Aide, PLN, RN, Staff Nurse and RN Head Nurse. When asked what position she liked the best, she simply said, “Standing at the bedside of a patient, listening and comforting.” Now that Sister is at the Motherhouse, her main ministry is assisting at the receptionist desk. Her natural skills of hospitality make her a perfect fit for the task. A sensitive person with a warm heart, she is appreciated for her kindness, care, warmth and humor. She is also faithful to her “Apostolate of Letter Writing”—writing to all of our Associates on their birthday and sending them get-well cards peppered with encouraging words and the assurance of prayers. In addition, she addresses and writes cards for a Sister who has difficulty writing, serves as leader of song and prayer, and often prepares and reads the intercessions at Mass. She also keeps vigil at the bedside of a Sister, not as a nurse, but as a “sister,” as that Sister journeys home to God. When asked what she hoped others saw in her over these 50 years she said, “I hope my life has reflected a simple and loving faith in God. I hope people have seen me as down to earth, helpful and prayerful.”