The lives of our two 2019 Jubilarians, Sister Coletta Hennessy and Sister Christine Bowman, do indeed "shine like the stars," as Philippians 2:16 tells us.
From the time Sr. Coletta was a child, everyone knew she wanted to be a Sister. After reading a vocation ad placed by our Congregation, she felt the call to join. She completed the initial years of formation, made Profession of Vows, and then entered the field of education. There she would shine her light for almost 40 years, teaching every grade from 1 through 11 and then serving as principal and CCD Coordinator. However, after 40 years she ventured off in a new direction and went to St. Joseph Medical Center in Joliet where she would spend the next 12 years working as a Ward Clerk, Administrative Assistant, and Director of the Social Accountability Grant Program. In 1991 Sister made a pilgrimage to Germany, Assisi and Rome. There she saw the beginnings of our Congregation’s history, reflected on the life of St. Francis, and met Pope St. John Paul II. This was a very blessed time for her.
Her Irish ancestry has always meant a lot to her, and you can see her eyes twinkle when she talks about it. She had the opportunity to visit Ireland and now believes more than ever that, “if you’re lucky enough to be Irish, you’re lucky enough! A little Irish wit has not only brought joy to her life, but also to the lives of those she has entertained with it. Reflecting on her life as a religious Sister says, “I’m glad to be a Franciscan Sister of the Sacred Heart. God has blessed me. It’s a good life. I’m grateful from the bottom of me Irish Heart.”
A year-and-a-half after becoming a Catholic and getting acquainted with some of our Sisters, Sister Christine entered our congregation. This fulfilled a desire she had since 4th grade when she read a story about a sister. The next three years were spent learning about religious life after which she professed her vows. Then she fulfilled another dream of becoming an R.N. and earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. She then ministered in several of our health care institutions where her creativity resulted in innovative programs. While at St. Joseph Hospital, Joliet, IL, she developed the first outpatient assertive therapy program in an acute care hospital setting in the State of Illinois. At St. Francis Medical Center in Santa Barbara, CA, she developed the role of Discharge Planning Nurse and created the first department for this in the tri-county. During her ministry at St. Therese Medical Center in Waukegan, IL, she organized the first Parish Nurse Program and worked with others to establish the first independent registered clinic for the medically underserved in Lake County (Health Reach).
Sister traveled to Washington, D.C., where she lobbied for insurance for volunteers in clinics for the poor. She traveled to India with Rotary International and helped with their polio eradication program and to Mexico to assist in a cataract clinic. From all of this, we can see that Sister has had 50 fulfilling years in service to God and His people, making a real difference in the lives of many.