Franciscan Sister Reflects on Her Calling from God

by Sister Julie Ann on October 20, 2014

Franciscan Sister Leonette Kochan sums up the blessings of her life.

Franciscan Sister Leonette's Mother and Father and Mother's Father“Pleasant places were measured out for me; fair to me indeed is my inheritance…” (Psalm 16)

These words sum up the blessings of my life, gratitude for all that has been given to me. I tell my story with pictures and words.

My parents, Loretta Gasink and Leo Kochan, were married on Nov. 5, 1940 in New Ulm, MN. My dad (Daddy, as we grew up affectionately calling him) was a Wisconsin farmer who inherited the family farm near Francis Creek, WI. He met my mother while traveling to Sleepy Eye, MN with his baseball team. Mom’s past history was quite significant. She was abandoned as a new-born infant, found in a ferry boat station in New York City, taken to the New York Foundling Hospital in NY, and subsequently became an Orphan Train Baby, adopted by Louise & Henry Gasink in New Ulm, MN. The only personal history she could trace was the note attached to her when she was found on Jan. 7: her name was Loretta Armstrong, she was Catholic, and was two weeks old. It was determined her birthday was Christmas Day. Moving to a small Wisconsin farm with her new husband must have been quite an adjustment for her, but her resilience from the time of her birth and her happy childhood stood her in good stead.

Franciscan Sister Leonette with Grandfather and brothers and sistersMy two brothers and two sisters and I enjoyed a happy and secure childhood, grounded in our Catholic faith, as our family shared our farm home with our paternal grandparents.

Even though life on the farm required its share of hard work, there was still time for childhood fantasy.

Sister Leonilla Kochan, my aunt, Dad’s sister, suggested I take the name Leonette at reception, to include a combination of Mom & Dad’s names. My dad proudly knew me as Sister Leonette for just 10 months, when he died of cancer in April, 1964, 2 months before first profession. Our parents’ heritage grew to include 17 grandchildren and 16 (and still growing) great grandchildren.

Franciscan Sister Leonette and parentsI was taught by our Manitowoc Franciscan Sisters in St. Ann’s School, Francis Creek, Wisconsin and recall happy memories of those years. The desire to become a sister began around 6th grade and I entered our aspirancy as a high school freshman in 1958. Little did I know then of the “fullness of life” that is the heritage and blessing of being a member of a religious congregation that follows in the footsteps of St. Francis. The “fair inheritance” of my loving and supportive family has continued in my life in community with the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity.

My “tennis blood” comes naturally from my mother who enjoyed the sport as she grew up. A healthy blend of work and play was a part of our growing up also.

Life brings both blessings and sorrow, faith is tested and family bonds grow stronger as we share heartache together. Our niece Sarah died at age 33, having brought to our family her gentle, determined spirit, and the first of numerous international and multi-racial family members.

Franciscan Sister Leonette and Santa Cruz studentsAmong the greatest blessings in my life, in addition to family and my Franciscan Community, are the children and adults who have become a part of who I am. I believe we receive a taste of the hundredfold we have been promised through the people who come into our lives during our journey on earth. Over my years in schools and parishes, from Wisconsin to Ohio to Arizona, the children and adults who have accompanied me have deepened my faith in ways beyond expression. They have taught me that we are equal partners in building the Lord’s kingdom, with no one having a privileged position in service in the Church. I continue to be inspired by and learn from those among whom I work at the Pastoral Center in the Diocese of Tucson.

At the end of our lives, all that matters is how we served our God and others, faithful to our call, and how well we respond generously to the inheritance that has been given to us.

Grounded by my wonderful family, good friends, faith, and religious community, I pray that I am worthy of the blessings that have been measured out to me.



Franciscan Sisters at ‘Made for More’ Diocesan Youth Event

by Sister Julie Ann on October 19, 2014

It would seem natural for Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity to be present at sponsored Silver Lake College of the Holy Family, Manitowoc, WI.  On a recent Saturday they were among youth from the Diocese of Green Bay for a ‘Made for More’ Conference.

Franciscan Sisters were present at Diocese of Green Bay Youth Conference October 18, 2014Sister Theresa Feldkamp and Sister Marie Kolbe Zamora distributed St. John XXIII and St. John Paul II medals, cards of St. Francis and St. Clare and other table incentives and just were available to talk to participants. The day  included sessions for men and women, small groups, parish interaction, and interactions in classes by freshmen, sophomore, etc

Mass with Bishop Ricken and a nightly adoration time were also key elements of the planning that encouraged students to ‘live for more’.



Here’s a New Franciscan Sisters Pastorally Pondering Blog

by Sister Julie Ann on October 18, 2014

If you are desiring to know the life of two Franciscan Sisters reflecting on lives of ministry, community, and simplicity, you will want to watch for future postings of PastorallyPondering.

Sister Pamela Biehl and Sister Regina Rose Pearson share about their experiences at St. Mary Parish, Winneconne, WI and St. Mary Parish, Omro, WI, as well as their lives at Visitation Convent, Oshkosh, WI and beyond. Here’s a tidbit from their 2 latest posts.

October 6, 2014Franciscan Sister Regina Rose and Sister Pam Biehl

Tom Douglas, renowned Seattle chef, says ” Cooks throw recipes and menus together and scramble for virtuosity while bakers carefully measure their way to deliciousness.”  How right he is!  However, the presence of both a cook and a baker in our compact kitchen has inspired Sr. Pam and I to take up the challenge of creating fabulous feasts for friends and family- the parish one, that is. Read more…

September 15, 2014

After two months in a new place and with all our boxes neatly stowed or secretly stashed away, we (Sister Pam Biehl and I, Sister Regina Rose Pearson)  decided that now would be our best chance of introducing everyone to the new convent on the block. Visitation Convent , on a quiet corner just off Hwy 41 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, is the site of a new adventure which, so far,  has been loaded with new people, new routines, and new reasons to laugh. And trust me, there is plenty of fun and laughter! It seems that our philosophy of life is going to be work hard, play hard! Read more.



Prayer Request: Austin Franciscan Vocation Journey

by Sister Julie Ann on October 15, 2014

Like St. Francis who was a true mendicant, Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity are following the Holy Spirit in a vocation journey beginning October 16, 2014 with destination Austin, TX. Please pray for us!

Franciscan Discernment RetreatOur ‘on the road’ travels include conversations along the way with young women desiring to know more about our way of life. We are also giving Eucharistic Adoration to Action presentations to St. Albert Young Adults October 20 beginning with Mass at 6:30 p.m. and University Catholic Center with Austin Musician Paul Finley October 22 at 7 p.m.. Expect more sharing of the ‘good news’ in the days ahead.

Here’s a brief overview of the coming days:

  • October 16: arrival St. Francis of Assisi Convent, Greenwood, MS
  • October 17: Natchez, MS; Thibodaux, LA, Ponchatoula, LA
  • October 18: St. Austin, Austin, TX
  • October 19: St. Albert Parish, Austin, TX, Round Rock, TX
  • October 20: St. John Paul II Life Center, St. Albert Parish, Austin, TX 6:30 p.m. Mass followed by talk and holy hour
  • October 21: Texas A&M
  • October 22: University of Texas, University Catholic Center, Austin, TX, 7 p.m. prayerful holy hour
  • October 23: Norman OK, Omaha, NE
  • October 24: Manitowoc, WI



Why Francisan Sisters and Serrans Work Together

October 15, 2014

While October signals colorful leaves to Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity in Manitowoc, WI, it also is the time to welcome the Manitowoc Serrans to our convent Motherhouse for Eucharist and a meal. Why do we consistently plan this event with these particular guests? We both pray for vocations. We also share what is happening in our […]

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Here’s a Franciscan Tabernacle Pilgrimage

October 13, 2014

Silver Lake College of the Holy Family student, Mary Bettag, Campus Ministry Assistant, had an idea: a Franciscan Pilgrimage to the tabernacles found on the college campus and the near by Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity convents. Franciscan Sister Mardelle Meinholz, College Chaplain Father Hilary Brzezinski and Campus Minister Tommy Nelsen also were present to support and walk […]

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