How Do You Meet a Franciscan Sister: Austin, TX

by Sister Julie Ann on October 25, 2014

How do you meet a Franciscan Sister? Ask us to meet us where you are. Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Sister Carmen Marie Diaz, Sister Mary Ann Spanjers just arrived back to Wisconsin after an incredible tour that involved meeting truly good people in various stops in MS, LA, TX, OK and NE. We will continue to tell you stories in the days ahead, but just wanted to say thank you today for all your prayers and kindness to us.

Franciscan Eucharistic Adoration to Action at University Catholic Center Austin TXOur ‘on the road’ travels include conversations along the way with young women desiring to know more about our way of life.  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. were more than what we could have imagined.

More special thanks:

    • October 16: St. Francis of Assisi Convent, Greenwood, MS (Sister Kathleen and Sister Elena took time with us to see the sights of this historical place. We enjoyed every minute!)
    • October 17: Natchez, MS; Thibodaux, LA, Ponchatoula, LA (Important conversations happened and we are grateful for each person we met!)
    • October 18: St. Austin, Austin, TX (It is not every day that one arrives amid a Longhorn football game. We couldn’t help but feel we were in Green Bay, but with burnt orange being the color of choice!)
    • October 19: St. Albert Parish, Austin, TX, Round Rock, TX (Multi-cultural Mass called for prayer for the world!)
    • October 20: St. John Paul II Life Center, St. Albert Parish, Austin, TX 6:30 p.m. Mass followed by talk and holy hour (Every moment of our lives is important! Young adults were deep thinkers and found true happiness in time with Jesus.)
    • October 21: Texas A&M (We now have a walking understanding of this university that is steeped in tradition. DailyFranciscan Sisters at Texas A&M Mass with more than 100 strong young people is a cherished memory! Again, discernment conversations were sincere and thoughtful.)
    • October 22: University of Texas, University Catholic Center, Austin, TX, 7 p.m. prayerful holy hour (Paulist Father Ed Nowak and Dorothy couldn’t have been more accommodating and the young people not only were good conversationalists, but it was evident they find their strength in God. Paul Finley made the holy hour a spiritual high with his professionally-outstanding guitar fingering!)
    • October 23: Norman OK, Omaha, NE (This women’s discernment group is asking the right questions and truly were gracious in meeting us near the interstate. We were fortified with Eucharist and a Sisterly breakfast with Sister Renee in Omaha before doing the last leg of the journey!)
    • October 24: Manitowoc, WI (We were met with other inquiries from young women in this area and welcome another discerner for a weekend experience. It couldn’t be better than that! We invite you to visit us soon or invite us to meet you where you are! Click here.

Francisan Sisters at Amy's in Austin TX



JUST Gospel: For I Was Hungry and You Gave Me Food

by Sister Kathleen on October 22, 2014

Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Kathleen Murphy considers agricultural issues as reflected in the U.S. Bishop’s For I Was Hungry and You Gave Me Food.

A new month returns us to our consideration of the US Bishops’ consideration of agricultural issues in For I Was Hungry and You Gave Me Food. Let us join the bishops as they speak of the structure used in the document.

“ In this document, we outline some “signs of the times,” lift up principles from Catholic social teaching, and suggest elements of an “agenda for action.” We also highlight the global dimensions of agriculture today and how they contribute to the growing gap between rich and poor at home and abroad. But more than anything else, we seek to place the life and dignity of the human person at the center of the discussions and decisions on agriculture.”

Franciscan Sister ElenaContinuing, the bishops define the audience for this document. They highlight three groups to whom they address their remarks as they write: “First, we recognize and encourage those who carry out and contribute to the work of agriculture in the United States and abroad: farmers and farmworkers, leaders of rural communities, and those who serve them in our Church. When we refer to farmers and farmworkers, our concern also extends to those who produce our food and fiber, to ranchers, and to other agricultural workers

Second, we offer elements of a moral framework for those involved in agricultural policy: political leaders, experts, advocates, and activists.

Third, we encourage members of the broader Catholic community to give greater attention and priority to issues of food and agriculture and their connections to our faith.

The emphasis given by the bold print is mine. It helps us to know that we, as a community, are specifically included in the focus groups described by the bishops. Our study of their ideas will enrich our service among the People of God. This is not just for those who work in farming communities, but for all of us who help to educate others. We teach by our interest and concern that agricultural issues are not just for a specialized part of society, but should be the concern of us all.


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

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 […]

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Prayer Request: Austin Franciscan Vocation Journey

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! Our ‘on the road’ travels include conversations along the way with young women desiring to know more about our way of life. We […]

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