How Franciscan Sister Pen Pals Came to Be

by Sister Julie Ann on May 21, 2009

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Some educators’ objectives in seeking pen pals for their students include improving reading and writing skills or learning more about another country. From another point of view, Second Grade Teachers of Holy Angels Catholic School, West Bend, WI, desired their students to make friends with religious Sisters and learn about their lifestyle. Thus began an already seven year old  friendship of exchanging letters between the little ones and the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity during this special First Communion year.

img_5613.jpgOn May 21, 2009, Sister Maria Casetta, OSF, original contact with Holy Angels School  when a community of Franciscan Sisters lived at San Damiano Convent, Slinger, WI, and other Sisters who are currently in touch with their second grade friends, met their pen pals face to face at the Motherhouse in Manitowoc, WI. Students, teachers, and parents also toured near by St. Francis Convent, as well as enjoyed lunch on the lawn overlooking Silver Lake.

Here’s a letter written February 21, 2003 to Sister Rosalani Gomes, OSF, who continues to be in touch with Rachel and her family in 2009:

Dear Sister Rosalani,

I am writing to you to let you know how much our daughter, Rachel Wilberg, enjoys being your pen pal. Rachel is a 2nd grader at Holy Angels Elementary School in West Bend. She has been your pen pal since the beginning of the school year, and thoroughly enjoys the distant/writing relationship she has built with you. Each time she gets one of your letters and/or notes she comes home and is very excited to share this with both me (her mom) and her dad.

img_5620_edited-2.jpgRecently, you sent her a delightful valentine note, stickers and photo of yourself. Your photo made it to our dinner table and soon became the topic of our conversation. There is no chance that the photo would have been “thrown out” as you suggested, once it was viewed. The photo has now given a smiling face to the warm words Rachel receives from you. Each note you write seems apparent that you have really invested time in getting to know and learn about Rachel. You have asked her specific and personal questions about her little brother and her dog, and this has made her feel as though you are truly a long-time, dear friend to her.

I just wanted to thank you for making Rachel feel so important and special. She, and our son, Riley, are truly the best gifts we have been given. We are honored to see that you have made a connection with her and have positively influenced her 2nd grade experiences. Thank you again for your prayers and kindness. You are special!

With our Appreciation and Blessings,

Renee and Ralph

Does this community of  Catholic religious do any further correspondence with children? Some Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity also write letters to students at St. Mary/St. Michael School, Cato, WI.

Do you have any experience of a pen pal?�

7 thoughts on “How Franciscan Sister Pen Pals Came to Be”

  1. Sister Rosangela says:

    What a wonderful apostolate for our Sisters to write to these children. I’m sure it brings joy to everyone. Who knows? It might plant the seed for a religious vocation.Thanks to all the Sisters who do this.

  2. The art of letter writing is one that nurtures a relationship of reverence between two or more people. Watching the interaction of the 2nd graders and the Sister pen pals was quite heart-warming. These kinds of friendships transform the world.

  3. Sheila Tranel says:

    As a mom of a second grade pen pal as well as a former temporary professed Sister of yours, I have to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the special day the Holy Angels second graders spent with you! Your awesome Franciscan hospitality was everywhere. What a great lesson for the children on your beautiful consecrated life!

  4. Sheila, thank you for taking the time to travel and be with the second graders for the day. We were truly impressed by the faithfilled adults that gave of themselves for the long haul(70+ miles one way!)Peace and all good!

  5. Leslie says:

    This is awesome! Wow 2nd grade is such an important Catholic year and 8 year olds need a lot of nurturing to get the point we expect them to be at. It is wonderful that Sisters take the time to make 2nd graders feel special and excited to be Catholic. I bet the children will always remember the way their Sister pen pal made them feel. Also, what totally dedicated parents these kids have. 70 miles is a long haul. I believe that experiencing what the mother house has to offer was exactly what the children needed as they prepared to receive the Eucharist. You Sisters rock.

  6. Thanks, Leslie, for your comment. We, the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity have so much to gain from the blessing of encounters with children, their families and other supportive adults. Our world is enriched.

  7. Trinith says:

    I am 10 years old catholic, and studying 5th standard. I invite boys and gals to be my pen pals, which I really appreciate.


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