Focus on Immigration Now and 140 Years Ago

by Sister Julie Ann on October 24, 2009

img_6854.jpgImmigration is not something confined to one period of history.

On Saturday, October 23, 2009, Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity and other religious gathered for a conversation on immigration reform at Silver Lake College’s Generose Enrichment Center, Manitowoc, WI.

img_7800.jpgLater on the same day, the Franciscan Sisters joined the Catholic communities of St. Mary, Clarks Mills, WI and St. Michael, Whitelaw, WI, to celebrate Eucharist and dedicate a St. Francis Statue at a site where young immigrant women over 140 years ago lived together in the first convent of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity.  

Immigration Presentation

img_6863.jpgFranciscan Federation’s Region IV representatives planned the Saturday Immigration education session. Voces de la Frantera, a Wisconsin nonprofit that educates workers about their employment rights and organizes to protect and improve the quality of life for low-wage img_6856.jpgand immigrant workers, was invited to present on ‘Immigration-Pilgrims and Strangers, The New Sanctuary Movement’. Bill and Joanne Lange, along with Jill Vonnahme represented the organization, while two other speakers shared how their lives were affected by the need for immigration to the United States. Sister Lorita Gafney, OSF and Sister Kathyrn Klackner, OSF were the on site organizers.

Commemoration of Franciscan Sisters’ Founding in 1869

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Bishop David Richen, Bishop of Diocese of Green Bay, and Father David Zimmerman presided at the festive 4 p.m. Eucharistic liturgy and special blessing which included many Franciscan Sisters, parish members and the Knights of Columbus. Deacon Tom Koch organized the celebration that included liturgical music by ‘The Living Spirits’ and a delicious social in the school hall.

img_7805.jpgHistorically, young women bearing the family names of Gramlich,  Fessler, Wahl  and Thoenig were received into the novitiate on November 9, 1869 and later became professed members of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity. One year later,  two other newcomers to the United States with last names of Stich and Doyle were received as novices. The Franciscan Sisters are grateful to all the families that have supported them throughout the years, especially Jeanette and Earl Silva who donated the St. Francis Statue in memory of her parents Charles and Margaret McCulley, relatives of Sister Margaret Ann Wallander, OSF.

How have you been affected by immigration?

6 thoughts on “Focus on Immigration Now and 140 Years Ago”

  1. The call to live the way of the Gospel is as real today as it was in the time of our Foundresses.

    We believe that immigrants are our neighbors, both literally and figuratively, and we are to love our neighbors as ourselves and show mercy to neighbors in need (Leviticus 19:18, Mark 12:31, Luke 10:25-37).

    May each of us continue to reach out in welcome and be a voice for those in need of a home and a future!

  2. “We are only undefeated because we keep on trying”. This T.S. Eliot quote seems to be appropriate as we move forward regarding immigration.

  3. Sister Rosangela Weiland says:

    I attended the Session on Immigration and found it very informative and thought provoking. It makes me realize how blessed I am to have been born in the United States. I did not attend the ceremony/celebration at Clarks Mills. Those who did said it was beautiful. I wonder about the German Immigrant Sisters who joined our Foundresses. It was a growing experience for all of them, a letting go and a mutual acceptance of each other. They were surely open to the Holy Spirit.

  4. Sister Natalie says:

    Having had the privilege of teaching in diversified cultural situations there have been a variety of experiences regarding immigration. I have always felt the call to include everyone and create an environment of welcome and acceptance for each person. My most recent mission experience at Santa Cruz Catholic School in Tucson, Arizona provided the “hands on experience” of what immigrant families suffer. I witnessed their life of faith that gave them strength to persevere and the strong bond of love that sustained the family amidst the challenges that they faced each day. It was and is a privilege to walk the path of sacrifice with another to enable a better life.

  5. Sister Sean Marie says:

    Most people can trace back through genealogy studies to find their own roots. The mixture of cultures has created our rich diversity of today’s world. Workshops like the one sponsored by Silver Lake College helps one reflect on the joys and enrichment one can experience in a freely immigrated world.

  6. Sister Sharon Paul says:

    Blessings to those who donated St. Francis statue in memory of our founding and I see it is specifically in memory of the McCulleys’. If we go back far enough all of us are immigrants and blessings to all our ancestors who have prepared the way! Gratefully in St. Francis to each of YOU!

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