On the fringe of the feast of St. Mark yesterday, it seems very timely to share some special good news! Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity organized with friend Father Ben Hasse a spring missionary journey to the Diocese of Marquette Michigan destinations of Ironwood, Bessemer and Wakefield. After being snowed-out in February, we got smarter and chose an April date.
Given this was Michigan, we did see sister snow heaped on the sides of the road, powdering the mountains and falling from the sky! As someone said along the way: “You have to learn how to have fun with snow if you live here.” (Clearly, you also need a contemplative heart open to God’s adventure!)
To make a long story short, the Vocation Team got to know Father Ben, a priest of the Diocese of Marquette, when he served the students at the Northern Michigan University Campus Ministry Center. Since then we’ve been blessed with chance meetings in Indiana at the St. Thomas More Campus Ministry Blessed Sacrament Chapel in Purdue (his alma mater), Illinois at Mundelein Seminary when he was completing Masters work and we were in the area visiting young women who were recent inquirers, Minnesota at a Steubenville Youth Rally and Wisconsin at our Motherhouse. (Yes, Father Ben does stay in Michigan most of the time!)
Who did we meet in Ironwood?
Our Community of Franciscan Sisters has a special place in our hearts for this mining town. Many of our Sisters called this place home and many others served in the high school and elementary schools in the past. How touching that the first person to meet us at All Saints Catholic Academy was Shelley, school secretary, who served with many of our elementary school Sister principals and as a young girl had music lessons from Sister Cecilia Marie.
Our visit included meeting the students and teachers, as well as Father Rob Jurkovich, who was leading a Catholic Adult formation session on Church history for @50 people! Of course, we heard a few more ‘Sisters stories’ from the past from this crowd.
We followed Father Ben’s car to Bessemer and parked our vehicle in front of St. Sebastian Church. Then we grabbed equipment, give-away items and joined Father in his car so that we could enjoy the view and arrive at our next destination on time.
Who did we meet in Wakefield?
Next, we arrived at Immaculate Conception Parish Center and were welcomed by Laura, the Religious Education Coordinator. After quickly setting up ‘our space’ we joined the children for a jello-cool whip snack. It was obvious these little ones were part of Father Ben’s flock for they felt quite comfortable enjoying some light-hearted conversation with him. We learned that we were the first Sisters the children had ever met except for the movies. We felt honored.
Who did we meet in Bessemer?
Now back again in Bessemer our first stop was at a burger place across the street from the rectory. Fortified, we arrived at the St. Sebastian Parish Center where Angie kindly ushered us to a classroom for a later presentation to very attentive junior high and high school students.
We were also delighted to be introduced to the younger religious education students in the gym. There was a good spirit among the young people and the adults who volunteer as teachers. This was evidenced from a ‘dynamite’ heroine drawing that Sister Mary Ann received from one of the boys!
Before heading home, we did some creative standing near the car brainstorming on encouraging vocations e.g. “Thank you for your prayers, but what we really need are your daughters and granddaughters!”
On the road again we did see quite a few road-side deer that seemingly outwitted Father Ben and his hunting buddies. Our evening prayer included remembering all God’s creatures great and small especially new-found and old U.P. friends.