Franciscan Sisters Serving at St. Francis Convent, Manitowoc

by Sister Julie Ann on July 1, 2008

img_4310_0892.jpgOver forty Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity live at St. Francis Convent, Manitowoc. This home of the Sisters is within walking distance of the Motherhouse. Historically, the community has engaged in some construction project every twenty to thirty years. On Oct. 3, 1987 groundbreaking was celebrated for this building named in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, Seraphic Father who answered the call to live the Gospel.

img_4308_0890.jpgA poem by John Ruskin (his essays on art and architecture were extremely influential in the Victorian and Edwardian eras) quoted in 1957 in an informative booklet printed for the financial campaign for the building of Silver Lake College of the Holy Family, was repeated in archival notes to commemorate this Community construction site :

When we build

Let us think that we build together.

Let it not be for present delight,

Not for present use alone;

Let it be such as our descendants

Will thank us for,

And let us think

As we lay stone on stone,

That a time is to come

When those stones will be held sacred,

Because our hands have touched them,

And that men will say as they look

Upon the labor and wrought substance of them

See! This our fathers did for us!

Learn more about these “living stones”, the Sisters, as they share their lives among God’s people in the Manitowoc area and with each other.

22 thoughts on “Franciscan Sisters Serving at St. Francis Convent, Manitowoc”

  1. Sister Ronald says:

    Hi! I’m Sister Ronald Held. After spending forty years with vivacious six year olds in first grade, I am now enjoying the peace and quiet of the retirement home at St. Francis Convent.

  2. Sister Helena Young says:

    This is Sister Helena from Zanesville. The stones in the Chapel at St Francis are beautiful and sacred.If you click on the picture to enlarge it you will see their beauty, stone on stone. I will be making retreat at the House of Prayer which is a part of St Francs Convent. I look forward to that time and the sacred place that has been prepared for me.

    Blessings on all!

  3. Sister Verone says:

    My days at St. Francis Convent are happy days. I have in the past been a music teacher, a nurse aide, a cook and a library aide. I enjoyed all of these things. Now I do a bit of each of these. My favorite years were the ones I worked as a nurse aide for the elderly. I do some of this here at St. Francis when I am on call for Penny Haupt whenever she is not here.
    I love my sisters and hearing their life stories and I want to be of service to them in any way I can.
    My name is Sister Verone Leeman. I learned early in life to be of service as I am the 2nd oldest of 15.
    I agree with Sister Ronald. It is a blessing to be in this peaceful and quiet environment.

  4. Sister Mary Charles says:

    My name is Sister Mary Charles Hlinak. I have been a Homemaker all my religious life. My work took me to places in Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.
    Now I am at St. Francis Convent, Manitowoc, WI.
    I cannot do many of the things I used to do, but am able to be a mentor to our ladies in the kitchen in the baking area. I guide them in the making of bread, also in the sweet dough and in the forming of this dough as cinnamon rolls, caramel rolls etc.
    It’s wonderful to see how well they do on their own after they feel confident. I do this only as it is needed. I also work in the laundry folding clothes.

  5. Sister Verone says:

    I spent 5 years with Sister Mary Charles at Slinger working with her in the kitchen. She is a marvelous cook and baker. I learned much from her in the area of cooking and baking but much more from her as a person. I would describe her as a servant with a joyful and generous spirit. Thank you Sister Mary Charles. You continue to be an inspiration to me.

  6. I’m so happy to see our sisters at St. Francis Convent featured on our blog. These sisters are a beautiful treasure of prayer, wisdom and great humor.
    I spend a least two days a month in Manitowoc doing spiritual direction with our sisters. During my “Manitowoc time” I live at St. Francis. The lower level of St. Francis has a section for our “House of Prayer”. I love its quiet and peaceful atmosphere.
    I can always find a listening ear and some good conversation when I share meals with the sisters. I hope many will share their wisdom and lives on the blog!

  7. Sister Florence Piotrzkowski says:

    Since I have Hereditary Ataxia,(a condition which robs the muscles of their ordinary functions) I belong to the Apostlolate of Prayer. We pray for the needs of the world,our families, & of each one who asks.
    We Sisters & others have a rosary hobby (supplies donated by Mr. Henry Cops. We make cord rosaries with blue beads for groups, and Pro-life rosaries for individuals. If you’d like either of them, please contact me at St.Francis Convent.
    Love, Mass for you – may God bless you!

  8. Sister Maria Casetta says:

    Hi, my name is Sister Maria Casetta.
    No, I can’t sing like Maria in the movie “The Sound of Music” but I do love Mother Mary and I’m so happy I have her name.
    When I was to become a novice we had three choices of a name. Mine were Maria, Maria, and Maria.
    I was so excited to receive my name. My father who was an Italian was very happy that I was named Sister Maria.
    My main apostolate was teaching and ministering to God’s children and families in Catholic schools and religious education centers.
    I have always loved children and working with families.
    One of my favorite Scripture texts is taken from Isaiah 43:2.
    Now my main focus is working harder to become a saint and I am helping wherever I can be of service at St. Francis Convent.

  9. Denise Collebrusco says:

    I am Denise Collebrusco, niece of Sister Mary Charles. In the mail today, I recieved the address of the convent website that she sent me. I really enjoy the sister’s stories on the blog. I know a friend of mine would really enjoy reading the blog’s, but she doesn’t like to use the computer, so I made a copy so she could read it. I will be visiting your website often.

  10. Sr. Catherine Gilles says:

    A note from Silver Lake College, especially for you, Denise. — After reading Sr. Mary Charles’ introduction of herself, I just must tell about something that used to happen about 7:30 in the morning of our Silver Lake College Novemberfest celebrations. That was the time when Sr. Mary Charles would appear bearing NUMEROUS caramel rolls straight out of the oven, admitting that she had risen at 4:00 to get them ready for our bake sale! Need I say that we workers had our money at the ready and many of the rolls never made it to the display table! You haven’t lived if you’ve never tasted on of her rolls! Thank you, Sr. Mary Charles, for that kind of generous giving which has characterized your life.

  11. Sister Rita Mae Suhr says:

    On the way to a shut-in in the country I passed a barn that had fallen down parallel to the road. What an experience!! It happened during all the bad weather days recently and made me realize how lucky we are here in this area. It was a reality check and made me count my blessings!!

  12. Sister Malachy Donnelly says:

    Enter Desert Rat,Sister Malachy Donnelly.
    My first years being out West began in Santa Barbara. Those were hard years for me as I missed my friends back Home. My real work began among the Indians at St. John’s Indian School.Served all the Western Missions including Kauai. My favorite mission was Topawa and returned there five different times. Even had the privilege of being assigned there the last year we were there as a Community. My heart still longs for Topawa my love!

  13. Sister Mary Frederick Gramann says:

    I entered our Franciscan Community in 1945. After my years of initial formation I was blessed to begin my years of teaching at the birthplace of our Community-Clark Mills. My years of teaching were followed with work in the fields of Formation,serving with our
    Administration,serving in two of our hospitals in the area of Mission Efectiveness and my last assignment before retirement here at St. Francis was six blessed years in the House of
    Prayer.Thank you God for all your blessings.

  14. Sister Carol Stiefvater says:

    I’m Sr. Carol Stiefvater, one of the 40-some Sisters living here at St. Francisis Convent just outside my home town of Manitowoc, Wis..
    St Willibrord School on Chicago’s south side ws my first mission. All of the Sisters who served the grade and high school there enjoyed the lively children and their friendly families.
    After nine years of teaching fifth grade at “St. Willy’s”, I joined Sr. Syra Whitman in the education of hearing-impaired children who attended special and integrated classes in Chicago’s parish schools. 23 years of that.
    Then a drop further south, — to become parish ministers for Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish. After two years of serving the church and those in need throughout the county, we were requested by the Kentucky Dept. of children and Families to become Foster Parents. Thus was born Peace Place for Children where youth of all ages were placed for periods varying from one day to six years, — over 200 children during a 16 1/2 year period. A significant feature of our service was Pet Therapy; many different kinds of animals had the priviliege of helping with the needed emotional healing. When Sr. Syura died, a parishoner and I partnered up to begin Respite Care Service for folks with disabilities.
    Four years later, I’m up in Manitowoc again, — living at St. Francis Convent. I’m so grateful for my life, my family, my Sisters here, all of my adventures,– for GOD!
    Any questions?

  15. Sister Carol Stiefvater says:

    I had a “Senior Moment” when I signed off my previous blog earlier today and forgot to mention that I would love to hear from any of you, especially those whom I have known along the way. Or maybe you are requesting prayers. Whatever. (Sr. Carol Stiefvater)

  16. Sister Paulita says:

    Good afternoon,
    I guess it is about time that I type in my blog.
    I have been at St. Francis Convent for five years. Before coming here I had completed 50 years in our schools. (30 years as a teacher and 20 years as a principal.0 I have been in schools in WI, HI, AZ, CA, OH, and MI. So you see I have done some traveling in the past and have met many people and some of different nationalities. It has been a wonderful experience as well as to teach them about God and our religion.
    One of the most interesting places was Hawaii. I was at the Cathedral School in Honolulu for six years. It had been a boys school before our Sisters took over so my first class was the 5th grade and out of the 50 student about 10 were girls. Some of the best students that I have taught were in this school. The Orientals really took school seriously and did very good work. They worked hard in school and played hard on the playground. So many interesting things to see and do in Hawaii and very friendly people. I still have a student that I correspond with at Christmas time. She is married and has two children of her own.
    I did enjoy other cities and schools that I had taught and have good memories from each place. 50 years of stories, experiences, and most of all friends.
    I have been at St. Francis Convent for five years and one of my “job” is to take care of the computers which I did teach to students for 9 years after I retired from being a principal. I had computer classes from K-8.
    I am thankful to our Community for for being here at St. Francis and having more time for prayer.
    That is all for this time.

  17. Heap Big How to All of You!!! I’m Sister Mary Lou Loonsfoot and my most very favorite twin sis is Sister Mary Carla Loonsfoot!!!!!!! I first moved here to St. Francis Convent on Tuesday,May 20,2003 so have been here for a whole 5 Years Already and this is very close to being in “Heaven on Earth”!!! We are so blest to have Sister Jerianne be our Local Director and am Grateful to God for permitting me to “Live” and “Share Life” with these Special Sisters that I’m privileged to live with here at St. Francis Convent!!! God Bless All of You and your Families!!!Will now close with Love and Prayers, Sister Mary Lou

  18. Sister St. Louis Chouinard says:

    I am Sister St.Louis who is very grateful to God for calling me to serve Him as a Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity. My many years have found me in many different positions such as Teacher, Principal,Superior etc. At present I have been keeping busy with duties of many kinds while helping others and keeping in touch with their needs. I will never regret the years spent working for the Lord.
    May the Lord encourage others to do the same.

  19. Sister Malachy Donnelly says:

    Your comment about our rocks in our chapel was much appreciated. They do lift our mind to The Lord!

    May you have a fruitful Retreat in our home.

    Sister Malachy

  20. Congratulations for serving the community all those years. Waking up every morning, the planning, & every day hard work takes a lot out of a human body. Thank the Lord we can turn to him for our every need. God Bless all of your for the dedication over the years. Warm Regards.

  21. Skandia says:

    Hello! I'm trying to contact my aunt, Sr. Dolores Goudreau, via e-mail. Would appreciate any help. I have some photos of our Goudreau reunion and her newest grand-niece I would like to send her.
    Thanks!
    Peggy (Goudreau) Urton

  22. Diana (R. C. ) H. says:

     Thank you for coming to Kauai and blessing us with your ministry. I became a lector because of you and thanks to you,  I wouldn’t have been able to  accomplish the many things that I have done with my life.  Through the diligent reading of the Bible I have achieved a Bachelor’s Degree  and  a Concordance that have made all this possible through the grace of God.  Much love and Aloha.   I will pray that God will continue to Bless you and the lives that you have touched, you have certainly blessed mine.  Thank you again for everything. 

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