Mary Hennessy was born May 11, 1872 in Wexford, Ireland. After growing up in Ironwood, MI, Mary entered the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity at age 25 in 1898. Sister Clarence was professed in 1900.
Sister Clarence is an eye witness to all that happened in the first 40 years of Holy Family Hospital (now Holy Family Memorial), Manitowoc, WI. The Franciscan Sisters’ archives reveal her poignant reporting:
Hard times started in October, 1929. Very little work doing anywhere. Many idle men were seen the whole year. The summer was dry and as a result we had poor crops. There was no water for the cattle. Water was carried in barrels for miles. No rain for three months. No snow until spring.
The Spring of 1931 brought no relief. No work started before the middle of summer. Men came to the back door by the dozens for a handout. They were thankful for any kind of food. We gave some food to each one, no matter how many came and some how or other we did not miss it. Such poverty!
Still no work in 1932. Over a hundred families living on the city depending on them for food, clothing and shelter beside light, water and coal. The men were walking around by the score, hiding themselves in the grass and among the trees, crawling out at meal times and marching up to the back door. Some of them hung their heads in shame because they met their next door neighbor. Hunger is a cure for pride.
Moving forward while gaining wisdom from all that has happened in the past, the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity who presently live at St. Clare Convent, Manitowoc, WI tell their own stories about life today.