Continued How a Nurse Becomes a Franciscan Sister
Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Sheila Kasten continues her account of her becoming a nurse and then a Franciscan Sister. To begin the story click here.
In 6th grade, the family returned to Appleton where grades 6 through 9 at St. Joseph School, were completed under the tutelage of the SSND Sisters. In ninth grade I was asked to portray in a school play the role of Mother Caroline, the foundress of the SSND Sisters. We wore server cassocks but had the official veil, wimple and collar worn by the Sisters. They had a hard time fitting my braids into the wimple. Following that, Appleton Senior High School (now Appleton West) was the site of my 1950 graduation. At that time there was only one high school in Appleton; now there are five high schools.
After graduation I worked as a stenographer for six months at Household Finance Corporation. During this time I explored the possibility of being an Airline Stewardess. I met the requirements, but eyeglasses were prohibited at that time, so I was disqualified. My next move was to the Yankee Paper Company in Menasha, where I was employed as secretary to the owners.
In l952 I entered nurses training at Mercy Hospital School of Nursing, Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The hospital and school were staffed by the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Upon completion of the three-year Registered Nurse program, the next step was writing the State Board examination. During this time Mom was praying a novena to Padre Pio for me. All help was welcome! I was working in surgery at St. Elizabeth Hospital, Appleton, when the call came that I was officially an R.N.
After seven months at St. Elizabeth’s, I transferred to the Medical Arts Clinic where I worked with two very busy General Practitioners. This was my favorite field of nursing because of the diversity of people and cases. The clinic had three floors with an x-ray department, laboratory, cast room, pharmacy, office, switchboard, and other specialty physicians. We used to kid the doctors that if we had a lying-in room they wouldn’t have to be called out for deliveries. While working at the Medical Arts Clinic, three of us took a cruise in the Bahamas aboard the yacht, Polynesia. It was a memorable time.
The summer of 1959 found me working on the island of Bar Harbor, Maine at the local hospital. Their hospital had an ad in the RN magazine for summer help. This sounded interesting. Nurses from Ohio, Virginia and California responded. We lived in the nurses’ dormitory. The ‘islanders’ chided us about our accents but we responded that we didn’t have an accent. They had the accent! When we left, we threatened to cross out the Rs on their WELCOME TO BAR HARBOR sign and replace them with Hs!
I returned to Medical Arts Clinic until taking the momentous step of entering Holy Family Convent, Manitowoc, in August 1962. Since sixth grade I had been praying to know my vocation. I had visited other Motherhouses but none appealed to me, nor did I want to be too far away from home, making it hard for my parents to visit. Our FSCC Sisters were missioned at Xavier High School and St. Therese Parish, so I saw them in Church, but it was through Sister Eileen Grace Beaton that I came to visit our Motherhouse in the Spring. Sister Eileen Grace was a teacher at Xavier High School and the driver who brought the Sisters to the clinic for medical care. Sister and I had often visited, and she knew of my interest in becoming a religious. She asked if I would like to visit the Motherhouse. We drove to Manitowoc where Sister Kathryn (Una) Scheu, the Vocation Directress interviewed me.
The decisive factor to enter was caused by my envisioning Jesus as I appeared before Him following my death and he looked at me with His big, brown, sorrowful eyes and asked, “Why didn’t you come when I called you”? How could I refuse? I have never regretted my decision to become a professed religious and am thankful the Lord directed me to this Community.
In Community, I received additional education at St. Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri, and Silver Lake College, Manitowoc. Mission appointments have been to the emergency departments of our Community hospitals in Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Ohio; Secretarial duties in Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Ohio; and in April 2007 was asked to join the communications department at the Motherhouse.
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