When George and Mayme Delvaux and their son, Russell, welcomed Janice to their family, they could never have imagined that their daughter and sister would one day serve on the Leadership Team of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Manitowoc. From her childhood days near the waters of Green Bay to her adult years along the shore of Lake Michigan, her life has been guided by God's quiet yet persistent, transforming love.
Janice Delvaux -- or Sister Renee -- knew the Bay Settlement Sisters all her life. She saw the Sisters at her parish, Holy Cross, and on their adjacent convent grounds. She and other grade school children attended Mass in the convent chapel on cold school days when the parish church was heated only on Sundays.
Sister Renee can vividly remember the Sunday in the fall of 1958 when she went to the convent to ask the Superior, Sister Ambrose Nichols, for an application to join the Community. To the question of why she wanted to become a Sister, she wrote, "I really love God and I want to do His will and I want to be a teacher."
A book not yet written by Dr. Suess, "Oh, the Places You'll Go," could have been written for young Sister Renee as she began loving God through helping her students -- rows and rows of them, from younger to older grade school students -- first at St. Mary, Peshtigo; then at St. Charles, Lena; St. Jude, Green Bay; Holy Cross, Mishicot; all the way to St. Anthony, Columbus, Texas; and back to Wisconsin at St. Boniface, De Pere; and Notre Dame Middle School, De Pere. During seven of these years, Sister Renee also served as Motherhouse coordinator and Community Secretary.
It was during her years at Notre Dame Middle School that God began speaking a new word in her heart. She realized that the time to teach would come to an end and she saw the great need for pastoral associates in the parishes of the diocese as the number of priests lessened. So while continuing to teach during the school year, she spent five summers studying at Loyola University in Chicago to prepare for the new ministry.
In 1999, a workshop for parish ministers was being held in Manitowoc. Sister Renee thought it would provide her with information about what was going on in the diocese in various ministries. There, she learned of an opening for a pastoral associate at St. Andrew and St. Boniface Parishes in the city. She applied, interviewed and was hired by then pastor Fr. Camillus Janas, OFM.
It wasn't long before the consolidation of all six parishes in Manitowoc would begin. Sister Renee was there to make the painful and gradual steps with the parishioners year by year. When St. Francis of Assisi Parish was established in July 2005, she expected the new pastor, Fr. Dan Felton, would want new staff to serve the newly formed parish. She was surprised and honored to be asked to continue serving the parishioners with the Franciscan charism of hospitality and compassion. Day by day, "I try to be the face, hands, feet and heart of Jesus, helping people in their very human needs," she says.
For the last two years, Sister has been serving as the Community Life Facilitator for the Sisters living at St. Francis Convent.
To any young woman wishing to serve God in religious life, Sister Renee would tell her to trust God's life growing within her, "persevere daily in prayer and service and allow God to work quietly in you and through you."
Rooted in the Cross, Word, and Eucharist ... compassionately responding through prayer, presence, and hospitality.
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