Tuesday, March 13, 2018
by Sister Elise Cholewinski
When I first entered the Community of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross, I only knew one of the Sisters. I was focused on developing new prayer forms, studying theology, and learning the fundamentals of living religious life. After making my religious profession, I was sent out to teach. Eventually I would pursue advanced degrees in education and receive training in spiritual direction. My ministries would evolve.
All along the way I heard stories of the founding of our Community and the ways in which the Sisters continually adapted to changing times and circumstances. As I recall those stories now, I can appreciate to a degree that I couldn’t before, the awesome ways in which they compassionately responded to the needs of the times in the Diocese of Green Bay.
During 2018 our Sisters celebrate the 150th anniversary of their beginning. In 1868 Father Edward Francis Daems, a Crozier priest from Belgium, along with three women who departed from their Dominican Order in Racine, responded to the need for Catholic education in the wilderness of northeastern Wisconsin by opening a school at Bay Settlement, a few miles from Green Bay. Over the years the Community would experience tremendous growth and great loss, expansion of ministries and diminishment of members, clear vision and unanswered questions. Looking back over their history, the Sisters realize how profoundly graced they have been. God’s faithfulness to them has been the thread winding its way through the decades of their service to God’s people.
We live our lives forward; we understand them backward. It is in viewing the past that we obtain a vision for the future. It is said of Father Daems that he came and he stayed. As we move forward in the wilderness of the modern Wisconsin, our challenge is to do the same. We have come. We will stay. Our fidelity will be another thread winding its way along an unknown path.
Rooted in the Cross, Word, and Eucharist ... compassionately responding through prayer, presence, and hospitality.
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