Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross in Green Bay, WI

From the beginning

From the beginning
Sister counts the ways in which she has responded to Jesus' call to share the Sacred Story 
by Sister Elise Cholewinski

As we move through the Easter season, the Church seems to be building up to a crescendo, as we are led through Jesus’ Last Supper discourse and stories from the Acts of the Apostles toward the great feast of Pentecost. The deeper we get into that discourse, the more Jesus starts speaking about the sufferings to come. Jesus tells the apostles that they will undergo some horrible things, but they are to persevere in witnessing to Him because they have been with Him “from the beginning.” (John 15:27) When we reach the last chapter of Acts, St. Paul, as he is awaiting martyrdom, continues “proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 28:30-31).

Looking back at my own life in a small Polish parish, I recognize very early signs of my call to religious life: being in the first grade Christmas pageant, experiencing my First Holy Communion as one of the happiest days of my life, becoming acquainted with the rhythm of the liturgical year, singing in the choir, helping the Sisters clean the sanctuary of the church, playing “church” at home and learning the altar server prayers by heart in Latin (although I couldn’t serve). I loved it all and somehow I wanted to share the joy of knowing Jesus and His Story. As a Sister, I sometimes review my many years of teaching and recall the different ways I have tried to make that Sacred Story come alive: retreats, pageants, puppet shows, Passover Meals, special prayer services. Probably one of the best things I had the students engage in was the production of a newspaper, “The Jerusalem Journal”, published two days after the crucifixion. Those activities were so enjoyable, for my students and for me.

Writing about these memorable projects, I feel the juices flowing. I hope that I can always be in a crescendo mode, exploring new ways to lead others to encounter the living Christ, and when I am unable to do so, to still proclaim by my life, in times of suffering and times of peace, that Jesus is Lord. Why? Because I have been with Him “from the beginning.”

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