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

Autumn Blaze Pear tree takes on an indoor life at convent

copyright Carol Kwaterski 2018

By Renae Bauer
Spring 2018 newsletter

A living gift is now preserved in oil paint.

During the April 8 Founders’ Day celebration the Associates presented their gift of an oil painting to the Sisters. The painting is an interpretation of the Autumn Blaze Pear tree on the motherhouse grounds. The tree itself was a gift from the Associates in 2009 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Sister-Associate Relationship.

“It’s beautiful,” says Associate Laurie Rettmann who, along with her husband Don, also an Associate, saw the painting for the first time at the April 8 unveiling.

Making the painting all the more special is knowing it was created by Associate Carol Kwaterski. “The idea of doing the painting of the pear tree evolved after seeing several beautiful fall photos of the tree in full color,” she says.

Each autumn the tree makes a showy display of crimson, orange and buttery yellow foliage. The colors are particularly dramatic since they burst on the scene late in the season when most other trees have dropped their leaves and the grasses have faded from green to wheat. “The Sisters say the colors change as the fall season progresses,” says Carol. “I thought, ‘Wow, what a painting that would make.’”

And what a painting it has made.

“It’s very beautiful,” says fellow artist and Associate Jane Gerlach. “Carol had shared her progress as she was painting but the photos didn’t do it justice.”

For Jane, who works primarily in watercolor, the painting’s beauty lies not only in the color and composition but what it symbolizes. “It speaks to our relationship,” she says. “The tree itself is planted and growing. We are rooted in Cross, Word and Eucharist ... the tree reaches out and offers its branches and leaves for creatures to rest and find comfort.”

Carol agrees. “The painting represents our deep love for each other that changes and grows with the passing seasons. What impresses me most about the Sister-Associate relationship is the strength we find in one another, a mutual sharing. With them my heart finds joy.”

Learn more about the Associate Relationship

Our Associates are regular people -- teachers, business people, farmers, volunteers -- who feel called to deepen their relationship with God through Franciscan spirituality. To learn more, contact Sister Marilyn Herr, Associate Director, at 920-884-2729, or browse our Associate Relationship page at


AUTUMN BLAZE PEAR PAINTING:  Artist and Associate Carol Kwaterski, left, along with Community President Sister Ann Rehrauer, Second Vice President Rose Jochmann and First Vice President Nancy Langlois (standing behind Sister Rose), unveil the oil painting gift to those in attendance. (Renae Bauer photo)Associates Autumn Blaz _opt

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