by Sister Mary Kabat
published Fall 2018
In 2006, we celebrated the 125th Anniversary of our Community. It was quite a busy time – we were preparing for our 2005 Chapter which would include electing leadership for the next four years. We were building a new Motherhouse and doing all the necessary fundraising visits, auction and bazaars. But that didn’t stop the committee of Sisters Jeanne Vander Bloomen, Donna Koch, Marilyn Herr, Mary Jo Kirt, Jackie Capelle and I from planning a yearlong celebration.
With additional assistance from Sisters, Associates, lay employees, Crosiers and friends we held a balloon kickoff, entered a trophy winning float in the city of Green Bay’s 150th anniversary parade, planned a pilgrimage including reenactments and remembrances at sites where our founders and we have served, invited former members and spouses to share the occasion with us and prayed and feasted together at a Founders Day Mass and dinner.
At one committee meeting the idea came up – “What if we had an original song written for our anniversary?” At first that seemed beyond anything we could accomplish. But we thought, “Why not!” If it was to become a reality, we knew just the person to ask – Cathy Tisel Nelson from Rochester, Minn. We had been singing for years Cathy’s beautiful songs based on the words of St. Francis and St. Clare such as “What You Hold,” “Gaze upon Christ,” The Blessing of St. Clare,” and “In the Footprints of Jesus.” Her music brings the Franciscan spirituality to life and allows it to fill the heart and soul. I found a phone number on her website, had a delightful conversation and made our request, and Cathy said, “yes!”
We shared with Cathy our history, constitutions, mission and desire that the song be one of praise, thanks and joy. We shared with her our charism rooted in the Cross, Word and Eucharist, our passion to serve the needs of others and our love for creation especially the sunsets we saw over the bay. And we asked that the song be within the singing range of the average person and have an easy to remember refrain. And Cathy Tisel Nelson wrote for us “Deo Gratias,” a song which expresses our history, our charism, our mission, our life. We continue to be so grateful to sing it again and again.