My Vocation Story by Sr. Barb Kwiatkowski, OSF

00102175My vocation story begins in God’s country—beautiful Ohio—-where I was born and raised. I was born into a 100% Polish family, the oldest of 3 girls. Ours was not a family without problems, but, despite our problems, there was always a lot of love. My grandparents were very influential in my faith life, especially my mom’s dad. My parents constantly stressed that we were here on earth to become good persons and help others, but my Dziadzia (grandpa) taught us to pray and always talked to us about God and about the possibility of religious life.

When I was in the 3rd grade, I made my First Communion. I remember feeling so close to God! I also remember being fascinated with the Sisters who taught me in school and by the kind of life they led. They seemed especially connected to God and very happy. When I was ready to start the 4th grade, we moved to another part of the city and I went to a different school where I had a very similar experience with the Sisters who were my teachers. They often suggested to me that when I got older I should think about becoming a Sister. I had no idea if that was something I wanted to consider as an adult, but I liked them, and so I listened.

When I graduated from grade school, I went to an all girl’s Catholic high school. I played basketball in high school, sang in the school choir, worked on the paper and the yearbook and was President of the Christian Service Club. Becoming a Sister was the farthest thing from my mind! Being a Sister was not popular at the time and I was having way too much fun to even consider such a possibility. I do believe, though, that throughout my life God had been calling me to consider religious life through the people and events I had experienced, but at this point in my life, I just wasn’t listening.

After graduating from high school, I enrolled at the University of Toledo. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and really didn’t like the big school atmosphere at UT, where I was just a number. I dropped out of college after a year and went to work full time. I was making good money and was able to travel, buy a new Camaro and a motorcycle and go out on the weekends with my friends. Sounds great, but I wasn’t happy and I didn’t feel fulfilled. A friend of mine who realized that I was searching for something, asked me to help him with the youth group at an inner city parish where he volunteered. I agreed and that’s where I first met the Joliet Franciscan Sisters who staffed the parish school.

I found myself once more being fascinated by the life these Sisters led and I was impressed by their dedication and service to the people in the parish. I remember a time the Sisters spent all night searching the drug infested, high crime neighborhood for an 8th grader who had run away from home, a time when they took in a family of 5 that had been evicted from their apartment, and numerous times when they took food and clothing to people in need. It was as if a light had been turned on in a dark room for me! I realized that I was attracted to this kind of life of service and dedication to others and I wanted to live and share my life with people who wanted to do the same thing. And so, at the age of 24, I left my hometown and my family and friends and moved to Joliet to enter the Sisters of St. Francis.

I have had an interesting, challenging and full life as a Joliet Franciscan Sister. Most of my life as a Sister has been spent in secondary education where I have ministered as a teacher, dean of students, assistant principal and campus minister. In addition, I spent time as a missionary in Brazil at our mission there and as vocation director for our Congregation. I do believe that my life as a Sister was in God’s plan for me and that I am very blessed. St. Francis, as he lay dying, told his brothers, “I have done what was mine to do; may Christ teach you what is yours.” Herein lies my hope and challenge for any young person reading this—I am convinced that Christ will put people and experiences in your life to guide you in what is yours to do in life. It is up to you to live a reflective life with a listening ear and a heart open to doing whatever Christ calls you to do. Blessings on your journey!

My Vocation Story by Sr. Maria Pesavento, OSF

Pesavento_Maria-240x300Being asked to share my vocation story with you has given me an opportunity to once again consider all that has brought me to this time in my life. I wish that I could tell you that, like Mary, an angel appeared to me and told me that I should become a Sister. However, rarely does it work that way and it certainly didn’t work that way in my life. I grew up in an ordinary Italian Catholic family. My parents saw that my sister, brother and I were educated in Catholic schools. We went to Mass each Sunday, said grace before meals and led pretty normal lives. Because of the times, I was privileged to have many Sisters as my teachers throughout grade school and high school. I can remember, as early as 3rd grade, admiring these women and feeling that I would like to be like them and do what they do. This feeling stayed with me, though I kept trying to push it to the background. Through my years of schooling, I had three different orders of Sisters, but when I met the Joliet Franciscan Sisters at St. Francis Academy here in Joliet I knew that if I were to become a Sister that I would join them. They were excellent, dedicated teachers and exhibited joy in all that they did. They took an interest in their students and it was obvious to me that they truly enjoyed what they were doing. So, after high school, I entered the convent and recently celebrated my golden jubilee. My life has been rich and fulfilling. I have had so many opportunities for education, travel and enrichment in my life. I have been a teacher, high school administrator, nursing home administrator and I have served in various leadership positions for the Joliet Franciscans. My life has been and continues to be full and fulfilling. I do not regret a day that I have spent as a Sister of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate. So, as you contemplate your path in life, I encourage you to be open to all vocations. Listen as the Spirit speaks to you. May our loving God lead you to do and be what is yours to do and be!

Sisters Announce 2014 Jubilarians

Sr. Andrea & Sr. Maurice
Each year a group of dedicated Sisters from the Congregation celebrate their jubilees (anniversaries). Below is the list of celebrants for the 2014 calendar year. Combined, these women have served both the Joliet area and beyond for over 700 years!
Celebrating their 75th, 60th and 50th Jubilees are the following Sisters:
75th Jubilarians: Sister Andrea Prindes and Sister Maurice White (see photos above).
60th Jubilarians: Sister Patricia Mitchell, Sister Laura Filipas, Sister Helen Vahling, Sister Carlene Howell, Sister Verene Girmscheid and Sister Margaret Alice Martinek.
50th Jubilarians: Sister Jaye Nelson, Sister Kathleen Salewski, Sister Karen Berry, Sister Carol Mecko and Sister Mary Jo Young.
The official celebration will take place on June 21, 2014 at the Cathedral of St. Raymond in Joliet.
More information about these Jubilarians can be found at:

Joliet Franciscan Sister, Sister Leomarie Luecke honored for 43 years of service at the Spanish Community Center

Sister-Leomarie-LueckeSister Leomarie Luecke was recently honored by the Spanish Community Center of Joliet, Illinois, for her 40 plus years of service to the center
and the community at large. She has been involved with the Spanish Center since 1971. To this day, many people still come to their door looking for “the nun who speaks Spanish that teaches English!”

At their Award Celebration and Fiesta held on March 13, 2014, The Spanish Community Center bestowed their Community Service Award to Sister Leomarie. While presenting Sister Leomarie her award, Elizabeth Guzman, a Board Member of the Spanish Center, said this, “Do you know how it’s often said that if you want to change the world, teach? Well since 1971, Sister Leomarie has been a catalyst for positive change in the lives of hundreds – maybe thousands of people who, thanks to Sister Leo, have learned to speak the English language!” It is indeed a great tribute to Sister Leomarie, who through her special dedication, patience and love of teaching, has been able “to empowered so many who have contributed to a better community for everyone.” Her award reads: “Walk the Talk – take the initiative and lead the way, you can make the difference. Sister Leo Marie Luecke, In sincere appreciation of your contributions. 2014 Spanish Community Center.

Sister Leomarie and the other honorees received a letter from Illinois State Senator, Pat McGuire in which he says the following about Sister Leomarie, “…your skills, smile, musical talents continue to enrich our community. Felicidades and continued good wishes to each of you and to the Spanish Community Center.”

There is no stopping Sister Leomarie anytime soon. Sister Leomarie who just celebrated her 76th birthday and has said there are no plans for retiring. As she put it, “As long as I can continue, I will!”


Sister Leomarie Luecke (seated) was accompanied to the award
ceremony by the following Sisters (standing from the left):
Rose Marie Surwilo, Teresinha Del’Acqua, Rosemary Huzl,
Odelia Kloc, Lourdes Boyer, Pauline Ann Furiel, Mary Agnes
Cross, Clarita Schumacher, Dolores Zemont, Albert Marie
Papesh and Martha Kienzler.