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My Vocation Story – Sr. Deborah Gaughan, OSF

Deborah-vocation storySister Deborah Gaughan knew in first grade that she wanted to be a Sister. Her journey took many unexpected turns, but she made it.

Sister Deborah refers to herself as a “middle child” with two older brothers, an older sister and a set of younger twin sisters. She experienced a strong Catholic upbringing – her mother is Polish, her father, now deceased, was Irish. Gaughan’s family life was not an easy one with more than a few challenges along the way. Sister Deborah attended Catholic grade school and a public high school and was bullied in both. High school was particularly hard as her commitment to her Catholic faith was the reason behind the bullying.

Sister Deborah graduated from Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin. It was during this period in her life that she realized the family challenges she has been part of during her earlier years. The realization caused her to doubt her faith and she left the Catholic Church. She visited churches of other faiths – Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Baptist – but nothing filled the need. Even with a good job, a condo and a car, there was something missing. Sister Deborah decided to try the Catholic Church again. If you ever meet her, you will notice she wears a small angel pin. She believes angels are always with us. As Sister Deborah walked into St. Mary Church in Buffalo Grove, Illinois, she noticed that there were angels everywhere in the church.  “I was home!” she says.

As Sister Deborah looked through the church bulletin, she read a notice that asked “Did God forget you?” followed by a phone number. With nothing to lose, she called the number which belonged to the parish deacon, who was in charge of RCIA. The deacon asked if she had received all of the sacraments and Sister Deborah responded that she had. Although not an RCIA candidate in the true sense, she was allowed to go through all the classes anyway. At the end what she found was a loving, forgiving, personal God. At the end of the Easter Vigil that year, Sister Deborah recommitted herself to the Catholic Church in front of everyone in attendance.

Sister Deborah found herself getting involved again. She met Sarah, the youth minister of the parish, who got Sister Deborah involved working with young adults. She met Sarah’s husband, Paul, who helped her to move ahead even further by getting involved at Holy Family parish in Inverness, Illinois. The pastor, Father Pat Brennan, was the only priest in the parish and asked for the parishioners help in making Holy Family a vibrant parish. Sister Deborah became involved in youth ministry participating in retreats, fundraising and attending events of every kind. She enjoyed working with this age group. She eventually became the parish’s Young Adult leader and also served on the Young Adult Advisory Board for the Archdiocese of Chicago.

The time had now come for Sister Deborah to make yet another turn in her journey. She heard God’s voice. He asked, “When are you going to do what I asked?”

Sister Deborah first confided in a friend with whom she worked that she wanted to be a Sister. Her friend was happy for her. Sister Deborah began her search. There were so many Congregations of Women Religious. Which one to choose? It was all so confusing. She shared with her friends, Sarah and Paul, who responded, “What took you so long? We knew.”  “Why didn’t you say something?” Sister Deborah asked. And they answered, “You needed to know.” Paul immediately helped with the search.  Sister Deborah visited over 50 congregations and had settled on one and was about to sign all the papers, when she was told that due to her earlier depression diagnosis, the fit would not be a good one.

At that point, Sarah put Sister Deborah in touch with Sister Dolores Zemont, currently the Joliet Franciscan president, but was ministering in a parish at that time. Sister Dolores gave Deborah’s information to Sister Barbara Kwiatkowski, who was then serving as the Joliet Franciscans’ Vocation Director. Sister Barbara met Sister Deborah at a Panera Bread café in Buffalo Grove, Illinois where she was living. She told Sister Barbara everything. Sister Barbara assured her, “We don’t judge.”  Over the next year, Sister Barbara mentored Sister Deborah through prayer and suggested reading.  She spent time getting to know many of the Joliet Franciscan Sisters. Sister Barbara brought her to the Motherhouse Chapel on the grounds of the University of St. Francis in Joliet. As she sat in the chapel, Sister Deborah asked God, “Is this the place for me?’  She needed a sign – a big one! And a rainbow appeared in the pew in which she was sitting. IT was nowhere else in the chapel, just where she was sitting. It was the most beautiful rainbow she had ever seen. It brings her happiness when she thinks about it.

Sister Deborah made her first vows in 2012 and renewed them in 2015 while she finished working towards her Master’s in Social Work. About religious life, she says, “You have to want this every day.  You have to give up what you had planned and follow God’s plan for you. God has a plan for me. That’s where I will go.”

 

New Associates join the Associate Program

On Sunday, April 17, 2016, the Joliet Franciscan Sisters welcomed 7 new Associates into the Associate Program. Carol Baranski, Elizabeth Collins, Jeanne Giambrone, Ruth Rohan, Susan Rockett,Wendy Weishaar and Rosemary Zemlo made their commitment in front of a large gathering of Sisters, Associates, family and friends at the USF Motherhouse Chapel. These women along with 6 new Associates in Brazil make a total of 156 Associates of the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate.
If you are interested in joining the Associate Program, please contact Nancy Davis, Interim Director of Associates at ndavis@jolietfranciscans.org or by phone at 815-725-8735.

 

Congratulations to New Regional Council in Brazil

Council-webThis is a historical moment in our Congregation! On September 6, 2015, the first all Brazilian council was elected. The Regional Council consists of a Regional Coordinator and 2 councilors.

Sister Jeronima Marques da Costa was elected Regional Coordinator and Sister Neli Vieira dos Santos and Rita Cristina Lima dos Santos were elected councilors.

Right after the elections, the Council met and asked Sister Ruth Berry to continue as Secretary and Ana Claudia Pontes Rezende will remain as Treasurer.

Photo:  Sisters Ana Claudia, Jeronima, Rita, Dolores, Neli and Ruth.

Remembering Sister Julie Ann Borer, OSF

Julie_Ann_Borer_Photo-webAfter a lifetime of beginning her day in the wee hours of the morning, long before those for whom she cared were up and moving, it came as no surprise that our Sister, Julie Ann, should respond to God’s eternal call at 3:30 a.m. And so it was that on August 12, 2015, the anniversary date of her three religious commitments and the former feast of St. Clare, she peacefully embodied her final “here I am,” and passed quietly and securely into eternal life, tenderly comforted by her faithful companions and surrounded by a circle of love.

A Nebraska native, Julie Ann was born to Bertha (Biermann) and Phillip Borer on March 1, 1926. One of twelve children, she grew up amidst the many joys and challenges of family life in rural America. She loved the land and the wonders of creation. From an early age, she learned that the fruits of every harvest are the result of equal measures of hard work, humor, patience, sacrifice, prayer and blessing.

Click here to read more about Sister Julie Ann.

Sisters Celebrate 150th Anniversary with Special Mass at Cathedral

deb-webIt was truly a beautiful August day. With clergy, family members, friends and Associates, the Joliet Franciscan Sisters celebrated a day that was 150 years in the making. Gathering at the Cathedral of St. Raymond in Joliet, 120 Sisters processed down the aisle to the hymn “All Creatures of Our God and King” and took their places. This marked the beginning of their 150th anniversary celebration.

The celebrant of the Eucharistic Liturgy, Bishop R. Daniel Conlon who said to all gathered, “These are women who get up every day and recognize that their life is for Christ, that they live for the Kingdom of God. They faithfully responded to God’s calling.” Bishop Conlon then invited all to stand and applaud the Sisters. It was a heartfelt moment with many smiles, along with a few happy tears.

To read more about the 150th celebration, please click here.

Click here to read the article printed in the Joliet Herald Newspaper

August 1, 2015, Memorial Service

viv-webThe afternoon of Saturday, August 1, found Sisters, Associates, former
members and friends gathered at Our Lady of Angels Chapel to remember
and celebrate the lives of the 900+ deceased Sisters and Associates. This
event was part of the 150th anniversary celebration.

During the service, candles were lit by several Sisters and Associates. After
every ten names of the deceased were read aloud, a chime was sounded
throughout the Prayer Service to remember and reflect on their lives.

 

Click here to read more about the memorial service held at OLA.

Remembering Sister Rosemary Winter, OSF

Remembering Sister Pauline Ann Furiel, OSF

Sisters to be Inducted into Project Pride Hall of Fame

JWPP_LOGO2-287x119On November 10, 2015, at the annual Joliet/Will County Project Pride dinner, the Joliet Franciscan Sisters will be inducted into the Hall of Pride. The Sisters, celebrating the 150th anniversary of their founding in 1865, are being honored for their years serving in education and community service.

This is the 30th anniversary of Joliet/Will County Project Pride. The organization has honored 135 individuals over the course of its history.

The dinner is being held at the Clarion Hotel & Conference Center at 411 S. Larkin Avenue in Joliet.   For more information, visit Joliet/Will County Project Pride’s website at www.jolietwillcountyprojectpride.org.

Sister Deborah Gaughan Renews her Vows

Deb-webOn July 20, 2015, Sister Deborah Gaughan renewed her temporary vows at Our Lady of Angels Chapel in the presence of her Sisters, family and friends. Sister Deborah promised to live her life in poverty, chastity and obedience in accordance to the Constitutions of the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate.

The only difference between temporary and perpetual vows is that simple vows can be renewed until the Sister makes perpetual vows. Sister Deborah renewed her temporary vows for three years. During this time she will remain living with her community while continuing her Graduate studies at Aurora University where she is working toward a Master Degree in Social Work.

 

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