Reflections for Memorial Service for Sisters Who Died During COVID: 2020-2022

Reflection for Memorial Service for Sisters Who Died During COVID: 2020-2022
August 2, 2022
Jeanne Bessette, OSF

We have so much to celebrate together today:

The feast of Our Lady of the Angels celebrated worldwide by the Franciscan family, especially commemorating the little chapel – the Portiuncula – that became the center of St. Francis of
Assisi’s unique mission in the Church.

We celebrate the founding of our own congregation here in Joliet on this date in 1865 –158 years ago.

And of course we celebrate the lives that 12 of our sisters shared among us for so many years.

First – Our Lady of Angels – the Portiuncula. So many of us have had the gift of visiting that holy place in the valley below Assisi. This spring I was there for the third time, this time staying
right on the grounds of the basilica. For those who haven’t seen it, the little chapel known as the Portiuncula – or little portion – is housed in a giant basilica. I often think that Francis would be
aghast at his “little portion” being surrounded by that giant basilica. Francis didn’t need a basilica to feel close to God. He was happy with his little portion. It was here that he and the
brothers lived in little huts. Here where he received Clare as a sister and where they shared a meal and prayer. Here where the early Franciscans gathered to pray and make decisions. They
were sent from the Portiuncula two by two to their preaching mission. And here where Francis asked to be taken in his dying hours. Not unlike so many of our sisters here at our portiuncula,
Our Lady of Angels.

And down through the next 800 years, so many others have heard and answered the call to join the Franciscan way of life, the Franciscan movement. Sister Alfred Moes and her small band of
companions found their mission / their little portion here in Joliet after a long search for direction. At each funeral we recount how many sisters have gone before us after living generous, fruitful, spiritual and spirited lives as Joliet Franciscan. We have laid 990 sisters to rest since 1865. Soon we will number 1,000 souls plus the remnant that is us. But good heavens, look at who these women have been and what they have accomplished.

How many millions of prayers prayed?

How many thousands of children taught?

How much beautiful music sung and played?

How many institutions, missions and ministries built and sustained?

How many meals prepared and shared?

How many people touched by them, nurtured, nourished, healed, supported, embraced, guided, led, treasured, cherished, buried, humored, loved by them?

We simply cannot imagine the influence that has been the result of the lives of Elizabeth Marie, Clare, Lauren, Mary, Felicity, Anna, Margaret Rose, Elaine, Nadine, Dorothy Clare, Mary and
Margaret Ann.

And even as we celebrate the wonder and vastness of each of their lives, we do not build basilicas around them.

In the vastness of this grand universe, our bodies house our souls, our spirits, our talents, our dreams, our memories. They show wear and tear over time. Our lives serve a purpose for a while, but they are not great monuments or basilicas. Each of our lives is perhaps just a little portion, a portiuncula, not a basilica.

As I prayed this spring for each of us at the portiuncula, I noticed each person I was with gently touching the stone walls. Each of us was touched to be at and in that holy place. Each of us was
touched by being so close to the spirit of St. Francis. Each person experiencing anew her or his call to also “rebuild God’s church.” Each person feeling missioned to carry out the spirit of
Francis and Clare as our own mission, in our own small ways. In our own little portions.

So here today, let us celebrate all of the portiunculas in our lives:

The holy place in Assisi.

The holy women in our own Franciscan community.

The little portion that each of us is in the vastness of God’s creation – missioned like these women to find God, to love others, to preach peace, to live joyful, creative lives rooted in the Gospel.

May we aspire to nothing less in our own little portions.

Click Here to download this Reflection booklet.

Click Here to download the Reflection program

 

Memorial Service Program

Portuguese versions of the Reflection documents:

Sister Jeanne’s Reflection

Reflection Booklet

 

 

Collaborative Statement Calls for End to Gun Violence

Collaborative Statement Calls
for End to Gun Violence
May 2022

The undersigned communities represent over 23,000 Catholic women religious, associates, and partners in mission in over 30 states.

Today, we are all residents of Uvalde, Texas, a relatively small community more than 80 miles from San Antonio. On Tuesday, May 24, the world witnessed another horrific, senseless tragedy as a lone gunman shot and killed 21 people, including 19 students, at Robb Elementary School just two days before the end of the school year.

We are once again heartbroken. Whether in Uvalde, Parkland, Newtown, or Littleton, all of us, God’s people, deserve to live in communities free of gun violence. The massacre of children is abhorrent and should never be accepted as “normal.” These acts of violence can no longer be tolerated. They have to stop. It has to end.

Both shooters in Uvalde and Buffalo legally obtained their weapons. The United States, when compared to peer countries, has far more guns per capita, incidences of gun violence, and some of the least restrictive gun laws. According to Education Week, there have already been 27 school shootings in America in 2022 – averaging more than once a week. There have been 251 mass shootings in our country this year, and there have been more mass shootings in the United States than in any other country in the world.

We challenge ourselves, our Church, and all people of goodwill to rededicate themselves to end the scourge of gun violence in this country. To pray for the conversion of society. We plead that all continue to contribute to this movement by taking some of the actions listed below.

Actions we can take:

  • Donate to the Uvalde Victims First Fund, the Buffalo 5-14 Survivors Fund, or Catholic Charities of San Antonio Crisis Relief Services.
  • Send messages to national elected officials to pass gun safety measures through Moms Demand Action, Sandy Hook Promise, or March for Our Lives. If you have a Republican Senator, consider calling to ask for their support for the Background Check Expansion Act. If your senator is Kyrsten Sinema or Joe Manchin, call to ask for their support for a filibuster exception for gun safety legislation.
  • Pray in solidarity with protests at the NRA convention on Friday, May 27th.
  • Join or pray in solidarity with national and local March for Our Lives marches on June 11.

Read the entire Statement

Remembering Sister Elaine R. Schneider, OSF

Elaine Rose Schneider was born in Columbus, Ohio, to Marie (Reidelbach) and Charles Schneider on December 23, 1926. She was raised in a large blended family with one blood sister, Adrienne, and two stepsisters, Mary Beata and Roseanne, as well as two blood brothers, James and Richard, and six stepbrothers, Joseph, John, David, Charles, Paul and Francis.

After completing her education at St. Mary’s and St. Dominic’s grade schools and St. Mary’s High School in Columbus, Elaine joined the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate in 1945 and made First Profession in 1948. Throughout her early career, she was known by her religious name, Sister M. Martha Ann. She later earned both a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a master’s degree in theology from the College of St. Francis.

Elaine R. was a born teacher, excelling early in her teaching ministry, especially in the areas of math and science. She taught middle grade and junior high school students at numerous schools across the Congregation’s geographic reach: Chicago; Joliet; Columbus; Fairfield, Alabama; Toledo; Champaign; and Phoenix, Arizona. Elaine expanded her educational scope as she worked with adults in Joliet Junior College’s GED program for seven years in the 1970’s.

Read More About Sister Elaine Schneider’s Life

If you would like to make a donation in honor of Sister Elaine R. Schneider or another Joliet Franciscan Sister, please click here:  Remembering our Deceased Sisters.

Our Earth: A Franciscan Meditation

Our Earth:
A Franciscan Meditation

All creatures on earth need other creatures to survive including ourselves. All creatures are needed for the harmony of the earth. The one creature not needed by other creatures is the human being. Water does not need us. Air does not need us. Plants and animals do not need us. At least in times past they did not need us.
But they need us now because of what we have done to water, air, earth and its creatures.

We humans have forgotten how to live in harmony with nature and consequently with each other! Because we have forgotten our rightful role as stewards, care-takers of creation, we have become the enemy, the annihilators of creation by our abuse, misuse and our appropriation for self what was meant for everyone. So we have created a needy earth, an earth that needs us to turn our minds and hearts to remembering that all creation is for our caring and thoughtful sharing.

Can we respond to our planet that is crying out in so many ways, asking for our help, our love, our care and respect? Maybe if we could remember, recognize our rightful place here on earth as stewards and care-takers of Mother Earth we would also awaken to our role as sister and brother to all creatures as our Father Francis did. Then the harmony would return and we could sing together: “The heavens are telling the glory of God and all creation is shouting for joy!”

Sister Elaine Kerscher Joins Congregation Leadership

On May 3, Sister Elaine Kerscher took her oath of office as a member of the Joliet Franciscan Sisters Governing Board during the Eucharistic Celebration in the chapel at Our Lady of Angels Retirement Home.  In front of her Sisters who were present, Sister Elaine took the oath she had written promising to serve her Congregation as a Councilor through June 2020.

In addition to her ministry as a Joliet Franciscan Councilor, Sister Elaine, who is a canon lawyer, is a member of the Diocese of Joliet Tribunal Office serving as Defender of the Bond.

Sister Elaine is not new to Congregation Leadership having served as Vice President and Councilor for the Membership from 2004 – 2008.

Congratulations, Sister Elaine.

Successful 26th Annual Franciscan Autumn Feast

On Sunday, October 25, 2015, the 26th Annual Franciscan Autumn Feast was held at the Patrick C. Haley Mansion in Joliet, IL.  We had beautiful weather, wonderful attendance and a delicious dinner.  It was also a time to congratulate and honor our four honorees: Claire Millweard and Fran Naal with the Joliet Franciscan Heritage Award and Diane Nilan of Hear Us and the Will-Grundy Medical Clinic with the Mother Alfred Moes Award.

We would like to especially thank our committee members, guests, sponsors and advertisers, as well as those who donated baskets and raffle items for the auction.  We are truly grateful for your support.


 Following is a listing of our Corporate Sponsors and Individual Sponsors for the event.

Sponsors.indd

Burgundy Circle
Mrs. Dorothy Brown
Arvid & Anne Johnson
Shelby & George Vogrin

Blue Circle
Bill & Margaret Benoit
Jay & Lori Bergman
John & Jeanette D’Arcy
Mrs. Joan Griffin McCabe
Mrs. Theresa Penosky
Ken Resh
David & Nancy Takashima

White Circle
Fred & Teresa Dames
Henry Bros. Co.
Minarich Graphics & Supplies
Rathbun, Cservenyak & Kozol, LLC
Tracy Johnson & Wilson, Attorneys at Law
Turk Furniture

Circle of Friends
Mrs. Bonnie Ardaugh
Wayne & Jane Bessette
Arthur & Pamela Cirignani
Mrs. Lois Considine
Mrs. Marjorie Fitzgerald
Mr. & Mrs. James T. Glascott
Matt & Dolores Gross
Ms. Elizabeth Hassert
Mrs. Elaine Hershbarger
Mrs. James B. Hickey
Mr. Robert Kochevar
Michael & Laura Ladewski
Mrs. Marjorie Marion
Karl & Gayle Maurer
Mrs. Donna M. Mays
Ms. Helen McCormick
Lynn Michels
Joseph & Pauline Mikuska
Mrs. Chet Millweard
Mrs. Frances Naal
Ann C. O’Brien
Mrs. Rita Ohlson
Ms. Joan Reeves
Kathleen Rossman OSF
Rev. Ronald Scarlata
Larry & Janet Simpson
Ms. Linda Sticklen
Mrs. Marilyn Tarizzo
Mrs. Geri Thayer
Frances Wenzel
Dr. & Mrs. Lawrence Wyllie
Anonymous (2)

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.