Sister Martha Eckstein has retired after ministering for over 50 years in the classroom. She spent her last 15 years at Assumption Academy in Broadview Heights, located near Cleveland, Ohio. She was honored at the schools’ last assembly for the 2016-2017 school year. Mrs. Joanne LoPresti spoke of Sister Martha’s service to the school and said that Sister Martha had blessed them with her knowledge, grace, beauty and love of teaching. “She has been a source of inspiration, and motivation not only for her students but for her coworkers and parents as well. No matter what the challenge was, Sister faced it with dignity, compassion and kindness.”
A classroom at the University of St. Francis’ St. Clare Campus in Guardian Angel Hall, was recently dedicated in honor of Sr. Marlene Ambrose, thanks to the generosity of Mr. & Mrs. Edward Dollinger. The recently renovated classroom contains state-of-the-art equipment which is used by the students in the Leech College of Nursing.
Ed Dollinger, a member of the Board of Trustees at USF, was Sr. Marlene’s first grade student at St. Mary Immaculate in Plainfield, IL. “She was a great teacher,” said Ed. He wrote about Sr. Marlene in a journal he had written while he was in 8th grade.
Pictured in front of the “Marlene Ambrose classroom” are Ed and Gloria Dollinger and Sister Marlene Ambrose.
On June 24, 2017, fourteen Joliet Franciscan Sisters celebrated their jubilee at the Cathedral of St. Raymond in Joliet. To read more about this celebration, please click on Jubilee-2017
When I came to the Joliet Franciscan community I was looking forward to being part of the joyful group I had come to know when these sisters were my teachers in elementary school. Also, because I had always wanted to be a teacher from the time I was a child, I felt that this teaching community’s charism was a good fit. Over the many years I have been a Franciscan I have learned much more about St. Francis, about ministry, and about the Church than I ever knew as a fresh high school graduate with high ideals and vocation energy. But through all these years my desire to teach has never waned, and my love for this Spirit-filled, musically gifted, multi-talented, forward-looking, warm-hearted, quick-to-laugh community of sisters has only grown.
Times have changed since the early 1960’s when I entered my community. The post Vatican II Church blossomed and called for renewal from religious congregations. Responding to new needs, Joliet Franciscans expanded their ministries to embrace the spirit of our foundress in her outreach to those who most needed her in her lifetime. Not many of us are working in schools anymore. Feeling born to teach, however, I have pursued new ways to do that through religious education for families and adults and through writing about Scripture and prayer. I am passionate about helping people understand the reasons for the changes they have experienced in the Catholic Church and equally passionate about helping Catholics to learn about other religions so that peace can come from understanding.
I look to Jesus and to St. Francis as the peacemakers who gave me shining examples of loving our enemies, loving all of creation, bridging divides and embracing those whom others reject. I look to my community of Franciscan women who are also shining examples of Gospel living. I look to myself to stay in touch with the sense of vocation and mission that first inspired me those many years ago.
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.
Everyone is called by God to know Him, love Him, and serve Him in a unique way. I had to discover my unique way. And now I can see how it continues to unfold in my life in community. Reflecting on my personal vocation story renews my dedication and my sense of purpose in life.
As a child I was touched by the magazines that talked and portrayed the poor around the world. I thought that missionary work would be my calling. In high school, that awareness expanded to see the needs of people all around me in daily situations. In college I was attracted further to topics of faith and poverty, so I decided to major in Theology. The opportunity to be a missionary finally came to me when I was a junior in college. I heard a sermon about the U. S. mission territory in the Appalachian Mountains. Within a few months I was on my way to Kentucky for the first time.
That first experience led to others. I was drawn to that life. The service seemed to be about accepting people and sharing the simple joys of life while trying to help people attain the basic needs of life. Though all of this deepened within me what I now see as my Franciscan calling, I still had not met the Franciscans. My faith was becoming more important to me and religious life in general was real for me, but I did not think of joining a community. I was not attracted to any of the five congregations I had had in school as teachers or with whom I lived. I loved the individuals and what they stood for but was not attracted to what I would now call the spirit of their congregations. It never crossed my mind to go looking for the right congregation. God had to do most of the work for me.
The identification with the spirit of Joliet Franciscans came at a later time when I was serving full time in Kentucky. I knew that I did not have to be a religious to be active in the mission of the Church. However, when I met the Joliet Franciscans, I knew my journey took a new step.
Three Joliet Franciscans had come to volunteer for several weeks in the summer. I was not looking to grasp their spirit, but while they prayed together, played together and gave themselves to the people and the work, they had a joy that was special. Their spirit captured mine. There was a sense of being myself with them that I could not ignore.
The rest, as they say, is history. I look back at this part of the story and one of the things that strikes me is the naturalness of each step. I felt lead by life and by the Spirit. I was eventually called to high school ministry as teacher and campus minister for many years, both in Illinois and Colorado. In that ministry I was once again discovering that call to the poor in my work with youth, organizing with my coworkers many mission trips for students and service clubs and activities. I’ve also had opportunities to serve in congregation ministry and leadership, meeting sisters from all over the world and coming to know my own sisters and associates in new ways. Francis found what was his to do. I continue to find what is mine and what is ours to do. Each day this journey in poverty, in community, in service continues. The call is ongoing.
The 5th Annual Afternoon Tea took place at the Jacob Henry Mansion on May 7, 2017. Over 150 women participated and enjoyed the pageantry of being at the Mansion, the delicious food and lively entertainment. We are very grateful to our Tea committee, our sponsors and of course all the women who brought donations of food while spending time and treasure at this fundraiser.
Mark your calendar for next year’s Afternoon Tea; it is an event you won’t want to miss! The date is scheduled for Sunday, April 29th at the Jacob Henry Mansion. If you would like to be placed on the invitation list, please call our office at (815) 725-8735.
To read more about the 5th Annual Afternoon Tea, please click on: Afternoon Tea-2017
Sister Barbara spoke at the April 12th Prayer Breakfast on “Nothing Can Make God Stop Loving Us. Among the things she reminded us is that God is love and that each and every one of us is loved. She went on to say, “As we approach Holy Week, this is the time we focus on the passion and death of Jesus. The crucifixion is about love! It is the ultimate sign of God’s deep love for us. As Pope Francis tells us, ‘God loves us as we are. No sin, fault or mistake can make God change His mind.’ Through the love of the cross, God says: I don’t care what you’ve done, I don’t care who you’ve treated poorly in the past, I don’t care about the stumbling blocks or obstacles you continue to struggle with in your life, I don’t care if you spit on me, crown me with thorns, break me or nail me to a tree, because there is nothing you can do to make me stop loving you! Nothing! I am your God and I love you! There is nothing you can do to change that!”
Sister Marie Schramko is our third centenarian, who in a span of ten months, celebrated a birthday at Our Lady of Angels Retirement Home. To read more about Sister Marie’s birthday, please click on Sister Marie Schramko.
May God continue to bless you, Sister Marie!
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