“Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for a while and leave footprints on our heart, and we are never, ever the same.” Flavia Weedn
Leaving footprints in our world epitomizes the life of Sister Vivian Whitehead who began her 95-year journey on August 14, 1927, on the southeast side of Chicago. The firstborn, she was welcomed into the world by her parents Margaret (Kersten) and Fred Whitehead. Siblings followed; Annette Leah Nordmark (deceased) and Larry (Betty) Whitehead. As years went on, numerous nieces and nephews arrived, becoming part of the joy of her life.
St. Dorothy Grade School and Loretto Academy Woodlawn in Chicago, set the foundation for her formal future education. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology, graduating Cum Laude, from the College of St. Francis (now University of St. Francis) where she met the Joliet Franciscans in the classroom. Inspired by the Sisters and the Franciscan charism, she entered the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate on September 2, 1947, her junior year at the College of St. Francis. Upon entering the novitiate August 12, 1950, she was given the name Sister Michelyn. Her formal education concluded at St. Bonaventure University in New York, where she received a Ph.D. in biology. Always the learner, she continued studying in areas such as theology, criminology, canon law, governance and counseling, social justice, and a variety of other areas that would prepare her, feed her ministry, light a fire in her soul, and eventually lead her down the path to Will County Adult Detention Facility and Appalachia.
If you would like to make a donation in honor of Sister Carlene or another Joliet Franciscan Sister, please click here: Remembering our Deceased Sisters.