Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity

The Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity are a congregation of Roman Catholic apostolic religious women. The congregation was founded in 1869 in Manitowoc, Wisconsin in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee later changed to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Green Bay. They follow St. Francis of Assisi’s Gospel way of life and declared their aspiration to live the Gospel in simplicity, built on faith in a loving God, joyful acceptance of poverty, love for the Church and selfless dedication to the service of others. [ [ Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious] ]


The story of the beginnings of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity of Manitowoc, Wisconsin, is closely linked with the history of the pioneer church in eastern Wisconsin. Manitowoc County, located along the western shore of Lake Michigan, takes its name from the largest river within its borders, called "Manidouoc" or as spelled today "Manitowoc", the "home of the Great Spirit".

The people that inhabited this land and gave Manitowoc its name were of mixed tribes. Although the Potawatomi had occupied the entire west shore of Lake Michigan, bands of Chippewa from northern Wisconsin and Ottawa from northern Michigan had moved into the area. It seems, however, that after the Treaty of 1827 (Butte de Morts)that the United States Government regarded the Menominee as legal owners of the area. It was with the Menominee, therefore, that the Treaty of Green Bay was signed in 1821.

The Roman Catholic faith grew in the coming years. The first recorded Roman Catholic Mass in Manitowoc County was in 1839 . Father Florimond Bonduel and Father Kaspar Rehrl traveled over primitive trails to encourage the people. Other priests also later encouraged the faithful in the sacraments and in building log churches. However, it was Father Ambrose Oschwald who arrived in 1854 in pioneer Manitowoc County with a community of men and women dedicated to Gospel living who was destined to have a lasting impact on Roman Catholic life in the area, particularly on the founders of this religious community.

Later on November 9, 1869 five women were received and began living the Third Order Rule of the Order of St. Francis in a quiet ceremony. This was done with the explicit approval of Archbishop John Henni of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee and the Reverend Father Franciscus Haas, at that time the Provincial of the Capuchin Fathers in the State of Wisconsin. Father Joseph Fessler, pastor of Manitowoc was the investing priest.

Later the Congregation of the Poor School Sisters of St. Francis] from Gieboldehausen in the Diocese of Hildesheim in Germany, amalgamated with the American Congregation of Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity of Manitowoc in 1875 . This Community of Sisters was formally established in 1857 in Germany. Archbishop John Martin Henni suggested residence with the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity in Manitowoc County when Prince Otto von Bismark entered into open conflict with the Roman Catholic Church in his efforts to unify Germany. Leaving Germany on the Feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis, they arrived in New York October 3 and left for their new home on October 4, the day designated in the Roman Catholic Church to remember Francis of Assisi.

As the congregation grew so did the Church in mid-western America. The demand for teachers for the parochial schools was endless. A paramount concern of the Sisters' leadership since the foundation of the congregation has been the religious formation of its members and the professional education necessary for quality teaching in the Catholic schools. Serious consideration was given in the early 1900s to expand the professional training of the members of the Congregation. In anticipation of this, Sisters were prepared at The Catholic University of America, Washington D.C.. A new college wing was added to the Sisters' Motherhouse in 1935 and a four-year liberal arts college was established. The construction of Holy Family College in 1935 was forward looking and anticipated by six years the beginning of the movement in the United States to upgrade the formation of religious women by integrating four facets of their formation: the spiritual, intellectual, social and professional. The congregation's Motherhouse, a four story building which has been home for over one hundred years, shares the shores of a beautiful inland lake named Silver Lake with Silver Lake College of the Holy Family. Holy Family College's name was later changed to Silver Lake College to reflect the geographical location and expanded clientele.

Although founded to meet the need of Catholic education in a pioneer society, the Sisters have always been ready to answer the call of the Church for whatever task there is to be done. Thus, at the turn of the century, within the space of a few years, they were asked to take charge of two out-of-state health care facilities in addition to re-establishing such an institution in Manitowoc.

In the late 1940s the Congregation took steps to petition the Holy See for acceptance as a papal Congregation. On December 20, 1948, a copy of the revised Constitutions and the recommendation of the Sacred Congregation for Religious concerning the Community were presented to Pope Pius XII. He gave his approval and raised the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity from the status of a Diocesan Congregation to a Congregation with papal approbation.

Today, there are about 350 Sisters, who bring the Word of God, the latest trends in education or the healing hand of God to countless people in need of education or health care.

Present Time

In 2007, the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity and The Franciscanized World page [ [ Franciscanized World Page] ] were featured in Time Magazine’s profile of Catholic religious orders innovatively utilizing the Internet. The Page invites to see the world as Saint Francis and Saint Clare did: realistically, compassionately, finding good and holy possibility in the substance and culture of everyday life. Each month, special songs and pictures are chosen for spiritual reflection. In April, 2007, it was a Bruce Cockburn’s "God Bless The Children" song. [ [ Catholic Online, April 2007] ]

isters Quotations

* "The call to religious life is also a call to a particular community. You do know. Is there a desire to grow with that group?" Sister Louise
* "I knew that God wanted me to be a Sister. I just had that innate sense... as I live out my vocation the more I see how important community really is. That’s one of the things that drew me here." Sister Anne Marie Selinsky
* "And so I was always very hungry for the things of God. And I really wanted to learn more about him. And so that kind of I think was the beginning of a desire to do something special for God." Sister Maria Casetta
* "I was giving a retreat and this high school kid told me that if it wasn't for me, they would never have had the experience they did that weekend." Sister Sara Hale
*"For Bonaventure, an early follower of Francis, Christ is the center of all learning. One facet of gaining knowledge of ourselves may be through the window of technology. " Sister Annette Kurey [ Franciscan Sisters. Who We Are]


External links

* [ Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity]

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