Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity
The Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity are a congregation of
Roman Catholicapostolic religious women. The congregation was founded in 1869 in Manitowoc, Wisconsinin the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukeelater 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 Gospelin simplicity, built on faith in a loving God, joyful acceptance of poverty, love for the Church and selfless dedication to the service of others. [ [http://www.cmswr.org/member_communities/FSCC.htm 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
Potawatomihad occupied the entire west shore of Lake Michigan, bands of Chippewafrom northern Wisconsinand Ottawafrom northern Michiganhad moved into the area. It seems, however, that after the Treaty of 1827 (Butte de Morts)that the United States Government regarded the Menomineeas legal owners of the area. It was with the Menominee, therefore, that the Treaty of Green Bay was signed in 1821.
Roman Catholicfaith grew in the coming years. The first recorded Roman Catholic Massin 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 Oschwaldwho 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.
November 9, 1869five women were received and began living the Third Order Rule of the Order of St. Francisin a quiet ceremony. This was done with the explicit approval of Archbishop John Henniof the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukeeand 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
Gieboldehausenin the Diocese of Hildesheimin Germany, amalgamated with the American Congregation of Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charityof Manitowoc in 1875 . This Community of Sisters was formally established in 1857 in Germany. Archbishop John Martin Hennisuggested residence with the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charityin Manitowoc County when Prince Otto von Bismark entered into open conflict with the Roman Catholic Churchin 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 Churchto 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 Collegein 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 Collegeto reflect the geographical location and expanded clientele.
Although founded to meet the need of
Catholic educationin 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 facilitiesin addition to re-establishing such an institution in Manitowoc.
In the late 1940s the Congregation took steps to petition the
Holy Seefor 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
educationor health care.
In 2007, the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity and The Franciscanized World page [ [http://www.fscc-calledtobe.org/living.asp Franciscanized World Page] ] were featured in
Time Magazine’s profile of Catholicreligious orders innovatively utilizing the Internet. The Page invites to see the world as Saint Francisand 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. [ [http://www.catholic.org/prwire/headline.php?ID=3336 Catholic Online, April 2007] ]
* "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 [http://www.fscc-calledtobe.org/who.htm Franciscan Sisters. Who We Are]
* [http://www.fscc-calledtobe.org/ Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity]
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