Franciscan Sisters TOR Community 2018

Our latest community picture taken this past summer.

Building Our Retirement Fund This Giving Tuesday

 

We are blessed with a lot of sisters—nearly 40 now, with two who have reached retirement age in their 70s and 80s—but we do not have a lot in our retirement fund. It’s hard to save up when you rely on donations to meet over 70% of your financial needs! We are hoping you’ll donate to bolster our retirement fund this Giving Tuesday—not just for our sisters near retirement, but also to help lay a foundation of care for years and sisters to come. Please help us reach our Giving Tuesday goal of $10,000 for our retirement fund!

As you can imagine, a lot of that fund will be for healthcare costs. It seems the higher your age, the higher your medical bills. As our older sisters, Sr. Jean and Sr. Grace Anne, will attest, growing old is not for the faint of heart! Health issues, even small ones, compound to the point of nearly taking over your entire life. Different difficulties like nerve damage can make it hard just to walk. But with your help this Giving Tuesday, we can continue to give our sisters the medical care they need to have a good quality of life. Whatever size gift you can make will help.

 

Sr. Jean Giving Tuesday Retirement

(From left to right) An archive photo of Sr. Katherine, Sr. Jean (then Reverend Mother), Sr. Mary Catherine, and Sr. Della Marie at Sr. Mary Catherine’s and Sr. Della Marie’s First Profession.

In addition to covering our healthcare bills, we also need to cover the loss of work from the sisters in retirement. What does retirement look like for religious sisters? Well, as Sr. Jean will tell you, “We don’t retire from our vocation.” What changes then? “We would retire from the work that we do. So the natural thing would be to lessen and lessen the work…”

 

What “work” do sisters do? Between our many hours of prayer, we work about six hours a day or more. People often think we teach in schools, as Sr. Jean did before joining our order. However, the work in our community is different than that. The jobs range from work inside the community—like Sr. Jean’s 10 years as Reverend Mother, her current position as General Secretary, and Sr. Grace Anne’s years sewing habits for the community—to jobs “out in the world”—like speaking at parishes, working to evangelize on college campuses, running a thrift store and food bank, and even serving abroad at Franciscan University’s Austria campus where sisters lead college students to a deeper engagement with their faith as they discover the universal Church in pilgrimages across Europe. The job as General Secretary is easily a fulltime job. And other supporting roles like sewing habits may be simpler but are also essential and have been supplemented recently with paid employees. Much of our “outside” work brings in a stipend to benefit our community. Making up for the loss of stipends is an added cost we have to cover as our older sisters step back from their previous work.

 

Sr. Grace Anne TOR

Sr. Grace Anne praying in our Father of Mercy Chapel.

No longer able to do these active ministries, our sisters in retirement give themselves more fully to prayer. As Sr. Jean says, “Our responsibility would be more and more prayer—prayer for the Church, the community…The biggest way I serve is through intercessory prayer for the Church and for God’s people.” Sr. Grace Anne, our most golden member, is so thankful to be an intercessor for others: “…informally [I pray] all day long! St. Paul calls us to unceasing prayer. In regard to intercessions, we receive a myriad of requests for prayer from many sources. We take each one before our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and commend them to His loving care. This is the most important aspect of our lives at this season. In addition to the intercession we do as a community, I pray for an hour or so in my room before joining the sisters in chapel for Morning Prayer in the Divine Office, which always includes intercessions for others.”

 

Our lives of prayer include prayers for you. Please support our community this Giving Tuesday by donating to our retirement fund and be assured that we are all the while interceding for you. To learn more about whom you will be supporting, please read on about Sr. Jean and Sr. Grace Anne below—our two sisters currently in retirement age. To send us your intentions, please click here.

Giving Tuesday Retirement Fund Donate

 

Dennis and Sr. Jean

Sr. Jean’s brother Denny and Sr. Jean at our benefit banquet held in October.

Sisters Giving Tuesday Retirement Fund

What is your relationship with God like at this part of your life?

I believe I’ve grown in my relationship with the Father over the years. I often feel His presence, His protection, His guidance. Also my relationship with Jesus as my Spouse has grown deeper; there’s more intimacy there in prayer with Him.

What saint do you rely on to help you through this latest part of your life?

In fact there’s more than one…but John Paul II especially because of his ability while he was living to grow old gracefully and continue to serve the Lord to the end of his life. And it didn’t stop him from doing what the Lord asked him to do. So that really impresses me about him and so I do call upon him for grace to be able to do the same thing.

How has your outlook changed as you have gained many experienced years?

I feel that I am more peaceful. I think I can laugh more at myself and take things in stride and not be too serious. And also my eyes are more on where I’m going after I die, the heavenly kingdom, what that must be like, what must I do to go there, what changes do I need to make. Ongoing conversion is our third order charism and that’s a very important charism for me to always have that in mind that I never can stop and say, “Okay, I’ve made it. I’m perfect. I don’t need to do anything else.”  So that’s been very much a goal for me is how to prepare to go straight to heaven, asking the Lord to help me do that.

In general as one gets older I think it’s important to pray for the grace to grow old gracefully, just like John Paul II I’m sure did in his life…I really encourage people to pray even ahead of time; don’t wait till you’re there! And please pray for the elderly too. 

Learn more about Sr Jean by clicking here!

 

Sr. Carrie Ann and Sr. Grace Anne

Sr. Carrie Ann and Sr. Grace Anne smiling as they rest from a hike on the monastery grounds last summer.

Sisters Giving Tuesday Retirement Fund

What is your relationship with God like at this part of your life?

I realize how really helpless I am, like a little child who totally depends on her Father for everything, that He is my loving Father. That I don’t have to earn His love; that He loves me constantly as a good father on this earth loves his child even when he/she makes mistakes, sins, etc.

He transforms everything. The key is acknowledging our sin and not trying to hide it, because we can’t hide it from Him anyway…And then we experience His joy in a way that we never did before. That’s been a real preoccupation for me and a greater understanding of His constant affection and love for us.

What is one of your favorite forms of prayers?

Singing songs of praise have a way of bringing us into the very presence of God, or should I say, opening us to the presence of God who is within us. He has blessed us with sisters gifted in music, both with a marvelous variety of instruments and singing voices and we continue to grow in our desire to be “one voice” in praising Him. Both the Old and New Testaments, and especially the Psalms are full of references to praising God with music, for example, Psalm 98:  “Sing praise to the Lord;”  and as far back a Judges chapter  5: “I will sing my song to the Lord.”  We are increasing in our awareness of music as an instrument of healing, both spiritually and physically, for ourselves and others. Personally, music for me is life-giving. It draws me ever closer into the heart of God.

How has your outlook changed as you have gained many experienced years?

I’m grateful to God every day for this beautiful piece of land that He’s given us, and that I’m grateful for this community. We have wonderful sisters and it’s just been a joy to live out these last days of my life with my sisters. Just to be able to enjoy His creation in the way that He’s provided for us. All I can do is just thank Him every day.

Learn more about Sr Grace Anne by clicking here!

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