Associate News

2016 Associates & Sisters Pilgrimage to Germany - Part 1

2016 Associate Germany Trip



Italian Memories for Traveling Associates

By Bev Oliveri, Co-Director of Associate Relationship

Travel group in AssisiOn September 24, an incredible 10 days in Germany tracing the steps of our foundress Mother Alexia, eight sisters and seven associates were off to Assisi where Franciscan spirituality was born.

Assisi became our home for the next several days. On our first morning we met our amazing guide, Annie Robichaud, who has called Assisi home for over 40 years and is passionately in love with all that is Franciscan. On our first morning, on the way to Bavagna, we stopped at one of the many roadside grottos outside of Canara. The beautiful picture was painted years ago by a young artist and shows the Madonna, Side altar in Assisiinfant Jesus, and a young John the Baptist.

Then on to Spello, where the feast of Corpus Christi is celebrated with beautiful street murals constructed from flowers and living plants to welcome Christ. The local bishop, carrying the Blessed Sacrament in a monstrance, walks on the murals through the town blessing the people. It was in this town that St. Francis preached to the birds in a tree. The tree is still there, and yes, the birds are still singing the praises of St. Francis.

Our walking tour of Assisi included the Basilica of St. Francis, which actually has two basilicas. The Upper Basilica contains the frescoes by Cimabue and Giotto, depicting the life of St. Francis. The Lower Basilica contains the crypt, which houses the saint’s remains. We then visited a small room containing the relics of St. Francis. A few were familiar, like the tunic and sandals the saint wore and the horn the sultan gave to Francis. But others were not as well known.

For example, there was a finely embroidered cloth, which was used to wipe the face of St. Francis by a Jacoba Settesoli. Francis affectionately called her “brother Jacoba,” and he invited her to St. Mary of the Angels for his death and funeral. She was later buried near the tomb of Francis. Jacoba is significant because she was a follower of Francis and a member of the Franciscan Order, as a lay person, while still remaining out in the world. Another interesting relic was a blessing Francis wrote to Brother Group dinner imageLeo. It was amazing to see the blessing written in Francis’ hand so many years ago!

Our third tour took us to Perugia, where Francis went to fight for Assisi. It was in Perugia that he was captured and imprisoned until his family could pay the ransom for his release. He returned to Assisi a broken man and began his search for God and a meaning for his life.

On our last evening in Assisi, we traveled to our guide Annie’s farm home. Gathering around the simple table, it was evident that we were about to partake in a very special meal, served family style, in the home of a very special woman who is now our friend.

2016 Associates Trip to Stone Lake

Thanks to the generous donations of sisters and associates, we were able to deliver a large number of school supplies to the students served by our sisters at St. Francis Solanus School in Stone Lake (Reserve) Wisconsin in early October. Sister Maryrose Theobald and Sister Felicia Zander, who have ministered at the school for half a century, were delighted with the generous donation for their school. Pictured from left: Sister Maryrose and Sister Rosemary Reier unload supplies; a St. Francis Solanus School classroom; Sister Rosemary (center) with Sisters Felicia (left) and Maryrose; Sister Maryrose (center) with Associates Kathleen Laetsch (left) and Pat Day.



2016 Associates and Sisters Boat Trip

Click the button in the lower right-hand corner of the screen below to view the slideshow in full-screen mode


2016 Associate Immersion Experience

Click the button in the lower right-hand corner of the screen below to view the slideshow in full-screen mode

Sisters Associates Picnic 2015Associates and Sisters Picnic is a Tasty Success
By Sister Rosemary Reier, Director of Associate Relationship

By 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, August 22, excitement was brewing in the convent garden. Sisters and associates were arriving with their favorite potluck dishes to share. The raffles were artfully displayed, and the games—duck pond, holy rollers, and beanbag toss—were waiting for players.

The delightful weather, cool breeze, and warm sun added to festivities as sisters and associates greeted one another. Around noon, we gathered to present the U.S. Provincial Team just over $14,000. Sister Deb informed the group that the money is going toward the newly renovated chapel at Sacred Heart. She invited everyone to stop by and visit the beautiful chapel.

Soon the smell of brats and sausages filled the air and we gathered to give thanks to God and to enjoy the delicious food. More than two dozen people took home raffle prizes, and door prizes were abundant.

We estimated that 130 sisters and associates attended the picnic. We want to thank each of you who came and supported our efforts, as together we build the kingdom of God.

Associates and Sisters Picnic 2015

Click the button in the lower right-hand corner of the screen below to view the slideshow in full-screen mode.


Busy August for Associates

By Sister Rosemary Reier, Director of Associate Relationship

Busy August for AssociatesOn August 1, 35 sisters and associates gathered at Maryville Academy in Des Plaines, Illinois, as Sister Fran Cunningham reflected with us on St. Francis’ call to rebuild the Church. In the 13th century, St. Francis and St. Clare found their way to rebuild the Church of their day within its existing structures. Today, Pope Francis speaks of a poor Church, a Church of the poor. Sister Fran urged us “to look together in the same direction,” reminding us of a quote from our General Assembly: “We are called, in the spirit of Mother Alexia, Mother Alfons and Sister Clara to focus on the common good, to move from the ‘I’ to the ‘we’.” This movement can help to build Church.

The following day, associate Jan Petrucci professed a life of commitment to the Gospel, living in the spirit of St. Francis as a member of the Secular Franciscan order. Along with six others in Flagstaff, Arizona, Jan joined Secular Franciscans all over the world in making a life commitment to bring Gospel values into our world. We extend congratulations to her!

All associates are invited to mark their calendars for our second annual associates and sisters picnic, which will be held Saturday, August 22, at St. Joseph Center. Bring a dish to pass and your own table service (plate and utensils). You may also wish to bring a lawn chair. Come and join in the fun!

2015 Associate Immersion Experience

Click the button in the lower right-hand corner of the screen below to view the slideshow in full-screen mode.

U.S. Province Celebrates New and Renewing Associates

On Sunday May 17, the United States Province welcomed seven women and one man into Associate Relationship with the community. Practicing a range of ministries that include music therapy, parish administration, and care for the Earth, each new associate read her or his statement of commitment, promising “prayer, collaboration and support in the mission which unites us through baptism.”

At the same Mass, 11 associates renewed their commitments. All associates read and signed their statements of commitment and received the sung Blessing of St. Francis from the sisters, fellow associates, family, and friends who filled St. Joseph Chapel for this joyful celebration.

Following the Feast of the Ascension liturgy, associates and sisters gathered with well-wishers for a delicious dinner in the dining room. It was a fitting conclusion to a wonderful, faith-filled day of welcome and renewal for these associates, who expressed and acted upon their desire to participate more fully in the mission of the Church, and in particular the mission of our congregation.

New and renewing associates - May 2015

Front row (seated) from left to right: Nancy Kelso (new), Karen Foster (new), Elizabeth Angeli, Michael Angeli, Nancy Taylor.
Middle row from left to right: Anita Bodamer, Kim Mazzella Foster (new), Lisa Coté (new), Gayle Rzany (new), Lori Egan (new), Rosemary O’Neill, Marcia Cardin (new).
Back row from left to right: Maureen Hellwig, Jane Dimsey, Bess Andersen, Karen Kuhn, Thomas Hines (new), Colleen Gulling.
Not pictured: Mary Hoffmann

Associate Chili Cook-Off

November 22, 2014

Click the button in the lower right-hand corner of the screen below to view the slideshow in full-screen mode.


Associate and Contact person Retreat:

Spiritual Jewels of the Church/ Women with Gems of Wisdom

November 8, 2014

Click the button in the lower right-hand corner of the screen below to view the slideshow in full-screen mode.


First Sister Associate Picnic

Click the button in the lower right-hand corner of the screen below to view the slideshow in full-screen mode.


Assisi Pilgrimage Was an Experience of a Lifetime

Click the button in the lower right-hand corner of the screen below to view the slideshow in full-screen mode.

Excitement and anticipation were in the air as 34 pilgrims met in Chicago’s O’Hare airport for an amazing experience in Assisi and Rome June 4-13. After our plane touched down in Rome, we were met by our guide, Elio, then we were on our way to Assisi with a stop at the mountainside city of Greccio.

As we approached Assisi, we could not help but think of the quote,  “A city built on a mountain top cannot be hid” (Matthew 5:14). Assisi seems to glow as it is perched on the side of the mountain--it is an image we will not soon forget. We learned that most of the cities around Assisi cling to the mountainsides because, in the past, the hilly terrain gave residents an advantage over enemies approaching the city.

A sign announced our destination:  Assisi, City of Peace.  In the days that followed, we found those words to be so true, as a sense of peace surrounds the area.  

More than 100 steps greeted us as we made our way to the spot where Francis created the first living crèche. It was here that we lit our first candle for our community.

We spent time at the Basilica of San Francesco and Santa Chiara, and stood before the incorrupt body of St. Clare. We visited San Damiano and St. Mary of the Angels, which protects the Portiuncula. We attended Sunday Mass above Francis’ crypt, and Sister Rosemary Reier read the First Reading for the day.

Later, we traveled to Gubbio and La Verna, and were amazed at the caves Francis prayed in. We prayed with the monks at the spot where Francis received the stigmata, and once again gathered to light a candle and remember the intentions of our sisters and associates.

In Rome, our hotel was right on the road that led into St. Peter’s Square. The highlight of this part of the trip was seeing Pope Francis. He came through the crowd in his Popemobile, and we were very close to him as he moved among the crowd. He spoke in four or five different languages, and when he spoke in Spanish and Italian, he departed from his script and became more animated as his eyes and hands reached out to the people.

Some of the group toured the Sistine Chapel and other Vatican museums, while others went on the Scavi Tour of the excavated area under St. Peter’s Basilica. On our last evening in Rome, we had supper and celebrated with Sister Navya Thattil, from North India, who had just completed her studies for her doctorate in Canon Law.

The next morning we boarded the plane for home, grateful for all we had experienced and for our safe travels. In the spirit of Francis, we send you peace and all goodness!

Sisters and Associates Brighten the Lives of Women in Shelters

We are all familiar with “April showers bring May flowers.” The associates’ spring project brought flowers of a different kind: colorful bags filled with items for Milwaukee-and Chicago-area women’s shelters. On May 18, sisters and associates gathered to fill 80 bags.  Sister Rose Knotek added a very special touch by sewing 24 colorful cloth bags in which larger items could be packaged. Her expertise and willingness to share in our project is yet another example of how our sisters and associates share their gifts and support.

This project enabled the associates to once again reach out to those in need. Our efforts to make life a little more pleasant will give these women hope and the message that we care about them.  We want to thank all of you who so generously answered our call for toiletry items, and we look forward to future projects and activities where we can continue to respond together to the needs of our world.

Associate Barbara Kluka

Judge Kluka’s portrait ready for display

A portrait of Kenosha County’s first female judge, associate Barb Kluka, will soon hang in the second floor Grand Courtroom.
Kenosha News, June 19, 2014