Gratitude and Tears for Our Tau Volunteer!
On Sunday, June 3 – the Feast of Corpus Christi – we said goodbye at the 9:00 a.m. Mass to our Tau Volunteer, Sarah Johnson. Sarah has been with us for two years, something the Tau Volunteer Program had not originally considered. But when Sarah asked to stay an additional year, we had no hesitation in saying yes!
Sarah began her service in July 2016, and she has served in several capacities at her service site, the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in downtown Milwaukee. She assisted with the daily meal program for our hungry sisters and brothers, as well as helping to develop Cathedral Squared Enterprises (C2E). C2E is a ministry of the Cathedral that incorporates care of the Earth, as well as outreach to women on the margins. Taking plastic bags and turning them into beautiful crocheted items, the women have formed a community of respect and support. Sarah played a big role in getting this organized.
Sisters Phyllis Wirtz, Tess Engel, Annette Martinek, and Merlin Vazhappilly were Sarah’s home community. In two years, they formed a wonderful, supportive, intergenerational, intercultural “family.” Sarah let us know that she will carry them in her heart, along with others in our community, for her whole life, and our sisters have said that Sarah will always have a home with them.
Sarah leaves us to return home to Buffalo, New York, to reconnect with her family and friends, as well as contemplate her next steps. She is intensely interested in women’s rights, healing racial injustice, and food equity. We know that whatever Sarah’s next steps will be, she will be “a spark of Franciscan peace and love” to all.
Providing the Human Touch
Art, Healing, and Community are part of Tau Volunteer's Journey
by Sarah Stefanko, Alive, Spring 2018
Sarah Johnson discovered the School Sisters of
St. Francis’s Tau Volunteer program through the
Catholic Volunteer Network after she completed
her degree in social work at the State University of
New York-Buffalo. She has been ministering at the
Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in downtown
Milwaukee, and living with a group of sisters on the
city’s southwest side since fall 2016.
Caption: Tau Volunteers Sarah Johnson and Cassie Shultz joined sisters, associates and staff as they participated in the Capuchins’ Run-Walk for the Hungry at Polish Fest on June 16 at the Summerfest grounds in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. With 65 walkers, the School Sisters of St. Francis had the second-largest team at this year’s event, and the money raised will benefit St. Ben's Community Meal and House of Peace.
Tau Volunteers Treasure the Experience
Our wonderful Tau Volunteers have been with us for 6 months already! Where does the time go? I’ll let the volunteers themselves tell you…
Jessie Brown is serving at Nativity Jesuit Academy working with almost all the grades as a teacher’s assistant, and working very specifically as a religion teacher for the older grades. Jessie’s first six months have been filled with classroom and subject plans, grading papers and bonding with her students. One fifth-grade student told her that she was a great teacher – and that was so endearing for Jessie. Jessie lives with the sisters at Blessed Sacrament and is also experiencing the kindness of “her sisters,” and their availability to talk things over, pray together, share meals and just plain enjoy life together.
Sarah Johnson serves the Cathedral of St. John in a variety of ways. She helps with the daily lunch meal and handing out of bag lunches at the Open Door Café, as well as being available to the homeless guests in search of other community resources. Her experience in working with the guests at the Open Door Café has been an extraordinary journey, one that has confirmed her decision to be a social worker. Sarah has a degree in social work, but there’s nothing like hands-on reality! Sarah also lives with the Blessed Sacrament sisters and this has proven to be one of the greatest blessings of her service year. Sarah has decided to “do” another year as a Tau Volunteer as she discerns her next steps: grad school, where and what to concentrate on.
Cassie Shultz serves as a teacher’s and staff assistant at Notre Dame Primary School. She is a “jane of all trades” at the school and it’s a very good thing that she is a flexible as she is. Cassie has been able to identify a number of needs at the school that even the staff hadn’t been aware of! She is totally enchanted by the students, and it’s been a huge blessing for her to watch them grow and learn. Cassie lives with the sisters at Maryhill and enjoys it so much, especially the evening prayer with the sisters, which is one of the best things for her.
All of our Tau Volunteers have been able to participate in many events and offerings of the community. They have had the opportunity to participate in everything from fun outings to more serious discussions about peace and justice issues. All of them feel strongly that learning more about peace and justice has been one the strongest aspects of the Tau program…and the fun events haven’t been too shabby either!