Sister Alice Feather

Sister Alice FeatherSister Alice Feather loves being with people above everything else. All she has ever wanted to do was serve people.

Alice started attending Catholic school in seventh grade at St. Joseph School in Waukesha. She was so impressed with her seventh-grade teacher, a Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity, that she wanted to be just like her.  She applied to enter the Manitowoc Franciscans, as the community is commonly known, when she was 14, but she just wasn't ready then.

Alice started high school at Catholic Memorial High School in Waukesha.  During this time, she was thinking about being a nurse working with poor people. Two years later, she reapplied to the Manitowoc community and this time she was accepted. She learned that if she wanted to minister as a nurse, she would need to already be a nurse at the time of her acceptance, so instead she decided to train as a teacher.

Alice was received in 1954 and while she was teaching in Ohio, the community sent out a questionnaire asking if anyone would like to work in the inner city of Chicago. Alice eagerly replied that yes, she would! For two summers, she ministered with children in the park. Then she received a call asking if she would be interested in teaching at Holy Angels School during the school year. Again, she said yes. She would go on to spend 37 years at Holy Angels School. Eleven of those years were as a Manitowoc Franciscan and the rest were as a School Sister of St. Francis.

Alice loved her time with the Manitowoc Franciscans and had no intention of leaving them. She would return to Manitowoc every summer to do yard work and reconnect with the sisters. By the late 1970s, though, she began to notice what was going on, or not going on, in Manitowoc. She felt as if she was dying on the inside. By 1980, Alice took a leave of absence and then chose exclaustration.

Sister Alice knew that she wanted to remain a religious sister. When she began to consider a new community, it occurred to her that she already was living with four School Sisters of St. Francis. Why would she look further?

In 1984, Sister Kate Fink met with her regularly and in 1985 she made her vows as a School Sisters of St. Francis. She was “adopted” by the class of 1954.

At the end of the school year in 2005, the seven School Sisters serving at Holy Angels made the difficult decision to leave because of an unjust situation. All of the sisters had spent many years at Holy Angels. They loved the people and were loved in return, so leaving was like grieving a death.

While seeking work in a school, Alice received a call from Sister Marietta Hanus inviting her to work in the Generalate office in Milwaukee as a secretary. With the agreement of her living group, she went to work in the Generalate for six months…which turned into four years. She loved connecting  with our sisters from all over the world.

After four years, a Spanish speaker was needed in the Generalate position. Alice shed a lot of tears, then did volunteer work for a short time. When a call came from the United States Provincial Team, Alice thought, “Whatever they ask, I will say yes.”

The team asked Alice if she would serve as an interim coordinator at Sacred Heart. She knew administration and she was happy to be working with people again. When the permanent coordinator came, Alice asked if she could stay on as secretary. This was approved and Alice has been there ever since. The six months that she was going to stay in Milwaukee now has lasted 18 years and counting. Alice loves it at Sacred Heart. There are needs and she has been able to serve in many capacities.  She is grateful.

To be of service is what Alice wanted as a child and it is what she has done all her life. She has often been asked how she could make a big life decision at the young age of 16. She said it was God who was calling her and guiding her, so she is grateful for the Spirit speaking through her seventh-grade teacher so many years ago.