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Legislative Prayer Partners

June 25, 2022
By CSA Sisters of St. Agnes

This article appears in the May Issue of Reflections and Connections

The Legislative Prayer Partners process is a concrete way to fulfill our mission to work for a more just and caring society. As a member of the LCWR Region 9 Legislative Network, CSA joins 194 participants from eight other Wisconsin religious congregations in committing to pray for Wisconsin legislators.

Here’s how it works: Volunteers are assigned a Wisconsin state legislator and commit to pray regularly for this person; each volunteer determines how to define “regularly.” Volunteers are not asked to lobby on behalf of issues, just to pray. The intent is to support the legislator with prayer that they make moral decisions for the common good. In 2022, CSA has 32 volunteers: 23 sisters and 9 associates. Last year, many volunteers from Wisconsin congregations received personal responses from legislators who appreciated the prayerful support. This simple program has the potential to move hearts and unite polarized politics.

Read the full issue of Reflections & Connections here.

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Sister Jean Steffes: A Legacy of Leadership

June 18, 2022
By Jenny Lukomski, CSA Archivist

This article appears in the May Issue of Reflections and Connections

As Sister Jean Steffes completes her 17th and final year as General Superior, we look back at her leadership in the congregation.

Sister Jean during her first installation as CSA General Superior in 1985.
Sister Jean during her first installation as CSA General Superior in 1985.

 

Sister Jean was the first of a new generation of CSA’s leaders who went through their religious formation as the Church and the congregation were grappling with the changes brought about by the Second Vatican Council.

Professed in 1967, she taught English at Immaculate Conception High School in Elmhurst, Illinois, and St. Mary’s Springs Academy in Fond du Lac. While at the Springs, she also served as CSA’s Novice Directress. Recognizing her leadership potential, Sister Judith Schmidt, then General Superior, asked Sister Jean to become a Regional Coordinator in 1982, where she was primarily con

cerned with the welfare of the sisters in the eastern part of the country.

Four years later, she was elected to her first term as General Superior. She was reelected in 1989 for another four-year term, after which she served as Vicar for Religious and Chancellor of the Diocese of Phoenix. The congregation again called her to leadership, electing her as General Superior in 2013 and 2017.

A talented administrator, Sister Jean embraced the challenge of finding concrete ways to integrate CSA’s mission with the larger Church, specifically by answering Vatican II’s call for preferential treatment of the poor. During her tenure, and at the behest of all the sisters, CSA has taken on a greater role in advocating for social justice issues including anti-human trafficking, economic equality, rights of women and children, and climate change.

Sisters are encouraged to choose ministries with direct impact on the problems of poverty in the United States and Nicaragua. Sister Jean invited more lay women to join the boards of directors of CSA’s sponsored institutions and encouraged employees of those institutions to integrate their spiritual values with their work life. Through a combination of installing its own solar panels and purchasing more from a local community project, CSA’s motherhouse is now 100% solar-powered. The nearly complete Katharine Drexel Homeless Shelter in Fond du Lac also is benefitting from CSA’s generous donation and purchase of solar panels for their building.

A theme of Sister Jean’s time in leadership is transitions and evolution. In 1987, CSA took over sponsorship of Waupun Memorial Hospital from the School Sisters of St. Francis. In 1990, CSA’s St. Anthony Hospital merged with Hadley Memorial Hospital in Hays, Kansas. And in 2018, CSA made the emotional decision to transfer sponsorship of St. Agnes Hospital, Monroe Clinic, and its other healthcare facilities to SSM Health.

Through it all, Sister Jean has led the community in its evolution toward a future with fewer sisters, but an invigorated sense of mission by continually answering Mother Agnes’s call to take on courageous initiatives.

Sister Jean during her final installation as CSA General Superior in 2017.
Sister Jean during her final installation as CSA General Superior in 2017.

Read the full issue of Reflections & Connections here.

Subscribe to Reflections & Connections here.

Vigil for Victims of Gun Violence

June 17, 2022
By CSA Sisters of St. Agnes

Gathering for Vigil

On Monday, June 6, 2022, the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes led an ecumenical prayer vigil remembering the victims of mass shootings at Veterans Park in Fond du Lac. Other speakers included a representative from the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters, clergy from five local churches (Holy Family Catholic Community Fond du Lac, Pilgrim United Church of Christ, Open Circle Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Bread Of Life Cathedral Of Hope, and Covenant United Methodist Church), Fond du Lac Police Chief, Aaron Goldstein, City Manager, Joe Moore, presidents of Ebony Vision and United For Diversity, and area youth, featuring graduating high school senior, Gianna Trotter.

Speakers provided heartfelt remarks, called for unity and action, and led attendees in song and prayer. The names of the recent 31 victims killed in Buffalo and Uvalde were read aloud, followed by a moment of silence to remember all victims of gun violence. Additional thanks given for our educational professionals and government officials and prayers for their safety.

Click here to view additional photos from the event.

Sisters Gather for Chapter

June 13, 2022
By CSA Sisters of St. Agnes

From June 13-24, Sisters of St. Agnes will gather for the 2022 General Chapter. Chapters are significant milestones in women religious communities as they evaluate how the congregation will continue to respond to the signs of the times. As part of General Chapter, a new leadership team is also selected to serve the community for the next four years. We welcome your daily prayer for the success of our General Chapter.

Pray with and for the CSA General Chapter

O God, Holy Mystery,
You have bound the sisters of St. Agnes together in love,
to support one another to live with singleness of purpose:
that the Risen Christ be discovered and revealed.

Please be with my St. Agnes Sister-friends
as they strive to participate in the mission of Christ
by joyful service in the Church.

Now, as they enter into General Chapter intent on discerning your mission
for the transformation of the world and themselves,
be present to them and guide them.

Together, we have confidence in your ongoing revelation
and the promptings of your Spirit.

Accompany the sisters as they journey during this time of General Chapter.

Amen.

CSA Land Acknowledgement

June 11, 2022
By CSA Sisters of St. Agnes

This article appears in the May Issue of Reflections and Connections

CSA property is privately owned by the congregation and Glacial Lakes Conservancy partners with the sisters to enforce the terms of the conservation document. As the congregation continued to develop a deeper understanding of the history of the land, the sisters adopted a Land Acknowledgment statement.

CSA Land Acknowledgment

The Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes acknowledges our Motherhouse is located on land that is a gift of the Creator. Nestled along the Niagara Escarpment, near the southeast shore of Lake Winnebago in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, this sacred land is the ancestral homeland of the Ho-Chunk (Winnebago), Menominee, Myaamia, Očhéthi Šakówiŋ, and many indigenous groups of North America who have passed through or called Wisconsin their home at some point in the last three centuries. 

The Sisters of St. Agnes recognize the historical and ongoing realities of settler colonialism. We lament the violence, genocide, broken treaties, efforts to strip our brothers and sisters of their culture and language, and the forced removal of all indigenous peoples from these sacred lands. We acknowledge the First Nations communities who have stewarded this land throughout generations. We respect their past and present elders and continue to learn from their wisdom. We are grateful to pray, study, minister, and live in community on this holy ground. We commit to being good stewards of the land, to showing special care for indigenous communities and their cultural traditions, and to collaborating with First Nation People today on issues that impact our common home, and the common good. 

“All of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements and talents.”

- Pope Francis, Laudato Si’ (#14)

Stewarding the Land

On April 22, 2022, the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes welcomed a group of civic, ministry, and environmental partners to celebrate the signing of our Conservation Easement Document, in partnership with Glacial Lakes Conservancy, protecting 237 acres of Earth in perpetuity. As part of the event, Sister Jean Steffes, CSA General Superior, shared some of the history of the land:

“The land that we conserve today is especially meaningful for all Sisters of Saint Agnes. Native peoples roamed and lived off this land for centuries. Early settlers farmed it and our founder, Father Caspar Rehrl, who came to the Wisconsin Territory in 1845, traversed it on his missionary journeys. One of his stops was at a farm three miles east of Fond du Lac where he found cold springs of water flowing down a hill and he wished that the Agnes Sisters would someday live on this land. This all came to be in March of 1898, when our foundress, Mother Agnes Hazotte, bought 293.5 acres of land from Mr. Wells and, in September of 1899, she purchased an additional 117 acres of farmland re-naming the whole property Saint Joseph Springs Farm. Prizing the land and rejoicing in its beauty and fertility, the sisters found help to till the soil, raise animals, …  grow vegetables, … build a sanitarium, found a high school, and finally, construct our motherhouse in 2001, St. Agnes Convent, here on this spot, sacred to so many diverse peoples for several millennia and treasured by CSA for the past 124 years. ribbon-cuttingNow we have placed this land in a conservancy with Glacial Lakes in order to preserve its pristine beauty for generations to come.”

After the event a small crowd gathered for a ribbon cutting to ceremonially "open" the forests, prairies, wetlands, farm fields, labyrinth, cemetery, nature trails, solar garden, and three stream channels running down the Niagara Escarpment as God provided life giving water in the form of rain.

Find more information about CSA land and watch the video of the event at www.csasisters.org/earth

Read the full issue of Reflections & Connections here.

Subscribe to Reflections & Connections here.

Stop Trafficking Newsletter - June 2022 Issue

June 10, 2022
By CSA Sisters of St. Agnes

Image of person reading newsletter on a laptop

This month’s newsletter focuses on the vulnerability to human trafficking for those living in areas of the world involved in armed conflict.

Click here to read the June 2022 newsletter.

Este número se centra en la vulnerabilidad a la trata de personas para aquellos que viven en áreas del mundo involucradas en conflictos armados.

Haga clic aquí para leer el boletín de junio de 2022.

 

 

Celebrating a Century

June 04, 2022
By Sister Monica Justinger, CSA

This article appears in the May Issue of Reflections and Connections

The Centenarian Group at Nazareth Court and Center/St. Francis Home welcomed its newest member on March 25, the 100th birthday of Sister Mercedes Geib. In 1922, Sister Mercedes was born in Barton, Wisconsin, one block from the original motherhouse. Throughout her ministry in Wisconsin, Indiana, Kansas, and Ohio, Sister Mercedes was a musician; a primary, intermediate, junior high teacher and principal; a liturgist at St. Agnes Convent, and a Director of Religious Education.

Before retiring to Nazareth Court and Center in 2013, Sister Mercedes spent 20 years in Ohio, 16 of them in Circleville where she was a member of St. Joseph Parish. She was very active in the “Ministry of Neighboring” and well-loved and known for her smile, her caring, her wholehearted hospitality. On her 80-Year Jubilee in 2021 and on her birthday, she received dozens and dozens of cards and messages from the parish wishing her God’s blessing.Sister Mercedes

I was honored to be missioned with Sister Mercedes for the 20 years she lived in Ohio. We had our differences, our ups and downs, but she was a blessing to live with. We have many stories to tell. She loved the water and the outdoors, water skiing and camping well into her 80s and convincing me to join her. We once made a Wilderness Retreat in Pennsylvania, in a campground with no hook-ups—no water, electricity, or facilities—in a tent. We were with eight other sisters and a Retreat Director. It was a wonderful retreat except when our dog, Happy, ran into a porcupine and got a chin full of spines. With the nearest veterinarian clinic more than 60 miles away, I was tasked with extracting the spines from his jaw while Sister Mercedes tried to hold him down. She was praying and crying, but Happy just looked at her with trusting eyes.

Sister Mercedes is an example of resilience, the ability to spring back, to find creative and flexible ways to move forward with grace and dignity. Like all of our elder sisters, whom I refer to as the “wise ones,” she has true grit because they never give up or lose hope.

Read the full issue of Reflections & Connections here.

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Ecumenical Prayer Vigil Remembers Mass Shooting Victims

June 02, 2022
By CSA Sisters of St. Agnes

At 6:30 p.m. on June 6, 2022, the public is invited to join an ecumenical prayer vigil remembering the victims of mass shootings. The gathering will be held at Veterans Park (190 S. Main St.) in Fond du Lac and will include representatives from the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes, Pilgrim United Church of Christ, Ebony Vision, Latinos Unidos, United for Diversity, Bread of Life Church, Holy Family Catholic Church, the Fond du Lac Police Department, and local students.

Click here to get a flyer for printing.

The Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes joins with over 23,000 Catholic women religious, associates, and partners in mission in over 30 states in calling for an end to gun violence.

On Tuesday, May 24, the world witnessed another horrific, senseless tragedy as a lone gunman shot and killed 21 people, including 19 students, at Robb Elementary School, Uvalde, Texas, just two days before the end of the school year.

Only ten days prior, on Saturday, May 14, we had seen another gunman, motivated by racism, shoot and kill 10 people at a neighborhood grocery store in Buffalo, New York.

We are once again heartbroken. Whether in Uvalde, Buffalo, Parkland, Newtown, or Littleton, all of us, God’s people, deserve to live in communities free of gun violence. The massacres like these are abhorrent and should never be accepted as “normal.” These acts of violence can no longer be tolerated.

They have to stop. It has to end.

Both shooters in Uvalde and Buffalo legally obtained their weapons. The United States, when compared to peer countries, has far more guns per capita, incidences of gun violence, and some of the least restrictive gun laws.

According to Education Week, there have already been 27 school shootings in America in 2022 - averaging more than once a week. There have been 251 mass shootings in our country this year, and there have been more mass shootings in the United States than in any other country in the world.

We challenge ourselves, our Church, and all people of goodwill to rededicate themselves to end the scourge of gun violence in this country. To pray for the conversion of society. We plead that all continue to contribute to this movement by taking some of the actions listed below.

  • Donate to the Uvalde Victims First Fund, the Buffalo 5-14 Survivors Fund, or Catholic Charities of San Antonio Crisis Relief Services
  • Send messages to national elected officials to pass gun safety measures through Moms Demand Action, Sandy Hook Promise, or March for Our Lives. Consider calling to ask for your legislator’s support for the Background Check Expansion Act.
  • Join or pray in solidarity with national and local March for Our Lives marches on June 11.

 

About the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes

The Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes (CSA), founded in 1858 in Barton, has been based in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, within the Archdiocese of Milwaukee for the past 151 years. Today, CSA has more than 150 sisters across the United States and Nicaragua who strive to minister with simplicity and hospitality in the fields of education, healthcare, pastoral ministry, and social service. CSA Associates are women and men who choose to have an intentional relationship with the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes.

For additional information, please visit www.csasisters.org

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Recent Posts

6/25/22 - By CSA Sisters of St. Agnes
6/18/22 - By Jenny Lukomski, CSA Archivist
6/17/22 - By CSA Sisters of St. Agnes
6/13/22 - By CSA Sisters of St. Agnes
6/11/22 - By CSA Sisters of St. Agnes
6/10/22 - By CSA Sisters of St. Agnes
6/4/22 - By Sister Monica Justinger, CSA
6/2/22 - By CSA Sisters of St. Agnes
5/26/22 - By CSA Sisters of St. Agnes
5/24/22 - By CSA Sisters of St. Agnes

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