Tag Archives: Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George

Parents of Vocations Forum

The Kissel family with Sr. M. Gemma, FSGM

One of the little talked about issues surrounding religious vocations is the impact it can have on the parents of a young man or women entering religious life. The process of discernment can be challenging enough but  it is often complicated by the reaction of the parents.

Even in the most supportive of families, the thought of your child entering religious life can bring heartache, questions, sorrow, puzzlement and even anger—the whole gauntlet of emotions. Since religious communities are quite invisible in our culture, parents today typically do not have an aunt or uncle who is in religious life and thus a level of comfort and familiarity with the vocation. They have many questions, and understandably, want the best for their children.

The Blessed Mother & St Joseph present Mary to the Temple

That is why Tom Kissel developed this new website—to have a forum where parents can ask questions, share experiences and network. Tom’s only daughter is in an active Franciscan community (The Sisters of St Francis of the Martyr St. George) so he is familiar first-hand with the path that parents walk along with their son or daughter and the stages of grief and joy.

The website has just been launched but do not hesitate to jump on and participate in this much-needed initiative in the Church.

Please visit parentsofvocations.com to join the conversation!


The Call to Cuba

Sixty-six foot statue of Jesus Christ overlooking the bay in Havana, Cuba.

One of the blessings of the opening of new doors to the Catholic Church in Cuba has been the development of new apostolates on the island. Since January 2011, four sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George, based in Alton, Ill., have been working at the Havana seminary. A year-and-a-half ago, one of our Executive Committee members answered the Master’s call and said yes to her own General’s Superior’s call to begin a new mission in Santa Clara, Cuba.

Sr. Stephania Newell, F.S.G.M., a religious sister of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George, never dreamed or desired to become a missionary. “But through much prayer and preparation,’ she said, “I have come to see this as God’s plan and another step and means to bring His merciful love to the poor, sick, and spiritually needy.”

Sr. Stephania is on the right
Sr. Stephania is on the right

Sister was an orphan adopted from Vietnam into a US Air Force family. Her Father is a permanent deacon in the church. She met the FSGMs in college entered the community at their Provincial Convent in Alton, Illinois, in 1995.

Showing that everything in our life is part of the tapestry of God’s plan for us, Sister said, “It came to me in prayer one day that just as the Sisters of the Sacred Heart Orphanage in Vietnam introduced my adopted Father and me to the Faith in a country where the Faith was suffering, God was now asking me to bring the Faith to a people in another foreign country.”

She adds: “I did not answer His call to the religious life to do my own will, but of Him who beckoned me. ‘A todo puedo hacerle frente, gracias a Cristo que me fortalece‘ – ‘I can do all things in Him who strengthens me'(Phil 4:13).”

To read Sr. Stephania’s complete testimonial and other fascinating stories, see the CMSWR’s newsletter from Spring 2015.

Daughter Betrothed, Jesus Groom

gemmaI’m sure most Fathers think and agonize about the day of their daughter’s marriage. After holding this precious gift of life in their hands for so many years, they can only hope and wonder if any man can cherish, protect and care for their little girl as well as a Father can do.

Here are one Father’s thoughts as he watched his daughter process down the aisle to be espoused forever to the One who does not disappoint those who love Him.

It was written by Tom Kissel and his daughter is now Sr. M. Gemma, FSGM, of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George. He wrote:

To be an intimate witness to a life answering and surrendering to God’s call is awe inspiring; you can’t help but be deeply touched by the process. Through Sr. M. Gemma’s (Lauren’s) journey, I was confronted with the desire to examine my own life of faith. To see one so young freely and happily devoid her life of “STUFF” and fill that vacancy with prayer, the sacraments, her sister community and the will of God, reset my priorities.

Read the entire letter on the Sisters’ website.

New Brides of Christ

August 15th, 2012, was a momentous day for the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George located in Alton, Illinois. Thirteen women made their final profession as religious sisters, 3 pronounced first vows and 2 were received into the novitiate. And here is the other amazing sidebar to the story, 7 of the sisters who made their final vows attended or graduated from Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. What a powerhouse of vocations!

Since the year 2000, 90 Benedictine Alumni have pursued vocations to the priesthood or religious life. Graduates are also serving in other ministries such as Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), LifeTeen and Christ in the City. What a model for other Catholic universities!

Benedictine College and the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George are IRL Affiliates. Check out their websites for more information.


Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George

In the January 9, 2012, issue of People Magazine is a beautiful article entitled, “How Ashley Found Her Calling,” the story of Ashley Vola and her entrance into the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George of Alton, Illinois. As a youngster, Ashley felt drawn by the witness of the Sisters in her school who were inspiring, kind and fun. As a teenager in love with country music, the desire to consecrate her life to God persisted. One day, while surfing the internet, she read an article by a priest “urging young people to follow their hearts.” She said, “Yes, Lord, I will do it!”

“All of you must be the light of the world.  To those of you who think that Christ may be inviting you to follow Him in the priesthood or consecrated life, I make this personal appeal: I ask you to open your hearts generously to Him; do not delay your response.  The Lord will help you to know His Will; He will help you to follow your vocation courageously.” Pope John Paul II, St. Louis, MO, 1999.