Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres
SISTERS OF ST. PAUL OF CHARTRES
The Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres came to the Diocese of Marquette upon the invitation of the Bishop of Marquette, Thomas L. Noa. He wanted a community of Sisters who would establish a Novitiate in his diocese, so that young women eager to become Religious would not have to go outside the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The Bishop took his request to the Superior General of the Sisters of St. Paul when he went to Rome for the Second Vatican council in 1963.
It was through Monsignor Robert Chisholm, then chancellor to Bishop Noa, that the Bishop came to know the Sisters of St. Paul in the first place. Monsignor's brother, Brother Edward Chisholm, at that time a Christian Brother in the Philippine Islands, worked with our Sisters there and lived through World War II with them. Upon leaving the Philippines, and during a visit to Marquette, Brother Edward mentioned to his brother, Monsignor Chisholm, his association with the Sisters of St. Paul. Some time later, Sisters from the Philippines visited Monsignor Chisholm in Marquette, at which time he spoke to them of establishing a community of the Sisters of St. Paul in the Diocese of Marquette. Monsignor took this idea to the Bishop but nothing more was said of it until the Second Vatican Council. Sisters were needed to staff the Bishop Noa Home, a residence for Senior Citizens and retired priests of the Diocese, and it was then that the Bishop remembered the Sisters of St. Paul and their availability! While in Rome for the Council, the Bishop contacted Reverend Mother General and invited the Sisters of St. Paul to the Diocese of Marquette.
The missionary spirit of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Paul was evident from the start in 1963. The first group that arrived in Marquette represented four nationalities: French, Irish, Filipino and Canadian.
The Sisters were nine in number. Three of them began to work at the Bishop Noa Home in Escanaba. At the outset there were thirty-seven senior citizens to care for, but the number grew, and today the home is full to its capacity of 109. The other six Sisters set up house at the former Holy Family Orphanage, near St. Peter's Cathedral.
There they devoted themselves to the care of the orphans and some Cuban refugee boys - sewing, cooking and supervising their academic studies. They also undertook the apostolate of imparting religious knowledge to children of the neighboring parishes.
It was during this time that the Superior General of the Sisters of St. Paul came from Rome to confer with Bishop Noa regarding the establishment of a Novitiate for the formation of religious vocations to the Congregation. The Novitiate was opened on January 25, 1964, the Feast of St. Paul, our patron saint. From 1964 to 1967, the Novitiate has its headquarters in the Holy Family Orphanage where a number of young women sought entrance, eager to give their lives to God and the Church in the service of their sisters and brothers.
The first reception and the clothing with the religious habit of the Sisters of St. Paul took place in St. Peter's Cathedral, with Bishop Noa himself officiating. In 1964, a parish priest of Menominee, Fr.Thomas L. Dunleavy requested Sisters to staff his school. Thereupon, seven Filipino Sisters were assigned to the St. William Catholic School. Within eight months, grades one through eight got under way. In the time of Fr. Louis Bracket, it was replete with eight grades. Later the Catholic School Board of Education consolidated the Catholic Schools thus becoming Catholic Central North and Catholic Central South Schools.
In 1988, our community assumed sponsorship of the Bishop Noa Home in Escanaba. After 25 years of serving there, we celebrated our 25th Anniversary in this mission to the Senior Citizens and retired priests of the Diocese.
It gave us great joy in 1990 to begin construction on a new 109 bed “Bishop Noa Home” Facility in Escanaba. We moved into our new facility in 1992. Now owned and operated by the Sisters of St. Paul, the facility includes 12 independent apartments. In 1998 we saw the joyous addition of 17 more assisted-living apartments.
Throughout the years our Sisters continued to respond to the needs of the Diocese in varying capacities from Parish Ministry to volunteering at St. Vincent de Paul. The call of God and the needs of God's people continue to invite us to leave all and follow in the footsteps of Jesus, in service to the Kingdom of the Father.
(excerpt from USA History, Website)
4 other houses in the geographical territory of the United States do not belong to the District but to the other Provinces:
* 2006 Honolulu, Hawaii
1 house, 6 sisters - Province of the
* 2006 Wyoming, Mi.
1 Novitiate, 1 sister - under the
Generalate, Rome, Italy
* 2008 Portland, Washington
1 house, 2 Sisters - Province of Daegu,
* 2008 Fairfx, Virginia
1 house, 2 sisters - Province of Seoul,
(source: Paulinian Echoes Sept. 2009 issue)
Sr. Marie Claire Tuballa, SPC from the Philippines
Missionary to Marquette, Michigan USA District
Sr. Rosaline Charoenchantavit ,SPC from Thailand
Missionary to Marquette, Michigan USA District
Missionary Spirit’s Journey
“As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.” (Jn. 20:21)
It was during my annual retreat in April 1968 when I was asked by Mother Marie Madeleine, then Provincial Superior of the Philippines, if I was interested in going to the mission in another country. At first, I told her I have to pray about it. The next day I made my “yes” to her but on condition that I return home after 5 years and that was it.
Then she mentioned to me that she was sending me to Marquette, Michigan in the USA. I could not believe my ears because I was only a simple Sister of St. Paul and not very knowledgeable. I felt so humbled. I thought that I was not the right person since there were many other sisters who were very intelligent and good teachers. Then I remembered Jesus when He called His apostles. They, too, like me, were not educated people but He chose them to be His first missionaries. That thought made me feel better and happy to be a missionary to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, which became my adopted home.
On the beautiful evening of September 7, 1968, the plane I was in landed at the airport of Marquette County Airport. I was met by Mother Charles de Jesus Weiss, who was then the District Superior, Mother Anne Patrice Cahill, and Sr. Lucienne Bautista. Mother Charles was our last French Provincial Superior of the Philippines. Mother Anne Patrice was our Mistress of Novices for some 17 years. She also was a missionary in the Philippines for 30 years. Sr. Lucienne was of the 6 Sisters who came to the U.S. four years earlier. So I felt at home, even if I was in another part of the universe. I only had to adjust to the cold weather, since I already knew the language of the country.
After resting for 3 days, Sr. Lucienne asked me to see my 3rd grade classroom at St. Christopher School. The next day I started to teach my class of 26 students. I learned to like and love them easily. But I only had 3 years of teaching in Marquette. After getting used to the parents and children at St. Christopher, I was asked to move to Menominee to teach 4th grade at St. William School, where our first group of Sisters were.
I moved to Menominee in September 1971, where 5 Sisters of St. Paul and 4 American lay teachers worked at the school. The school was full of students from Kindergarten to 8th grade. I used to have 30 to 40 students in my class. The parents were very cooperative and supportive of the Sisters in the school. We were like one family. In fact, our 7th grade teacher, Miss Rosalie Hughes, is one of our Sisters at present. We were always happy. Even our school janitor was like one of the family. He brought us fresh vegetables and canned fruits and vegetables every time we had a birthday celebration.
Then came the school consolidation in 1979. The other school was run by the Franciscan Sisters of Manitowoc, Wisconsin. The School Board decided the K to 3rd grade would be at our building and the 4th to 8th grades would be at Holy Spirit. None of us Sisters of St. Paul wanted to teach downtown. The President of the School Board asked Sr. Rosalie and me to go teach with the Franciscan Sisters. The rest of the SPC Sisters stayed at the North School. It was a blessing for me to move to the other school. I was happy to work with the Franciscan Sisters for 7 years because I learned many things from them. With the help of the Lord, I had the grace to adjust myself easily with other workers in His vineyard. I thank God for that gift.
In 1986, the U. S. District got an invitation from Cardinal Hickey of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. to teach at Nativity Parish. It was a poor parish of mostly African-American people. My District Superior asked me to go with Sr. Francis Mortola and Sr. Editha Ben. They needed a 4th grade teacher. It was not easy to say “yes” right away. I already loved the people of Menominee. Again, I belong to God; then He can send me where He wants me to serve His people. I was happy to go afterwards. I worked in DC for 18 years and again learned to love the poorest of the poor at Nativity Parish. Up to now, I pray for them and will always remember them.
Being a full-time teacher for 36 years, I also managed to teach religion classes to the children not in a Catholic School since I always remember Mother Madeleine telling me no to forget them. In the summer, I went with the Sisters to teach Summer Bible School in far-away parishes.
In 2004, I came back to Marquette, where I belong, to retire from my teaching ministry. At present, I teach religion and volunteer at Father Marquette School twice a week. I also help do several things around the convent. I feel good when I have things to do to help my District and my local community. I love my Province and my District very much! I always thank God for my Congregation everyday.
It is hard to believe that I am going to be 42 years in my mission this September 2010. I am also 60 years in my religious life. I give thanks to my Lord for He is so good! He has been always good to me, to my Province, my District, and my family.
“Missionary Spirit” is a big word for me. What does it mean?
I have reflected on it and reviewed myself from time to time asking the Holy Spirit to answer this question for me. The answer isn’t fully developed, however being a missionary has been a part of my life’s journey which I would like to share with you. For me, having a missionary spirit has been a process of transformation, reformation and formation.
“I am the Vine, you are the branches, whoever remains in me, with me in him, bears fruit in plenty, for cut off from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
In 2003, I arrived in United States in Marquette, Michigan the day before the celebration of Independence Day. So I was on the plane on July 3rd. While flying, I didn’t know that the time had changed when I crossed into the States. How silly I was! This was a small example of a foreign person who didn’t travel in different countries. I said to myself that I have to learn and be open to everything that is new to me.
How do I start to be a missionary? I have learned to trust my ability as I let God lead my life as the vine transforms from small branches to bear fruit by bonding my life to the true vine. I am always asking myself the following questions: “Do I follow in Jesus’ footsteps by letting my life be cut and trimmed as a gardener cuts and trims the trees in the vineyard? What is the root of my life? Am I rooted in Jesus and a life of sacrifice like Jesus who was sent into the world to redeem the world?”
I have learned that I have to open my heart every day to be transformed like Jesus. Let’s imagine that Jesus can redeem this world with his power in one second, but he chose to be born like us. Each day, I can do nothing without the grace of God which helps me to be transformed like the branches of the vine. I try to be more available and to trust in my own ability as I trust in God to serve the people. This is the transformation of my life in this country. I have to pray and clear my attitude to become a person who has gratitude each day like Jesus Christ. How wonderful is God’s love that calls me to live in this country. Unbelievable! I have been transformed as I came to know and to appreciate the many nationalities which God has sent to me.
“Anyone who finds his life will lose it; anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Mt. 10: 39)
These are the conditions to help reform my life. When I look back at the love and the care which God provides for me as I live in this country, I want to give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart. I know that I am not the same person; my life is reformed in several ways such as the way of life that eats bread instead of rice, learning how to greet people by hugging, and learning how to drive in the snow. I can count the days on one hand that I have the opportunity speak in my own language. Right now I have learned about more than one culture because in the USA District we have 16 sisters and 6 nationalities: American, Irish, Philippines, Korea, Vietnam, and Thai. In my local community, we have 5 sisters and 3 nationalities.
I continue to learn how to have mutual respect and it is a great adventure to learn about the different cultures. We have many funny stories to share our differences. I am very proud of our international community which reforms me each day to be a good witness among the people.
I work in two small parishes (St. Rita Church and Our Lady Help of Christian Center) which are made up of different ethnic people such as Irish, Mexican, Slovenian, Finnish, and Canadian. It is so wonderful to see God’s gifts in several cultures. It is a great adventure to commit myself to serve the people of God with unconditional love as Jesus did. In the United States, people came from different countries. They have immigrated to this land and they have been thirsty for the Love of God. The young children who study in the public school right now aren’t allowed to express their faith.
The waves of materialism lead the leaders of this country to make laws against Christian values such as free choices for abortion. The numbers of religious life are reduced and we haven’t had a new comer to religious life for many years. How do I give the good news to the people? It is very hard to meet the youth because we don’t have our own school. Anyway, I try to join many events to meet the youth such as youth encounter, vacation bible school, and vocation days. Some say that they don’t know religious. May Almighty Father send workers to harvest the rice in his fields. May God reform my heart to sense the needs of the people who thirst for truth and encourage the youth to follow Christ’s call.
“Go, therefore make disciples of all the nations; baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit … I am with you always yes, to the end of time.” ( Mt. 18: 19-20 )
Definitely, I pray that I will keep my hope and believe that God will be with me always. Even though I sometimes have doubts, God’s promise doesn’t change. The love of God urges me to go to the nations which He planned before I was born. So by the Holy Trinity, this is the same God that creates the world, I recognize that I am one of his creations. Wherever he puts me in a country, he walks with me and he holds my life in his palm always. I know my weaknesses and I fell several times. The mercy of God touches my heart and helps me to continue my mission until the end of time. The formation of God’s love is a long process and has much diversity. May God open my heart to let God form my heart as an ambassador of Jesus Christ.
Finally, missionary spirits are present in this broken world. It has one purpose and that is to build the kingdom of God. I think that I have to change myself to follow Jesus each day, reshaping my spirituality by the power of the Holy Spirit and continuing my commitment as Jesus did until the end of time. May Jesus’ words echo in my heart always, “Do not be afraid. I am with you always.”