Location: Fergus Falls, MN
As I write this article, I am anticipating being with my religious Community of Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, from June 8-13.
by Sister Char Grossman
We have been a community since 1891, and are 187 members strong.
We gather each June because of our common bond: To support and to reach out to one another; to pray together; to feast and celebrate together. We will be discussing and sharing about concerns and issues within our own community; our mission and vision; our concern for the entire church and the world. We will look at ways that we can continue to gently care for Mother Earth and care for the poor and marginalized in our society.
We will have our associates with us for a couple days as part of this sharing. Associates are men and women and children who have chosen to journey with us and deepen their personal and spiritual faith life. They are beautiful and valuable members of our community, connecting with us in prayer, study, sharing and celebrating.
As part of this gathering, I have been asked and privileged to share with my religious Community my "vocation story." How did I come to be a Franciscan Sister of Little Falls? Would you like to know? It's a story that never changes whenever I have the privilege of sharing it with anyone. I grew up on a farm south of Chokio. My father was a farmer and my mother was a teacher, homemaker and librarian. I grew up with six brothers and two sisters.
My second oldest brother, Ray, was killed in 1955, while training to be an Air Force pilot. I was seven at the time. My father died suddenly of a heart attack in 1960 — I was 12. I believe my vocation call came out of my family's deep faith and probably from the tough times and pain experienced.
After my brother died, my family knelt down together every night after our meal to pray the rosary. I didn't understand it at the time, but later on I knew this was a way for us to not lose faith, but to heal and to be strengthened.
There was another seed planted as part of my vocation call. The Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls had a mission in Browns Valley and they came to Chokio to teach religion classes and that connection made an impression upon me. They were very good and kind to us as young people. They taught me about my faith. I learned my prayers and memorized the Baltimore Catechism.
That was the foundation for my Catholic upbringing and I didn't take it lightly.
My older sister of three years joined the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls in 1963, and was with them for six years.
My family visited her on occasion and that "call" within me kept nudging at me as I saw the joy and simplicity and happiness of the Sisters. As a junior and senior in high school my pastor was also encouraging and supportive of me.
I didn't talk about this with many people as I thought they would laugh at me. But I knew when I graduated from high school that I was going to enter the convent and become a Franciscan Sister of Little Falls.
My classmates and friends and yes, family and relatives, found out when it was published in the program on "senior night" when awards and other special honors are given. It gave my name, and what I was going to do.
I graduated in May 1966, and joined the Franciscan Sisters that August at the age of 18. From Psalm 116: verse 14, "I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people." I have never looked back and am proud to be "sister" with my religious community.
What is your story? Your call? Your vocation? It may be marriage, single life; being a widow or widower; the story of a career; your past or present history. We all have our stories; let us share them. Thank you for letting me share mine.
We've heard a lot about the story and call of Astronaut Nyberg from our area. She knew what she wanted to be and she followed that call and dream. May we know and recognize what is important in our life and give it the care it deserves. Whatever your dream or call or vocation, follow it and be faithful to it.
Sister Char Grossman is the chaplain at Community Addiction Recovery Enterprise in Fergus Falls.