“Pilgrimages evoke our earthly journey toward heaven and are traditionally very special occasions for renewal in prayer.” Catechism of the Catholic Church 2691
MERIDEN, CT (08-08-2018) – by Sister Jeanne d’Arc Paquette, FSE
As we boarded the plane in Hartford, CT, I knew this pilgrimage would be a little bit different. We did not need our passports or foreign money. We did not need hotel reservations or tour guides. What we did need was a pair of good walking shoes and a copy of our former Community’s history, “A Chapter of Franciscan History.” This was not a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Rome or Assisi but a much more humble and immediate part of our birth as a congregation. We were headed to Wisconsin.
Originally, the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist were members of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in La Crosse, WI. The Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration were once members of the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi in Milwaukee, WI. The three Communities share a common foundation of Bavarian lay people desiring to help German immigrants in America in 1849. Now, in 2018, the newest Professed Sisters and Sisters in Formation of the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist had the privilege of rediscovering the roots of our religious life.
We began in La Crosse at St. Rose Convent with the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. The Sisters were joyful and hospitable, warmly inviting us to share in their daily life and meals. We were welcomed into exploring the heritage room, archives, Viterbo University campus, and the beautiful convent grounds. It was especially meaningful for each of us pilgrims to spend time in the Chapel of Perpetual Adoration. During our visit the Sisters celebrated 140 years of continuous Adoration.
On the second part of our pilgrimage we drove to Milwaukee to visit the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi. Our hostesses were excited to see us and teach us more about the original foundation of our Communities. They showed us the original convent and motherhouse where the Bavarian foundresses lived, worked, and prayed. They also took us to see the construction of their new convent being built right next to the first. It looks like it will be amazing.
Although our pilgrimage was undeniably a journey of faith and renewed prayer, I also felt that it was a family reunion. I did not know any of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration or Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi before this summer, but they received us with open arms and generous hearts. There is more that binds us together than what keeps us apart. The places and artifacts of our history are great treasures but the witness of Franciscan spirituality alive in each Community is even more valuable.