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After completing their training periods, the Sisters are sent out to work in ministries. Fifty years ago, the Rochester Franciscans’ primary two ministries were teaching and nursing. When a young woman entered Assisi Heights, she had two choices: train to be a nurse or train to be a teacher. Both ministries had their draws.
Nursing had Saint Marys Hospital; teaching had the College of Saint Teresa. Both were great options, as the Rochester Franciscans had established both of them. For Sister Lois who entered the teaching ministry, she recalled the great relevance of her vow of obedience. Each summer, after the end of another school year, the Sisters attended summer school in order to continue their own education. It was there that they received their “obedience slips,” informing them of where they would be teaching the following year. None of them knew to where they would be assigned or for how long: Sisters could be assigned to schools all over the country, in big cities or in small farm towns. They could be asked to stay for one year or ten years. Sister Lois once taught in a small school of eighty kids, located in a town of only five houses. On the other hand, she has taught in a school with 800 kids in Chicago.
“I’ve always felt… that I didn’t come to do what I was going to do, but to do what was needed for me to do. That was part of my life, and that’s what I agreed to do.” -Sister Mary Lonan
Although traveling around the country was adventurous and exciting, it was also hard for the Sisters. Right as they were getting used to a place, its people, and the job, they would have to start all over again in a new locale. However, all of the Sisters interviewed never dwelled on this memory. They explained that this was how they lived out their vow of obedience. Sister Mary Lonan explained, “I’ve always felt… that I didn’t come to do what I was going to do, but to do what was needed for me to do. That was part of my life, and that’s what I agreed to do.”1 Therefore, the Sisters joined religious life, and they didn’t know exactly how their lives were going to unfold, but they agreed to live in obedience to God, and so their lives were now in God’s hands.
Today, the Sisters are involved in as many different ministries as there are jobs in the world. This is because, as Sister Lois explained, a ministry is “simply a way that we [Sisters] live out our religious vocation.”2 Starting in the 1970’s after Vatican II, the Sisters were able to look for their own jobs. Although teaching and nursing were still the most popular, Sisters began working in a whole variety of work: in parishes, at alcoholic treatment centers, counseling, in social service, health care, and more.
Sister Mary Lonan, interview by Nami Sumida, Assisi Heights, May 20, 2014. ↩
Sister Lois, interview by Nami Sumida, Assisi Heights, May 28, 2014. ↩