Chat Tuesday – Sr. Mary Ann (Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity)

Face Forward: Connecting Catholic Youth Time For Chat Tuesday! This evening we are chatting with Sister Mary Ann Spanjers, Vocations Director of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity. Welcome Sister Mary Ann!

Sr. Mary Ann Hi!

Sr. Mary Ann It is great to have a chance to connect with all of you!

Face Forward: Connecting Catholic Youth Chat Tuesday ? To Sister Mary Ann: We see on the FSCC facebook page that you’ve been in Columbus this year … to what do we owe the honor?

Sr. Mary Ann Our Sisters have been living and serving in healthcare, education, and parish work in OH for over 100 years; we have a convent in Zanesville and in Cambridge. For some of our Sisters OH is home. We also arrange focus groups to learn the media habits of women ages 18-25 and to assess our website; after such a focus group at the Newman Center of Ohio State, we were excited to be invited by Austin, one of the Campus Ministers, to come for a brain storming meeting about becoming more involved with Ohio State Campus Ministry.

Face Forward: Connecting Catholic Youth Chat Tuesday ? To Sister Mary Ann: When will you be back in Columbus?

Sr. Mary Ann May 15, for the 6:00pm. Mass and Spaghetti supper with the students at Ohio State Newman Center!

Face Forward: Connecting Catholic Youth Chat Tuesday ? To Sister Mary Ann: How long have you been a sister with the FSCC?

Sr. Mary Ann Just over 25 yrs!

Face Forward: Connecting Catholic Youth Chat Tuesday ? To Sister Mary Ann: How did you discern this was your calling from God?

Sr. Mary Ann I ask most young people, Which version do you wish to year–the holy version or the unholy version?

Face Forward: Connecting Catholic Youth We want to hear both!

Sr. Mary Ann What about you which would you like first?

Sr. Mary Ann The “unholy” version—I needed to be freer, as much as I enjoyed dating and children, I could not imagine living with one person for the rest of my life; I needed more adventure, more experiences, more relationships…

Sr. Mary Ann The “holy” version– I needed Jesus in my life in a profound way, the Eucharist was/is a source of peace and belonging; I was able to pray at Mass. I also knew that I needed others’ support to live a life with Jesus; There were Sisters who became good friends while I was going to high school, I enjoyed the retreats at the Motherhouse and discovered other young women, like myself, who also had this desire to become a Sister, this was a great support.

Face Forward: Connecting Catholic Youth Chat Tuesday ? To Sister Mary Ann: As Vocations Director, how do you advise young women to proceed through the discernment process?

Sr. Mary Ann The saints tell us that the first step of discernment is “self knowledge.” Uncover where you find happiness and meaning in your life; where/when/with whom do you feel most like yourself? Are you involved with your parish or with some outreach? Prayer, of course, is central. Get to know Sisters of the community you feel drawn to. Does their way of life connect with yours?

Sr. Mary Ann Also, listen to others in your life who know you. The Sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation are also essential in one’s discernment. Responding to the inner movement to become a Sister is all about falling in love! It is about jumping into the abyss with Jesus, risking everything for Him. Discernment retreats become very important.

Face Forward: Connecting Catholic Youth Chat Tuesday ? To Sister Mary Ann: The Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity has a great website … … how important is this tool in reaching out to those who are discerning?

Sr. Mary Ann My co-vocation director, Sister Julie Ann and I enjoy the connection our website is with the Church and the world. It is a great initial way to get to know our community of Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity. Our Franciscanized World blog page is where we feature our “Song of the Month” artists with a Franciscan message about beauty and goodness and God’s presence in our world. Music is dear to us as Franciscan Sisters. (Our postulants and novices, who wish, take music lessons; voice, piano and guitar are common.) Along with other postings on a variety of activities and ponderings of our Sisters; it is our way of sharing God’s love with the virtual and very real world.

Face Forward: Connecting Catholic Youth You both do a fantastic job not only on your website, blog but also on facebook.

Sr. Mary Ann Thanks it is a lot of fun!

Sr. Mary Ann Franciscan Spirituality is so necessary, so vital today; one finds polarization in all areas of life—St. Francis was all about being a bridge, a connection for people with God; a way of finding peace and goodness in difficulties and sufferings. Franciscan life is a call to mirror Christ, as St. Clare tells us. We are called to continue to build up the Church especially with the poor, with those in rural areas, with children, young people, and the sick. This is the focus of our community of Sisters.

Face Forward: Connecting Catholic Youth The daily pictures that you post on your facebook wall are very peaceful…who takes them?

Sr. Mary Ann mostly Sister Julie Ann!!!

Sr. Mary Ann We love it when we get comments or likes on our blog postings; everything on the website is us; nothing is staged. The fun part is receiving the inquiries from young women and the retreat registrations. Our current young women in the process of becoming Sisters are from WI, MI, AR, AZ, and LA. We already have young women from IL, WI, and AZ registering for our May retreat.

Face Forward: Connecting Catholic Youth Chat Tuesday ? To Sister Mary Ann: Tell us about a typical day for you.

Sr. Mary Ann The website is a place to share and ask questions. When a young woman submits an inquiry it is almost always accompanied with wonderful questions and openness to discover if God is calling her to discern with us. We usually continue the conversation in person at a local coffee house. We find this environment perfect for a chat!

Face Forward: Connecting Catholic Youth Chats ARE a good thing! 😉

Sr. Mary Ann Especially at Coffee houses with faith filled young women and the two of us Sisters!

Sr. Mary Ann One more point about our website is on our HOME page we currently have Sister Anne Marie’s “ONLINE LENTEN RETREAT”; we also have “DISCERNING YOUR CALL” which is the Habitually Speaking blog of one of our novices, Sister Monica. You can also download our own CALLED TO BE ringtone! Now I’ll tell you abit about a typical day:)

Sr. Mary Ann I’m glad you asked about a typical day for me. Our Franciscan community life is anything but typical! All of our Sisters pray an hour of contemplative prayer at some time during each day; we pray the Liturgy of the Hours together in the morning and the evening; we go to Mass together, have meals together, and spend time relaxing together—but there is no set schedule for each of us, we organize that at each of our convents with the sisters with whom we are living.

Sr. Mary Ann For me, living here at our Motherhouse, I usually get up about 5:20a.m.for my hour of personal, contemplative prayer with Jesus. We have Morning Prayer at 6:45 followed by the Eucharist; a quick breakfast and off to teach on Mon. and Wed. I teach a New Testament course for Silver Lake College of the Holy Family for our novices and lay students. Then I am in the vocation office working on our website, communicating with young women, preparing retreats, giving vocation presentations at schools; Wed. Thurs. Fri. Sat. and Sundays will find Sister Julie Ann and me on the road visiting our Univ. Newman centers, attending Mass with the students, spending time sharing with them. We are also in the midst of preparing for Camp Franciscan—an annual junior high/high school Camp in June here at our Motherhouse for 55 young ladies. 30 some of our Sisters help with the 4 day Camp!

Sr. Mary Ann Evening prayer at the Motherhouse is at 4:45; when we are on the road the car becomes our chapel and our office! Supper is at 5:40; supper is an extended time of relaxing and sharing for many of us! Usually I am in the vocation office after supper simply because it is a time when many young women are able to connect! Often I will take the cell phone out with me for a walk after supper! Many evenings we have Music Outreach practice, I play guitar! Sister Julie Ann and I are making “peace bracelets” to give away at various vocation fairs and retreats. So many evenings some of our Sisters are helping me with that as we watch something on TV. (we make 3000)! I take time to pray and read a bit before I go to sleep, usually around 10:30-11:00.

Face Forward: Connecting Catholic Youth Chat Tuesday ? To Sister Mary Ann: Tell us about your May 20-22 Discernment Retreat: Mary’s Yes.

Sr. Mary Ann It is Mary’s Yes!

Face Forward: Connecting Catholic Youth Who can attend?

Sr. Mary Ann Here is another link to check out regarding the retreat:

Sr. Mary Ann The discernment retreats include time for communal and personal prayer, the sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation, bonfire, music outreach, time with the Sisters, also an opportunity for new friendships with other women in discernment! Each retreat we offer is distinct; the one in May will be a pilgrimage type retreat, we will spend time walking to, pondering, praying, sharing, about various images of Mary in and around the Motherhouse, how Mary said Yes to God throughout her life!

Sr. Mary Ann In the afternoon on Sat. we will drive to a parish, where our Sisters serve, where there is a wonderful stained glass window of Mary at Pentecost; and to the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, where in the historic December 8, 2010, Mass and press conference Bishop David Ricken announced that he had officially approved the Marian apparitions at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help at Champion, WI. to spend time in prayer.

Sr. Mary Ann The retreat begins on Fri. May 20 at 7:OOp.m. Sister Julie Ann and I are happy to meet anyone at the airport in Milwaukee or Green Bay—arrival by 4:00p.m. will work. All you need are your personal things, bed, sheets, towels are provided; casual dress, a skirt or dress slacks for Sunday Mass is wonderful. It closes at 12:30 on Sunday.

Sr. Mary Ann The retreat is a time of allowing God to love you; it is a wonderful opportunity to open yourself to the Lord to listen to Him, to share with others, to discover more about the direction God is leading you on. To register: on the homepage of the website

Sr. Mary Ann The retreat is open to young women 18-30 yrs old who are open to discerning if God is calling them to become a Sister!

Face Forward: Connecting Catholic Youth Chat Tuesday ? To Sister Mary Ann: Last question–who are your favorite saints?

Sr. Mary Ann My very favorite saints are St. Francis, St. Clare, and St. Mary Magdalene! St. Francis, of course, for his inspiration on how to fall in love with Jesus by being truly yourself—the one God calls you to be, in complete freedom faithful to the Church! St. Clare for her clarity of trust in Jesus, for her strength in fidelity to giving herself in complete poverty, for her Sisterly care for her Sisters! And St. Mary Magdalene for being the disciple to the disciples, for her strength and unswerving love for Jesus, for believing and hoping and spreading His message of living the Gospel!

Face Forward: Connecting Catholic Youth This ends Chat Tuesday. Many thanks to Sister Mary Ann for chatting this evening. Next week we’ll visit with Andrew Kebe of St. Paul’s Outreach at Ohio State.

Sr. Mary Ann My pleasure, thanks so much for giving us this time with you! Peace, prayers and all good!

Face Forward: Connecting Catholic Youth Blessings to you, Sister Mary Ann!