Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Tour Our Motherhouse-from the Inside!

Welcome to Holy Family Convent - Motherhouse of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity!

Come on inside and see what our  Motherhouse looks like. :):)

Ring the doorbell and then come into our "paging office", where one of our Sisters answers the phone and welcomes visitors who come through the door.

She will ask you to wait in our Reception Room while she pages the Sister you want to see. When I was a Postulant, then a Novice, my family would wait in here on "Visiting  Sunday" about twice a year, when our families were allowed to come and visit us.
My father always knew when I was coming because he recognized my quick walk coming down this beautiful staircase.

We will start our tour on First Floor.
Straight across from the front door is what we call "The Front Office". If you need to request a car, ask for repairs, a bed etc,  here is where you come and talk to one of our Sisters.

Often times, when you want to meet up with another Sister you will say, "Let's meet by Front Office" and on the floor right in the middle outside the Front Office is this cross on the floor and a beautiful crucifix on the wall. Both have been here it seems forever. The cornerstone of our building is 1873. Our Community was founded in 1869.
When you first walk in the door after being out on mission for a whole year these are two familiar sights you see that make you feel very much at home again.

Continuing on our tour we come to the mailroom. Every Sister living at the Motherhouse has a mailbox where your mail is put. We have a Sister Mailman.
Then we come to our Heritage Room where many items of our 144 years of history are on display.
Here are some items I found very interesting.
There was a large black book with white ribbons with each Sister's name, laundry number and the year they were received in community. They were laid out by sleeping areas to show where each Sister slept when they came home for the summer. (It was to make sure that each Sister had a bed.) At one time we had 1,200 Sisters and many dorms to house them. 

There is a case with Sister Dolls to show how our habit has changed from 1869 to now. After Vatican II around 1966, religious Sisters were asked to modernize their habit. About 50 Sisters that summer wore a different style habit for 2 weeks. After that the Sisters voted for the habit that the whole community would be wearing. I saw the pictures of all of them in the Heritage Room. What a variety of veils. I am happy with the one they voted in.

Continuing on down the hall..............
............ we come to the priests' dining room. Just recently the priests started to join us in our cafeteria otherwise they ate in their own dining room.

Across from there is a visiting room with a statue of Mary, made out of wood by Sister Victoria, one of our Sisters.

On the other end of first floor, going the opposite direction from the Front Office, we come to the Patio Lounge.
 Sisters can relax here by watching TV, reading the newspaper or just visit with each other.
On the walls you will see wood carvings of the Seven Joys of Mary that are prayed on the Franciscan Rosary which contains 7 decades and not the normal 5 decades.

Now we come to the North Parlor.
 Here a Sister may visit with her family and friends. There are a lot of antiques in this room.
Here is a wooden pump organ brought by our Sisters from Germany when they joined us, during the time of religious persecution in Germany.

We come upon now the Hall of our Foundresses and Leaders - Our Hall of Fame.

Mother Gabriel, our Foundress. 

Mother Alexia who was in office for 20 years. I love her smile and mischievous twinkle in her eyes. 

Mother Alexia 
Mother Generose was a visionary in education. She made the decision to build our college -Silver Lake of the Holy Family.

Sister Henrielda, who was our Community Director, when I entered the convent. When we went to visit with her, she always gave us a candy bar, which we loved. We were hungry novices.

On this floor we have classrooms, as this part of the Motherhouse was used as college classrooms for our Sisters, before our college was built. Then they were used as high school classrooms for when we had the "Aspirancy". It was a boarding high school for girls who were thinking about becoming a Sister.

We have almost finished our tour of first floor. One of my special parts of our First Floor is the Art Hallway and the Art Parlor. Quite a few of our Sisters are artists and their Art work is displayed throughout the Motherhouse but in particular here on the first floor.
This is my most favorite picture.

Christmas in Bethlehem, in Greccio with St. Francis who created the first Nativity Scene and Christmas with our Sisters outside our Motherhouse.

 "Look at the eyes!"

The Art Parlor

Art Hallway

Sr. Regina Rose, explaining to Sr. Alexandra her latest painting.

St. Clare and St.Francis painted by Sister Mariella.

Located on First Floor

Our Vocation Directresses work out of this office. They talk to women who are interested in learning more about what it means to be a Sister.

Let's travel on down now to our basement. It is not your normal basement as it is quite equipped and a very well used, populated area of our home. 
Our gym, which also serves as a meeting room for our Sisters. Such as our Chapter that we just finished. 

Our laundry room is very large. 
As novices we were often in here folding sheets and towels and taking the laundry carts of clean clothes to the different sleeping areas. 
Each Sister is assigned a laundry number when they enter and you mark your clothes with this number. They are posted on this wall with where you are sleeping so they know where to take your clean clothes.

 We have two nurse practicioners who keep us healthy.

Now it is time to stop in the "Coffee Shop/Lunch Room" - a more popular room in our convent. .
It is the place to get an early or late breakfast, snack in the afternoon and a place to visit other Sisters. 

Moving on down the "bakery hallway" we come first to the Garbage Room. Now, I feature this because as Novices we all took our turn at cleaning this room on Saturdays. We scrubbed the floor and  barrels. It is the cleanest garbage room you will ever find anywhere. We got to read the 'Comics' in the newspaper as we worked away.

Our bakery is right across the hallway.

Our homemade bread is sliced here. 
Dishwashing Room 
 OUR KITCHEN! Soup is made in these kettles. We had fun cleaning these out as Novices.
The "VR" Room -Vegetable Room-where potatoes, carrots etc are pealed by our Sisters each morning.

 Our Cafeteria

St. Francis of Assisi is always around us.

Stop in and get your feet taken care of so they feel good again. 
We had two Sisters who were our dentists. They have just retired.

So far we have toured the first floor and the basement. Let us head up to the 2nd floor.

Before we go to the 2nd floor we stop on the steps outside the cafeteria where the "gong" is. Every Novice has had her turn to pull these ropes to ring the gong. It is rung before evening praise  every day at 4:40 PM and when calling the Sisters to chapel for an important announcement, such as recently when our new Community Director was announced and the election of our four Council Members.
Up the steps to 2nd Floor.
On 2nd floor we have our three Chapels. St. Mary's Chapel is the largest. 
It was full for our Chapter.
Stations-wooden stations made by Sister Victoria; She painted St. Francis in each of the Stations.
Stations are on the walls in St. Mary's Chapel.

 St. Francis Chapel-hand carved wooden altar

Looking down from the choir loft.
The Oratory-outside of St. Francis Chapel. The stain glass windows slide open in case there is an over flow from St. Francis Chapel they can hear the homily/talk.
Reconciliation Room
St. Francis of Assisi in the Oratory
 St. Thomas Homeroom-and in Fall & Winter the Packer Room. All Packer games are watched on this TV donated to us by one of the Packer coaches.
 Poverello-a very popular room for playing cards and putting puzzles together.
 Computer Lab-was the lecture hall when it was the college and high school.


3rd and 4th floors are our sleeping areas-dormitory and bedrooms.

Thank you for taking the tour of our Motherhouse - Holy Family Convent- our home.

St. Rita Chapel- mainly used by our Sisters in the Infirmary
St. Rita
 San Damiano Cross
Sister Mariella painted this cross and added the pictures of our Mother Superiors at the bottom.


  1. Very interesting...thank you for sharing.

  2. I was a postulant here in 1968-69. There are definitely some changes. The postulants had there own refectory. I remember it well. We slept on the 4th Floor with one roommate. My roommate became Sr. Delores Wisnicky. I recall the Postulant Study on the 3rd Floor and the winding staircase up to the dorm. Some of these photos bring a lot of memories.

    Pat Molitor

  3. Thank you, Sister Carol. I will be passing this on to relatives and friends. I marvel at how you can say so much in one sentence. It is so concise and clear. Thank you for the work you did to put this together.