Friday, June 14, 2013

What is a Motherhouse and What Does It Look Like?

Motherhouse? What is a Motherhouse and where is it? As the school year came to a close on May 23rd, parents, students and parishioners of Our Lady of the Mountains asked what I was doing for the summer. I said I am going to our Motherhouse for our Chapter that happens every six years. The next question usually was -Motherhouse-what is that and where is it? So here is a tour of our Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity's Motherhouse, called Holy Family Convent, located in Manitowoc, Wisconsin about 40 minutes from Green Bay-Home of the Packers!  (Have to get that in :):))
Coming off of  Interstate 43 and onto State Highway 151 you come upon a large building that some have said "looks like a castle".

A Motherhouse is a place that is the home of Sisters and where young women go to become Sisters. Holy Family Convent-our Motherhouse-is our home. Most Sisters come here during the summertime or at least once during the year. This is where we started out as Sisters and some day when we retire will end up here once again.
Coming down our long driveway, you see the four story building that has a basement and a subbasement. So you not only have lots of steps to climb inside the building but also on the outside just to get in.

Imagine shoveling all these steps during a snowstorm!

As a child we would come to visit my cousin, Sr. Judy Simons, on "Visiting Sunday" and I was in awe of all these steps. It was fun to make it to the top and even sometimes to slide down on the banisters.
At the top we have a beautiful bronze statue of St.Francis,since we follow the Franciscan Rule.
As you come down the front drive of our Motherhouse you come upon one of our grottoes-Our Lady of Lourdes.
 The empty space is where the Christmas Nativity Set goes. After Midnight Mass Baby Jesus is laid in the creche amidst the snow. As a novice ( new at being a Sister and learning how to be one), I had the privilege of placing Baby Jesus in the creche here because He and I share the same birthday.

Sr. Mary, a retired college History professor, is taking advantage of the beautiful Wis. day and went out for a walk and took time to pray by the grotto. 

We have beautiful green grounds at our Motherhouse. We are very blessed! As you can see the flowers and trees are part of our beautiful landscape out in the country on Silver Lake.

Overlooking our tennis & volleyball courts. As a novice we played volleyball every day during the summer time. July 4th was the tournament between Novices & Temporary Professed Sisters (took vows for 1 year at a time) and the Senior Sisters (those who have taken vows for life!).

Gazebo-a place to have picnics, where friends can get together, quiet place to pray or a place to escape all the mosquitoes in Wisconsin! 

Outdoor Stations designed by one of our Sisters.

Now you follow the driveway to the back of our Motherhouse and you will see on the left our infirmary for our elderly Sisters who need medical care and also on the 2nd floor is St. Mary's Chapel, where we have daily Mass and gather in the morning and evening for prayer and many other occasions.
You also see Sacred Heart Grotto.

And the "South Porch" a great gathering/meeting spot for Sisters going to eat together in our cafeteria located in the basement or a place just to sit and talk. 
Our Sisters love to garden-vegetables and flowers.

This is also known as "the Wailing Wall". Some of us entered quite young, during our high school years or right after graduation. When one got homesick you could lean on this wall and cry and all understood why. This wall has a history in our community.

Small area but packed with lots of garden produce. A regular
Farmers' Market right here.
We also have three cemeteries since we were founded in the late 1800's. This is our oldest cemetery as you can tell by the crosses. The cross has a Sister's name on each side so Sisters share a tombstone-very Franciscan.

 Our next cemetery is at the top of the hill,overlooking our Motherhouse.

Our current cemetery is right above this one.

This is a memorial to our Sisters who are buried in  another state. They died while working a distance away from our Motherhouse since we have Sisters in states such as Hawaii, Arizona, Michigan, Ohio, Nebraska. In the early years, it was too expensive to bring the body back to our Motherhouse. This monument designed by our own Sister Mariella, lists the names of these Sisters, date of death and where they are laid to rest. They are never forgotten.

If you still have questions about our Motherhouse please post them in the Comment Section and they will be answered. Thank you for going on our tour today.


  1. This is a great posting, Sr. Carol. I'm sharing it on my Facebook page so my friends can "participate" in the tour.

  2. Thank you all for devoting your lives to Christ and his Church! God Bless!