IMPERIAL (SNR) – The nine parishes of the Grant Deanery recently welcomed two women religious to the area to work in parish and youth ministry.
Sister Monica Mary DeQuardo and Sister Rochelle Kerkhof of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity from Manitowoc, Wisc., arrived July 25.
Sister Monica Mary is not totally new to the Diocese of Lincoln. She served in the John XXIII Diocesan Center between 2007-2010 as assistant director of religious education under Father Christopher Barak.
“I am extremely happy to be back in this diocese. I know it will be a wonderful experience,” she said. “I appreciate the Catholicity here and the dedication of the priests and all the people who minister within the diocese.”
Sister Monica Mary will assist Father Lothar Gilde in multiple roles of daily parish life at St. Patrick Parish in Imperial.
Sister Rochelle Kerkhof has previously worked in Catholic elementary and high schools as principal and teacher in the Omaha Archdiocese. During those 10 years of service, she participated in youth ministry events such as summer school camps, middle school retreats, Cursillos and TEC weekends.
“I am very excited about the prospect of mentoring youth in this region of Nebraska,” she said. “Catechisis, service opportunities and growth in personal prayer and local parish activities will be my focus within the Grant Deanery, following the direction of the local parish priests.”
Already, the sisters conducted a summer CCD program for youth in Benkelman and Stratton. Father Matthew Eickhoff expressed a positive response to their presence and efforts.
“Speaking with people in Imperial and Benkelman-Stratton, there is an enthusiasm and a curiosity about having the sisters here,” he said. “They have been at parish Masses, making themselves visible, and will be at the Sept. 9 “Catechism Kickoff” event held in Imperial for junior high and high school students, introducing themselves more fully to parents and youth.”
It is Father Eickhoff’s hope that the sisters’ presence will also inspire young women to consider a religious vocation as they see the joy of the female vocation lived out. He said this is the desire for all students: to realize a personal vocational relationship with Christ.
The Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity originated in northeastern Wisconsin in the late 19th century. In 2019, they will celebrate their 150th anniversary. Dedicated to living the Gospel as Saint Francis of Assisi did, the Sisters follow the Franciscan charisms of simplicity, joyful acceptance of poverty, love for the Church and selfless dedication to others.
“Our primary apostolic role is serving in education, healthcare, social outreach and parish ministry,” Sister Rochelle said. “This especially includes rural areas, wherever there is need.”
Sister Natalie Binversie, the community director of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, said that prayers for vocational response will play a part in the sisters’ work in the Grant Deanery.
“We want to be there as long as we have good sisters to serve.” she said. “Let us pray for vocations that eligible women may answer God’s call.”
More information about the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity is available at https://fscc-calledtobe.org.
Contributing: Reagan Scott