25 Years- A Holocaust of Love

Sr. Katherine at her First Profession of Vows
 in 1990
 25 years ago on this day, the feast of St. Clare, our own "St. Clare" and one of our foundresses, Sr. Katherine Caldwell, gave over her life by pronouncing her first vows to the Lord and this community. We want to give the Lord due honor and thanks on this silver jubilee of her first "yes" for her and the gift of her faithfulness these past 25 years!

I knew her well over 25 years ago when as fellow Californians we had a common interest in following the example of St. Francis in our lives. I was studying at Franciscan University of Steubenville, from which she had just graduated, and I still remember how warm and welcoming she was as she invited me to learn more about the Secular Franciscan Student Fraternity that existed on campus, of which she was a member. Her passion and zeal to follow Christ by the radical witness of St. Francis inspired me to want to join the Secular Franciscan Fraternity and to make a deeper commitment to embrace the spirituality of St. Francis in my own life.

Like St. Francis, who stripped himself of his fine clothing before the Bishop, proclaimed God as his Father and embraced the lifestyle of a poor beggar, Katherine (Katy) Caldwell also chose to be poor in the world’s eyes, to forsake worldly prestige and the honor of titles and graduate degrees, in order to let Christ be her wealth, her value and reward. She was led by the Spirit of God, though it seemed foolish to some, to help found a new religious community that would live a hidden life of prayer, sacrifice, and humble service.

Sr. Katherine with her parents and sister
after her profession ceremony in 1990
Though she owned nothing, and felt small and ill-equipped for the task, she trusted God and stepped out of her comfort zone and with great faith and humility, helped to found the Franciscan Sisters, Third Order Regular of Penance of the Sorrowful Mother. During that founding year of 1988, I witnessed the great courage of Sr. Katherine and our community’s founding members who impelled me to want to learn more about the community and their charisms of crucified love, mercy, poverty and contemplation. Sr. Katherine generously paved the way for the rest of us who joined later, laying down her life for the sake of the Gospel by embracing the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Empty handed, she offered her ‘all’ to God, to do with as He wished, just like the boy in the Gospel who offered the disciples of Jesus two fish, together with five loaves, to be miraculously multiplied.

From the earliest years until today, Sr. Katherine has always been deeply serious about the pursuit of holiness, while also fun-loving and joyful, willing to do the humblest of tasks, as well as join in the fun and recreation with all the Sisters who have needed relief and balance amidst the intensity of founding a new religious order. She has been a tender sister and a wise reverend Mother for 10 years. I have often experienced her deep wisdom and gained from watching her bear labor pains no less than a mother bears for her child. These pains are, I believe, a true badge of courage.

Sr. Katherine renewing her vows
this past August 1st at a Mass at our
Ever loyal in saying ‘yes’ to God’s will for the past 25 years, Sr. Katherine continues to be an example of passionate zeal for the Kingdom of God. In the name of all of your Sisters, I thank you, dear Sr. Katherine, for your friendship, spiritual motherhood, and constant example of undying courage and zeal.

We love you!
Sr. Mary Rose Bratlien, TOR and all your TOR Sisters

Sr. Katherine is currently on sabbatical after serving in leadership in our community for 21 years (11 of these years were as Reverend Mother). She was part of the founding of our community in 1988. She developed our formation program and served in formation for 12 years. She was the main author of our Constitutions and Statutes and also spearheaded the designing of our chapel, Father of Mercy. She has two graduate degrees and is currently working on a third in counseling that will assist her in serving the poor in downtown Steubenville. This is only a few of many accomplishments.

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1 comment:

  1. Beautiful tribute for a beautiful life. Awesome example of living with Him first and surrender. God Bless!


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