Praised be Jesus Christ! Now that the Mother Frances Streitel Center is nearly complete, a brief history of how this all came about seems fitting. In a way, it all began in 1844 when Mother Frances Streitel was born in Germany . . . . she came to Marshfield in 1890 and founded Saint Joseph’s Hospital. For the next 127 years it was lovingly staffed by the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother. Sadly, all good things run their course in our world, so as the era of Catholic healthcare in Marshfield was waning, the Sisters hoped some of the beautiful artifacts of faith could remain here. At that same time parishioners had astutely been working to finish the basement of the church. While the main floor had already been poured, another parishioner noticed that the northernmost section of the basement had a lot of untapped potential. It seems that the Holy Spirit took over at that point, as the Sisters’ generous gifts of stained glass windows and statuary suddenly had a home in what will assure future generations that such a proud past will not be forgotten. It seems only right and just to name the chapel in honor of Mother Frances Streitel, as the following words will now explain: Mother Frances Streitel was born in Germany on November 24th in the year of Our Lord 1844. The spiritual journey that ultimately led her to Marshfield is one characterized by trial, suffering, and a deep faith. As you enter this space named in her honor, you are invited to ask for her prayers – she was made “Venerable” by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010 and God willing, someday will be recognized as a saint. Marshfield’s history will forever be connected to this courageous and holy woman because she founded Saint Joseph Hospital here in 1890. One could reasonably argue that no other human being has left a greater legacy for the people of this area than Mother Frances Streitel. As you enter this space, you will experience the spirit of sacrifice and love that characterized her life and the many Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother that served at Saint Joseph’s Hospital in its 127 years of ministry. Here in this entrance stands Saint Gerard Majella – his statue stood for years in the neonatal section of Saint Joseph’s, welcoming babies and comforting mother’s in their sorrow when a little one returned to God all too quickly. Next, in the Saint John Paul II Adoration chapel you’ll see the first of three stained glass windows that once beautified the original chapel of the Sisters (the other two are in the classroom space, just past the Adoration chapel). Also in the chapel, you’ll see restored Communion rails that were once a part of the chapel of the School Sisters of Notre Dame – their convent stood just a stone’s throw to the west of where you are now standing. Those Sisters taught at Saint John’s for many generations and did much to build up the faith in this city. And so, as the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother rightly observed in 2015 during their celebration of 125 years of ministry at Saint Joseph’s Hospital, here we stand on the shoulders of giants. Please take a moment as you visit today to thank God for the many holy women who served God and His people with courage and charity –their service and countless sacrifices continue to animate our faith. And as you thank God for all that He has done through Mother Frances Streitel and her Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother, don’t forget to beg that He send us more workers for His vineyard... for the harvest continues to be great! (These words will appear on a plaque next to the picture of Mother Frances Streitel at the entrance to the basement of Saint John’s church). The basement will be open to the public soon (in a week or two – we’ll let you know). You are welcome to stop by and visit anytime between 7:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. on Saturday. On February 1st we will formally begin 24 hour Eucharistic Adoration in the new Saint John Paul II Adoration Chapel. If you don’t already have an hour, please consider signing up.
May God be praised who has inspired and guided this project from start to finish! And may He abundantly bless all who contributed in any way!
Your friend in Christ, Father Martin