The article below titled, "A lifelong connection with the Franciscans – Bishop Callahan and his favorite teacher, Sister Loretta," was featured in the Diocese of La Crosse's March 2016 issue of Catholic Life Magazine. Bishop Callahan, a Chicago native, currently serves the Diocese of La Crosse.
The connection of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis with the Diocese of La Crosse stretches beyond the boundaries of the diocese east to Chicago. It was there in St. Mary of Perpetual Help School in the Bridgeport area of Chicago that Bishop William Patrick Callahan studied as an elementary student with the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis.
One of the teachers Bishop Callahan remembers most fondly is Sister Loretta Ciesielski. She taught third grade and guided him through the sacrament of confirmation.
Sister Loretta had recently entered the order when she was Bishop Callahan's teacher. Her memories of the young boy are ones of a friendly and outgoing young man.
"I had that class when I was 18 turned 19," Sister Loretta says. "I do remember him coming to my desk often in the morning and wanting to talk about everything. He was always very happy."
Another memory that stands out for Sister Loretta of her third-grade class that year was the confirmation of her students. The day of confirmation was a stormy one and very hot, so all the doors and windows in the church were open. During the sacrament, the wind picked up and there was a loud roaring through the church. The presence of the Holy Spirit was felt by all in attendance for confirmation.
Bishop Callahan still has the little red study book he received to prepare for his confirmation catechism. The spiritual foundation he received as a student of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis guided him to his own vows with the Conventional Franciscans of the St. Bonaventure Province in Chicago.
Now celebrating her 60th year in the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis, Sister Loretta's ties to the order go back beyond her childhood, when two of her cousins were among the 46 women who started the order. "My influence by the order is since birth. It's in my blood," says Sister Loretta. "All of my family was taught by Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis."
Catholic Life, Diocese of La Crosse, WI. Copyright 2016, by the Diocese of La Crosse. Used by permission of the Diocese of La Crosse. All rights reserved.