Polish American Congress honors Sisters of St. Joseph for longtime service
The Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis (SSJ-TOSF) were one of seven recipients of the Congressman Clement Zablocki Civic Award in November. Seven sisters were on hand Nov. 6 at the Polish Center of Wisconsin in Franklin for the awards luncheon.
The award recognizes the distinguished service and commitment to build strong ties between the United States and the Republic of Poland. They were nominated by one of their donors, Stan Graiewski.
The sisters said they were both excited and humbled by the award.
Sister Sandy Lasecke, director of the SSJ-TOSF Mission Advancement Office, accepted the honor on behalf of the religious community and said, “The awards luncheon was a genuinely warm moment in which we felt affectionately welcomed, humbled, honored and grateful to be recognized for 115 years of presence among God’s people.”
“If there ever were a moment in my life that I was proud to be a Sister of St. Joseph, it was there among these Polish-Americans. Words can’t express the joy I felt. I can see God worked with the Polish to bring out their gifts. This tells us that we need to continue to work with minorities. That has always been part of our mission,” said Sister Mary Ann Stoltz.
“It was an honor,” said Sister Catherine Kieliszewski. “As I looked at the people in the room, I realized the extent of the Polish influence in our country. I respect what they have done for us, and I enjoyed listening to them tell of the Polish experience.”
Also attending the awards ceremony were Sisters Angelora Grossman, Lucentia Klonecki, Bernadine Lepak and Rose Grabowski.
The Sisters of St. Joseph-TOSF was founded in 1901 in Stevens Point and will celebrate its 115th anniversary of community service. Originally known as the Polish Sisters of St. Joseph, the congregation’s name was changed to the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis in 1945. It was formed as a teaching order for the school-age children of Polish immigrants in Wisconsin and elsewhere.
The order today is engaged in the fields of health care, education, social justice, missionary work, special needs education, parish work, religious education, counseling services, spiritual direction and respite care. It has more than 200 members who work in many states and in Peru.
Over the years, it has operated hospitals and care facilities in Colorado, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska and Wisconsin. Its mission was enhanced by serving in Puerto Rico in 1962, Brazil in 1971, Peru in 1971 and South Africa in 1981. The community continues to grow and administer to those in need.
The Congressman Clement J. Zablocki Civic Award is named for the man who served on Milwaukee’s Congressional District 5 for 35 years. While working tirelessly on behalf of this country’s national security and defense, he also was committed to the freedom of Poland and the well-being of its people. He worked closely with the Polish American Congress.