An Invitation to Serve

April 27-May 3,2006
An Invitation to Serve
By Claudia Mathis/ SUN staff writer
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
Franciscan Sister Strives to Increase the Numbers of Sisters of St. Francis

Sister Jeanne Frances Karp, OSF, is on a mission to get young and adult women to consider religious life as an option for their future. As vocation minister for the Sisters of St. Francis, Sister Jeanne is dedicated to getting the word out.

Sister Jeanne enjoys the duties of her ministry, which she has worked in for the last four years. She regularly travels to over 20 schools a year, giving presentations to students about St. Francis. “I’m trying to be a presence,” explained Sister Jeanne. “Right from the beginning of my ministry, my goal has been to expose young people to my mission.”

Sister Jeanne is often inspired by how God works in her life. “I see things happen that I thought never would,” she said. “When I see young people who have values consistent with my philosophy and respect for nature and respect for the earth, I am encouraged. When I go into the schools I see the goodness of these kids. “What I enjoy the most about my vocation is giving talks and the opportunity to be creative — it’s wonderful,” she said. “If you talk to any vocation minister in the world, they will say there is no one set thing that vocation ministers do. So, there is a tremendous amount of creativity in how you play out your roll. Every day is different.”

Sister Jeanne attends annual vocation workshops in order to keep up-to-date on new developments. She recently attended a workshop in Washington, D.C., on how to deal with immigrants who are candidates for religious life. “I studied the immigration laws so I could be well informed so that when people approach me I would be aware of what issues need to be dealt with,” said Sister Jeanne.

Sister Jeanne also attends youth rallies all over the country and she regularly works with youth ministers. Another of Sister Jeanne’s duties is chairing vocation team meetings. The team meetings include vocation ministers from the three regions of the Sisters of St. Francis community — Syracuse, Buffalo and Williamsville. “Each one of those teams has a committee,” said Sister Jeanne. “Not only do I oversee the committee that’s in Syracuse, but I also try to get to the committees in each of our other areas.”

Sister Jeanne really enjoys working on the promotional aspect of her position as vocation minister. She is responsible for creating brochures, posters and logos for her ministry. Sister Jeanne’s responsibilities also include representing the Franciscan Order at school career fairs and manning a booth at the New York State Fair.

Sister Jeanne starts her day at 4:30 a.m. with an hour of personal prayer. “The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is go to my prayer space located in my workshop and pray for an hour,” she said. “I take my dog Honey with me.” Then the three other sisters that live with her at the Franciscan Hermitage at Alverna Heights in Fayetteville join her for communal morning prayer. After breakfast, she attends Mass at various churches in the area.

If she is going to her office at the Assisi Center in Syracuse, she leaves directly from Mass. Once there, Sister Jeanne returns phone calls, handles the mail, works on promotional material and sends out newsletters. Sister Jeanne then arrives home to share dinner with her sisters in her community. After dinner, she prays with her fellow sisters in the chapel. “An important part of my life is not just the prayer life, but the depth of sharing with the sisters and how God is such an important factor in our individual lives and also in our lives as a community,” said Sister Jeanne. “I think it’s important to notice when that is happening throughout the course of the day. It’s also very important for us to challenge each other to grow.” Sister Jeanne also finds time to participate in a number of service projects. A nurse practitioner for the last 12 years, Sister Jeanne serves at a free-of-charge health clinic several times a month in Richland, N.Y. “It’s very rewarding,” commented Sister Jeanne. “Being a nurse is who I am.”

Sister Jeanne grew up on a farm in Pennsylvania where she learned carpentry and home repair skills. She used these talents when she recently traveled to New Orleans and annually to Kentucky to help repair homes in those areas.

For more information about becoming a Sister of St. Francis of Syracuse, contact Sister Jeanne Karp at (315) 473-0952.

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