Hospital Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis

Sister Janelle Athorp, OSF

Many years ago something and someone changed my life. The something was statistics that analyzed an individual’s activities during a 70 year lifetime: 22 years sleeping, 14 years working, 10 years education, 7 years amusement, 5 years eating, 4 years talking, 4 years traveling, 3 years reading, and 1 year miscellaneous. The someone was a Sister who shared with children how she offered prayers and work for the glory of God, holiness for herself, and the salvation of souls.

During my senior year at Stout State College, Menomonie, Wisconsin, my classmates began choosing their jobs. I felt that my life should be given to God’s service, and so I set about to determine which religious community was most suited to my abilities and interests. Since I was a dietetics major, I chose a hospital community. My friends, not thinking it a good idea, introduced me to boys, and in return, I introduced them to some of the Sisters. My family, too, was puzzled when I told them of my decision. I found out many girls are met with opposition before entering the convent. It must be one of God’s ways to strengthen our determination. 

So in June 1959, I visited St. Francis Convent in Springfield, Illinois to make certain that this was where God wanted me. Sister Rosetta Katherine Schmidt, with whom I had worked for several summers at St. Nicholas Hospital, Sheboygan, Wisconsin, was celebrating her jubilee at the Motherhouse, and they made plans for the trip back to Wisconsin. But on the jubilee day, she was transferred to another hospital, and I went back to Wisconsin alone. After that visit, I knew I was entering this religious community for Christ and no one else. 

We bought my trunk and filled it with shoes, books, my flute, and other useful articles. I often visited the hospital chapel to ask God for courage to make this move. There were the last dress-up affairs, and trips, and picnics, and then I found myself in a black dress and veil, and a new schedule of activities. 

In a brochure published in 1962 when I was a novice, I wrote: “I want to give my lifetime to Him as my note of appreciation for all of His generous gifts of love to us; I want to love Him and help others to know and love Him. No, I’m not saving for a trip to Europe anymore, but I’m planning one to heaven instead – and I’m taking care of the expenses ahead of time.”

I have served our Community in Food Service in several HSHS hospitals, served a term as religious leader for our Loretto Home Sisters, and volunteered at St. John’s Hospital, Springfield, IL. Knowing God is never outdone in His generosity, God granted me opportunities with our Sisters in Japan and Germany to assist them in speaking English. Presently, I serve as the Assistant Community Life Leader for the St. Francis Convent Community and the Loretto Home Community.