Things You Say

Things You Say

A few weeks ago, some old friends rolled through town on their way to the Appalachian missions. You can see them in the featured image, left to right: Sister Pat Himmer, Sister Ann Redig, and Sister Marcan Freking—all Rochester Franciscans—accompanied by Glenmary Brother Dennis Craig.

My wife, Cathy, and I had worked with three of them in various ways—and knew of Sister Pat via friends—during our mission years. We remain close to Dennis, who lives not far from us. The sisters are another matter. There are many miles between here to Minnesota.

Many moons ago, Brother Dennis and these sisters, in various locations, taught my wife and me about what it means to work with poor, and how to do it both effectively and with a spirit of joy. We had been friends of Glenmary before that; these sisters were the first Franciscans I met.  I never imagined that I would spend so much time among Franciscans in the following years!

It is said that you never know just how something you do or say might influence someone, even years later. That’s certainly the case with these four. The little things they said, the important works they did, smile after smile—all of these changed me and they changed Cathy in the best of ways.

It makes me pause for a moment. How have I encouraged the people who crossed my path today?

You can read about the sisters’ version of their travels to Kentucky at their Web site. Brother Dennis’s is here. Oh, and my book, Thank You, Sisters, loaded with stories of many people’s—famous and not—wonderful encounters with sisters, is in our catalog.


About the Author

John Feister is editor in chief of St. Anthony Messenger magazine. He has a B.A. in American Studies from University of Dayton, and master's degrees in Humanities and in Theology from Xavier University. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada, and was previously an adviser to the Communications Committee of the U.S. Catholic bishops (2000-2006). His latest book, Thank You, Sisters: Stories of Women Religious and How They Enrich Our Lives is available from the Franciscan Media catalog. He has cauthored four books with Richard Rohr (Franciscan Media), and coauthored, with Charlene Smith, the biography of Thea Bowman (Orbis books).