Hello! My name is Sister Ellen Pachmayer. I am a Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity, and our Motherhouse is in Manitowoc WI. I am 75 years old and entered our Community 57 years ago, after graduating from High School in 1963.
I was born in Ironwood, MI, in 1945 to a family of seven children, six girls and one boy. I am the third oldest. My parents, Charles and Helen, raised us in the Catholic Faith and sent us to St. Ambrose Catholic School, where I first encountered Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity.
I do not recall wanting to be a Sister when I was young, but just before my Sophomore year in High School, my friend, Mary Kay, decided to attend the academy of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity in Manitowoc, WI. I was surprised because I didn’t think common, ordinary girls could go to the convent. I thought you had to be “holy”! In my Junior and Senior years of High School I began to attend Our Lady of Perpetual Help devotions at the parish Church, in order to catch the eye of the boy I liked. The devotion prayers were in a little blue book; whenever the book opened to “Religious Vocation, “I said “no, not that!” and quickly prayed the prayer to “Know my Vocation”.
During my Senior year, I vacillated between going to the Convent or not. I spoke to our School Chaplain and he said, “You know, it’s either yes or no.” With that, I felt the Spirit within me say; “And you don’t want it to be ‘no’.” I left the Rectory convinced that God was inviting me to Religious Life. I entered our Franciscan Community in August, 1963.
I received my BA in Biology and Humanities from Silver Lake College, Manitowoc, WI in 1970. I taught grades, 5th through 8th over the course of twenty years in Wisconsin and Arizona. During those years, I began to see the need for counseling in the elementary schools. After conferring with our Community Leadership I attended Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI and received a Master’s in Education with a concentration in Counseling. I graduated in 1981 and became the first Elementary School Christian Counselor in Yuma, AZ. As an Elementary School Christian Counselor, I taught Guidance classes in each grade weekly and individual counseling as needed. These classes consisted of self-esteem, values, conflict resolution, anger management, getting along skills, etc. (Actually, these were all ways to love self and others as Jesus teaches us to do.) I served as an Elementary School Christian Counselor in Arizona, Wisconsin and Hawaii until 2019.
After 53 years in the Education Ministry of our Community, I now, reside in a semi-retirement convent with 33 other Sisters in Manitowoc, WI, continuing to seek the Lord and grow in “holiness” (Still working on it!). I also enjoy quiet prayer time, studying Scripture, reading Historical Fiction, making cards with rubber stamps, and crocheting.