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The hymn that closed the Jubilee Mass of the US Area’s 2015 Assembly reminded Sisters and Associates to be the light of the world to others and to “Go Make a Difference.”


We are the salt in the earth, called to let the people see
The love of God in you and me
We are the light of the world, not to be hidden, but be seen
Go make a difference in the world


camminando 03Congregational Councilor for the US Area Sr. Marilyn, Associate Clara, Congregational Minister Sr. Licia, and Associate Karen gather in the US Area conference room before Mass




camminando 02The Associate KarenThis year Karen Skillman has celebrated 30 years of her First Covenant as an Associate of the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor.

Karen, who retired in 2010 after 21 years’ leading an Intensive Outpatient Program that provided treatment for women battling substance abuse and mental health issues, now volunteers at a food pantry/clothing boutique that serves the poor in the neighborhood called Madisonville in the heart of Cincinnati.

“I thoroughly enjoy this work,” says Karen, who also makes a difference by assisting her 96-year-old stepfather once a week and her adult niece who provides care for Karen’s great nephews and another niece. “I also do service work in the worldwide fellowship of Al-Anon.”

As an official member of Pinecroft House of Peace Community, Karen meets regularly with the Pinecroft Sisters for prayer, discussion, and birthday celebrations, and “walks side by side” on a parallel path with the Sisters and Associates, attempting to live out the SFP mission and charism as best she can.

Karen participates in the Congregation on an Associate level, in the spirit and mission of Mother Frances, so that she can try to live for “God and suffering humanity” and to “heal the wounds of Christ.”

“I am particularly fond of a previous chapter call to become ‘instruments of healing in the community of life,’” Karen says. “I hold close to my heart the welfare of our planet Mother Earth. I attempt, in small ways, to work toward these goals.”  

Karen’s vowed relationship with the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor began in 1985 when she decided to become an Associate (Co-Member at that time), as a way of maintaining a close relationship with the Community.

“I have never regretted this decision,” she says. “I always felt that Mother Frances and the Community were at my side.”

Sources of inspiration and spiritual nourishment for Karen during these past 30 years include the Associate gatherings and programs; the monthly days of prayer at Pinecroft; and the books Living Simply (a compilation of writings by Mother Frances) by Sr. Jeanne Glisky, SFP, and Sr. Anna Theresa Becker, SPSF, The Life of Frances Schervier by Petra Fietzek, and Sacred Lives (a directory of Sister and Associate birthdays, name days and In Memoriams of every member who lived/died as an SFP, SPSF, or Associate).


By Lisa Biedenbach

Publishe: September 11, 2015