Meet SSM Associate Karen J

“…it is up to us, in part, to pick up the torch of selfless giving, and to run with it, as Mother Frances did…”
–Karen J, SSM Associate, Tomahawk, WI

Karen lives in Tomahawk, Wisconsin, and her primary ministry as an Associate is to provide grief counseling at a local funeral home for those who have recently lost loved ones. Here is a look into her life as an Associate:

Why did you become an SSM Associate?
I became an Associate after I attended gatherings, along with one of my dearest friends, and found a warm and welcoming community. As a longtime admirer of Sister Mary Alice Fehringer, I was encouraged and inspired by her as I deliberated on whether or not to join. Even though time constraints were an issue, I realized I could do no less than what the SSM Sisters have done in their lifetime. With the prayers and backing of the Sisters and Associates, I joined the cluster, and to this day, am an Associate.
What do you do as part of the SSM Associates Movement?
As an Associate, I volunteer as facilitator for a grief support group provided by Generations Funeral Home as part of their Aftercare. I lead Rosary Prayer Service at funerals and/or wakes, when requested. I am often called upon to talk with people experiencing grief and loss. I am a substitute Eucharistic Minister for our hospital, and on occasion, for the homebound. Presently I am a group facilitator of our Bible Study offered through our church, St. Mary’s.
What is the most rewarding thing about being an SSM Associate?
The most rewarding thing about being an Associate is the feeling of belonging to something greater and more uplifting than anything I have ever encountered. Belonging to a community where the works of noble Sisters have paved a way and laid the foundation for us laypeople is overwhelming. I am humble, yet proud, to carry on this legacy – the love of God for all His people through the sheer hard work and faith of the SSM Sisters – following the path of Mother Frances Streitel.
What would be the main reason you would tell someone else to consider becoming an SSM Associate?
The main reason I would encourage someone to consider becoming an Associate is for them to experience firsthand the value of spiritual friendship and the indescribable feeling of belonging to something so worthwhile only in a way of which we can give of ourselves to our community and to each other. I would also tell them we learn and study the history, the lives lived by the SSM Sisters, and how it is up to us, in part, to pick up the torch of selfless giving, and to run with it, as Mother Frances did, and to compliment it with prayers – lots of contemplative prayers.

SSM Associates are men and women of deep faith who respond to their Baptismal Call to nurture and deepen their spiritual life in affiliation with the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother.

They embrace the values and ministry of the Sisters, commit to the challenge, and encourage each other on their spiritual journey with mutual acceptance and respect.

Associates grow spiritually through Days of Sharing, retreats, and fellowship. They study, reflect, and integrate the Franciscan Spirit in their lives. They build Christian community and further the kingdom of God through shared ministries. They collaborate with others in advocating for those who suffer because of poverty and in fostering a society of justice, peace, and love.
You may meet our Associates in a wide variety of ministries, including: parish ministries such as being a Eucharistic minister, teaching religion classes to youth or participating in parish musicians groups/choir; community ministries such as Meals on Wheels, collecting clothing, food, toys and other items for the needy or visiting nursing homes and the homebound; social justice and advocacy ministries; and volunteering their time and talents in a wide range of other ministries – from grief counseling to spiritual growth activities to collecting supplies and donations for the SSM missions.