Franciscan Sister Mary Ann Spanjers shares on a recent desert pilgrimage with Novice Sister Clare Rose, Sister Carla Riach and Sister Rosalyn Muraski traveling to former mission sites of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity in our 150 year history.

Having one of our novices, Sister Clare Rose Oswald, with us for a mission experience here at San Xavier we had the joy of sharing the beauty, memories, places and stories of the history of our Sisters here at the Tohono O’odham missions. As we drove into the desert with the temperature at only 37 degrees, one of the coldest winters in memory with heavy snow visible on the mountains, we read from the Historical Issue of Mission, by the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Western Region, Summer 1974, vol. 4, no.3. Sister Agatha wrote, “We three sisters first arrived in Pisinemo in January, 1937. The next day we had a heavy snow fall. We had to dismiss classes to let the children out to enjoy the first snow they had ever seen.”

Our pilgrimage began at Pisinemo, the village has grown so much that Sister Carla had a hard time recognizing once familiar landmarks. The picture of the Sisters Clare Rose, Rosalyn and Carla in front of our former convent and church reveal it continues to be cared for.

From there we stopped at Covered Wells. Fr. Bill Minkel, OFM welcomed us and opened up the lovely chapel with the traditional Christmas crib and saguaro cactus rib ceiling. Fr. Bill serves more than 16 villages. He was quick to invite any of our Sisters to be part of this missionary life.

From there we drove into the painting of being surrounded by breathtaking mountains and desert scenery to the San Solano Mission of St. Catherine in Topawa .

We were delighted to share our bag lunch with Elizabeth a dear friend of Sister Carla, who has been ministering at the mission for more than 30 years.

Our former convent is now being used for meetings and days of reflection by the Franciscan Friars who serve all of these villages with such dedication and faith. We were grateful to share this day together!