Wisconsin Community's Service Trip: Okolona, Mississippi


Left: Associate Colleen Fraaza works in the resale shop. Center: Associate in-formation Chuck Pankratz works on a building project. Right: Sister Carol Jean Peterson prices clothing in the resale shop.

by Kathy Saari, CSJA

April 2 started a ten-day adventure for some of the Wisconsin Community of St. Joseph sisters and associates. What followed was a week filled with work, learning, fellowship and community.

We traveled to Excel Commons in Okolona, Mississippi, where Sister Liz Brown is the executive director. The “hub” of Okolona, Excel is a community service center that furthers education, promotes community building, encourages community services and fosters healthy lives.

The members of the Wisconsin Community that went on the service trip were Sisters Judy Miller, Shawn Madigan and Carol Jean Peterson, Associates Colleen Fraaza and Kathy Saari and associate in-formation Chuck Pankratz. Our group pitched in to help with a variety of jobs. These included: staining and sealing a deck, unpacking and pricing the donated items that were brought with us, helping with the sewing program’s projects, cleaning the park, re-framing a shed and painting.

The days were filled with work, conversation and a lot of laughs. We were grateful for the opportunity to learn about Okolona and the Excel programs. We were also thankful for the good weather and green trees, buds and some blooming flowers, the hospitality of the motherhouse staff and residents during our travel stopovers, good company and safe travels. But most of all, we appreciated the opportunity to meet and work with Sisters Liz Brown, Nancy Schreck, Jean Meyer, and Therese (here from the CSJ community in Sydney, Australia), many of the wonderful citizens of Okolona and the many volunteers and employees of Excel Commons. We are grateful for their hospitality (and showing us where to get those delicious sweet potatoes).

For more information on the wonderful programs at Excel Commons, please go to their website.  


From bottom left to right:  S. Therese (CSJ from Sydney, Australia), S. Liz Brown, S. Judy Miller, A. Kathy Saari, Chuck Pankratz, S. Jean Meyer, S. Carol Jean Peterson, S. Nancy Schreck and A. Colleen Fraaza. 

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