Three Sisters recovering from accident grateful for widespread prayer support

The three Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George injured in a June 9 automobile accident are, from left, Sister M. Magdalene, Sister M. Clementia, and Sister M. Michael. (Composite photo from the St. Pius X Parish, Rock Island website)

The Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George have expressed gratitude for an outpouring of prayer for three Rock Island-based members of their community injured in a multi-vehicle accident near Springfield on June 9.

“In God’s mercy and with all our prayers, our Sisters are now on the recovery path,” said Mother M. Mediatrix, FSGM, provincial superior of the community also known as the Alton Franciscans, in a June 11 statement to The Catholic Post.

Injured in the accident were:

  • Sister M. Clementia, FSGM, fourth grade teacher at Jordan Catholic School, Rock Island. After hospitalization in Springfield for a broken left leg as well as broken ribs and vertebrae, she is now at the Motherhouse in Alton and undergoing rehabilitation.
  • Sister M. Magdalene, FSGM, who served in pastoral care at St. Pius X Parish and was to be reassigned within her community. She is also recovering at the Motherhouse after suffering injuries including a broken nose.
  • Sister M. Michael, FSGM, a sophomore theology teacher at Alleman High School, Rock Island. As of The Catholic Post deadline on Tuesday, she remained hospitalized in St. Louis University Hospital following hip reconstruction surgery.

All three Sisters resided at St. Anselm Convent at St. Pius X Parish.

“We continue to pray for their full and complete healing and for anyone else that may have suffered injury in this multi-car accident,” said Mother Mediatrix, adding “we give God our gratitude and love.”

“SO MANY MIRACULOUS THINGS”

According to Sister Clementia, the three were southbound on Interstate 55 on their way to the Alton provincial house for summer assignments. As they neared Springfield, their van was struck from behind by a vehicle whose driver did not realize traffic had slowed to a stop in a construction zone.

“It was very sudden,” said Sister Clementia in a telephone interview with The Catholic Post on Monday. The high-speed impact from behind sent the Sisters’ van crashing into the cars ahead of it.

“Please let people know their prayers are getting us through this.” — Sister M. Clementia, FSGM

“Our van became an accordion,” said Sister Clementia, who called it “miraculous” the three survived.

“We shouldn’t be here,” she said. “So many miraculous things happened.”

Sister Clementia explained that somehow her legs ended up on top of the dashboard. “Had they not, I would have been crushed under the car.”

Incredibly, among the first on the scene were a bishop, a priest and a seminarian — reportedly from Texas but whose names Sister Clementia could not recall — who witnessed the accident a few cars behind.

“I looked at the bishop and at first I’m thinking, ‘Is that a bishop?’” said Sister Clementia. Upon determining they were religious Sisters, “he went right to work on anointing us and praying over us. It was incredible.” The seminarian held her hand.

Rescue workers soon arrived and used the Jaws of Life to free Sister Clementia and Sister Michael, who had been in the back seat. Sister Magdalene was the driver and was able to walk out of the van on her own.

All were taken by separate ambulances to St. John’s Hospital, only eight miles from the crash site.

“So many miraculous thing happened,” said Sister Clementia, noting the accident also happened just a couple of exits away from one of the community’s convents. “I sit here and think, ‘How can you deny the goodness of God?’”

WIDESPREAD PRAYER SUPPORT

News of the accident spread the following day, first to the Alleman community via an email from Father Matthew Hoelscher, chaplain, and then widely through social media. A prayer request posted on The Catholic Post’s Facebook page drew 400 comments and reached nearly 30,000 users. St. Pius X hosted at least two evening prayer vigils.

“That’s gotten us all through it,” said Sister Clementia of the prayer support. “It amazes me. It’s so beautiful.” She draws comfort realizing that as the church hopes for the return of the faithful following a year of pandemic separation, “our injuries, our sufferings are uniting people.”

“Please let people know their prayers are getting us through this,” emphasized Sister Clementia, who has been fitted for front and back body braces she must wear for at least 12 weeks to hopefully prevent future back surgery. “It strengthens me to fight for my recovery, and it shows me there really is beauty in suffering, joy in suffering.

“I never understood that until now.”

Those wishing to send the Sisters a note or a card may do so to the following address: St. Francis Convent, 1 Franciscan Way, P.O. Box 9020, Alton, IL 62002-9020.

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