Steven Wiley
Mar 26, 2018
William Waters Plaza & Neighborhood Objectives . . . Greeter: David Hayford
Dr. Laurie Muller
Apr 02, 2018
HPV Vaccinations . . . . Greeter: Jolene Heuchert
Apr 09, 2018
Behind the Scenes at Menominee Nation Arena.......Greeter: Gordon Hintz
Apr 16, 2018
Rick Hammes & David Peppler
Apr 23, 2018
Bridging Connections - Family Advocacy & Consultation

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Club Information


100 Years of Service from March 1, 1917

We meet Mondays at 12:00 PM
Oshkosh Premier Waterfront Hotel
1 N. Main Street
P. O. Box 785 (Club Mailing Address)
Oshkosh, WI  54903-0785
United States
District Site
Venue Map
Oshkosh Rotary Club News
David Hayford will greet members and guests, give a reflection and lead the Pledge of Allegiance.
Steven Wiley will present a program on William Waters Plaza and Neighborhood Objectives.
President John Fuller introduced Sister Sylvia Egan, former Mother Superior of the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother, who provided a history of the founding of that order along with its participation in opening hospitals throughout the Midwest, including Mercy Medical Center.  Sister Egan is a native of Omro.
Sister Sylvia Egan
Here is the text of Sister Sylvia's presentation:
I want to thank you for inviting me to share some history of our international religious Congregation  The Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother. 
Our title, “Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother,” had great significances to our foundress. From her home In Germany she learned a devotion to Mary, Mother of Jesus. Knowing that her sisters would be offering their lives to service the suffering and poor what more fitting  model to follow than Mary at the Foot of the Cross.  
Serving Jesus In the less fortunate especially as nurses, we stood at the bedside of many people holding their hands, putting wet  clothes on foreheads and supporting them In prayer. The same held true for the sisters serving in education. Walking with the children and devoting their efforts  to preparing them for the ups and down of life was a great service.  “to heal as Jesus healed and to teach as Jesus taught” expresses this call.  Today the suffering in the world beacons our sisters to work with the poor in various ministries to bring the love of Jesus to them. 
My family living south of Omro on a dairy farm found much comfort over the years as family members were admitted to the sister’s hospital....
There is a long history to share regarding the sisters and how they came to Oshkosh, Wisconsin in 1891.
A young woman born in Mallrichstadt, Germany, in 1844 was baptized Amalia Frances Rose Streitel.   Her family raised her with strong Catholic principles and from the example of her mother she shared concern for the poor, the sick, and the needy,  Amalia was well educated. She studied French and music with the Franciscan sisters at Maria Stern.
At age seventeen she felt called to religious life.  Her parents strongly opposed the decision. They desired her to marry.  Finally her parents gave their consent and she entered the Franciscan  Maria Stern Convent in 1866. She was asked to teach French and music even though she would have liked to care for the sick.
How strange God works in our lives is shown through Amalia’s path to founding the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother. Amalia wishing to follow a more austere poverty of St Francis of Assisi and deepen her spiritual life. She felt called to leave Maria Stern Convent and transferred to the Carmelite convent in Himmeispforten in Wurzburg. This occurred in 1882.
What was it about her call to follow the simplicity and poverty of the Franciscans? St. Francis was able to see God  in his  creation-everything drew Francis  to love, service and protect what the hand of God put before him.  This love of God called Francis to Live the Gospel as Jesus did.  It is difficult for me to think that most people only know St. Francis standing in the garden in a bird bath. He was a man of deep faith, peace, joy, radiating the love of God.
Amalia, after some time with the cloistered nuns  learning how to deepen her spiritual life,  still felt  a  long in  her heart to combine both approaches to serving the poor.
Through the experience of the active life with the Franciscans and cloistered life with the Carmelites, Amelia ,  experienced another call to unite the active and contemplative life in order to serve the poor. 
In the history of religious life, women religious In the early days were not allowed to leave the protection of the cloister.  But beginning of nineteenth century it  became common for religious women to establish convents where the sisters  left the cloisters and  began active service on the streets and In institutions  to serve the poor.
With the assistance of Fr. Gordon, a German priest who lived In Rome  she was  invited to  work with him to establish a female branch of his new foundation.  Trusting in God’s divine providence on February 16,1883 Amalia arrived in Rome not knowing  where  this would lead her. For two years Sr Mary Frances (the religious name she took) and Fr. Gordon sought to work together but unable to  solve difficulties and misunderstandings on how to develop the new institute, she separated her small  group of young women  from his.(Society of Divine Savior –Salvadorians)- institute.
Now 1883   Mother Frances became the foundress and first superior of what would be titled Congregation of the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother. Theircharitable work in Rome  was  sheltering orphans and homecare to the sick.  New members were coming and their work with the poor required money. So sisters were sent to beg funds in Germany, Austria, France, and Poland.
She sent two sisters to beg In the United States arriving in New York in 1888. Since many organizations were asking to beg-funds along the Eastern Seaboard, they really were not welcome by the Bishops.  The sisters  were assisted with a priest who knew many Bishops in the Midwest and  was able to get permission for the sisters to beg In their dioceses. Some places were Detroit, Cincinnati, Chicago. and Milwaukee and St. Louis.
During their stay in St. Louis they were informed that Bishop John Joseph Hennessy of Wichita, Ks was looking for sisters for his hospital. The sisters arrived In Wichita, Ks to beg and the Bishop was welcoming. After discussions the sisters notified Rome by cablegram and received permission to begin the charitable ministry.
The first mission in the U.S. was St. Francis Hospital in Wichita, KS. starting in Nov.  1889.
 The bishop asked the SSM’s to take over the hospital. I have a difficult time. think of these five German sisters who came from Rome to take over the hospital…they knew little English and certainly limited nursing care.  
 God provided as there were several small rural farming communities outside of Wichita who were mostly German speaking.  The Bishop gave the sisters a horse and buggy an they drove to the  farms to beg for food etc. The Bishop even gave the sisters two milking cows and a calf.  They had no money to by milk.
 These sisters had to put their trust   in God  in order “pull this off” in such an environment . The city of Wichita had a so called “boom” and grew to a population of 24,000. Years of drought saw many people leave for Kansas to avail themselves of the opening  of the new territory of Oklahoma.   It is said that cabbage grew in the streets of Wichita. The dust bowel times were just as challenging. It became so desperate that Mother Francis wrote a telegram “Sell and Settle Wichita.”.But after some time a famous Dr. Andrew Fabrique became the chief of staff and things began to flourish.
The Bishop asked the sisters to open schools and orphanage in the German-speaking parishes outside Wichita,
Mother Frances arrived in the U.S.  in 1890 to oversee the  rapidly expansion of the ministries.
Word of the arrival of the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother in KS, made its way to Marshfield WI. In 1890.
So the SSM’s arrived in Wisconsin in 1890 with the establishment of St. Joseph  Hospital, Marshfield. Lack of funds was an ongoing problem in these early days. The story is told that  at one hospital the sisters were called to chapel to pray that God would help them. Tomorrow was Friday and they did not have the money to pay the builders.    St. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus was a carpenter, so you can be sure it was to St. Joseph they prayed.  The older sisters say  the superior threatened to turn his statue to wall if the money did not arrive.  Well,  early Friday an elderly man came to the door and asked for the Superior.  He said he had some money and if the sisters would take care of him for the rest of his life, he would give them the money.  I think they said it was $400.00.
Rapid opening of  four hospital included St. Mary’s Hospital in Oshkosh  in 1891, St. Mary’s Hospital, Rhinelander, WI and Sacred Heart Hospital in Tomahawk in 1893. In order to have funds to build a hospital In Tomahawk the sisters decided to take up a collection.  The foreman of the surrounding lumberjack camps assisted in selling tickets for  a few dollars.  (I think $500)  It is my understanding that these ticket would allow the men if they were injured or sick could go to the hospital for care.  Sounds like  prepaid health insurance to me. LEAVE IT TO THE NUNS.
How did St Mary’s Hospital start here in Oshkosh ?   I’d like to recall some   facts about the sister’s development of health care here.
In 1891 Father  Roman Scholter, pastor of St. Mary’s parish In Oshkosh heard about the  care the sister were giving in Marshfield.  He went to verify the information and to see if the sisters would come to start a hospital in Oshkosh.
Oshkosh at  this time had about 17,000 people, the third largest city in the State of Wisconsin. Mother Frances happened to be in Marshfield so he met with her.
The request for a  fourth hospital In two years  took Mother’s breath away.  Having no money, the interest on the loan in Marshfield looming overhead it appeared impossible, but Father Scholter speaking of the need for church-affiliated institutions to assist  immigrants won the day.
There were four lots opposite St. Mary’s School and Church on the corner of Merritt and Boyd streets on which stood an old two-story building formerly a store and saloon  (Koebbler ) which could be purchased.  The sisters paid $6,074.71 for the land and buildings.
 A hot air furnace, a water system and bathrooms were installed.  Father donated $600 dollars to start the project.  The sisters paid for furniture at $2,980 dollars with money from loans and collections.  The hospital could house 15 patients. The first patient to be admitted to the hospital was a person with tuberculosis.
The Oshkosh Daily Northwestern  covered every step of this development.  Beginning February 23,1891.
If Mother Frances wanted her sisters to know poverty  and they surely had opportunities as these four hospitals  developed.  Many hours of prayer to God for help also accompanied these endearers.
Two sisters shared  their  arrival in Oshkosh as they came Marshfield:
            “We arrived toward evening and found an empty house.  We had no bed, no table, no chair, no dishes except three yellow crocks and one spoon for each, which we had brought along.  Built onto the house was an old shed, and behind it was the woodshed.  It was in the little shed that we ate, sitting on boxes, for about a week.  A couple of blankets we had brought along with us and with these we slept on the floor.  Mother Frances was with us.”   ( Sisters Alphonsa and Scholastica)
As hard as the sisters worked to make their services available to the citizens they were slow to come. People were cared for In their homes.  The sisters began to care for the sick In private homes which included housework, cooking cleaning etc.
So again the sisters asked permission from Bishop Sebastian Messmer in 1892 of the Green Bay Diocese to collect funds. The recollection of some sisters from those early years noted that several doctors had their own hospitals. Dr. Gudden, and  Oviatt were two of these. In 1903 Dr. Corbett secured a small building for his hospital it was called Lakeside Sanatorium.
In time the sister’s hospital became too small and the Architect firm of Steven of Oshkosh was engaged to plan a new hospital. The new 1894 building cost $24,355.
Quoting the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern dated June 22, 1895:
“St. Mary’s Hospital- A Model Institution:
To minister to the needs of humanity as a physician does, is one  of the most sacred of human occupations, and at the doctor’s right hand stands the hospital worker.  Oshkosh is more fortunate than many cities of it size in its possession of expert hospitals. Prominent among them is St. Mary’s for which spacious and  new, elegant building has just been erected on Merritt Street.”
Dr. Charles Oviatt ,a surgeon and medical doctor became  a member of the St. Mary’s Hospital staff in 1894.  He brought prestige to the hospital and attracted other physicians.  He was a personal friend of the Mayo brother, William and Charle Mayo. Dr. Oviatt attracted patients from outside of Wisconsin.
In 1903 a second building project was begun for the estimated cost of $56.000 for 85 beds.  Dr. Oviatt took a couple sisters to Chicago to look at  what an up-to-date hospital would need.  He took them to the Palmer House and handed them a $100  bill and told them to go out and buy anything they wanted,
When they came back and reported they bought a statue of St. Joseph for the operating rooms.  Doctor said you cannot have it there, it was not sanitary.. Sr said  we will cover it with several coats of vanish so we can wash it with antiseptic.  
In 1912, Dr. Corbett, who had practiced for several years at St. Mary’s . selected a picturesque view of Lake Winnebago to build  his 45 patient  new hospital Lakeside  Hospital at a cost of $150,000.  Many doctors became stockholders and left St. Mary’s Hospital directing their patients to the Lakeside Hospital.  In the same year Dr. Oviatt died. Times were difficult.  
In the fall of 1918 the flu epidemic spread so rapidly that the two hospitals could not accommodate the patients. The city authorized changing a saloon outside the city limits into an emergency hospital and asked the sisters to be in charge.  I was a nurse at Mercy when the polio epidemic arrived. We did not know how it spread We had iron lungs, developed rehab department to cope with paralysis of the illness.
Some people called St. Mary’s a “sinking ship.” Again , the  Lord provided.. In 1917 Dr. Corbett with other doctors began negotiations with Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother  to take over the Lakeside Hospital. The sisters manifested disinterestedness but finally with the urging of Bishop Paul Rhodes of Green Bay and priests, the sisters bought the hospital. 
In spring of 1918 the sisters assumed the administration of the Lakeside Hospital the name of which, at the suggestion of Bishop Rhode, was changed to Mercy Hospital. A school of nursing was open at the Lakeside Hospital so the sisters continued to operate it.
Slowly the patient departments of St. Mary’s were transferred to Mercy. In 1934 the last patients in obstetrics   were transferred.  With a great deal of remolding St. Mary’s became St. Mary’s Home for the Aged.
Our Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother   charitable services continued to  grow in the United States with hospitals in Danville, New Jersey, and Tulsa, Oklahoma. and Roswell, Mew Mex.  and Iowa, and Minnesota.
Being an international Congregation the sisters also serve  in Italy (Our International Headquarters is in Rome) Austria , Brazil, the Caribbean Islands of Grenada, St. Lucia, Trinidad, and the Dominican Republic.   Our latest mission work began in Tanzania in 2008.  
Today many of our sisters are active In social work ministries. Addiction programs, resettlement of immigrants programs, care of the earth projects, trafficking among others.
As sisters of the Sorrowful Mother we are grateful that God, through Mother Frances Streitel’s guidance, have been able to carry out these charitable services.
Building a community or team with the lay people has made it possible to spread the love of God where we serve. We thank all of you who are a part of our ministries.  
Our Mission statement reads:
The Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother participate In the mission of Jesus to bring fuller life to others by revealing the love of God for all, especially the poor.
I’d like to close  with an inspirational verse  from  St.  Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who in India made miracles happen beginning  her work as recently as 1948.     
God still calls all of us to  be his hands here on earth.
The fruit of silence is prayer,
The fruit of prayer is faith
The fruit of faith is love,
The fruit of love is service,
The fruit of service is peace. 
Thank you.
Sister Mary Sylvia Egan
March 12, 2018
Rotary Stories
Soy Cow Operation Going Strong

This project is the result of a unique partnership led by Southwest Oshkosh Rotary and supported by the Oshkosh
Rotary Club and the LaMolina Vieja Rotary Club in Lima Peru.  This joint project has become a model of international cooperation and effective project management in Peru and is one of the few soy cow projects that have persisted beyond the initial phase.

This operation also produces a by-product of undiscovered fiber called "okara" which is utilized as an ingredient in the production of bread by a government supported bakery.  The protein rich bread is distributed th the needy along with the soymilk.  As a result there is no waste product and the full nutritional value of the soybeans reaches those in need.

Management of the project is very "hands-on" under the leadership of Rotarian Bill Thimke who along with other Rotarians visits Peru several times a year to check on the "cows".   Bill was trained by the cows' manufacturer to assemble and repair the machines and thus often brings new parts and services the cows on these visits.

In 2010 La Molina completed construction of a new building to house both the current machine and a new and much larger ASC50 machine which doubled the production capability and increased production capacity to over 4,000 servings a day.   The $21,000 machine was funded by the two Oshkosh Rotary Clubs.  La Molina has also purchased a new delivery vehicle and has taken over the funding of the beans and other supplies.

A cow installed in 2007 in Ate, Peru continues operation under the Oshkosh Rotary Club sponsorship.  Also in 2010 a new soy cow was installed in the northern Peruvian city of Piata and Rimac in cooperation with the local Rotary Clubs. 
Members work to make our Oshkosh community a better place

to live. In the past years our club has supported the following local projects and programs:

  • EAA housing program to provide housing for visiting Rotarians and their guests during EAA's AirVenture;
  • Staff the Shared Harvest booth, a local Rotary program to obtain farmers' donations of Farm Market excess produce for the Oshkosh Area Community Pantry;
  • Joined with students from our PALS school, South Park Middle School, in a Spring Cleanup of South Park;    
  • Worked concessions, parking lots and entrances at Waterfest;
  • Worked at the "Red Kettle" campaign at holiday time to raise funds for the Salvation Army
  • Conducted an essay contest for students at South Park Middle School, our PALS (Partners at Learning) school, on the applicability of the Rotary Four-Way Test of ethical behavior, with a top prize of $100;  
  • Souper Bowl- collection of canned soups and cash for the Oshkosh Area Community Food Pantry during Super Bowl time 
  • Supported the Oshkosh Area United Way annual campaign and campaign kickoff event.
  • Contributed funds to the Day by Day warming shelter
  • Tubes for Teeth: a toothpaste drive for the Oshkosh area schools Hygiene Fair.  Collected over 500 tubes of toothpaste
  • Donated funds to pay for new Oshkosh Farmers Market signage
  • One program every month is designated to showcase an Oshkosh business
  • Hosted a Murder Mystery dinner on Valentine's Day as a fund raiser for local community projects

What does it mean to be a Rotary member??    This short video says it well - take a look!



Oshkosh Rotary Officers & Directors
President Elect
Sergeant at Arms
Immediate Past President
Vocational Service