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Sisters Lucy and Mary Fran cook up a good time

Sisters of Providence Lucy Nolan, left, and Mary Frances Keusal, right, volunteer preparing and serving food for shoppers and helpers at the October rummage sale for Providence Family Services in Chicago.

Sisters of Providence Lucy Nolan, left, and Mary Frances Keusal, right, volunteer preparing and serving food for shoppers and volunteers at the 2012 rummage sale for Providence Family Services in Chicago. You can get in on the action, and some great food, at this year’s sale next weekend.

Looking for some great homemade pulled pork and coleslaw?

Better yet, how about homemade pulled pork painstakingly slow-cooked by two Sisters of Providence?

Look no further than the annual rummage sale to benefit Providence Family Services in Chicago.

For the past five years, Sisters Mary Fran Keusal (formerly Sister Ann Marion) and Lucy Nolan (formerly Sister Mary Lucille) have volunteered feeding volunteers and the shoppers at the annual sale.

The two sisters are retired teachers and parish ministers. Their current volunteer ministry includes offering bereavement support for a local hospice.

Sisters Lucy and Mary Fran said that Sister Patty Fillenwarth, the sale’s coordinator, has the organization of the sale down to a science. But they know many hands are needed to make the sale a success, and they are happy to pitch in.

They start planning and shopping months before the sale, held the first weekend in October. They comb sale ads for good deals on hotdogs and other needed supplies. Chili for the hotdogs is homemade and fresh frozen.

In the Chicago-area? Volunteer at the rummage sale.

Set up Oct. 2-3, 2014 Sale Oct. 4-5, 2014
Located in the basement at Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church 3647 W North Ave, Chicago. Contact Sister Patty Fillenwarth 773-235-8264 or pattyfillenwarth@sbcglobal.net
“Right now we’re looking for pork roast on sale, because that’s what we use to make the pulled pork,” Sister Mary Fran said.

“The recipe is very intricate. It’s from Guy Fieri. It takes us like 10 hours in the oven and you can only do 2 roasts at a time. And we make a special rub and a mopping sauce. The pork roasts are mopped every hour. There’s a lot to it. But they are so good,” Sister Mary Fran says.

“We prepare about 30 pounds of meat. The pulled pork sandwiches are complemented by a great horseradish coleslaw which Sister Lucy takes pride in making.”

Find the recipes here.

After weeks and hours of preparation, on Friday morning the two sisters load up their vehicle from top to bottom and drive the hour and a half trip (the slow way through the city, not the expressway) from their home in Homewood, Illinois, to northwest Chicago, where the Providence Family Services ministry is located.

“The volunteer workers always come out to meet us when we arrive about 10:30 or 11 am. Everybody helps to unload the car and take the food to the kitchen. The workers have been there since early morning setting up for the rummage sale. These volunteers are parishioners, friends, other Sisters of Providence and some associates,” they said.

Tables are decorated with autumn colored tablecloths and fall decorations borrowed from the rummage sale.

“We want everything to look nice. It’s important to us that the people feel very special.”

There’s nothing like 10-hour pulled pork to make you feel special. In addition to the pulled pork sandwiches and coleslaw, the two sisters serve applesauce, baked beans, dessert, and a cold drink to 30 to 50 volunteer workers.

“It’s like a homecoming for us! We see many of these people only once a year and they have become our friends,” Sister Mary Fran said.

Both Sisters agree that most of all they enjoy the camaraderie of being with such wonderful people.

The sisters sleep over and reconnect with the SPs at the Maternity BVM convent that night. And they start back in bright and early the next morning, where Sister Kay Manley joins them in the kitchen. They serve coffee and rolls in the morning and as the day progresses hot dogs, chili dogs, chili, polish sausage and sauerkraut, chips, sweets and drinks are offered for purchase.

“We always try to make it interesting for everyone who comes,” Sister Mary Fran said.

“Some of the people don’t speak English. And we don’t speak Spanish. We smile a lot,” Sister Lucy said.

“It’s an experience of a lifetime. It’s fun. It really is,” Sister Lucy said.

The two believe in the work being done at Providence Family Services, which the sale supports.

“I think that this is a real service to the people in the area who can’t afford to go anywhere else for counseling and classes,” Sister Mary Fran said.

Providence Family Services, a ministry of the Sisters of Providence, offers affordable bi-lingual counseling services, English as a Second Language classes, computer classes, after school homework help, citizenship classes and more.

It takes many, many hands to make the sale happen. And Sister Patty Fillenwarth, the director of Providence Family Services, says Sisters Mary Fran and Lucy’s contribution is wonderful.

“It adds a lot of spirit, and it energizes the workers. It is a big, big job on Friday to sort and get everything set up. And people look forward to their being there. It makes it a little lighter,” Sister Patty says.

How long do Sisters Mary Fran and Lucy plan to continue their yearly cooking adventure?

“As long as the rummage sale continues and we can walk,” Sister Lucy laughs.

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Amy Miranda

Amy Miranda

Amy Miranda is a Providence Associate of the Sisters of Providence and a staff member in their Advancement Services office. Amy is a 1998 graduate of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. She currently manages the SP publication HOPE and works on marketing support for Providence Associates, new membership and Saint Mother Theodore Guerin.

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  1. Avatar Dawn Tomaszewski on September 27, 2014 at 9:36 am

    Could you provide carryout to Terre Haute? Bless you both!!

  2. Avatar Geri Herber on September 27, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    What a joyful pleasure to see familiar Sisters as I read the Providence blogs! It does not too often, but this time I have such wonderful memories of S. Mary Fran & S Patty Fillenwarth from our Juniorate days at St. Mary of the Woods! (1954-1958) Thanks for the Pulled Pork Recipe! Blessings for the Rummage Sale!

  3. Avatar Sandy Schramm on September 29, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    Wishing Sister Mary and Sister Lucy, our wonderful Bereavement volunteers at Horizon Hospice, great times in the kitchen this week as they prepare their specialities! We were blessed the day you walked through our doors.

    • Avatar S. Rita Clare on September 29, 2014 at 1:57 pm

      Lucy and Fran, I’ve heard that you cooked for the rummage sale but never realized it involved 2 days of preparing food for large numbers. Your pulled pork recipe sounds delicious. I can just see you buzzing around shopping and then preparing all this delicious food for the workers and customers. What a great contribution to the wonderful work being done by S. Patty and her staff. This is real community in action!

      S. Rita Clare

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