Sisters of St. Joseph of CarondeletMay 20, 2018

Sisters' Stories

Sister Martha Wachtel's Immigration Story


Three of my grandparents were immigrants. The fourth, John Wachtel, was a second-generation American-German. He married Anna Mulligan from West Meth, County Cork, Ireland.

Peter Vande Kerckhove met Martha Baertsen while working at the port in Brussels, Belgium. Peter told Martha that he was going to America. When he could make a living for her, he would send for her. They left three blood-sisters who were women religious: two Poor Clare Cloistered Nuns and one Hospitaler Sister in Belgium. The Wachtel and Vande Kerckhove families were very true to their Catholicism. They traveled to Mass by horse and wagon.

I corresponded in French with one of the cloistered Sisters. I credit their prayers for my vocation. After telling my Grandfather Peter that I was entering the Sisters of St. Joseph, he told me, "Go and be a good one." From this background of mixed cultures sharing one faith, God handed me the “new” tradition to live as Sister Martha Anna Wachtel, CSJ!