January 21, 2008

“BRRRRR.” That pretty well sums up in one word our weather the last couple days. It’s almost balmy this morning at only -4 degrees. Saturday and Sunday morning temperatures were -20 degrees. I am grateful that we didn’t have much wind those days.

This year’s Mission Group trip to Nicaragua is in its last few days of service. This is the 9th trip that Sr. Aggie Soenneker was planning on leading, until her unexpected death on December 28, 2007. Others have picked up the ball and carried it. The group works in the parish where Father Teddy Niehaus, OFM, serves in the town of La Estrelia in mountainous northeastern Nicaragua. Five of the trip members are running health clinics concentrating on treating mothers and children who have no access to health care as well as teaching the people about hygiene and food preparation. The others in the group concentrate on renovating a church. God bless and continue to care for these 19 generous people for their 12-days of service to the needy of this Central American area.

Our Red Cross Blood Drive last week was very successful. We collected 302 units of blood in the three-day drive. That’s a lot of blood! God bless all the generous donors.

We had a good turnout for the Soup Supper on a very cold Saturday evening. I don’t know exactly how many guests we had, but it was over 400. My guess is that people who attended the Saturday evening Masses came for bowls of good, hot soup before they went home. Bob Mushel suggested that we give the evening the title: “Sipping Soup with the Sisters.”

Yesterday, we had the “Church Unity Prayer Concert” in our Sacred Heart Chapel. The five Scripture Readings and reflections focused on the human needs of Hunger and Food, Clothing, Affordable Healthcare, Shelter, and Social Justice and all our Daily Needs. The Scripture Readings and reflections were given by Pastor Nate Bjorge, Sister Mary Pat Burger, Chaplain Bea Britz, Father Gerald Dalseth, and Pastor Loren Olson. The combined choirs of area churches lead the music. The Bethel Lutheran Church Hand Bell Choir started the afternoon program. Following the prayer service there was fellowship and a Silent Auction in St. Francis Hall. Free Will Offering baskets were located at the entrances for our gifts. God bless all who worked to make this another successful event.

Afterwards our Organist, Dorothy Koopman, said, “That’s the last time I can play our organ for a couple months.” This is true. Starting today Mass will be in St. Francis Hall until the chapel work is completed. Now the workmen can get on with their work in cleaning and repairing the chapel walls and windows. We wish the workers safety in their job. You wouldn’t find me on that high scaffolding.

Pax et Bonum (Peace and All Good) (the greeting of St. Francis),Sister Mary Lou


January 15, 2008

Retreat is nearly over. And it has been good. How so? To me it was again another reminder that Saint Francis had it right. Francis knew how to love God fully and to be grateful for all the blessings that were part of his life. He prayed a LOT and because of his prayer he understood that God loved him, God’s love is a gift and he was grateful for this gift of God’s love. May I always remember to be grateful for the good stuff in my life—and may I learn from the challenges and be grateful, also. Thank you Father Rusty for inspirational presentations and helpful handouts.

Chapel Restoration work begins. Scaffolding is here and some was set up this afternoon. Mass will be in Chapel this week and then starting next Monday, Mass will be in St. Francis Hall until sometime in March. What will be happening? Some of the list includes cleaning and refinishing the woodwork and ceiling beams, cleaning the stained glass windows and light fixtures, repairing cracks and cleaning the plaster areas, etc., etc., etc.

This coming week is full of activities. As Sister Christelle often says, “We have a Dynamic Center.” And it is true. Tuesday afternoon we have a Prayer Service to honor Martin Luther King.
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday the Bloodmobile will be here. God bless all those generous people who share their very selves by sharing their blood. For some people a transfusion IS a matter of life or death. I speak from experience.

Saturday we have an all-you-can-eat Soup Supper. The soups are Chicken Wild-rice Soup, Vegetable Dumpling Soup and Hearty Vegetable Beef Soup. (I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!) There will also be fresh baked whole wheat and white bread and bars and beverages. Proceeds will benefit the St. Francis Health and Recreation Center and St. Francis Music Center.

Then on Sunday, we will have Church Unity Prayer Service in Chapel followed by Fellowship in St. Francis Hall. Members of a number of Church Choirs will be doing the music. Proceeds from this event will help Oasis-Share-A-Meal—a local group that serves a free meal each Thursday evening.
Let us pray for the sick and hospitalized and those having surgery this week.

Pax et Bonum.
Sister Mary Lou