February 27, 2008

Now is the hour and this is the day! Today at 2 p.m. Tomas Ochoa will be part of the Naturalization Ceremony in St. Paul, MN, for persons becoming citizens of the United States of America. It is indeed a happy day for him. Tomas has been in the States for 19 years. He has faithfully worked for the Franciscan Sisters these many years. He has been studying with Sister Cleone and other Sisters during this time to learn English and learn the materials necessary to pass

his test to become a citizen. He passed his test in January. Now is the time to celebrate his accomplishment with him. Several of our Sisters will be there to witness his achievement. Congratulationis, Tomas. We are proud of you.

Last Sunday we celebrated the 90th birthday of Sister Marie Theis. On March 13th we will celebrate Sister Virginia Dingman’s 90th. Those Sisters who have celebrated 90+ years have seen a LOT of changes during those years. God bless you for helping us with the events of this changing time.

Pax et Bonum.
Sister Mary Lou


February 25, 2008

Peace and blessings on your day.

A beautiful winter day today. I do like the warming weather. It’s hard to figure out how it can be minus 20 degrees and then five days later it’s 35 degrees above zero. Spring is coming!

Last Tuesday evening I attended the Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours event at Camp Ripley. It was an opportunity to visit with members of the Norwegian Home Guard. This was the 35th annual Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange. While in Minnesota, the approximately 115 Norwegian Home Guard members participated in field training exercises focusing their training on civil disturbance and reacting to threats as well as learning from the experiences of Minnesota soldiers who have been to Iraq. At the same time as the Home Guard troops were in Minnesota, there was a group of the Minnesota National Guards soldiers and airmen in Norway. Yesterday was the farewell dinner for the Norwegians and today they are heading back to Norway. Tomorrow our National Guard service people will be returning to Minnesota.

While at Camp Ripley we had a meal of delicious foods from Norway. We had shrimp prepared in two ways, herring in mustard sauce, herring in a tomato sauce, and just plain herring. All were delicious.

We had reindeer in a white sauce. (No it wasn’t Rudolph!) Also served were two kinds of salmon, smoked lamb, and several kinds of breads, other foods and of course lefsa. They also brought Norwegian beer—17 oz cans! We visited with a young woman soldier who answered many of our questions.

The Associate Office sponsored a Lenten Day of Prayer on Saturday. Our Sister Elise Saggua was the speaker. For the first time, I really understood how the Penetents fit into our Franciscan history. I am glad I could participate in the day.

Recently, I took a quick look at the work being done on the walls in our Chapel. The rafters, windows and lights have been dusted and shined up. Some of the scaffolding has come down. It is looking good.

In the body of my text please add: I hope you had opporturnity to observe the Eclipse of the Moon the other night. The cold, clear night made for good viewing. Such a marvel of nature. I watched from the back door until the moon was covered with the earth’s shadow.

Pax et Bonum.
Sister Mary Lou

PS: May your "Leap Day" on the 29th be special. Do something extraordinary to celebrate this extra day in February.


February 15, 2008

Greetings and peace.
It’s been a while since I wrote anything. Here I am again. We’ve had another cold stretch of weather. Last Sunday’s -20 temps and strong winds brought many things to a screeching halt. Sunday felt like a "snow day" when I was teaching. It was an unexpected free-day. We went to 8:30 Mass at the Motherhouse, had brunch, came home and stayed here the rest of the day—warm and safe. There were three things I could have done…but I didn’t get to any of them. Yesterday’s three inches of new snow didn’t cause any disruptions that I am aware of.

February is "I Love To Read Month." A number of us from the Motherhouse accepted the invitation to read to elementary school children in the local schools. I read to Mrs. Hanson’s First Graders at Lindbergh School. It was a delightful time for me. Of course I read a mouse book— "Country Mouse, City Mouse." I brought a bunch of mice from my mouse collection. While I read the story, the teacher set out the mice on the classroom table. After the story, the children went row-by-row to look at the treasures. I will go back to visit again later this year to read another story.

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day. For our family this has always been a special day because it was Mom and Dad’s wedding anniversary. They were married 67 years when Mom died in 2000. I was asked to give a short history of Valentine’s Day to a local Homemakers group and to the Little Falls Lion’s Club. This was a fun assignment. The celebration is based on a lot of myth and legend. Though there are many Saint Valentine’s, not a lot of facts exist about them. In 1969 the feast was dropped from the Catholic Church calendar. But the celebration continues in many parts of the world. Not everyone believes we should celebrate this day. My belief is that if people spread more messages of love and caring and support, we would have a better world. And the Lord knows that we need a better world.

Today our Mass at the Motherhouse is for peace in the country of Kenya. There have been so many deaths, so much property destruction and so many displaced persons in that country since the elections on December 27, 2007. The two sisters from Kenya living with us are concerned about the safety of their families, friends and Community members. Let us storm heaven with petitions for peace not only in Kenya, but all the other parts of world where fighting and war are part of daily life.
Sheila Perrault, our neighbor, has written a book--Brown Eyes—Adopted and Loved. Tomorrow (Feb. 16) she will have a book signing event at Bookin’ It. I finished reading the little book last evening. It was interesting. Part of the story tells of her stay at the St. Cloud Orphanage before her adoption. Our Franciscans Sisters staffed the St. Cloud Orphanage for many years. A few years ago, Sheila had a joyful reunion with some of the Sisters who worked there when she and her brother lived there.

Tomorrow, we have elections for new leaders for our Brainerd Fioretti Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order (SFO). Holy Spirit, guide us. I have been a Spiritual Assistant for this group for the past ten years. It has been good.

Pax et Bonum
Sister Mary Lou


February 4, 2008

We are into February. We are into another round of snow. And the Super Bowl game is now history. So what else is new?

Yesterday I attended the Morrison county Chapter 35th Annual Pro-Life Dinner at the Falls Ballroom. There was a big crowd. Layna Diehl and Isaac Toenies delivered their Oratory Contest winning essays. We can all be proud of these knowledgeable youth and how well they express their ideas. Jennifer Kistler, Development Associate—MCCL, talked about some of the issues we need to be concerned about in the Caucus gatherings tomorrow night.

Yes, the Caucus gatherings in Minnesota are tomorrow, Tuesday, February 5th. I urge you to attend these grass-roots meetings to let your voice be heard in matters that you care about. Please seriously consider going to your local caucus.

This past weekend there was a meeting for all the Sisters 70 years of age and younger. From what I heard, it was a profitable meeting. The first weekend in March, the meeting of those of us 71 and older will take place. Sister Joanne Brazinski was the facilitator.

Plans are underway for the Morrison County Paint-A-Thon, the first Saturday in August, and for the Little Falls Arts and Crafts Fair, September 6 and 7th, 2008. We have our first committee meetings this week. All of a sudden the days will be here and gone!

Work on the Chapel restoration is moving right along. We are into our third week of having Mass in St. Francis Hall and all is going smoothly. The Crosier priest who had Mass here last Friday said, "I feel right at home in this smaller space." They are doing work on their Chapel in Onamia, too, and are in a smaller space for services.

Lent starts on Wednesday. Prayer, fasting and almsgiving. There are enough needs to take care of all that we can do!

Pax et Bonum.
Sister Mary Lou