September 29, 2008

What a week of special events! I hope I don’t forget to include some.

Last week I attended a meeting in Plymouth, MI for Spiritual Assistants to the Secular Franciscan Order. The information was very worthwhile and will be valuable to me in my new work as Regional Spiritual Assistant to the Queen of Peace Region of the Secular Franciscan Order. But the people were the best part of the meeting. I reconnected with two Franciscan Friars that I’ve not seen for 30+ years. Fifteen years ago I made a Franciscan Pilgrimage to Rome and Assisi. Father Todd was one of the pilgrimage leaders and he was also at this same meeting. It made my heart happy to see these special people.

Our Sister Lois went home to heaven to meet the Lord last Wednesday night. She has been sick for some time…always so pleasant and uncomplaining in her pain and suffering. Her Franciscan Wake is tonight and her Funeral will be tomorrow morning. She was a quiet, gentle, caring person. I so appreciated her visits when I was recovering from my “big fall” and was laid-up for such a long time.

At the Motherhouse, last Saturday, the family and friends of Sister Mary Adella Blonigen celebrated her 60th Jubilee with a Mass, visiting and a meal. She had many family and friends present for the joyful event. We had a two-part homily at the Mass: Brother Albert Becker, OSC, Sister Adella’s nephew, and Father Kermit Holl, OSC shared the honors. It was a great afternoon.

Sunday morning we had a “Dad’s Belgian Waffle Breakfast” fund raiser. We served 525 hungry folks. There were at least eight different kinds of syrups one could choose from to put on the big fluffy waffles! One would walk along the serving line and they took the waffles right from the waffle iron to your plate. The proceeds from the breakfast were going to scholarships to the Music Center and the Health and Recreation programs

At noon on Sunday, we had the Blessing of Animals in the little park across from the Episcopal Church of Our Saviour. About forty dogs got blessed as well as at least three cats. (The cats weren’t too keen on having all those dogs so near them.) The event is sponsored by the Episcopal Church and the Franciscan Sisters in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, whose feast is October 4th. Special treats were served to the pets and to their companions after the prayer service. It always amazes me how quiet the dogs are during the prayer service and blessings.

In the afternoon, I went with a group of Sisters to Sauk Rapids to the Open House at Speltz House, the retirement home for retired priests of our Diocese. We had a nice visit with Bishop John Kinney in his soon-to-be- new home. It is new construction and connected to the former Sacred Heart Parish Church and just down the hill from the Poor Clare Monastery. Bishop said he is moving in “one-book-at-a-time.” The sanctuary of the church is the Chapel for the Priests where they can preside at Mass and say the Divine Office together if they wish. It is a very homey place. I’m glad I got to see it.

After that we stopped at Benedict Center for a short visit with our former Chaplain, Fr. John. Even in his memory loss, he recognized us as “his family” when we came into the room. The smile on his face was one of pure delight. This was the first time I’ve been at Benedict Center. What a nice place. When we arrived they just finished praying the Rosary in the Chapel. They put their names in a container and after the Rosary one name is drawn and that person can have the statue of Mary in their room until the next Sunday. What a nice touch.

Pax et Bonum.
God bless you in all your comings and goings.
Sister Mary Lou


September 21, 2008

The last day of summer and tomorrow starts fall! This past week has been a nice summer week. And it sounds like rains will start tomorrow and for a few days.

Last Sunday evening I was with Sister Mary Kalis when she went to meet God. She had a very peaceful and quiet death. She just stopped breathing. What a wonderful way to leave this world. Sr. Mary’s Funeral was Friday. I just looked back at my last Blog and I said that Sr. Lois was very sick. I meant to say, “Sr. Mary.” Sorry for my error.

Today we had “Donor Appreciation Day.” About 150 Donors joined us Sisters for 11 a.m. Mass, Lunch and a Program. Sisters Rose Mae and Aurora told us about Mexico and the work of the Sisters at our Mission in Mexico.

Our Friend Larry Anderson from Morris, MN, came today bringing us 305 pounds of cabbage. That is in addition to the cabbage he brought a few weeks ago. Sr. Ruth made all of that cabbage into 50 gallons of sauerkraut. Now she can make more sauerkraut and we will NOT run out of sauerkraut this next year. Larry also brought us a couple boxes of green peppers, some tomatoes and a watermelon. God bless you, Larry for sharing the produce of your garden with us Sisters. Gardening is hard but rewarding work. Larry, we are grateful for your generous gifts. And we pray for you and your family.

On Wednesday this past week, I went with the Gary Block Tour to the Old Log Theatre to see the play Forever Plaid. The trip, the meal and the play were all worthwhile ventures. With almost two hours of singing, dancing and moving around, I said to one of the performers afterwards, “You must be really tired after a show like this.” He said, “We are!” I can believe it. A little treat on the journey home was a stop for a dish of ice cream at Culvers—a treat that was brought right out to the bus for us!

Each year our Brainerd Fraternity of Secular Franciscans does a pilgrimage. Yesterday was the day. We went to visit the new St. James Church in Aitkin, MN. It is beautiful! They used all the beautiful stained-windows from the old down-town Church in the new building. In the old Church the rose window was high up. Now it is the first thing one sees when one enters the new building. I admire architects who can plan and erect such marvelous structures.

For some time now we have been making our own laundry soap. It is called “Going Green Laundry Soap.” (Green meaning environmentally good.) For some time, I have been meaning to give the recipe. So here it is: 16 cups of HOT tap water, 4 Tbsp. of Washing Soda (such as Arm and Hammer Washing Soda,) 2 Tbsp. of Borax and 1 oz. Castile Soap. Put all ingredients into a one-gallon jug and mix. Use one cup for a large load of laundry and a smaller amount for smaller loads. We have been using this laundry soap for some time now and are happy with the results.

May God bless all the activities of our week.
Pax et Bonum,
Sister Mary Lou


September 12, 2008

A beautiful fall morning! Yesterday God blessed us with about 1 ½ inches of rain. We need more rain to get us up to par, but we are grateful for every bit we receive. This morning the sun is bright. In Marty Haugen’s song, Canticle of the Sun the refrain is so true “The heavens are telling the glory of God, and all creation is shouting for joy. Come, dance in the forest, come play in the field, and sing, sing to the glory of the Lord.” One other blessing to the cooler nights is that the mosquito population seems to be lessened.

Last weekend the city of Little Falls had its big Arts and Crafts Fair. It was a great weekend. As a Block Host, I spent many hours touring the Fair. I loved it. I saw almost every one of the 650 booths. I always marvel at the creativity of the artisans and the beautiful things they make. Except for a few gusts of strong wind Sunday afternoon, the weather was perfect. I always think, “Cooler is better.” The years when the temperatures were in the 80s, it was too warm. It made my heart happy to hear from vendors who stayed at St. Francis Center, how well they liked the accommodations there. I recommended staying there to several additional vendors.

On the radio, I just heard that Jason’s Restaurant, south of town, was destroyed by fire during the early morning hours today. I am sorry to hear that.

Tonight we are expecting special visitors to the Convent. Sisters Pauline Mary and Albina, from Kenya, will be here a few days to visit us. They are Community superiors from the Community that Sisters Alice and Beatrice are from. Sisters Alice and Beatrice, from Homa Bay Diocese in Kenya have been living at our house since October 2006 and are minitering at the Motherhouse.

Saturday afternoon I will be at a Memorial Service for deceased Secular Franciscans from our Brainerd Secular Franciscan Fraternity. We have this service at the Camp Ripley Cemetery since that is where Diane Beal, SFO is buried.

Our Sister Lois is very ill. She is so ready to go to heaven. Please pray with us for her. Thanks.

Peace and blessings,
Sister Mary Lou


September 4, 2008

Oh, so many happenings in a week!

Last week I attended the Election Judge Training Session at the Courthouse, so I am prepared to be an election judge on both September 9th and November 4th, 2009. I will work the early shift starting at 6 a.m. both dates.

On Friday, my friend Larry Anderson from Morris brought us 312 pounds of cabbage. This past Tuesday, Sister Ruth and her volunteers made 48 gallons of sauerkraut. That should be enough for meals for the Sisters for almost a year. Larry also brought tomatoes and peppers. Thank you, Larry, for your generous gifts of fresh garden produce.

Today Sr. Ruth is busy making refrigerator pickles—three five-gallon pails so far…and Sr. Joel is making dill pickles, The convent kitchen is a busy place.

On Saturday I drove out to the farm for a few days to visit with my family. Swallows are gathering on the highline wires…a sure sign of approaching fall. On Monday on my way back to Little Falls three deer crossed the road ahead of me. I’m sure glad they were a block ahead of me. I don’t want to touch one with my car.

At the farm, my brother and sister-in-law and I made eight gallons of apple juice. When I saw all the buckets of apples near the garage, I had an idea of what we’d be doing later in the day.

Last Wednesday we had a one-day blood drive…usually it is three days. Anyway, it was a marvelous collection. Our goal was 80 units and we got 106! Thank you, generous people.

School started this week. God bless all the teachers and students. May they all have a good year filled with lots of learning.

Last Sunday, too, we went to an Ice Cream Social at a little county Lutheran church near the farm. My sister, Rita, met many people who support her in her work in Indonesia. After that, my sister, brother and I went into Sauk Centre to visit with Millie Gans. When we were young, she lived on an adjoining farm and we visited her often.

The other day I received a copy of the Lakes Area Habitat for Humanity newsletter. That Brainerd area group is really busy. Since 1990, they tithed $216,933 to their sister affiliate, Habitat for Humanity Guatemala. With the support of all their donors they built 64 homes in the Lakes Area and 73 homes in Guatemala! Good Job!!!

The Little Falls Arts and Crafts Fair is this coming weekend. With help, tonight we will get the vendor spots marked on my two blocks--Kidder Street and Broadway. I am a Block Host and so will be spending many hours at the Fair the next three days. I always marvel at all the beautiful crafts people make. The Fair will be a little smaller this year and we are expecting only about 650 vendors. The new thing this year is the Farmers Market open both days of the Fair. Please pray for good weather. Cool is OK. Rain makes it more challenging.

Pax et Bonum.
Sister Mary Lou