October 27, 2008

What busy days this past week.

Last Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, volunteers inserted the Christmas Appeal letters into 17,000 envelopes, sealed and addressed them and have them ready for mailing…all in 2 ½ days. They worked hard and had lots of fun, too. Thank you, volunteers, for all your help.

Last Thursday morning I stood at the corner of the road west of the Convent to watch the escort of Patriot Guard and others as they took The Vietnam Moving Wall out to Camp Ripley. May God be with them and all the families of those named on The Wall.

Last Friday, Oct. 24th, some of the staff from the St. Cloud Children’s Home came to our Motherhouse 11 a.m. Mass to present an art piece to us Franciscans to honor all those Sisters who served Children from 1895 to 2007. In Little Falls, in 1895 arrangements were made to build an orphanage. The name, St. Otto, was given to the building in honor of Bishop Otto Zardetti of St. Cloud. The building sheltered as many as 95 to 135 children under the care of twelve Sisters. Four teachers were employed nine months of the year. In 1912, the schools were graded and children graduating from the eighth grade received their diplomas from the Superintendent of Public Schools. In June 1924 and in the course of several months the orphans were transferred to the new St. Cloud Orphanage in St. Cloud, MN. By the time the orphanage was established in St. Cloud over 3,000 children had been in the care of the Sisters. From 1924 to 2007, 172 Sisters ministered at the Children’s Home. “The Caregiver” is the name of the statue we received. It is placed near the Chapel entrance.

Saturday afternoon I went out to Camp Ripley to see the Vietnam Moving Wall. What an emotional experience. Just approaching it, I was covered with goose bumps. I had forgotten that Mark Eklund’s name was on that Wall. Brad and Dawn Laager were at the Wall and they reminded me that Mark’s name was on the Wall. We found his name. Mark was the student that Sister Helen Mrosla wrote about in her article, Thank You, Sister, for Teaching Me. Mark died in Vietnam. He was one of her 9th graders when we taught at St. Mary’s School in Morris, MN. On the 64 panels are listed 58,253 names of American soldiers who died, or are POWs and MIAs during the Vietnam War. (This is one of the two ½-size models of the full-size Wall in Washington, DC, that have been travelling around the United States the past many years.) The memorial honors the 2.7 million men and women who served in the U.S. military in Vietnam. I did watch the video explaining the history of the Wall. It was excellent. The Moving Wall came from Wisconsin and will go to Tennessee next.

Saturday was the Halloween Zoo Boo at Pine Grove Zoo. It is always a fun time for youth of all ages. This coming Friday 50+ town businesses will be hosting Trick or Treaters from 3:30 to 5 p.m. It is fun to drive through downtown to see all the costumed youth.

At the Motherhouse we will be having Little Kids Day on Oct. 31st. Children and grandchildren of employees will be our guests. They will come in costume, too…and so will some of the adults. Many activities are planned. The little ones add a real spark to life whenever they are around!

Sunday there were two activities at the same time that I wanted to attend. So, I went to ½ hour of the presentation at Welcoming House in St. Cloud on the Franciscan-Muslim Dialog. What I heard was very good.

Then I went to the St. Cloud Cathedral for a presentation on Franz Jagerstatter, a Martyr for the Faith. Franz was a Secular Franciscan. He was a 37-year-old man who died because he refused to join Hitler’s army. A year ago yesterday, October 26, 2007, he was beatified, a step on the way to being named a saint in the Catholic Church. His 94-year old wife and four daughters were present for his beatification. This morning I typed in his name in Google and found many articles on him and his life. I am eager to read the book about him, A True Story of Almost Matchless Heroism IN SOLITARY WITNESS by Gordon Zahn.

This morning I attended the funeral at St. Mary’s Parish, here in Little Falls, for native son, Father John Miller, age 76. The Bishop and 65+ priests were in attendance. I am always so edified to see how the priests support one another. May Fr. John be enjoying life with the Lord.

Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you cast your ballot in next Tuesday’s elections. Do vote.

Next Wednesday, Thursday and Friday the Bloodmobile will be at St. Francis Center. The first two days the hours are 2 to 8 p.m. and on Friday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Giving blood is a life-saving act of charity. God bless all generous donors and volunteers who make for successful days.

Remember to change your clocks—fall back—before you go to bed Saturday night.

I have more things on my list, but they will have to wait until next time.

Peace and God bless you.
Sister Mary Lou


October 20, 2008

Peace and blessings as we begin a new week.

I’m glad I make a list so I can, hopefully, remember items I wish to include in this writing.

Last Friday I attended the Vatican Splendors exhibit at the Minnesota History Center Museum in St. Paul. What a wonderful event. There were so many artifacts to see and so much history to hear and read. I rented the listening device so I could hear about the things I was looking at. I did, also, purchase the booklet, so I am going back to reread and read more about what I saw on the walk through the exhibit. I’m so glad I went and I’d encourage you to do so, also.

After lunch, we went to the Minnesota Public Radio station for a tour. What an interesting place. When we went to the library, the question was asked, “How many CDs do you have here?” The answer: About 60,000. That’s a lot. We met a couple on-air announcers and saw lots of the broadcasting studios. As we left, each person was given a book. I received In Search of a Confident FAITH—overcoming barriers to trusting in God by J.P. Moreland and Klaus Issler. I’m looking forward to reading my new book.

One thing I’ve been watching is the five one-gallon jars of dill pickles sitting in the sunshine out in the courtyard getting ready for eating. This is Sister Ruth’s second batch. I missed eating any of those in the first batch. I’ll be ready when these next ones are ready. She said they are good.

Friday evening a couple of us went to Brainerd to attend the Geritol Frolics musical at the Franklin Arts Center What a delightful couple hours of humor, song and dance. The youngest performer was 61 and the oldest was 87. So it’s the senior citizens doing the work! And they do a delightful job of it. The first performance was in 1987. Next year the dates are Oct. 15-18 and 22-25. Remember…You are as young as you act. You are as young as you feel!!!

Last Saturday was the Orphan Train Reunion at the Motherhouse. In two years it will be the 50th anniversary of these reunions. Our 96-year-young Sister Justina was an Orphan Train rider many long years ago. From 1854-1929, an estimated 250,000 children born in New York rode orphan trains to find new homes with families throughout the United States. There were six orphan train riders and about seventy family and friends of riders with us for the day’s events. Check out Orphan Train on Google to find out more information. I’d never heard of the Orphan Train until I heard Sister Justina talking about her orphan train ride and how she found her new family. She is the one who started these Orphan Train Reunions.

Sunday afternoon the KCs served cake and ice cream to the Sisters at the Motherhouse. It is always fun to visit with our brother Knights. They have been doing this for many years. God bless you, KCs. Thank you for all the good work you do.

Sunday afternoon, also, there was an Open House in Waite Park at our newest house which is also the Novitiate for our Community. We have one novice and one postulant at this time. Many Sisters attended the open house. And it was a beautiful day for a ride!

There are two Franciscan TOR priests, Fathers Gregory and Jude, studying at St. John’s. Today Benedictine, Father Michael, our chaplain, brought them to the Motherhouse. One presided at Mass today and the other will come on Wednesday for Mass. Fr. Michael is the acolyte to assist them if necessary. They speak good English. It is always a good reminder that the Church is universal and that there are Franciscans serving all over the world.

This noon as I looked down the first floor corridor at St. Francis Center, I knew that the Development Office was getting ready for the annual Christmas Appeal. What was the clue? It was the long line of tables from one end of the hallway to the other, all set up for the volunteers who will come the next three days to put addresses on and then stuff some 17,000 envelopes. These many cartons of envelopes will be sent to the post office about the middle of November. We will be ready!

Lots of people are busy raking leaves. Many leaves from our big oak trees are in our neighbor’s yard, but today they are all blowing back our way. It’s only right that we get them back!

Pax et Bonum (Peace and all Good),
Sister Mary Lou


October 14, 2008

How beautiful the colored leaves are…and they seem to be falling like rain carpeting the earth with their crunchiness. It is interesting to me that some trees are barren while some are half clothed and others keep their leaves hanging on tight.

Last weekend was busy. On Saturday I attended the SFO Regional Fall Gathering at St. Patrick’s Church in Inver Grove Heights. Our Speaker was Dr. Catherine Cory, an instructor at St. Thomas College. Her topic was, “Paul for Today.” This is the year of St. Paul, so I’ve heard a few talks on St. Paul, his life and his works. Each one is interesting and gives me new information about St. Paul. Paul’s writings in the New Testament are arranged from longest to shortest and not in chronological order. Dr. Cory showed us some classic pictures of Paul. The similarities are that he was short, bald and had a beard. Paul’s conversion experience transformed him into a man zealous for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Sunday’s big event was Associate Day. New Associate, Kathy Brusso made her commitment as a Franciscan Associate. Sister Gloria Haider is her Sister companion. All other Associates present made a renewal of their commitment. After the Liturgy, we shared in a great dinner. It was a good day. Associate Maxine Strege shared her Franciscan journey via a power point presentation.

Also, Sunday afternoon, the Heartland Symphony Orchestra had a concert at Charles D. Martin Auditorium. It was called “A Dark and Stormy Concert”, since it is nearing Halloween. My favorite pieces were Hector Berlioz’s March to the Scaffold and the Thunder and Lightening Polka by Johann Strauss, Jr. The next two concerts are December 14, 2008 and April 5th, 2009.

Yesterday, Columbus Day, with no mail delivery, the Housekeeping staff was busy scrubbing carpets and floors and other cleaning tasks in the mailroom. God bless them for their work in keeping our home clean and in good repair.

This morning Sister Moe was very busy making grape jam. There are 12 jars cooling on the counter in the second kitchen. It was fun hearing the lids pop as the jars sealed. I haven’t heard that sound for some time.

Thursday morning there will be a farewell reception for our Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph, Sisters Alice and Beatrice, who will be returning to their convent in Africa after living and working with us here in Little Falls the past two years. We thank them for being here. We will miss them both at the Motherhouse.

I am looking forward to my trip on Friday to the Minnesota History Center to see the display of Treasures From the Vatican. There will be over 200 extraordinary objects of history from the Vatican and Vatican museums. This is our chance to see items rarely displayed to the public. The exhibition comprises one of the largest Vatican collections ever to tour North America.

On October 9th, in San Rafael, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, there was a ceremony of Reception for Maria Isabel Berrones Morales. This means we have another candidate who wishes to become a Franciscan Sister of Little Falls, MN. Congratulations and welcome, Isabel.

Enjoy fall and may the farmers get their crops harvested without accidents or rain delays!

Peace and blessings,
Sister Mary Lou


October 9, 2008

What a glorious day…bright sunshine, temps in the upper 60s, a nice wind and 2 inches of rain the past couple days. Thank you, God.

Last Friday night, the evening of the day before the Feast of St. Francis, we had the Transitus, the commemoration of the death of St. Francis. It was good to have so many Sisters, Associates and Secular Franciscans join us. It is a very prayerful and meaningful prayer service. Then on Saturday was the Feast of St. Francis. We started the day with Morning Prayer followed by brunch. The 11 a.m. Mass and Homily focused on St. Francis…and of course wonderful music all the way through.

Saturday afternoon I went along with Sisters Mary Ann and Annella to Browns Valley for the Profession of three new Secular Franciscans. (Browns Valley is a long way from Little Falls!) Again, it is the people there that make the event special. I re-met Tom who was working at Morris when I was teaching there—a long time ago. Tom expects to be ordained next May. God bless him in his studies.

Sunday afternoon a friend and I went to West Union, MN for their Sausage Supper and then continued on to our cottage on Ottertail Lake. My brother said they served over 1,700 hungry folks at the Supper. That’s a lot for a little, rural parish.

We had rain Sunday and Monday and that was OK. I forgot the cribbage board. I had it on my list but didn’t check the list before I left home—well, so much for a list! But with no cribbage board, we played many games of Farkel instead. And I will send a cribbage board to the cottage the next time someone goes that direction.

The trip back to Little Falls on Tuesday was beautiful. Seeing all the gold, red, yellow and greet trees and grasses was beautiful. Times like that make me very grateful for the gift of sight. And then the memory of the beauty continues to live on.

God and the angels sure were taking care of me. I took the car out to get two new front tires put on before the winter snows. After he got the tires on he came and stood in front of me and said, “You have a BIG problem.” I don’t understand “struts” and I do know what a “spring” is. Anyway, he told me that the front, driver’s side strut was broken—hanging down, and that I should not have been able to drive the car and should have heard a lot of noise if/when I made turns, and the tire should have been torn to pieces. Nothing like that at all! However long the strut was broken, or how it broke, I have no idea. The car stayed at the garage and he brought me home. Like I said, God and the Angels were taking good care of me. Thank you, God and Angels.

Saturday we have the Fall Gathering of Secular Franciscans, hosted by the St. Thomas More Fraternity in Inver Grove Heights. On Sunday we have Associate Commitment Day at the Motherhouse. One new person will be making her commitment and all other Associates present will be renewing their commitment. Always something going on.

Let us all pray for honest and trustworthy political candidates and that God guide our decisions as to how to vote.

Peace and blessings,
Sister Mary Lou