December 21, 2009

As of 11:47 this morning, winter is officially here according to the calendar. From the looks and feel of it, winter has been here for about a month already.

The fourth week of Advent is here and Christmas comes on Friday—the day we’ve been preparing for all Advent. All four Advent candles on the wreath are now lit. Most of the Christmas cards and been sent and MANY received. God bless all our relatives and friends who take the time to reconnect or connect. Building relationships is such an important part of living and being Franciscan.

Music. Music. And more music. This is what St. Francis Music Center has provided for us. December 11th, Celo V’ec directed the two Sting Orchestras for our entertainment. And at this concert, the St. Francis Community Choir joined them for a beautiful rendition of Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring. Then on the 13th the Community Choir had their own inspiring and beautiful concert. Then yesterday a group of six Senior High School girls provided us with another marvelous musical experience. These six girls, the Senior Ensemble, entertained us by singing beautifully twelve Christmas songs. And as part of this concert a String Trio, Students of Celo V’ec, played six numbers for us. What marvelous talent these young people shared with us! Thank you, ALL you musicians, for sharing your gifts with us. We were appreciative audiences.

I hope you weren’t planning on traveling to the east coast the next few days. It sounds to me like moving around there can be a big problem. And now it sounds like we could have our own bout with new snow before Christmas. My two brothers and their wives are planning on snow-birding in Texas the next three months. As each round of snow comes, they say, “Texas is sounding real good right now.”

Last Thursday we had our Sister/Employee Christmas pot-luck meal at noon. After the meal, the drawings were held to give away many items. These items were donated by employees and Sisters as a way to raise some money for Caring by Sharing. This year the funds were donated to the Boys and Girls Club and Hands of Hope. I am so proud of how generous folks were. A total of $1,117 was divided between the two groups. Many people went home with lovely gifts. I didn’t win anything, but was gifted with a pair of home-sewn mittens—the only thing I really wanted. Oh, lucky me!

Many, many generous donors are returning one of the two paper ornaments we sent to them in our Christmas appeal letter. These ornaments are now gracing two large Christmas trees in chapel. After Christmas these ornaments will be divided up among all of us Sisters and these will be our special people to pray for each day of 2010.

I wish each of you, my blog readers, a very Happy and grace-filled Christmas. May the love of Jesus fill your hearts and overflow in the good you do for others.

Peace and all good. (Pax et Bonum.)
Sister Mary Lou



December 7, 2009

We’re into the second week of Advent and the second week of December. Winter has come. Time for the heavier coats, hats and mittens! About 8 a.m. the “radio guy” said, “We are already up to 15 degrees.” I said to myself, “What is so great about that?” We have just a light coating of snow on the ground. Sounds like parts south of here will have lots more in a couple days.

Yesterday afternoon, I went to Brainerd to help fill 1,200 little bags with birdseed—an SFO project. Our Fioretti Fraternity distributes these little gifts to the members of the five parishes from which our membership comes. Why do we do this? “St. Francis wanted all creation to celebrate the birthday of Jesus. It was his desire that all mayors and Lords of Castles issue a decree that would require the scattering of grain on the roads on Christmas so that our friends the birds might have something to eat.” We ask that the receivers of our little gifts feed the birds on Christmas Day.

Saturday, Dec. 5th we had a wonderful Advent Day of Reflection. The presenters were Sister Michelle and Brother David. They gave thoughtful and prayerful presentations based on St. Bonaventure’s “Five Feasts of the Child Jesus.” We were about 60 participating in the events of the day. Thank you to all who helped in any way with this day.

At noon lunch on Saturday St. Nicholas came with treats for everyone whether they were “naughty or nice.”

Wednesdays, every other week for the past several months, Sister Maristell has been giving a series of talks on Jesus as we know Him fro Sacred Scripture. What a marvelous lady she is to prepare and present such good material. Adult education to the finest degree!

This Thursday, December 10th, the local Lions Club will be coming to sing Christmas Carols in Chapel and then afterwards we will share pizza in the dining room. Sounds good to me!

Remember the two great concerts coming up this weekend. On Friday (7 p.m.), is the Christmas Strings Concert in Sacred Heart Chapel at the Motherhouse. And then on Sunday (13th) at 2:30 p.m., is the St Francis Community Chorale Concert--also in Chapel. Both concerts are well worth attending. I hope you can come.

May your Advent continue to be blest.
Peace and all good.
Sister Mary Lou


December 2, 2009

The first week of Advent is almost half over. How can it be? The Little Blue Book reflection for Monday said:

“God does things through us that we ourselves cannot do, or even measure. And God does them often in ways we don’t understand…Let God do what God wants to do through me. That is the path to greatness—no matter what my age, no matter what my condition. O Lord, let me let You do what You want to do through me today”.
We wait for the coming of Jesus. And God waits for us, too. May we recognize Jesus when He comes to us…and may we let God’s work be done through us.

Sister Fran made the lovely ceramic Advent Wreath that we have in the Motherhouse Chapel. It fits perfectly inside the green wreath.

When visiting on second floor in Clare Residence yesterday I saw a most unique Advent calendar in their dining room. It is a tree made up of little bird houses. And in the hole of each birdhouse is a piece of paper with an Advent reflection for that day. After the reflection is read at breakfast time it is posted near the dining room door so it can be read and pondered on during the day. The bird house for December 8th is painted blue in honor of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the patronal feast of our religious community. Thank you, Elizabeth, Rita, Cheryl and all who helped make this unique calendar. I also notice that Sr. Antonette has been busy painting lovely Christmas designs on the windows. Today the little gingerbread people that I talked about last week are part of the decoration near each door on the floor…and the Christmas tree is full of white lights and little gingerbread people—really cute. Yes, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

This week, too, the housekeepers decorated the outside poles with green garlands and red ribbons. I hung a couple strings of lights outside our house yesterday, too. Now, let it snow!

We had a bilingual Mass this morning—part in Spanish and part in English. Today is the anniversary of the deaths of Sister Maura Clark, Sister Ita Ford, Sister Dorothy Kazel and Jean Donovan, who were martyred in El Salvador in 1980. Nine months before this Archbishop Oscar Romero, also of El Salvador, had been assassinated. Martyrdom is not a thing of the past. It happens now-a-days, too. God, give courage to those who bear witness to their faith by giving their lives.

On Sunday I went over to Linden Hill’s to tour the Musser and Weyerhaeuser mansions. What wonderful history of our town in these two buildings. This year’s theme continues to follow the Wizard of Oz connection between Laura Jan Musser and Margaret Hamilton, who played the Wicked Witch of the West in the movie. A Christmas tree in the Weyerhaeuser House was decorated with items made by Sisters Marguerite, Loretta, and Bernita. And under the tree is a little two-car wooden train made by Sr. Sharon. I looked only at items on the first floors, but all floors were open to visitors. What a treasure these buildings are to Little Falls.

Last week I mentioned the trees that we could fill with leaves mentioning the things we are grateful for. Here is a picture of two of the four trees that were in the sanctuary at Mass last Thursday.

Happy Advent and God bless you.
Sister Mary Lou


November 25, 2009

I think Indian Summer is over. Days have been dark, dreary and wet…not a lot of rain, but enough to make it damp and foggy…with talk of some snow. I’m not ready for it. But when it comes I will like it. But I DO NOT like driving on snow that becomes icy.

Thanksgiving is coming soon. And we have so many things to be thankful for. In many places in the Convent there are tree branches with a box of paper leaves that we can jot down our lists of things we are grateful for. For 8:30 Mass on Thanksgiving Day, these trees will be in the sanctuary. A visual reminder of reasons for gratitude is always good.

A week or so ago, as I walked past the kitchen, Sisters Joel and Celine were busy cleaning ground cherries. Sr. Helen Ann’s sister had brought them in from the home-place farm. The next time I saw the ground cherries, they were on the top of an upside-down cake. They looked like little golden balls on top of the cake. It not only looked beautiful, it tasted good, too.

Last Sunday we celebrated Sr. Rachel’s 90th birthday. I was pleased to see so many of her family members present for visiting, cake and ice cream. We now have 18 or 19 Sisters who are 90 and over. I wonder if I will make it to that age.

The next two items are “Mark you calendar” items. On December 11th at 7 p.m. the String Orchestras will present a concert featuring classical, jazz, Broadway and Irish music. And for the last piece the St. Francis Community Chorale will join the orchesta for Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.

On Sunday, December 13th at 2:30 p.m. the St. Francis Community Chorale will present their festive Christmas Concert. And the Zion Bell Choir will be part of the program.
I guarantee both of these programs will be well worth your time. So mark your calendar.

On November 15th four of us Sisters went to Marshall, MN for the Canonical Establishment of the Little Portion Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order. The sunrise and sunset that day were both beautiful. Marshall, MN is a longs ways from Little Falls, so we saw both the sunrise and the sunset from the car that day!

While on second floor today I saw two wonderful events. First I saw some of our Elder Sisters with the help of volunteers Rita and Elizabeth baking and decorating gingerbread cookies. Then further down the hallway I saw some of the staff examining a new hot tub we wish to purchase. The hot tub we now have has gotten a LOT of use and it is getting harder and harder to get pieces to fix it when it breaks down. What is nice about this one is that it has an end door that opens and once the person is in they can close the door and fill it with water. Pretty nice, I’d say.

Tonight there is a Thanksgiving Service in St. Francis Hall. A group of Lutherans have been using St. Francis Hall on Sundays this month for their worship services. They have invited us to pray with then tonight. Afterwards they will serve pie.

Happy Thanksgiving. Make a long list of all the things you are grateful for.

God bless you.
Sister Mary Lou


November 11, 2009

Veteran’s Day. Remembrance Day in Canada. A day to honor, remember and thank all veterans for their service to our country. Thank you for your service to our country.

It’s here! What? Indian Summer! I am thoroughly enjoying these warm November days. And farmers are very busy harvesting soy beans and corn. But with all the wet weather, I’ve heard that corn is spoiling even as it is still on the stalk in the field. Let us all thank God for these drier days.

Last Week Clothes Review had a Bag Sale. And what a busy day they had. They had 140 shoppers before 1 p.m. That’s a lot! Everything you can fit into a grocery bag is only $2.00. It is a bargain to shop at Clothes Review any time, but Bag Sale days are really a bargain.

I want to report the results of the Red Cross Blood drive which was last week, too.
Our overall goal was 260 units. We received 246 donations and had 21 deferrals. So I’d say we met our goal. Thank you to all those who share this special gift of life.

Last week, also, the Sisters in Clare Residence had their Thanksgiving dinner. The elders helped in the preparation as much as they could. Pictured here is Sr. Rachel holding a piece of one of the apple pies she made. Even with some dementia, she remembered exactly how to put the pie together, including a fancy-cut top crust. They also helped make pumpkin pie. John grilled turkey and ham for the dinner.

The Spaghetti Supper on Saturday evening was another grand success. We served approximately 500 meals. Pictured here is the Kahler family with plates loaded for the feast.

This Thursday and Friday we have the Employee/Sister Reflection Day. Our own Sister Michelle will be talking to us about building relationships. That is an appropriate topic for a Franciscan institution because St. Francis was so intent on building relationships with God and with his Brothers.

Today I walked through ground floor of St. Francis Center where the CEC (Continuing Education Center) has its classes. They have about 100 students in attendance every day. CEC is such a good school sponsored by the local public school.

Have a good week.
Peace and all good.
Sister Mary Lou



November 3, 2009

I heard on the local radio station that October was one of the coolest and wettest for quite some years. That news didn't surprise me. We had 6+ inches of rain here in Little Falls. I'm still waiting for Indian Summer! Sounds like we'll have some warmer days the end of this week. That is fine with me. Our oak trees have now, finally, dropped most of their leaves. Now we have to get them picked up before more rain/snow.

Last week, Thursday noon, we had the Employee/Sister Halloween Potluck luncheon. A number of each group "dressed up" for the occasion. That was fun. We had our own version of "Let's Make a Deal" as entertainment. I won two very nice prizes. Thank you, Values Committee members, who arranged all of this.

Last Saturday, COACT had their annual meeting at St. Francis. Members were from Grand Rapids, Bemidji and St. Paul. COACT was organized in 1979. Their focus is Social Justice issues, single-payer health coverage, family farm survival, etc. Our Sister Ruth is working with this organization. COACT stands for Citizens Organized Actings Together.

How about the football game on Sunday? A friend and I were returning from a SFO Visitation/Election in Chippewa Falls, WI. We listened to most of the last half of the game. But we made it a point to not discuss Vikings and Green Bay Packers at our meeting!

The Red Cross Bloodmobile will be at St. Francis Center this week: Wednesday and Thursday (1:30 - -7:30pm) and Friday (8am - 2pm). God bless the generous donors who share this gift of life with others who need blood. To make an appointment, call Sr. Julien at (320)632-0663.

Saturday night, November 7, we have the Spaghetti Supper (4:30-7pm) in our Convent Dining Room. St. Francis Music Center and St. Francis Health and Recreation Center will benefit from this fundraiser. We are blessed with many volunteers who assist with setting tables, serving the meal, waiting on tables, washing dishes and all the other tasks that are part of serving 450+ guests.

Please be safe and take care as fire-arms deer hunting season opens Saturday. And may the hunters have good success! I'll be happy to see the deer population reduced. I don't like to meet up with a deer while I'm driving the car.

Pax et Bonum. (Peace and all good.)
Sister Mary Lou.


November 3, 2009


October 26, 2009

Here it is Monday again!

Yesterday, Father Dick McGuire had a “Teaching Mass” at the Motherhouse for the Sisters, about 30 Confirmation Class Students and many parents and other family members. It was a marvelous experience. Fr. McGuire gave us a lot of information on the meaning of the vestments and the parts of the Mass. I learned and relearned many things. It was long but it was good. After Mass everyone went to the dining room for soup and sandwiches.

Then, yesterday afternoon the local KCs came to serve ice cream and cake to the Sisters.
Every year these generous men come to treat us. We are grateful for the treat and more so for their friendship.

Thursday we will have our Employee/Sister Potluck lunch and costume party. There is always so much good food and good visiting…and usually some kind of entertainment!

Next week two special events will happen. First, the Red Cross Bloodmobile will be at St. Francis November 4, 5 and 6th, 2009. Call Sr. Julien to make appointments (632-0663) if you have not yet received your appointment notification card.

Then, on Saturday, Nov. 7th we will have a Spaghetti supper fund-raiser meal—4:30 to 7 p.m. Come and enjoy a delicious meal. The proceeds will benefit St. Francis Music Center and St. Francis Health and Recreation.

In reading Sharings, our employee newsletter, I read about the Morrison County United Way Campaign, which is underway now. I was surprised to find out that just 50 cents taken out of a pay period check will be a donation of $13. Last year our employees donated $3,156 to United Way. Thank you for your generous donations.

One last reminder. Day Light Savings time ends on November 1st. Set your clock back one hour. You can change the clocks before you go to bed or get up at 2 a.m. like they show in the newspaper. I’ll opt for the before-bed time. (In spring, spring the clocks ahead one hour. And in fall, fall back an hour.)

God bless you and have a good week.
Sister Mary Lou



October 23, 2009

The past three days have been busy ones for the Community Relations Department. About forty volunteers came to stuff envelopes for the Christmas Appeal. They started Tuesday morning and had the 16,000 plus envelopes stuffed, sealed and addressed by shortly after noon today, Thursday. Are they efficient? Yes. And they have such a good time working together. Thank you, volunteers.

Saturday we had about 70 guests for the Orphan Train Reunion. There are not too many survivors from the original riders, but the children and grandchildren of the original riders like to get together and share stories. For a couple people this was the first time they have been here. Our Sister Justina was an Orphan Train rider and arrived in Minnesota from New York City in about 1915. She was the one who started these reunions. This year was the 49th annual reunion. Their speaker was someone from the Foundling Home in New York City. I heard it was a very good program.

Last weekend I was in Cedar Rapids, IA for an SFO (Secular Franciscan Order) Gathering. It was a great weekend and I met many nice Secular Franciscans. I stayed at Sacred Heart Convent in Cedar Rapids, the Motherhouse for the Mercy Sisters. One very nice surprise for me was that my friend, Sr. Phyllis Ann, was there Saturday evening so we had a good visit. I didn’t know she’d be there and she didn’t know I’d be there.
Coming home on Monday the sky was clear all the way so along the way, I could see farmers busy harvesting corn.

Now we need some dry weather so our local farmers can get in the fields. We’ve had over an inch and a half rain so far this week. I’m still waiting for a couple weeks of Indian Summer.

Sunday we will be having a group of Confirmation Students coming for Mass at the Motherhouse. For some, I am sure, it will be their first time being at the convent.

More next week.
Pax et Bonum
Sister Mary Lou



October 13, 2009

I was in a state of denial! I did not want to believe the weather forecasters when on Friday night they said we’d have snow Saturday morning when we got up. Then I looked out the door!!! October 10th is too early for the snow season to start! Now, today, the snow is mostly melted. Farmers need some more time to get the beans and corn harvested. I am waiting for Indian Summer—several weeks of it would be really nice in my estimation.

Saturday afternoon we had a most marvelous concert in Sacred Heart Chapel. The Woodbury Chorus and Orchestra (WCO) were on their way to Brainerd to do a Church Service and Concert in Brainerd, MN on Sunday. They asked if they could stop and do a concert here at the Motherhouse on their way to Brainerd. What a blessing they are! It has been six or seven years since they last performed here. They are about 40 singers and 20 in the orchestra and they make beautiful music. The Director, Gerrit Willem Lamain, born in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, gave a little story or history of each of the pieces they did. I like that. They are a non-profit organization and take up a collection at each site where they perform and all the proceeds go to the local food-shelf. In the past 18 concert seasons WCO has helped raise more than $265,000 --enough to provide 1.4 million meals. In the past 13 years they have performed in 75 different sites in MN and WI and have had 7 European tours. Through the generosity of the Woodbury Chorus and Orchestra, our Morrison County Food Shelf received $691.00 in cash and two large bags of groceries. You can read more about them at their Web site:

St. Andrew’s Parish, in Elk River, MN, had a celebration to honor Sister Carmen Barsody for her 25 years as a Franciscan Sister and to honor and celebrate the 70 years that the Franciscan Sisters served in that parish. Our service there started as a Catechetical Mission in 1939 and then after 13 years a Catholic School was built. Sisters Giles and Marcelline left there in 2008. And now Sister Karen Niedzielski is the only Franciscan Sister teaching at the school. As I looked at the display board, I counted six of our Sisters who came from that parish. Six Sisters were on staff when the school opened in 1951. In 1966 there were 13 Sisters there.

On Sunday, at the Motherhouse, there was also a celebration. It was Associate Commitment Day. Three new associates made their commitment. Also 54 Associates celebrated 20, 15, 10 and 5-year anniversaries. God bless all these Associates who live Franciscan values in their daily lives.

On Sunday, I was in Waseca for Profession for six new Secular Franciscans into the John Paul II Forming Fraternity. Profession took place after the Gospel at the 10 a.m. Sunday Liturgy. One additional nice surprise for me/us was that my cousin Jane, who lives in nearby Janesville, MN, was in attendance at that Mass.

Peace and all good.
Sister Mary Lou



October 7, 2009

Since I wrote last week, we’ve received 4+ inches of rain here in Little Falls. Today is sunny and bright. Many trees are wearing beautiful fall colors. But in the weather forecast I heard the word “snow” for Friday for our area!!!

Since my last writing, we’ve celebrated the Feast of St. Francis on Sunday, October 4th. A faith-filled Mass started the day. In the evening we celebrated with a special dinner. John made pork chops and ribs on a wood-pellet-fired-smoker-grill--the use of which came from the Nelson Hardware Store in Swanville, MN. Good prayer and good food, good company—this must be heaven will be like!

I am quoting an article Sr. Bernice Rieland wrote in our Community Newsletter this week. It is too good to not share. “Animal Blessing: All God’s creatures had a voice in the choir on Sunday, October 4, at the Blessing of Animals in honor of St. Francis of Assisi. A menagerie of pets—all sizes, colors and voices with names such as Woody, Rylie, Sophie, Taco, Cinder and Willy—were present in Washington Park in Little Falls, MN, for the well attended event. We heard howls, barks, purrs and yips. One participant stated he brought his dog, Rose, to last year’s blessing and later she gave birth to a litter of 12 puppies. This year Rose refused to get into his pickup. The blessing obviously had merit and Rose wanted no part of it this year.’

Saturday afternoon, Oct. 10th, we have a special treat. The Woodbury Choir and orchestra will be performing a concert for us in our Sacred Heart Chapel. They have been here before and they make beautiful music. They are stopping here to perform before they continue on to Brainerd where they will make music for a Church service and a concert Sunday afternoon.

This coming Sunday we have Associate Commitment Day. Four applicants from the St. Cloud Area will be making their commitment as Franciscan Associates. The afternoon program will feature Associate Rick Dietz speaking on “Engaging the Franciscan Charism: As Associate’s Perspective.” It should be a very good day. (Long ago, Rick and I were both on staff at St. Mary’s Parish in Morris MN.)

Let us pray for one another.
Peace and all good.
Sister Mary Lou



October 2, 2009

Feast of the Guardian Angels.
I thank God for the heavenly angels that watch over, care for and protect us. I am also grateful for the many angels in human form who also care for us in ways we may never know in this life. Thank you for ways you have been an angel to me.

What a busy week. Last Saturday I was in Bloomington all day for the Fall Retreat for the Secular Franciscans. Our speaker was Father Lester Bach, OFM, Cap. We were a group of about a 100 Franciscans. It was a good day.

Here at the Motherhouse on Saturday was also the funeral for Sister Roberta Zimmer, age 84. Sister Roberta was one of the very first of our Sisters who drove a car, and as such, served as chauffeur for the sisters at the Motherhouse for a time. May she be enjoying life with the Lord.

On Sunday we hosted a Dad’s Belgian Waffle Breakfast. Approximately 468 guests came. This fundraiser brought in $2,491 for the St. Francis Music Center and St. Francis Health and Recreation Center ministries. Everyone enjoyed the delicious waffles, sausages, beverages and the array of toppings that were available.

Sunday evening my brother Nick picked me up and we went to our brother Richard’s home near West Union, MN, overnight. Then early Monday morning we were on our way to Kandiyohi to pick up our sister, Cecelia, and then on to Dubuque, IA, for our aunt’s funeral on Tuesday. Sister Mary Agnesine Rosonke, age 95, was the last of the generation ahead of us to die. (Now we are the “old folks!”) Sister’s funeral was a true celebration of life. Almost all of us first cousins were in attendance along with the Dubuque Franciscan Sisters for the funeral. In her many years as teacher and principal she touched many lives.

We started our homeward trek late Tuesday afternoon. One thing that impressed me was the large number of wind turbines along I90 across southern MN…hundreds of them. At night each one blinks a red light to warn airplanes that they are there. And as we traveled Highway 71 there is another BIG bunch of wind turbines. I Googled “Wind turbines” and found out that Minnesota is third in the nation for using this source of energy production. Ten years ago Minnesota had very few wind turbines. One article said wind turbines have “sprouted like dandelions” across the landscape. I am always amazed that they seem to move so slowly and yet produce so much energy.

As we drove along we noticed quite a bit of soy bean harvest going on as well as some corn harvest. We saw LOTS and LOTS of corn…some looking strong, green and healthy and some very short and shriveled.

Yesterday was “Flu Shot Day” at the convent. Sisters got their seasonal flu shots in the morning and the lay employees got theirs in the afternoon. My hope and prayer is that no one gets either the seasonal flu or the H1N1 flu. There are hand sanitizers everywhere. I joke that this is the new “holy water” as we enter the dining room. Let’s hope that all the precautions are effective.

This Saturday evening we have the Transitus. This is a commemoration of the death of Francis as told with acting, song and narration. Sunday is the Feast of St. Francis. It is our patronal feast…and so a very special day for us. Sunday noon there will be a Blessing of Animals at Washington Park here in Little Falls. We will again see lots of dogs and cats and maybe a few other animals. One year I blessed a little turtle. And another time some baby pigs.

That’s enough for this time.
Happy Feast of St. Francis.
Sister Mary Lou



September 23, 2009

Here it is the middle of the week already. We’ve had busy days around the Motherhouse.

Last Saturday was the Retreat Day for Associates. About 35 Sisters and Associates attended the event. Our own Sister Clara Stang gave the presentations. Afterwards one of the participants said, “I will never say the Our Father the same way.” What a great compliment. Whenever anyone’s prayer life is deepened, it is a worthwhile event.

And of course, on Sunday was Donor Day. We had 212 guests for the day’s events. I received a copy of Father Michael’s homily. It touched my heart and I know it touched the hearts of many in the congregation, too. He reminded them that in their donations of “money, support and relationships, they are accompanying the Franciscan Sisters as they continue the ministry of Jesus among the needy, in the spirit of Saint Francis.” And I say with Father Michael, “Thank you, Franciscan Sisters and Donors, for opening your hearts to receive God’s peace in Jesus Christ, for cultivating it there, and for sharing it with others.” After the Mass there was a delicious meal followed by a program. Robyn Gray talked about St. Francis Music Center and all the wonderful things they do there in addition to giving music lessons…how the staff works to build self-confidence and self-esteem in the 300 + persons who come to the Music Center each week. Our guests were also invited to tour the newly remodeled convent kitchen.

I’m sorry I had to miss both events. I was busy about gatherings with the Secular Franciscans. Saturday was our annual Fioretti Fraternity pilgrimage. We visited the new Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Cross Lake, MN. Darrel and Colleen Schneider gave us an insightful tour of the Church. It is a beautiful building. Several of us stayed for the Saturday evening Mass. Then on Sunday I was with St. Leonard’s Fraternity in Minneapolis for their elections of new leaders. Yesterday I was in Brainerd for the funeral of one of our Fioretti Fratenity members, Leona Horak, SFO.

This coming Saturday, our Sister Elise Saggau will give a presentation on Franciscan Prayer. Any presentation she gives is worth listening to.

One of our Sisters, Sister Roberta Zimmer, is near death. Sisters have been staying with her round-the-clock. May the Merciful Lord come to take her home. This afternoon, I got a call that my last living aunt, Sister Agnesine Rosonke, in Dubuque, IA, is not doing well. May God be with all those who are near death.

The other day I came across this prayer. It is called A Child’s Prayer for Morning. As I read it, I thought, “This is good for anyone.” See what you think.
“Now before I run to play,/ let me not forget to pray/ to God who kept me
through the night/ and waked me with the morning light./ Help me, Lord, to love
Thee more than I ever loved before. In my work and in my play,/ be Thou with me
through the day. Amen.”

We are in need of rain. May it come gently and without storms. My friend Larry Anderson from Morris brought more garden produce. I took a picture of some of the beautiful peppers. And I also have a picture of some of the other produce we’ve been given. God bless all those who share their garden products both with us, others and the Food Shelf. Know you are being prayed for.

Pax et Bonum (Peace and all good.)
Sister Mary Lou



September 16, 2009

Peace and all good. It has been a busy week and I have lots of things to write about.

For me the big event was the Arts and Crafts Fair held in the downtown area of Little Falls, MN. I love the Arts and Crafts Fair. I am a Block Host for south Kidder Street and one block on west Broadway. As Block Hosts the 80 of us volunteers are the liaison between the vendors and the Chamber of Commerce. On Friday evening we are there to see that vendors get set up on their correct 10 X 10 foot spot and have their license number displayed on the upper left hand corner of their booth. On Saturday and Sunday, I am around to check on how things are going and to look around at all the crafts. For me, it is a joy to see returning vendors and to meet the new ones. I generally check out the entire Fair. Because of my little battery operated cart, I can get around to all places. There are so many beautiful things to see…and so many nice people to meet. On my way home Saturday noon, in a four block stretch on our 3rd Street block I saw vehicles with the following license plates: CA, MN. IA, MT, CO, SC, ND, SD. DA, WI. That gives an idea of where shoppers and vendors come from. From what I heard, vendors had good sale days. Because of the pea-soup fog Saturday morning, the crowds didn’t get there until about 10 a.m. ….but they came! And they purchased!

On Sunday the Crosier Brothers and Priests had their BIG celebration in St. Cloud at the Cathedral and at the Civic Center. We were pleased to have 8 Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross from Greenbay, WI, as our guests at St. Francis Center. Their Order was founded by Crosier Father Edward Francis Daems, 125 years ago. The Crosiers were celebrating their 800 anniversary of their founding and their 100 anniversary of serving in Minnesota. A Crosier priest comes to the Motherhouse each Friday to preside at our morning Eucharist. Congratulations. May God continue to bless and care for you, our Crosier Brothers.

The other evening as we were coming home from the Dairy Queen, traffic both directions was stopped. The reason: about 25 ducks were crossing the road from the river to someone’s lawn across the road. It makes me happy to know that wildlife is protected and cared for.

Last Friday there was a meeting for the District 5 Dietary Managers in St. Francis Hall. They had a very busy agenda. The 25 guests from Central Minnesota had several talks: Sister Latona did a presentation on preparedness for the H1N1 flu. Mary Beth Overland talked about conflict resolution. Sue Grossbauer reminded the dietary managers about the importance of safe care and use of eggs so as to prevent salmonella poisoning. And Ruth Land gave information on carb (carbohydrate) counting for diabetics. Terry Bernardy, our Dietary Manager edits the Newsletter for the state.

The 1000 piece The Olde General Store puzzle in the mailroom was completed the other day. Soon it will be taken apart and a new one started. It is great seeing so many Sisters sit for a few minutes (or longer) and work on assembling each new puzzle.

This coming Sunday is Donor Day. I know we will be having many guests for Mass, lunch and the program. We are grateful to all who support our ministries in any way. Our list of donors is long and we appreciate each one. Each is part of our serving God’s people. Thank you.

Enjoy these last days of summer. We’ve had six days of 80 degree temperatures this past week. The only rain we received was 12/100s of an inch just as the Arts and Crafts vendors were getting ready to assemble their booths. And on the farm program yesterday I heard the man say, “Possible frost the end of next week.” Oh, My!

God bless you,
Sister Mary Lou


September 8, 2009

Tomorrow school starts for LOTS of students and teachers. I pray for them all for a good school year. May it be a safe and learning-filled time for both teachers and students. I always liked the excitement of the beginning of the school year and I miss it a bit every year.

Fall is coming. One more sign is all the acorns that fall on our driveway and lawn. One can sweep them up and in no time there are lots more there again. I haven’t seen any squirrels doing their collecting. In fact I’ve not seen any squirrels at all.

Thursday, just before our Motherhouse 11 a.m. Mass, Sister Camille Squillace went to heaven. She was a Sister 56 years. Her Funeral is today. She is my last class-mate. The cancer finally got the best of her. She put up a valiant struggle against it for some long time. Her Wake was last evening. As part of our Wake Service we always have time for story telling. The memories are so great. Sister Camille asked that at the Offertory of her Funeral Mass, I bring to the altar the white rose to remember our deceased classmates: Sisters Helen, Stella, Carla, and Susan. It is my privilege to do so.

Last Wednesday was “Sister Julien Day”. She is our Motherhouse Administrator. This summer she celebrated her golden jubilee and her birthday was Saturday. So we had a surprise double celebration. We had donuts for morning coffee break. At noon lunch there was a special program and then a special apple treat for afternoon coffee brea. It was a good day and she deserves the recognition for all that she does.

The Morrison County Record headline this week caught my attention: “Little Falls expected to grow by 160,000.” This coming weekend, September 12 and 13, is the 37th Little Falls Arts and Crafts Fair in downtown Little Falls, the 7th Antiques and Collectables Fair at LeBourget Park on the west side of the Mississippi River, and the 35th Lone Eagle Auto Club Car Show and Swap Meet on Sunday at the Morrison County Fairgrounds. Fair hours are: Saturday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. I love the Arts and Crafts Fair. I like to admire the beautiful things the craters make and I try to get to most of the 600+ booths. I’ll check out some of the Food Court goodies, too. We have almost all the guest rooms at St. Francis Center rented out to vendors who will come Friday and leave on Sunday…29 staying so far.

Last week I forgot to tell you about the special fish supper we had. In August, Terry, our Dietary Manager, went on vacation to Alaska. While there he did some fishing. He caught one or two big halibut, had them cleaned and frozen and sent FedEx to the Motherhouse. He shared his catch with us Sisters. It was delicious. Thanks, Terry.

Let us pray for one another.
Stay well and God bless you.
Sister Mary Lou


September 2, 2009

Such a variety of things to write about. I’ll start with Sunday’s celebration of Sister Justina’s 80th Jubilee as a Franciscan Sister. She walked proudly into and out of Chapel.

And when she renewed her vows she walked up the three steps to the altar level and spoke them loud and clear. It gave lots of us goose-bumps to hear and see her do this. Many of her family and friends were here to celebrate with her. The songs at Mass were well chosen: “The Summons,” “Here I Am,” “Center of My Life,” “My Song Will Be for You Forever.” Sister Justina’s most used words of the day were, “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” Congratulations, Sister. We admire you.

Last Wednesday we had the commissioning of five young men and women who are our Franciscan Community Volunteers. This is a new program for our Religious Community. These five volunteers will spend the next ten months being part of community and volunteering in areas that serve the poor.

A couple weeks ago, Larry Anderson brought us 30 heads of cabbage…large heads of cabbage. Sr. Ruth made about 35 gallons of sauerkraut on Thursday. It is fermenting away in the locker plant. On Friday, Larry brought us another 30 heads of cabbage. He also brought us two boxes of green peppers. A couple of them are the size of a football! Wow!!! Thank you, Larry. We will have lots of sauerkraut and coleslaw in the coming season.

In all the business of last week I completely overlooked the “O” Bloodmobile drive on Wednesday. It was just a one-day drive and they were looking for mostly type “O” blood. The goal was 85 units and we got 85 units. Thank you, generous donors.

Last week, also, about 30 Directors of Nurses were here for three days of meetings.

I have spent many hours sitting with one of our Sisters, Sister Camille, who is dying. When a Sister nears death, Sisters and Associates keep vigil with her and stay with her round the clock. Sr. Camille and I are the last two members of our class of ‘53.

The beginning of the week, I went to the movie, My Sisters Keeper. I had lots to think about after that.

We have a couple containers on our living room table that have milkweed leaves and branches with monarch cocoons hanging from them. In a couple weeks we can watch them hatch. It always amazes me to see that worm make the cocoon and then hatch into a beautiful butterfly.

Sister Joan Tuberty and Sister Mary Blasé Kulzer each had a brother die this past week. I attended the Wake service for Allen Kulzer Sunday afternoon in Sauk Centre, MN. The Tuberty services were in Florida.

Let us pray for one another.
Have a safe Labor Day weekend.
Students, have a good school year.
God bless you.
Sister Mary Lou



August 24, 2009

May the Lord give you peace. What a beautiful weekend and beautiful day again today.

Yesterday I attended the Concert in the Gardens in St. Cloud. George Mauer and his jazz group were the performers. It was good music and very nice to be looking at the Mississippi River from the shade of the many trees in the Munsinger Garderns…and then of course, all the colorful and beautiful flowers in the gardens. It was a feast for both eyes and ears. I was also awe-struck with the beautiful blooming flowers along highway 10. There are miles and miles of gold and brown blooms. And in other places there are lovely wild flowers gracing the ditches and right of ways.

Last week we pulled off a surprise birthday noon lunch for one of our volunteers, John. John is one of our sacristans, grills meats when we have special meals in our dining room, helps push wheel chairs and helps with many other tasks. John’s wife, Rita and their friend Elizabeth provided noon lunch. And they decorated the dining room during the time we were all at 11 a.m. Mass. Thank you, John, for your many volunteer services. And equal thanks to all our many volunteers who serve in so many ways.

As I was driving past the dam here in Little Falls, I was surprised to see how low the water level is. Even with 3+ inches of rain the past week, there are MANY exposed rocks in the river right below the dam—very different from the river level after spring snow melting!

Last week we had our rain barrel hooked up. It filled up easily with the rains the past 8 days. So, this morning for the first time, I used water from the rain barrel to water my potted flowers. I believe that rain water is better than tap water for the plants and gardens. So I am glad that blue barrel is there for us to use.

We, here at our house and at the Motherhouse, have been blessed and graced with many fresh vegetables from the gardens of so many of our friends. It is easy to make meals with such a variety of fresh vegetables to choose from. We pray in thanksgiving for these generous donors. May God continue to bless you.

We had our Fioretti Secular Franciscan Fraternity gathering in Brainerd last Saturday. I would arrive a little early according to my time schedule, but that was not to be. I didn’t know about the roads being torn apart for water and sewer renewal. So it took me a while to find a road that I could use to get to the other side of the road work. I saw parts of south-east Brainerd that I had never seen before. The trip home was more direct.

Next Sunday we will be celebrating Sister Justina’s 80th anniversary as a Franciscan Sister. We start with Mass at 11 a.m. and then a festive meal afterwards. Congratulations, Sister Justina. You have touched a lot of lives these many years.

Pax et Bonum.
Sister Mary Lou


August 19, 2009,

Last Friday a retreat started that will end tomorrow noon. There are 55 Sisters making the retreat. So the house is quiet, for the most part. About half the retreatants live off campus during the year so it is nice seeing them around these days. Sister Clare D’Auria, is the retreat director. I sat in on one conference Sunday morning and found it very inspiring. While Sister Georgine is on retreat this week, I am working in the mailroom each day. So far, all is well.
While I was at Mass this morning, a beautiful bouquet of zinnias appeared at on the mailroom counter. They are so bright and pretty. I found out that Connie was the generous giver. My mother always had a couple rows of zinnias in our garden on the farm.
We are getting a little rain, with more promised later today and tomorrow. We are grateful to God for this blessing. Too, like my brother said, “Thank you, Saint Isidore.”
The housekeepers are scrubbing the floors in the two dining rooms on second floor today. So the Sisters who usually eat there will have a picnic lunch in Breezy Inn. Breezy Inn is our screen house just east of the main convent building. It is a nice place to sit on hot summer days.

Kari Goebel usually puts my blog on the computer. But she was married last Saturday and is off a few days, so Maria will assist me today.
Be safe. God bless you.
Sister Mary Lou


August 10, 2009

The other day as I walked past the kitchen, Sister Joel just finished making plum-choke cherry jelly. What beautiful jars of sweet treats. Thank you, Sr. Joel. I also saw a big bunch of dill. They are ready for the cucumbers to grow big enough for dill pickles.

Last Wednesday night was the Green Fair and Peace Concert event. What a perfect evening. So many vendors, so much good information, so much good food, and lots of fun activities for children. The guess of attendance was about 1,000 guests. It was a wonderful evening. Rain seemed threatening all day, but none came. Several of us ordered rain barrels. We will get them on August 11th.

Yesterday we celebrated the Golden Jubilee for seven of our Sisters. What a festive day! Talk about coordination. Each Sister had a section of the dining room reserved for her guests. In the dining room, the napkins on the tables, the flowers in the centerpieces and the corsage worn by each Sister all matched. It was lovely! Special guests were the priest brothers of Sister Anne Sherman, who died in February 2006, and was a member of this class.

Last week Neal Moore, a free-lance journalist, spent three days in Little Falls and sent an article to CNN. He was canoeing the Mississippi River and made a stop in Little Falls. He was looking for good news stories. He was interested in the environmental legacy of aviator Charles Lindbergh. His documentary can be seen at
. I’ve watched most of the documentary and found it interesting. I really enjoy learning more about Charles Lindbergh. He was a really great member of our Little Falls community.

The gardens are really producing lots of fresh vegetables. There seem to be lots of tomatoes on the vine, but not many ripe yet. Cucumbers are just getting started. And we’ve had lots of beans. They are all so good.

Let us continue to pray for seasonable rain and no damaging storms.

God bless you.
Sister Mary Lou



August 3, 2009

This is the day the Lord has made. Last week when I was in St. Cloud, I stopped at Clemens Gardens to see the beautiful flowers. I was impressed by the statue of Mr. and Mrs. Clemens that was recently installed near the rose garden. This cool weather and recent rains have been a blessing to both vegetable and flower gardens. There are beautiful ones all around town.

Last Saturday was the Paint-A-Thon in Morrison County. Volunteers painted seven homes. The first eager beavers completed their job by 10 a.m.! We served breakfast to about 100 painters before they began their work. (The Franciscan Sisters donated 12 dozen cinnamon and caramel rolls.) Home owners fill out an application form and need to meet the guidelines to be selected to have their home painted. The Home Fix-Up and Paint-A-Thon are part of the Oasis Share A Meal program. I like the wording on the tee-shirts: “A Brush With Kindness.” This project is really is a brush with kindness. And everyone seemed to have had a good time.

The big event this week is the third Green Fair and Peace Concert on Wednesday, August 5th from 4 to 8 p.m. on the west lawn of St. Francis Convent, Little Falls. Last year we had 22 vendors, with over 800 attendees. There are activities for all ages. Food will also be available. The Eco Fashion Show will return again this year—most items coming from the Clothes Review. Music will be featured throughout the afternoon and evening--starting at 4 p.m. The St. Francis Peace Choir will perform at 6 p.m., followed by the bands from the URock Camp. These youth have been practicing the past couple weeks. It should be a fun evening. A new feature this year will be Verde Strategies. They are offering a pre-sale of rain barrels designed from reused 55-gallong plastic food barrels. Rain barrels are an old idea coming back to use rain roof run-off for watering gardens or washing your car, To pre-order your rain barrel, contact Jenifer at 632-0691. I hope you can come.

Sunday, the 9th, we will again have LOTS of activity at the Convent when we celebrate the Golden Jubilees for seven of our Sisters. We will have very many guest and we will all have a good time! Congratulations, Sisters. Thank you for 350 years of service as Franciscan Sisters.

Peace and blessings.
May you have a safe week.
Let us continue to pray for seasonable rain and protection from storms.
Sister Mary Lou