January 26, 2009

It’s good to know there are lots of good people in the world. The news broadcasts and newspapers are mostly filled with stories of the bad things going on. Well, this is a “good news” item. A couple weeks ago I lost my pink earmuffs at Wal-Mart. I checked with their lost-and-found to no avail. But I left my name and phone number. Anyway, I got a phone call the other day telling me they had my earmuffs. Thank you, to whoever turned them in. (I really didn’t expect that I’d ever see them again.)

Because of the severe cold, I’ve had a clean car for 4 ½ days, I went through the carwash last Thursday when it was warm…and since then it’s been too cold to do any melting. So I am rejoicing that I can touch the car and not get dirty.

Last Thursday evening we had our Employee Appreciation Dinner and program. Many employees were recognized for being with us 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 years. It is always so good to gather in this way and to meet the spouses of the employees. Michelle Olson was given the Francis Award. This award is given to a person nominated by the Sisters and Employees for their exceptional service. Michelle helps care for the Sisters in Clare Residence. Congratulations, Michelle.

Sisters Grace and Carol are back from their Mission Trip to Nicaragua. It was another successful venture. In the Health Clinic they served over 550 people with a variety of health needs. Building projects were completed and others started. Much good was accomplished. Thank you to all who were part of this in any way.

And another trip to mention, too… is the trip to Mexico. There is a small group that has been studying Spanish. Four of them decided to go to our Leon, Mexico and try out their Spanish. One of the four had to drop out of the trip, so they asked Sr. Bernarda to go. She had an up-to-date passport, so she went along. I saw her shortly before they left. She was so excited. God bless them on their journey. They will return February 2nd.

Each month the Chamber of Commerce sponsors a program called “Business After Hours.” This is a time to visit various business places that one might not ordinarily get to see. This past week Bridgeway Estates was the destination. It is an assisted living facility on the east side of town. I was there when the place opened in 2001. It is a lovely place and I was happy to see it again.

If we are going to have a “January Thaw,” it will have to happen real fast as there are not many days left in January. Saturday it got all the way to zero for the high for the day! This morning it was minus 21 again!

I found this little item that is appropriate for now.

“Christmas Aftermath”
When the song of the angels is still,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the Kings are back home again,
When the shepherds are back with their sheep,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To find the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among people.
-Author Unknown-

Sunday was the last day of Prayer for Christian Unity Week. There was a beautiful prayer service at Grace Covenant Church sponsored by the Little Falls Area Ministerial Association. The theme was “That they may become one in Your Hand” (Ezekiel 37:15-19,22-24a). The 20-member choir was made up of singers from about five churches.
Bernie Evans, Professor of Theology, St. John’s University, gave an inspirational reflection. To me, his point was that whatever denomination, churches will not become one until everyone is doing the works that Jesus asks of us…to feed the hungry, care for widows and orphans, care for the sick and needy. When we do those things, Jesus will welcome us into His Kingdom.

This is Catholic Schools Week. God bless all the students, teachers and parishes that are part of Catholic School education. I worked nearly 50 years in Catholic School and they are dear to my heart. It is with joy I remember some of the activities I participated in during Catholic Schools Week. Thank you, teachers, for all you do for the students and families in our Catholic Schools.

Pax et Bonum,
Sister Mary Lou


January 19, 2009

What a week we are beginning. This is the week of prayer for Unity between Churches. Today we honor Martin Luther King, Jr., who had a dream that things could be different in our country. And because of that dream and the many things that happened since then, we have the first black President of the United States of America.

Let us pray for Barack Obama and his team that they be given the support and guidance of the Holy Spirit to lead our country into better times. Let us pray, too, that everyone will do their part to help turn things around in our country. Let us pray, also, for the many people who are loosing their jobs and homes.

Last week the Bloodmobile was at St. Francis. Our total goal for the three days was 260. We came close to reaching that goal. We received 251 units. I think that is very good considering the severe cold and the number of people suffering from head and chest colds. God bless each of you generous donors.

Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Last week was cold…minus 24, 27, and 33 are the temperatures that I remember. We will have a few milder days and then back into the basement again. But we are tough. We live in Minnesota!

Tuesday evening we Sisters and Employees and their families will be having our own Inauguration Party at the Motherhouse. I’d expect there will be singing, playing games, food and activities for the children who come.

Thursday is the March for Life with marches happening in Washington, DC, at the State Capitol, Brainerd and many other places. I pray that the FOCA bill will not be passed.

At 1:30 p.m., Sunday the 25th is an Ecumenical Prayer Service at Grace Covenant Church ending the Week of Prayer for Church Unity. I hope you can come.

Inaugurations Day
I just finished watching the Inauguration ceremony. How blest we are to have such a peaceful transition of power. I just want to mention a few words and phrases that caught my attention in the talks and prayers: All that we can see and can’t see…exists for God’s glory; wisdom, courage and compassion; united by our commitment to freedom; civility in our attitudes; a more just, healthy nation; Lincoln Bible not used since Lincoln used it; challenges real and serious & they will be met; hope over fear; greatness must be earned; need to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and begin again to work of remaking ourselves; Let us remember who we are and how far we’ve travelled; much hope; make choices based on love not hatred; “when brown can stick aroun’’.

God bless America, Land that I love, Stand beside her and guide her…

Pax et Bonum.
Sister Mary Lou


January 12, 2009

Yesterday was the Church feast of the Baptism of Jesus. This is the official end of the Christmas Season. Today we start Ordinary Time. And then in the seventh week of Ordinary Time, we have Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. At Mass yesterday, we had the Sprinkling Rite as a reminder of our own Baptism.

Because of the Feast, the new special altar cloth was on the altar. Sister Latona Kalis made the cloth last year in honor of Sr. Mary Kalis, her aunt, when she celebrated her 75th anniversary as a Franciscan Sister. It is a beautiful work of art.

Yesterday afternoon we had our Secular Franciscan Order Christmas Party (which was rescheduled because of lots of snow in mid-December). A good time was had by all present.

From January 11 to 23rd, Sister Grace Skwira, making her second trip, with Carol Schmit and 18 others will be going on a mission trip to Nicaragua. These trips were started ten years ago when Sr. Aggie Soenneker and others responded to the invitation of Fr. Teddy Niehaus, OFM, Cap. to help the people of one of his 53 parishes. They will travel by plane, bus, ferry boat, horseback or mule and walking to get to the little village of La Estrellita. This group of men and women will help with building projects, a health clinic and activities of teaching and craft projects for children. Sr. Aggie died last year just before the mission trip. The trip went on with her watching over them from heaven. Sr. Grace helps in the health clinic where last year they attended to the needs of over 300 people in three days. As a fund-raiser, they had a Belgian Waffle breakfast in November in Annandale, MN. to raise money to purchase medical supplies. There is no electricity in La Estrellita, so they bring a small portable generator so they have power to run the electric saws and power drills needed for the building project. Many of our Sisters have gone on this mission trip over the past ten years.
Let us pray for their safety in both travel and work.

The Blood Mobile will be in St. Francis Hall Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of this week. The hours are 1:30 to 7:30 p.m. the first two days and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday. Again, I say thank you to all the generous donors.

“Baby, it’s cold outside” is my thought now on early Tuesday morning. The temperature at 8:15 a.m. is minus 25. I’m glad the strong predicted winds didn’t come. Yesterday we received another 1 ½ inches of new snow.

Let us pray for those who do not have warm housing, and for those who have to work outside that they be safe.

Pax et Bonum.
Sister Mary Lou


January 6, 2009

Happy New Year.

What a difference a day makes. Yesterday morning it was minus 21 degrees. This morning it was 12 degrees. We had 4 to 5 inches of new snow last Saturday. The snow is really starting to pile up on the lawns and roadsides. I like how it is lighter longer. Yesterday it was still light at 5 p.m.…and not so long ago it was dark by 4:30 p.m.

Sunday we celebrated the Feast of the Epiphany. The first Sunday of the Month is a Prayer Day at the Motherhouse. This is a special time of prayer for the Sisters before the Blessed Sacrament. Later in the afternoon we Sisters had our Christmas celebration. It started with a special evening prayer, then a delicious meal, singing of Christmas carols and a gift for everyone. What a fine celebration.

Sunday, Sister Jovita Wald went to heaven. She died very peacefully at 10:20 a.m. at Clare Residence. Her funeral is Thursday. This is the third death of a Sister in as many weeks. Both in 2007 and 2008 we had eight Sisters die. And now already we’ve had our first death in 2009.

While in chapel Sunday, I noticed the BIG icicles near the south chapel windows. The warm sunshine was melting the ice and there was a constant curtain of dripping water. It was very pretty.

The Bloodmobile is coming to St. Francis Convent next week: Wednesday and Thursday, Jan. 14th & 15th from 1:30 to 7:30 p.m. and Friday, Jan 16th from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thanks to all who share their blood to help others who need it.

God bless you. Let us pray for those who are most in need of prayer, for the unemployed, the sick and those suffering from and living with cancer. Drive carefully
on icy roads.

Pax et Bonum.
Sister Mary Lou