February 23, 2009

First of all: CONGRATULATIONS TO BEN HANOWSKI, Little Falls High School Senior, hockey player who set the new state record for goals scored. He received a plaque during a break in play after he broke the state’s career points record during last Thursday’s home game. Post season play begins Tuesday evening. Go Flyers, Go.

February is “I Love to Read Month.” Sisters Antonette Ahles, Maureen Blenkush, Therese Lenz, and I went to local elementary schools to read to students. I went to Lindbergh School to read to First Graders in Mrs. Hanson’s Room. It was so good to be back in a first grade classroom again. I read a book about mice. (I have a big mouse collection.) I gave each child a mouse to hold as I read the story, Boom Chicka Rock, Chicka Boom. Next week I want to go back to read, Town Mouse, Country Mouse.

Last Friday morning I went to the Chamber of Commerce sponsored Friday Morning Coffee event at Crane Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. I’ve heard about Crane Meadows, but didn’t know where it was or what was there. Now I know. It is an 1800 acre wildlife refuge with groomed walking trails that is only about eight miles south of Little Falls. It was a little too cool to go on the trails on Friday. I saw another sign of spring on my way home. I saw a dead skunk on the highway. Maybe that one should have stayed in hibernation one more day.

Last Saturday, 21st, we had a birthday party to celebrate Sister Maristell’s 90th birthday.
She had a great day with Family, Sisters and Parishioners from the Belle Prairie and Our Lady of Lourdes Parishes. I was sorry to have missed it. I was in Brainerd for our Secular Franciscan Formation Class and Fraternity Gathering.

God blessed us with about four inches of new snow Friday night and Saturday. Everything looks so clean and bright again. Where the snow was cleared, the sun really dried off roads, sidewalks and parking lots.

Kitchen update: Friday the men opened the door so we could see into the kitchen. What I saw was lots of sand and trenches where the plumbers will put in new water pipes. All the concrete floor is removed and after the water pipes are in they will start pouring a new concrete floor.

For us Franciscans at the Motherhouse, the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday is Doughnut Day. We will have a 9 a.m. coffee break when doughnuts will be served… and again at lunch time.

Lent starts on Wednesday. Plenty of opportunities present themselves for our Lenten Penances. To fast, pray and give alms are the three practices Christ invites us to during Lent. It is a time to renew our Baptismal commitment to live as Children of a loving God. Scripture study is another good Lenten activity.

On Sunday, March 1st is the 118th Anniversary of the founding of the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls. Happy Birthday to us. God bless those original 16 early Sisters who came to Little Falls and began our Community and our Ministries here.

Peace and blessings,
Sister Mary Lou


February 16, 2009

I am amazed at how the snow is melting. Most roof tops are clear or nearly clear of snow…and for some, the moisture is leaking into basements, which is not a good sign. I marvel, too, at how there are such nice circles of melted snow around the tree trunks in both the front and back yard. Yesterday, Sister Moe saw a female cardinal eating red berries from the bush in our neighbor’s yard. Spring gets nearer each day. But winter is not over yet. Snow is forecast in the next couple days.

This past weekend we had a large Marriage Encounter group at St. Francis. We had 37 guests. For whatever reason one or two of the last scheduled gatherings had to be cancelled, so this group was large. God bless all married couples and thank you for working at making your marriages succeed.

Saturday the Queen of Peace Regional SFO (Secular Franciscan Order) Council had their quarterly meeting at St. Francis. There were 10 of us present. The Regional Minister, Ed Feiler, was recently diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. We had a short prayer service for him and then presented him with a couple gifts. The Brown’s Valley Fraternity sent him a Prayer Shawl and the Elk River Fraternity presented him a Prayer Lap Blanket for both him and his wife, Pat. We wish you the best, Ed, as you undergo treatment.

When the sibling of a Sister dies and the Sister is not able to attend the funeral, we have a Memorial Service for that person. Last week we had a service for Father Jerry Ahles, OFM, brother of Sister Antonette. The week before, we had a service for Sister Haroldine Malinowski, sister of Sister Mary DeSales.

Our prayers are extended to the families of deceased Sisters Inez, Venard and Helen Niehaus at the death of their brother Edward Niehaus on February 1, 2009. Also, our sympathy to the family of Sr. Janet Kunkel at the death of her brother, Gerald, who died recently.

Oasis Share-A-Meal hosted a fundraiser at Our Lady of Lourdes Church on Sunday. Oasis Share-A-Meal, along with many groups, help sponsor a free meal every Thursday at First Lutheran Church for anyone who comes. Carol told me the numbers were down in January because of the severe cold. The Franciscan Sisters and our employees provide this meal twice a year.

Work on the kitchen remodeling project continues. The most frequently used word last week was “noisy.” The men removed the walk-in freezers and cooler and are now in process of removing the floor. The saws cutting the concrete are noisy. The big pieces of concrete are then put on a conveyor belt and lifted out a window and then into a big dumpster in the parking lot. Cooking in the kitchen across the street in Hurrle Hall seems to be going well.

Peace and all Goodness,
Sister Mary Lou


February 10, 2009

Today is the Feast of St. Scholastica, Partroness of the Benedictine Sisters. May God continue to bless them for their witness and services to the people of our St. Cloud Diocese.

On Saturday, several of us went to the first anniversary of the opening of Diamond Willow Assisted Living home in northeast Little Falls. I’d heard of the place but didn’t know where it was located or had never been there before. What a nice and homey place for the twenty residents who live there.

Sunday was World Day for Consecrated Life. It was a day to acknowledge the women and men who belong to Religious Orders, and for us to celebrate our Religious Commitment. The Crosier Brothers and Priests invited the members of the Religious Orders to Onamia for Evening Prayer, a social time and delicious meal on Sunday, February 8th. It was a great evening. We had twenty-nine Little Falls Franciscans in attendance. Five Vincentian Priests also came. God bless all members of all Religious Orders for their service to the Church.

The rain yesterday and this morning certainly has lessened the piles of snow. In a couple hours it will cool off and the rain will turn to snow.

The Library is sponsoring a “Book Exchange” three days this week for Sisters, Employees and their families. What an assortment of books have been turned in for someone else to read! I will go look it over and see what I can see…and maybe pick out a book or two, also.

Work on the kitchen renovation is in full force. Yesterday was a noisy day and it may be that way for a couple days. The men were removing the floor and some walls so saws and jack hammers were busy tools. To keep the dust from spreading to the whole building, they put up a temporary wall outside the kitchen. So for awhile we will have a mess, but it will be very nice when the work is completed. The Dietary Department is most affected by this work since the cooking is being done across the street in the small kitchen in Hurrle Hall.

May the Lord continue to bless and care for you.

Pax et Bonum.
Sister Mary Lou


February 2, 2009

Feast of the Presentation—Jesus presented in the Temple…and also the blessing of candles. We use candles in so many ways. And because of our Baptism we are expected to be lights to all around us. Let us strive to make the world a better place, one person at a time starting with ourselves.

Last Friday we had a blessing service for those being deployed to Iraq. Relatives and friends of employees and Sisters were invited for this prayer service. Four men were present for the blessing, but I included all those being deployed in my prayers. May they come back safe and sound.

Yesterday I attended the thirty-sixth annual l Pro-Life dinner at the Falls Ballroom. They were expecting four to five hundred for the dinner. As full as the Ballroom was, I believe there were that many present. The guest speaker was a local lady, Laureen Witt. She spoke on the blessings and challenges of raising a Downs Syndrome child. God bless all families who live with any challenges especially in this time of a tough economy.

Well, we didn’t have a January Thaw. I think I heard that you have to have two days in a row with temperatures over freezing to make it a January thaw. January ran out of days before the second day of warmer weather. It was 40 degrees above zero on the 31st and into the 30s on February 1st. So was it a January ½ thaw? And the Groundhog saw its shadow today. Even without that I believe we will still have another six weeks of winter!

Our Community Newsletter recently carried the following article submitted by Sister Gloria Haider. I hope you can relate to it.

On the sixth day God turned to the Archangel Gabriel and said:
“Today I am going to create a land called Minnesota. It will be a land of outstanding natural beauty; a land of 10,000 beautiful lakes—each one full of fish.’

It shall have tall majestic pines, peacefully flowing rivers, landscapes full of buffalo, tall grass, and eagles, beautiful blue skies, forests full of bear, elk and moose and rich farmland.”

God continued, “I shall make the land rich in resources so as to make the inhabitants prosper and they shall be known as a most friendly people, people who practice being Minnesota Nice every day.”

“But Lord,” asked Gabriel, “don’t you think you are being too generous to these Minnesotans?”

“Not really,” replied God. “Just wait and see the winters I am going to give them.!”
The remodeling project in the Convent kitchen started in earnest today. The workmen were there in full force. This past week there has been much activity in moving some of the needed cooking items to the small kitchen in Hurrle Hall across the street where meals will be prepared the next three months while the kitchen is being fixed up. A temporary bakery is set up in the storeroom across the hall from its usual home. So again we will have the mess of reconstruction going on for a little while, but it will be so nice when it is all finished. The remodeling projects in the other areas of the Motherhouse are so beautifully done. Now the last project is under way. May the work proceed without accident, injury or without unforeseen delays.

Peace and blessings,
Sister Mary Lou