March 22, 2009

WELCOME SPRING! On Friday we had an inch of new snow, 2/10s inch of rain and bright sunshine to end the day! Praise God. When I went to the Motherhouse for Mass on Friday morning, Keith and Tim were in the flower plot near the kitchen digging up bulbs—bulbs with four-inch green sprouts. Snow all around them, it seemed too early in the season to be digging in the ground. But the bulbs had to be moved and there they were doing their job. I think it has something to do with the kitchen renovation.

Congratulations to the Flyer Boys Basketball team. They are in play-offs this week.
Good luck, boys.

I will be part of a big retreat (about seventy Sisters) starting Sunday evening until noon on Friday. The retreat director is Fr. Dan Crosby, OFM, Cap. The theme of the retreat is “Eight Beatitudes of a Contemplative Franciscan.” There will be a lot of silence on the campus. Holy Spirit, come be with us.

I am not Irish, but I celebrated in a great way on March 17th! I was given an award by the Little Falls Chamber of Commerce as the 2008 Volunteer of the Year. The award was presented at the annual Chamber meeting that evening. Also the Big Business of the Year, (Coborn’s Superstore) and the Small Business of the Year (Century 21 New Horizon Realty) received awards. It is an honor to receive this recognition and I accepted it not only for myself but also for all the Franciscan Sisters who volunteer and share their time and talents to help make the world a better place. There were 280 guests for the dinner. Three of my family members, Cecelia, Rich and Louise, surprised me by attending the evening’s event. The Morrison County Record has a picture and an interview with each of us in the March 22nd edition.

Last week we had the funerals for Sister Judith on Tuesday and for Sr. Virginia on Thursday. And I attended the funeral for my sister-in-law’s brother, John, on Wednesday. May they all be enjoying new life with the Lord.

Today, March 22nd, is World Water Day. The Sisters of Saint Benedict from St. Joseph, MN, and the Franciscan Sisters and Associates of Little Falls, MN, have been working with several organizations on the problems we all face regarding the WATER crisis. Through our study and work we realize that all peoples must work together to save our diminishing resources. The little flyer I am looking at gives eight points for us to start a conversation with our friends, neighbors and adversaries as to how we can preserve this sacred resource for future generations. The eight points are: 1. Water is sacred. It belongs to all life on the planet. 2. Every creature needs water to live. Earth’s freshwater must be protected and conserved. 3. Water is a basic human right. Every person must have access to enough safe water to meet essential needs. 4. It is everyone’s responsibility to use water sparingly and with care so that all living things can share in this resource. 5; Water is a public trust. It must be guarded by individuals, communities and government. 6. Polluted waters are to be reclaimed. 7. Environmentally unsustainable activity must be discouraged. 8. Natural watersheds are considered to be the best protection for water. Two other points of interest are: the amount of fresh water on the earth is a mere 2.6% of the total and we oppose the privatization of water and the use of bottled water unless absolutely necessary.

Work on the kitchen remodeling project is progressing nicely. On Thursdays, it is great to take a peek into the area to see all the progress. I noticed that the floor tile and the wall tiling seems to be completed, the stove hoods are up and there is lots of duct work done and now a couple walls are up. God bless and keep safe all those who are working on this big project.

On Saturday, March 28th, we will have the Secular Franciscan Order Annual Spring Retreat here at the Motherhouse. Our speaker is Fr. Lester Bach, OFM, Cap. I look forward to hearing him speak about topics from his newest book, Seeking a Gospel Life.

And one last note is to congratulate my friend, Father Tom Agar, on his ordination to the priesthood in a private ceremony in the ICU unit of a hospital in Monterey, CA. Tom has been really sick for nearly a month and it was his desire to be ordained, so Bishop Richard Garcia brought to fulfillment, Tom’s dream of becoming a Priest in the Catholic Church. The Bishop issued only one working assignment order to Father Tom at the conclusion of the Ordination Ceremony: Get Well. Tom’s home town is Brown’s Valley, MN. His mother was an SFO member.

Pax et Bonum.
I will be praying for you during my retreat.
Sister Mary Lou


March 17, 2009

What a busy week this past one has been.

First, CONGRATULATIONS to the Flyer Boys Hockey Team…now third in the State. And what an exciting finish in Saturday’s win in the last 22 seconds of the game. We are proud of you and your accomplishments…a 30 game winning season and only one loss.

We had two Sisters die on Friday the 13th. I cannot remember that ever happening before. Sister Judith Steinke died minutes after midnight to begin the day and Sister Virginia Dingmann died an hour and a half before the day ended. Both Sisters have been quite ill and Sisters have been sitting with them day and night for a day or two before their deaths. May they now be enjoying life with the Lord in heaven.

Saturday evening St. Francis Music Center sponsored a vocal recital by Danna Pantzke in Sacred Heart Chapel. Danna is currently finishing her Master of Music degree at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. Danna was born and raised in Little Falls. She was a voice and piano instructor at St. Francis Music Center, the place where her musical studies began at the age of five. It was a wonderful concert and a great way to end a week. I was pleased to see such a large audience in attendance.

The daffodils came last week. There are vases of the bright yellow flowers in many, many places at the convent and in homes. All proceeds go to the American Cancer Society. What a bright and cheery way to sponsor cancer research.

Sunday was the 11th Annual Share Sunday talent show in memory of George Bzdok at Our Lady of Lourdes Middle School. There were four categories: ages 11 and younger, ages 12 – 15, ages 15 – 18 and adult. Each group entertained us with great performances. I especially enjoyed the Sobania Family string ensemble, Tanner Gustafson’s drum solo, Eddie Bzdok’s vocal solo and Ullysse Robbins violin solo. All proceeds go to the Morrison County Food Shelf and Oasis Share-A-Meal. Thank you for a fine afternoon of good entertainment.

In Peter Graham’s article in the Morrison County Record, I learned that this is National Groundwater Awareness Week. A couple interesting facts: I learned that 50% of United States population depends on it for their water supply. Ground water makes up more than 90% of the available fresh water in America. We need to protect and care for our ground water supply.

Work continues in the kitchen. Today the big air vents arrived. Work on the floors continues as does work on the wall tile. It is exciting to look in when they open the door for us to look in—usually on Thursdays.

What a change in the weather in a week. Last Tuesday we had a blizzard with 6 inches of new snow, closing all the schools in the area. Last Wednesday the temperature was minus 8 with a wind chill of minus 33 degrees. And today it was clear, sunny and near 60 degrees. I like it. The snow is disappearing fast. We have a big area of our lawn now visible for the first time since November. I’m waiting to see my first dandelion.

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


March 10, 2009

Sunday, we had a wonderful concert in our Motherhouse Chapel. The Faculty of St. Francis Music Center shared their talents to a chapel full of appreciative listeners in celebration of 30 years of the Music Center. The concert featured piano, organ, cello, violin, guitar and voice selections. In 1979, our Sister Cecelia Schmitt had the vision to start a School of the Arts in the former St. Francis High School building. In these past 30 years the lives of literally thousands of children and adults in the central Minnesota region have been touched by the Music Center. This is the only community school for the arts in the United States in a community of less that 20,000 population. Thank you, Sister Cecelia, thank you for having this vision and for filling our lives with music in so many ways.

March is National Women’s History Month. Let us remember the contribution of women to the health and welfare and blessings in our country. Right here on our campus, it was our Sixteen Founding Sisters who started St. Francis Convent, St. Gabriel’s Hospital, St.Otto’s Home, the Orphanage, St. Francis High School, St. Camillus Place and Alverna Apartments.

We had a special guest for lunch on Monday. She was Sister Chrispina. Sister is from Zanzibar and is well known to our Sisters Tonie Rausch and Maristell Schanen. Both Sr. Chrispina and Sr. Tonie taught in a new school begun by Bishop Shao to help youth pass exams to enter secondary schools on the mainland. The Bishop wanted Sr. Chrispina to pursue further studies so that the Cheju school would become the first Catholic Secondary School in Zanzibar. He asked our community to help him and so she has lived with our Sisters in St. Cloud while attending classes at St. Cloud State University. We are very proud of her achievements. St. Cloud State University has selected her to receive their 2009 Award for Excellence in Leadership. Not only has she excelled in her university studies, but also has excelled in outreach to the entire community, especially in regard to race relations. She has also involved women faculty members in development work for the women of Zanzibar. CONGRATULATIONS, SISTER CHRISPINA.

Sunday, March 15th, is the 11th annual Share Sunday talent show at Our Lady of Lourdes School. All funds raised will go to Oasis Share-A-Meal. The Paint-A-Thon is one of the projects that will be helped by these funds.

Today we are having a full fledged blizzard. So far we’ve gotten four or five inches of new snow with more to come through the night—with up to a foot of new snow possible.. Now the wind is picking up and bitter cold to arrive, too. All schools in the area had an early dismissal today. Seems like most things have shut down for the day. I will just stay in the house and watch the snow fly.

Oh, I almost forgot the kitchen report. The electricians are doing their thing. The plumbers are laying pipes for water and sewage, the drywall men are hanging dry wall.
All is moving along according to schedule.

Last Friday, I attended the World Day of Prayer service at First United Church. It was prepared by the women of Papua, (Indonesia). {My sister, Rita, has ministered in that part of the world for 26 years.} I could picture in my mind the events mentioned in the prayer service. The World Day of Prayer is always the first Friday of March and is prepared each year by women in a different part of the world.

Peace and all goodness.
Sister Mary Lou


March, 3, 2009

May God be praised in all that comes our way today.

Mountains of snow sprouted up all over town since last Thursday’s eight inches of snow. I was most grateful that Tim shoveled the snow off my car and moved it nearer the building when I left work that day. My walker wheels don’t do well in that much snow.

Friday afternoon I spent a couple hours at Coborn’s selling chances on a quilt and afghan for the Oasis/Share-A-Meal organization. They have one more big fund-raiser on March 15th with the 1:30 p.m. Share Sunday Talent event at Our Lady of Lourdes Middle School Auditorium here in Little Falls. All proceeds go to the Morrison County Food Shelf and Oasis/Share-A-Meal.

And now the challenge is on to raise funds for the Food Shelf during this March drive. From what I’ve read, the use of the Food Shelf is way up in all areas. God bless all those who need to use the Food Shelf to feed their families. And God bless those who donate money and food to help fill the Food Shelf shelves. The Morrison County Food Shelf started out in a couple rooms here at St. Francis Campus. Now they have their own new building on the west side of Little Falls near Bethlehem Lutheran Church.

On Saturday, March 7th, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., we have a Lenten Day of Reflection. Sister Michelle L’Allier will lead the day with the theme, “The Lenten Journey: Preparing our Hearts for Love.” St. Francis Hall is where the talks will be.

Remember to “spring your clocks ahead” one hour before you go to bed on Saturday night. Day Light Savings Time is with us until November 1st.

Work on the kitchen remodeling continues. It is fun to peek in when the door is open for a quick look at the progress being made. The new concrete floor is taking shape and the new walk-in freezer and refrigerator is under construction. God bless the dietary workers who walk extra miles to prepare our meals in Hurrle Hall, across the street from the dining room.

May Faith and Love fill your Lenten Days.
Peace and continued blessings,
Sister Mary Lou