April 27, 2009

Happy Monday. Spring is here. We had about ¼ inch of rain yesterday. Thank you, God and please send us more. The tulips, poppies, iris and bleeding heart plants are all up. And very soon the rhubarb will be ready for pulling. Rhubarb Crisp, here we come.

Thursday was bright and sunny as we celebrated Earth Day. We planted two soon-to–be flowering trees in memory of Father Jerry Ahles, OFM, brother of Sister Antonette Ahles. After the prayers and song of blessing, everyone who wished could throw a spade of dirt or a can of water into the hole. The trees are on the south side of the chapel walk-way and can be seen by everyone walking to Chapel or also from the Clare Residence dining rooms.

Last Friday we had a first for our Community. We had the burial of the cremains of Sr. Ramona Johnson. First we had a short Prayer Service with songs and prayers in Chapel. Then we had a procession to the cemetery. One of her brothers carried the little box. At the burial spot in the cemetery we had more prayers and songs. Always the last song is “Ultima.,” sung in Latin. The translation is: At our life’s last moment fleeting, Thine own Son for us entreating, May we, Christ with thee embrace Virgin Mother, grant this grace.”

On Saturday I went with my sister and sister-in-law, Cecelia and Louise, to the Quilt Show at the Weyerhaeuser Museum. What talent and patience to make such beautiful works of art from cloth and thread. I was especially impressed with a 108 X 108 quilt of 5,086 pieces made by Mary Fiechtmann. What a labor of love. Besides quits they also showed quilted vests and purses. It was a beautiful show of about 100 items on display.

Sunday was filled with activities. At the Falls Ballroom we had the 24th Spring Magic Party sponsored by the St. Camillus Place Advisory Board. This dinner and dance provides a wonderful opportunity for persons with developmental disabilities to share in a great social event with their families and friends. Our 284 guests all had a good time. I am on the Advisory Board.

Another activity Sunday afternoon was the Earth Charter meeting at the Motherhouse. Our speaker was Dr. Bernie Evans from St. John’s University. He spoke to the last two sections of the Earth Charter: Social and Economic Justice and Democracy, Nonviolence and Peace. One item that I will remember is “that peace is the wholeness created by right relationships with oneself, other persons, other cultures, other life, Earth, and the larger whole of which all are a part.”

And a third event on Sunday was the Spring Concert by the Sforzando String Orchestra and the Con Brio String Orchestra directed by Celo V’ec. The Chapel was full of appreciative listeners. At the beginning of the concert Celo introduces two special persons. They were 6 year-old Nathan Schilling who joined the orchestra in January of this year, and Jean Mosier, the oldest member of the orchestra who is in her upper eighties and played her last concert. They hugged one another and he was almost as tall as she is.

For me a favorite quote from the program was a quote from the reflection of Sibelius on life and art. He said: I have always imagined life as a massive block of granite. With willpower for a chisel, you hew the granite until it bears the shape you have sketched out. It is just as important to have your plans ready before you begin to hew the stone as it is to have a sharp chisel. We all have the power to chisel out lives according to our wishes.

The kitchen renovation is coming right along. It seems to me that most of the pieces are here and getting near to proper placement. I hear that next week the cooks will start in-service on how to use all these new pieces of equipment. I laughed out loud on Saturday when I noticed a little peek-hole in the plastic surrounding the kitchen. Some creative person drew a little eye with eyelashes around the hole.

God bless you.
Pax et Bonum.
Sister Mary Lou


April 20, 2009

Greetings on this third week of April. Spring is really here! When travelling to Brainerd and St. Cloud I’ve seen many green lawns and fields and even some blooming shrubs. WOW!!! Isn’t it great? I think so. And now the promise of some much needed rain. And I’ve seen the first blooming dandelions.

Last week the Red Cross Bloodmobile was at St. Francis. We had a good blood drive. Our total goal for the three days was 260 units and we received 248 units of blood. That’s a lot. There were about 15 persons who came, but could not donate. God bless all of you for sharing this gift of life. Money may be in shorter supply, but the gift of blood is a tremendous gift.

This week is Severe Weather Awareness Week. What a good idea to be prepared by knowing what to do when severe weather comes our way. I’d expect that some severe weather will come our way in the coming months. Thursday there will be a state-wide tornado drill. That will mean lots of us from the Motherhouse will go to the convent tunnel for this safety drill.

I spent significant time Friday, Saturday and Sunday involved with meetings with Secular Franciscans. God bless all these good people for being faithful to living their Profession.

Yesterday, too, was the Christian Community Concert in Sacred Heart Chapel at the Motherhouse. I’m told the music was great. The concert and a silent auction were part of a fund-raiser for Oasis Share-A-Meal. This group does lots of “good stuff” for the needy in our area. Thank you for your services.

The Motherhouse kitchen renovation is really taking shape. Last week two semis came bringing stainless steel counters, shelves and sinks. These are mostly in place now. Then this week we’ll get the stoves, ovens and steamers. It’s really starting to look like a kitchen again. There was an article in yesterday’s St. Cloud Times about the new kitchen. The headline is: Sisters have new green Kitchen: Franciscan Sisters are remodeling their 1943 kitchen to include energy-efficient materials.” “Reduce, reuse and recycle” were considerations whenever possible in this big project. In less than a month we expect that the project will be completed. Thank you to all who have been working on all aspects of this job. God bless you.

May the Lord continue to bless and care for you and keep you safe in all your comings and goings.

Pax et Bonum.
Sister Mary Lou


April 13, 2009

Happy Easter. May the Risen Jesus Reign in your heart and bless you with peace.
Today I am putting in many pictures from Holy Week and Easter.

Holy Week started with Palm Sunday. Many people made their palms into lovely items to keep in their homes throughout the year.

On Tuesday some of our elder Sisters, with the help of some home-schooled Children, decorated the Easter Eggs that were blessed on Easter Sunday morning and then served for breakfast that day.

We had trays of decorated Easter cookies and, of course, Hot Cross Buns served on Good Friday.

Thursday Evening we had our Sedar Meal. This is a reminder of Jesus’ meal with his friends the night before He died. The dining room was beautifully decorated with centerpieces of a small loaf of bread and a glass of wine which was shared by each person at the table. At 7 p.m. we had Eucharist/Mass with the washing of feet followed by adoration until 10 p.m.

Good Friday started with a Silent Walk for Peace through the downtown part of Little Falls. I talked last week about the places where we stopped and prayed. We had twenty-five people on the walk this year. The participants in the walk took turns carrying the big brown cross. (May the time come soon when all parts of the world will know peace.) Shortly after that walk concluded, we had Stations of the Cross, using the stations along the cemetery path—stations that Sister Alice Doll painted many years ago. We had thirty people join us for this. At the same time there were Stations of the Cross being prayed in the Chapel. The 2 o’clock Liturgy was a prayerful time for all who attended.

On Saturday at our house, we colored Easter Eggs and Isa decorated a lamb cake for us.

And what a joy-filled celebration the Easter Vigil Service was. Sister Joel and her helpers had everything arranged perfectly. Father Michael used his Boy Scout skills to arrange the materials for the new fire so it burned perfectly for the blessing of the new fire. I am always touched at how the light from the Easter Candle is used to illumine the whole Chapel in such a short time.

Easter Sunday was sunny and bright. I went to the home of my brother and sister-in-law near West Union and then rode with them to their son’s home in Hutchinson for Easter dinner and a good visit with family. It was great fun watching the little children searching the yard for Easter Eggs. It didn’t take them long to finish that task.

This week the Bloodmobile is here Wednesday, Thursday and Friday… 1:30 to 7:30 p.m. the first two days and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday. God bless the generous donors.

Peace and blessings until next week.
Sister Mary Lou


April 7, 2009

HOLY WEEK, Lent has gone fast And now we are into the holiest week of the year. The Palm Sunday events are special. The blessing of palms and the procession of palms is a favorite on-going memory. And for many of us palm weaving is also special. On Sunday, Sister Trudy Schommer and I were invited to Albertville to help with a palm weaving activity in the parish. We helped lots of “elders” and “youngers” Transform that long piece of palm into a beautiful work of art. Mary studied Sr. Cecilia’s Palm Weaving book and figured out how to make lovely things. I made lots of palm fish for children—young and old alike.

Saturday was special at out house. Our postulant, Isabel (Isa) Berrones and Sister Mary Dumonceaux, postulant minister, came from Mexico to stay with us until the end of June. This is Isa’s time to meet the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls and to continue to discern her vocation to our Community. The cold and snow are new to her since these are not what happens in home homeland in the tropics of Mexico.

Holy Week Services for the rest of the week at the Motherhouse are:
Holy Thursday 8 a.m. Morning Prayer
7 p.m. Eucharist followed by adoration until 10 p.m.
Good Friday 8 a.m. Morning Prayer
9:30 a.m. Silent Walk for Peace
11 a.m. Stations of the Cross both in Chapel and outside.
2 p.m. Good Friday Service
Holy Saturday 8 a.m. Morning Prayer
8 p.m. Easter Vigil Service Easter Sunday
8:30 a.m. Easter Sunday Eucharist

I want to talk a little more about the Silent Walk for Peace. We gather at the west entrance of the Convent to start our walk wit prayer and song. Various persons take turns carrying a large wooden cross to lead the procession. Then there are several stops throughout town. The first stop is at Maple Island Park where we pray for the healing of the earth. Our next stop is at the Veteran’s Memorial where we pray for our Military personnel and all veterans. At the Bank Square stop we pray for a just economic system in our world. At the Government Center we pray for our civic leaders. At the jail we pray for those imprisoned and our law enforcement officers. At our Lady of Lourdes Elementary School we pray for all children and teachers. We pray for Senior Citizens at Alverna Apartments. Our last stop is at St. Gabriel’s Hospital were we pray for the sick and all who care for them. This walk is a graphic reminder of some of the ways that Jesus still suffers in our world today.

May your Holy Week be HOLY. May the Lord bless you with peace and good ness this special week of the year. You, my readers, are in my prayers.

Pax et Bonum,
Sister Mary Lou


April 1, 2009

SPRING! Oh, Spring Where art thou? March surely went out like a lion and we have our April Fools joke today with the 11+ inches of heavy, wet snow yesterday and it’s still doing it yet this morning. The trees are beautiful with the layers of thick snow.

My list is long for today’s writing.

I will start with the prestigious Sally Award the St. Francis Music Center received Monday evening at the Ordway Center in St. Paul. Robyn Gray accepted the Sally Award for St. Francis Music Center. Along with the beautiful trophy came a check for $2,500. The Sally Awards “were created to honor individuals and organizations that strengthen and enrich our state with their vision, initiative and commitment to the arts, as well as their ability to instill a passion for the arts in others,” says Ordway President and CEO Patricia Mitchell. St. Francis Music Center, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, was recognized in the category of education. The center offers music instructions for at least 340 students per week, from tots to senior citizens. Celo ‘Vec has greatly enriched the program with his leadership in creating two strings orchestras.

It happened again last week. Two Sisters went to heaven on March 24th. Sister Gemma Gallus died at 7:55 a.m. and Sister Loretto Schneider died at 9:01 p.m. We had Sr. Loretto’s funeral last Friday, the last day of our retreat. And this past Monday we had Sr. Gemma’s funeral. I lived with Sr. Gemma when we worked at St. Michael, MN. It was good to visit with some of her/our friends from there at both the Wake and the Funeral. One story told at Sr. Gemma’s Wake was about a rock. Sr. Gemma studied rocks and could identify many different kinds. One day some children came to her with an unusual shaped rock. After turning it around in her hands a few times, she said, “It is a leeberite.”
Puzzled, they looked to her for clarification. She then said, “Leeb ‘er right where it was.”

Our carpenters make our plain wooden coffins.

The Mississippi River seemed to be causing some anxiety Sunday evening when huge chunks of ice behind the dam were moving around and piling up on the ground aside of the river. In the afternoon I had gone to see the wild water pouring over the top of the dam (and all the gates were wide open).

Our retreat last week was great. The theme was, “Eight Beatitudes of a Contemplative Franciscan Pilgrim.” My favorite beatitude was the third one: “Blessed are those who expect set-backs along the way—they will be full of trust and have no fear.” What it said to me was that set-backs will happen and when they do, not to get all upset when things don’t go the way I expected/planned. Go with the flow, change my plans when necessary, trust that God is in charge and it will all work out OK.

Sr. Gemma had this verse in her room. My mother had it, too, and I like it. So here it is.
I shall pass through this world but once;
Any good thing, therefore, that I can do
or any kindness that I can show
to any fellow creature, let me do it now.
Let me not defer or neglect it,
for I shall not pass this way again.

Next time I will share one of Sr. Loretto’s writings.

Let us keep the people in the flooded area in our prayers. God bless all those who helped with all the sandbagging.