May 26, 2009

I hope you all had a safe and good long-weekend.

For me a special time was attending the 14th annual Memorial Service, “Will We Remember?” at the Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery. The Richfield Symphonic Band provided beautiful music before and during the program. Jack Peck is always a wonderful Master of Ceremonies. I heard one speaker say that there are 25 million Veterans in the USA. There are 3,000 buried at our local Veterans Cemetery. Placing of the wreaths for the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard, Women in the Military, Disabled American Veterans, and POWs always touches my heart. When the band played the “Armed Forces Medley” and the service men and women from each group stand while their song is played brought tears to my eyes. The group Water Into Wine performed several numbers. Dr. James Tuorila, Surgeon General Veterans of Foreign Wars delivered an inspirational message about heroes who have served in the military. The pictures shown here were taken by Rob Paxton.

On May 19th, we celebrated our Senior Sisters with a banana-split treat in the afternoon. Most of us who live in Little Falls fit into that category!

The EnLUNCHment presentation at noon on Wednesday was put on by Debbie Baldwin. She showed slides and spoke to the topic: “Three Faiths, Two Countries, One Peace.” The three faiths were Christianity, Judaism and Islam. The two countries are Israel and Palestine. And peace is the desire of all.

The next day, I read to Mrs. Hanson’s first graders at Lindbergh School for the last time this year. It is a volunteer activity that I really enjoy.

Thursday evening CEC (the Continuing Education Center) held its graduation ceremony for 17 seniors. Their motto is: Each of us has different talents, different dreams and different destinations, yet we all have the same power to make a difference. I guess that is true for each of us. Congratulations to all who graduate this year. The Franciscan Sisters scholarship went to Victoria Fulda, who will be going into the health ministry field. In addition to those who graduated at CEC there were another 19 graduates who took some classes at CEC in order to fulfill their requirements for graduation.

The closing prayer at the 8:30 a.m. Mass at the Camp Ripley Chapel on Memorial Day was written by Fr. Harold Kost.

O God of mercy, we beg you now to protect in a special way those who are in service for the country we love. Bless them and take care of them. If they are wounded and suffering, give them comfort. If they are lonely, touch them with Your gentle hand, and let them know that You are near them. And if it be Your will that they should give up their lives for us, grant them a good death, and a home with You in heaven. Hasten the day, dear Lord, when we may all enjoy the blessings of peace once more. Amen.

Next Sunday, May 31st, is the great feast of Pentecost. May the Holy Spirit come anew to you.

The lilac bushes and other flowering trees are beautiful…and they are all around us.
Let us all pray for seasonable rain.

God bless you.
Pax et Bonum (Peace and all Good)
Sister Mary Lou


May 19, 2009

“Praise God from whom all blessings flow.” That’s a good way to greet the day. It is another beautiful day. I love the colorful, flowering trees all around us. Our apple orchard is in full bloom. The lilacs are nearly in full bloom. I picked a big bouquet for the mailroom.

Sister Ruth is selling some of her tomato and cabbage plants. When I was out and about on my battery-operated cart on Sunday, I checked out the orchard, the lines of lilac bushes, and notice, too, that gardeners are already busy planting things in the Community Gardens south of the Motherhouse.

In my journeys on Sunday I also went out to our cemetery, south of the Motherhouse. I took a picture of the monument at the cemetery entrance honoring our 16 original founding Sisters.

After Mass last Friday, the feast of St. Isidore the Farmer, Father Gallus, OSC, lead the prayers for the blessing of the lawns, gardens and fields. The prayer is: ”O God, from whom all blessings flow. Look kindly on us as we begin another season of planting and tilling the land. We humbly acknowledge our dependence on Your provident care and beg You to give us the needed sunshine and rain so that what has been planted may come to fruition. Protect us from all that would destroy the potential fruits of this land. We, on our part, promise to cooperate in the building up of what You have created, honoring and respecting the handiwork of Your Hands. We ask Your blessing in the name of Jesus who walked on this earth and continues to live among us, now and always. Amen.”

Last Thursday we had our Volunteer Dinner, honoring the many volunteers who give of their time and talents here at the Motherhouse. Jennifer told me we have 410 volunteers who gave over 14,000 hours of service in 2008. That’s a lot! God bless you. Life is better because of you.

St. Francis Music Center was a busy place this past weekend. There were Spring Recitals the 15th, 16th and 17th. All these students shared their talents by playing and/or singing for the big audiences. Thank you for sharing your talents.

Then Sunday evening, The St. Francis Community Chorale, directed by Barb Stumpf, presented a wonderful “Singing in Spring” vocal concert. It was wonderful! Celo V’ec played a cello solo. Vicki Spofford accompanied the singers. Don Golingowski and Ray Stumpf played guitar. Elise Spofford played flute and percussion and Emily Spofford
played violin. What an uplifting prayerful event. One song I especially enjoyed was “Shut De Do.” It is an African song that implores us to “Shut the door to keep out the devil.”

CEC, (Continuing Education Center) will have a graduation ceremony at 7 p.m. Thursday evening. This year they have 18 students graduating. This is a smaller number than I remember from other years, but that’s OK. I am proud of these students for completing their work and graduating from High School.

Sunday we celebrate the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord. May Easter Joy continue for each of us now and always. Abbot Marmion, OSB said, “Joy is the echo of God’s love within us.” Let’s share that love and joy with all who are part of our lives.

Pax et Bonum
Sister Mary Lou


May 13, 2009

We are past the middle of the week and here I am, just getting started on my blog for this week. Time flies!!! We had a little rain shower last night. The trees are flowering in Maple Island Park.

Last Thursday noon, Sister Georgine and I went to the Government Center to pray at the flag pole for peace. It was a national Day of Prayer. There were about thirty of us there for the event. I found it very touching to see the young and the older all so seriously praying for peace in the world, in our country, our state, our city, our families and in our own hearts. May God bless all our troops serving throughout the world. And may God take care of their families here at home.

Friday evening we had the Wake service for Sister Dorine Zupan. Her funeral was Saturday at 11 a.m. It was wonderful to see so many of her nieces and nephews and their little ones come for both services.

Saturday I was involved in the Regional Council meeting for the SFOs (Secular Franciscans). What a great group of men and women.

Sunday, Mother’s Day, fifteen of us from three of our living groups gathered at the Welcoming House in St. Cloud to honor and share about our Mothers. We saw pictures and heard touching stories about these great women. Then we had a delicious meal.

Today we had the blessing of the new kitchen area. What a joyous event. Pictured are Sister Mary Obowa and Terry Bernardy blessing the area with holy water as a hallway full of Sisters and Employees looked on. The finishing touches are being added to the food storage room. Then comes the challenge for the Dietary Staff to learn anew where everything is.

Tomorrow evening, Thursday, we are having our Volunteer Appreciation Dinner. It is the least we can do to thank all the men and women who help us in so many ways.

The rhubarb is big enough for pulling and eating. So far I’ve made three rhubarb cakes. They seem to disappear quite fast. Tonight we celebrated Sr. Matthias’ Feast Day with a fresh rhubarb cake and ice cream. What cake was left, I gave to the nursing staff. I thought it a nice gesture to honor them during Nurse’s Week.

The Music Center is having recitals in the afternoon both on Saturday and Sunday. It makes my heart happy to see how well these students have developed their talents throughout the year.

Sunday evening there will be a Choral Concert in Chapel. They make beautiful music
together. I hope we have another big audience.

Our resident ducks are back. Every year a pair or two make a nest on campus. Then when the young are hatched they walk them across campus, across the highway, over to the Mississippi River. It is a sight to behold. Carl Simons, Jr., one of our volunteers, took this delightful picture.

A little slip of paper fell to the floor in my room the other day.
These two sayings were written on it:
“Just one person taking action can inspire others to do the same.” Leslie Agular.
“The only place you will find “success” before “work” is in the dictionary.” May V. Smith

God bless and continue to care for you.
Sister Mary Lou


May 5, 2009

Greetings and Peace to you.

Here we are into May already! April and May showers are bringing May flowers into view. A row of beautiful tulips lined the entrance area of St. Francis Xavier Church in Sartell, MN. Little wild blue flowers bloom in our back yard. Yellow shrubs shine in our neighborhood. Our bleeding heart plant grew from an inch to seven or eight inches last week. Spring is truly here. Showers and thunder storms seem to be in the offing for the next several days. God is good. May we have seasonable rain throughout the growing season. May farmers and gardeners have a good growing season and a fruitful harvest.

I noticed the plastic-covered temporary green-houses on the parking lots at Coborn’s and at Hardware Hanks. That sure puts me in a mood for digging in the dirt.

Last Tuesday a group of Red Hat ladies had a tour of our convent. They came for lunch, to see a video of the Altar Bread department and our ministry of sending altar breads to 150 churches in Minnesota and many other states, to see the Franciscan Life Office, our library, and our Chapel. Hostesses, Sisters Christelle and Mary Lou and Pat Sharon, librarian, joined them in also wearing red hats.

This morning we received word that our Sister Mary Dorine Zupan went to meet the Lord last evening. We will have Franciscan Wake Friday evening, May 8th, and Sr. Dorine’s funeral on Saturday morning at 11 a.m.

Another death last week was that of Fr. Tom Agar, age 59. I worked with him at Assumption Parish in Morris, MN. many, many years ago when I was principal at St. Mary’s School. Since the end of February Tom has been very ill. He was scheduled to be ordained the end of May, but was ordained early, March 20th, in the critical care unit of the hospital in CA where he was a patient. He will be buried in his hometown of Brown’s Valley, MN, on May 9th, 2009

Because of a meeting with the Secular Franciscans on March 28th, I was not able to attend the Little Falls Regional Meeting that same day. So I attended the St. Cloud Regional Meeting on Sunday May 3rd. It was a great gathering with many Sisters and Associates in attendance. The picture shows Associate Rick Dietz and I wearing our hats for the afternoon activity.

This is the season for First Communions. Saturday evening I attended the Mass at which my great-niece Kate Woeste received her First Communion in Sacred Heart Parish in Sauk Rapids. It was a mini family reunions since most of my family was there.

The finishing touches are being completed on the work in the new Motherhouse kitchen. It is beautiful. (I heard that Josie will bake bread and use the new ovens tomorrow.) The end of January the cooks moved all the necessary cooking items to the small kitchen in Hurrle Hall, across the street from the main dining room. Now they are in process of moving all these things back. And in a few days they will be doing all the meal preparation in their new facility. God bless them for the wonderful way they have made all the adjustments needed in these past three months. You have been an example of Franciscan Joy through this whole renovation process.

Have a good week.
Pax et Bonum
Sister Mary Lou