June 30, 2009

Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. What happened to summer? (It’s 56 degrees here right now at 10:15, as I write this.) I guess summer is supposed to be coming back by the weekend.

I went past the Community Gardens the other day. They are looking good.
The potatoes, corn, beans, peas are growing well. The recent rains and heat have helped a lot. And we all know that rain is so much better than water from a hose.

Last week we had 29 Girl Campers here from Tuesday morning until 6 p.m. on Thursday. What a nice group of girls. There were many activities planned to keep them busy. On Wednesday the girls joined the Sisters for our 11 a.m. Mass. The young lady who did the first reading did a superb job, as did the young lady who read the intercessions. They show good leadership qualities for their local parishes. They pitched their tents in Assisi Park—south of the Motherhouse. A couple showers didn’t seem to dampen any spirits. Nineteen Sisters assisted with the camp in various ways. I helped with registration. The west entrance was a very busy place when the girls arrived. It was good. God bless all the girls who came and all those who helped with the camp.

Then on Friday we had the funeral for Sister Clara Schroedl, age 76. She is the last member of her family to die. We were so pleased to see half the Chapel filled with her nieces, nephews and other relatives and friends.

My weekend was busy. I was at Christ the King Retreat Center in Buffalo, MN, for the Regional Gathering of the Secular Franciscan Order (SFO). There were 59 of us from MN, IA, WI, NE, ND. There were 14 Spiritual Assistants present. I did a presentation to the Spiritual Assistants Friday afternoon. On Saturday, Sister Nancy Miller, Dubuque, IA, Franciscan Sister, gave wonderful presentations on “Living the Gospel in Your Own Home.” Saturday evening we had a Memorial Service commemorating those of our members who died since our meeting last June. Each Fraternity listed the names of those who had died in the past year. I read the names of our twelve Sisters and three Associates. At Saturday evening’s social hour we honored Tom, who will be moving to MD, after being with his local SFO Fraternity for the past 30 years. God bless you, Tom. In our closing prayer, Sunday, we had special prayers to close the Year of St. Paul. As we were leaving Sunday noon, we noticed the nest of baby barn swallows on the post of the overhang in front of the building. The mother bird came past with lunch for her young, but there were too many of us watching, so she did not stick around very long. It was so great to see those five little mouths wide open. (I was too slow with my camera to get that picture.)

Yesterday our two novices left to return to Mexico. Sister Isa has been living at our house the past three months. Sister Isa cooked some delicious Mexican meals for us.

Have a safe 4th of July. I am planning on going to the West Union 2 p.m. parade, on the 4th. All are welcome to come for the parade. After the parade there is a pot luck meal in the city park. Let us pray for good weather for the parade and meal.
As I am writing this, I am listening to Party Line on the radio. The guests on today’s program are talking about the St. Francis All School Reunion, July 18 and 19. It is a very interesting program. The reunion will be a BIG deal. There are over 500 registered so far. On the 17th there will be a reunion for the nurses who graduated from the Breckenridge School of Nursing.

God bless you.
Sister Mary Lou



June 22, 3009

What a whirlwind of activity these past ten days. (I wonder how many meals were served. God bless the dietary staff. They outdid themselves each day.) There were hopes that things would quiet down a bit after our busy week of Community Days and Jubilee celebrations. Think again.

Yesterday we celebrated Jubilees for our two 75 and two 25 year members. The Mass was outstanding with the great singing and music of various instruments. We had about 500 quests here for the day. WOW!

This coming week we have the Girls Camp activities. We are expecting 29 girls (grades 6-8). They will be here Tuesday through Thursday. We are praying that the weather will cooperate. But plans B and C are ready in case of rainy and stormy weather. Today a big tent goes up as shelter from the sun and rain.

Then, also, this week the Bloodmobile will be here Wednesday through Friday. The hours the first two days are 1:30 – 7:30 p.m. And on Friday the hours are 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. I hope we have a good turnout. Generally the numbers of donors are smaller in the summer drives. I hope this is wrong this year.

Now to some reflections on the past week.

Yesterday there were seven Brainerd Fioretti Fraternity Secular Franciscan members here to celebrate with Sister Nancy on her 25th Jubilee.

The entertainment last Thursday evening was the little operetta on Brother Juniper. The actors were marvelous and the singing was great. They had only one practice. We laughed a lot. It is believed that the play was first (and last) put on in about 1953-‘54. That would have been when I was in the novitiate, but I don’t remember it.

Last Friday was the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This is the patronal feast of our Chapel. The Eucharistic Liturgy was special.
Here are a few pictures from the week.

Last evening and night we received about 9/10s inch of rain. Thank you, God. And thanks for protecting us from storms. Lord, send helpers to assist those who were in storm areas.

The rain the past couple days, didn’t seem to affect the city Dam Festival activities too much. The only thing I participated in was to watch the beautiful fireworks display on Saturday evening.

This afternoon six participants in the Saint John’s Youth in Theology and Ministry (YTM) program gave a presentation in what they’ve done in the past year. What marvelous projects these high school students did. Last summer they attended classes then during the school year picked and worked at a project in their parish. These students worked to help create youth groups in their parishes. I am so pleased to see the poise and confidence with which these youth spoke and presented the results of their work. The program seeks to develop youth leadership in parishes. It is working.

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


June 17, 2009

Praise God for the gentle, beautiful and much needed 1.3 inches of rain the past couple of days. Yesterday morning the poppies in the flower bed next to our driveway were hanging their heads in thanksgiving for the rain. Today they were standing straight and tall, showing their colorful faces.

Last Friday we celebrated the 90th birthday for Sister Helen Ann. Some of her family and friends along with all the Sisters enjoyed a cake and ice cream treat.

Then on Saturday we had the Reception into the Novitiate ceremony for Sister Isa…a great day of rejoicing. Now we have two novices. In the picture Sister Isa is on the right and Sister Aurora is to the left of the Our Lady of Guadalupe picture taken in the Chapel of the Motherhouse.

Then on Sunday we celebrated the 60th Jubilees for 5 of our Sisters. That is a lot of years of service when one adds them all together. God bless each one of them.

This week we have Community Days…a kind of family reunion when all the Sisters get together. It is always good to have everyone home and to be together. We have several extra guests at our house this week. That is good, too. Last night for entertainment we had a talent show. It was GREAT. The Sisters have a wide range of talents. It’s been a while since we laughed so hard. Thank you, Sisters, who organized and took part in the various “acts.” Tomorrow night we have an operetta on Saint Francis. I heard one of the songs today and it is really cute.

Then is coming Sunday we will celebrate two 75-year anniversaries and two 25-year anniversaries. Combined that is 200 years of service. That’s a lot, too.

A week ago, I checked out the Community Gardens to the south of the Motherhouse. They are growing very nicely…and are so well cared for—no or very few weeds. Always one can see cars and pickups parked nearby as gardeners are busy working in their plot. I called Jim Waldvogel this morning to get some more information about the gardens. He told me that there are about 50 plots in use at the present time. Some are larger and some of smaller size. All the plots are taken. BUT recently a new area was dug up and tilled a few times so it is ready for use. Gardeners do pay a fee for the use of the land and the water that is available for watering the garden plots. The fee depends on the size of the plot. Anyone wishing to reserve a plot can call Jim at 320-632-8522. Some foods could still be planted and ready for harvest before it freezes again.

There is another Community Garden near the Food Shelf on the property of Bethel Lutheran Church. Volunteers take care of this garden and the produce goes to the Food Shelf. What a generous idea to help those in need.

May we be protected from severe storms and may needed rain continue at the right times.

God bless you.
Sister Mary Lou

I forgot to write about rhubarb. Last week 7 or 8 guys from the Sentence to Serve Program at the jail came to our BIG rhubarb patch and pulled rhubarb. What a wonderful help. Then came washing and cutting up all those stalks. Next was the cutting into little pieces, done by many Sisters and others. The final result was we now have in the freezer 34 5-gallon buckets of rhubarb for use through the year…rhubarb crisp, rhubarb sauce, rhubarb cake. Yummmmm.


June 8, 2009

Praise God for gentle rain. I think we got about half an inch. May the rains continue throughout the growing season. Next week I should have a picture of the poppy blooms near our house. Today I saw the first bit of color on one of the many buds.

Friday a number of us went to the St. John’s Abbey Church for the Funeral Mass for Josephine Cecelia Kwatera, (age 91), the mother of Father Michael Kwatera, OSB. Father Michael comes here to Little Falls, several times a week to preside at Mass at the Motherhouse. May Josie be enjoying her new life with the Lord. Peace and comfort to Father Michael.

Saturday many of our family went to Hutchinson for the graduation party for Emily Eltgroth. It was great to see so many family and friends. Joe had a big tent set up over the driveway, but because of the rain and cold, no one used the tent. Emily’s Grandma Louise made her a really neat quilt using the fronts of all the t-shirts she’d gotten in her Girl Scout years. The quilt will go with her to college in August.

Sunday was Family Fun Day in Little Falls. Admission to several Little Falls attractions was free. So I went out to the zoo. It’s been a long time since I’ve been there. How lucky we are to have such a great place right here in our own back yard. I walked around for an hour and saw most of the animals. I especially enjoyed seeing the little bear cubs. They were having such fun climbing in their pen. Then I went to the Lindbergh Interpretive Center. That, too, is a wonderful site to visit. There is so much Lindbergh history on display there.

Departure Day: For the last number of years a female duck has laid her eggs and hatched her little ones in the courtyard between the convent buildings. It happened again this year. She can fly in and out of the area, but the little ones cannot do that. Seven eggs hatched, probably on Saturday. So today with the assistance of the maintenance staff the doors to the hallway were opened and the little family made their way from the courtyard to the freedom of the grassy lawn. The mother duck headed straight west toward the Mississippi River and all the little ones, single file, followed her. Traffic on the highway stopped to let the little family on their way. (Photos by Sister Georgine Larson .)

The big event this coming Saturday is the Reception ceremony into the Novitiate for Isa
Berrones Morales. Congratulations, Isa. We now have two novices.

Starting Sunday evening we have the beginning of Community Days. This is the gathering of all of our Franciscan Sisters. We will all be together for the week It is always good for us to be together. Besides the meetings, there are always good fun times, too.

God bless you. Have a good week. Let us continue to praise God for the rain and add prayers of petition for continued good rains.

Peace and goodness,
Sister Mary Lou


June 2, 2009

The lilacs are in full bloom, but are now starting to fade. The fragrance near the rows of bushes on the south part of our Motherhouse property is heavenly. On my trips to Melrose and St. Cloud over the weekend, I noticed many fields of corn that seem to be growing nicely. But we very much need rain. Let us all pray fervently for the gift of seasonable rain—not too much and not too little.

On Sunday we went to a pancake breakfast in Melrose. It was a fundraiser for the Franciscans in Brazil. Father John Schwieters, Sister Jean’s brother, is a member of that Community.

Last Tuesday we welcomed back another bus of troops. As I sat shivering at 8 p.m. while waiting for the bus to come to town, I thought, “What little I am suffering right now is little compared to what these men and women had to put up with for this past year during their deployment.” The police, the fire trucks and a group of patriot guard were in front of the bus as it came into Little Falls…and a long line of cars followed the bus.

Last Thursday the Little Falls Franciscan Life Commitment Group had a tree planting to honor Mary Kranz, who has terminal cancer. The new tree is on the lawn, west of the Motherhouse. Sr. Georgine took the picture of Mary and her family and the tree-planters.

Finally the Russian olive trees between Hurrle Hall and Mary Hall have gotten leaves on them. They really are late-starters.

Sunday was the Feast of Pentecost. We had a wonderful liturgy with lots of singing.
I read this quote which I though worth passing on: “This Pentecost, may God’s liberating and life-giving and boundary-shattering Spirit rush through us and our communities. Inspired by the Spirit may we discern anew the universal scope of God’s love—for humans and for all of God’s creation. (Rev. Peter Sawtell) I guess that can serve as a challenge for each of us.

The other day I walked around the west side of the Motherhouse. Pictured here are a couple of things I saw.

Pax et Bonum (Peace and Goodness)
Sister Mary Lou