March 29, 2010: Holy Week

Holy Week started yesterday with Palm Sunday. (Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox…and that full moon is tonight.)
First, I will give the listing of Holy Week services at the Motherhouse.

Tuesday: a Communal Penance Service at 6 p.m.
Thursday, Friday and Saturday Morning Prayer at 8 a.m.
Thursday Eucharist at 7 p.m. followed by Adoration until 10 p.m.
Friday: 9 a.m.: Silent Peace Walk starting in the west parking lot
           11 a.m.: Stations of the Cross in both in Chapel and outside
             2 p.m. Good Friday Service
Saturday: Easter Vigil Service followed by refreshments in St. Francis Hall
Easter Sunday: Eucharist at the regular 8:30 a.m. time.

I saw my first robin a week ago. Signs of spring are visible everywhere. And it seems that we will have no snow during March. That’s a record breaker. Now I look forward to April showers.

Yesterday St. Francis Music Center presented the 2010 Senior Recital. The program notes said: “Each of these students represents the best of what we do; they are accomplished, dedicated young adults and we are very proud to have been a part of their lives.” (The Music Center Staff and Faculty) These 10 musicians gave us wonderful entertainment.

Our house was dark Saturday from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. as we remembered Earth Hour. The purpose of Earth Hour is a gesture to highlight environmental concerns and call for a binding international pact to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The Leaning Tower of Pisa, Buckingham Palace, Eiffel Tower, Big Ben and Rome’s Colossseum were other places that switched off lights to mark the Earth Hour event.

I wish you peace and many blessings this Holy Week and much joy as we celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection Easter Sunday and all the Easter Season.

God bless you.
Sister Mary Lou


March 23, 2010

Yesterday was World Water Day, a time to remember the blessings of safe, drinkable water that we so much take for granted. World Water Day was started by the UN to bring awareness of our global water crisis and to protect our vital water resources. I read an interesting and disturbing sentence: “For every liter of water that goes into a bottle, two liters of water are used to make the plastic bottle for the water.” And then the bottle is just junked except for the small percentage of bottles that get recycled! What a waste. I can’t remember the last time I had a bottle of water. I reuse my own glass or cup and take tap water with me when I travel or go to meetings. We commemorated water at our Mass yesterday and sang many songs that reminded us of the blessings of water. Sr. Mary gave a beautiful reflection on water.

I’d expect that those who are struggling to keep flood waters from damaging their homes and businesses have some different thoughts about water at this time.

Last Thursday after work, I drove over the Mississippi River Bridge here in town to the west side of the river. The banks of the river and the river itself were covered with big chunks of ice. There was concern that the ice could damage the bridge and the dam. (The bridge over the Mississippi north of town was closed and remains closed because of shore damage due to the raging waters.) What to me was so amazing, was that Friday morning when I went across the bridge to an 8 a.m. meeting, the ice was all gone!

The Secular Franciscans had their Spring Retreat at St. Francis last Saturday. Our speaker helped us reflect on the Canticle of Creatures, written by St. Francis of Assisi. I have a new appreciation for this writing. We had a large crowd of SFOs present for the day.

Last Sunday I attended the 12th Annual Share Sunday events at Mary of Lourdes Middle School. The talent Show was great. What talented youth and adults we have in our community. I’m sure glad I didn’t have to be a judge. All proceeds went to the county Food Shelves and Oasis Share-A-Meal.

These three days, until 10 a.m. on Thursday we have a Clothing Swap/ Furniture Sale going on in St. Francis Hall. I will have to do a “wander through” to see what I can see.

Sunday, the 28th, we start Holy Week. Our Palm Sunday services at the Motherhouse are at the usual time of 8:30 a.m. May Holy Week be a time of special blessings for you. Each year I like the Liturgical Celebrations of the week better. Next week I will post the time schedule for events at the Convent.

Pax et Bonum (St. Francis’ greeting of peace.)
Sister Mary Lou


March 16, 2010 - Spring is nearly here.

Spring is here on March 20th. The snow is nearly all melted. Green shoots are showing up in flower beds, the pink rhubarb nubbins are poking up under the leaves and the buds for tree leaves are getting bigger each day…and there are fears of flooding all around the state.

What an eventful week we’ve had. First, our dear Sister Mary Ellen Dinndorf went to heaven shortly after 7 a.m. Saturday morning. She was a holy woman who had a good head for business, a practical view of things and lots of common sense. Her funeral will be on Wednesday, St. Patrick’s Day. I just learned today that her parents were Secular Franciscans.

Last Friday our 11 a.m. Mass was a bilingual liturgy…both Spanish and English readings and songs. Fr. Tony Kroll preached in English. We have bilingual Masses a few times a year. Many of us are beginning to catch on to the Spanish pronunciation of the words in the responses and songs. We honored Fr. Rutilio Grande, a martyr in El Salvador.

Saturday and Sunday, 18 ladies from the Benton County Extension group had a sewing retreat at St. Francis Center. After Sunday Mass I went to see the lovely things they were making. Last year and again this year they will donate some of their crafts to Ann Marie Shelter in St. Cloud. Ann Marie Shelter is a safe home for women and children who are abused. The ladies already have their dates reserved for coming again next year.

A large group of priests and other guests came Sunday afternoon for a program in St. Francis Hall to honor and express gratitude to the priests of our area who serve the local parishes and us here at the Motherhouse. Afterwards there was time for treats and additional visiting. Let us remember to pray for and support our priests during this, The Year of the Priest.

And yet one more activity on Sunday was the Little Falls Community High School Pre-Tour Concert in our Sacred Heart Chapel. We can know that the beautiful music these 30+ young men and women will “do us proud” and speak well for Little Falls, MN. Next weekend, this group will sing a concert at San Fernando Cathedral in San Antonio, Texas, the oldest cathedral in the United States. Our Chapel was full of appreciative listeners. We are blest to have this group do a dress rehearsal in our space.

This week, March 14--20th, is National Agriculture Week. Let us remember to thank farmers and gardeners, for their contributions to our life through their hard work. And let us also pray for them that the Lord be with them in their planting, growing and harvesting seasons.

March is also Food Share Month. This coming Sunday there will be a talent show fund-raiser at Our Lady of Lourdes School gym to generate funds for the local food shelves and Oasis Share-A-Meal. The Franciscan Sisters furnish the cookies for the snack. We have containers in many places in our building to accept cash donations for the Food Shelf. Because of matching, cash donations almost double the value of money given during the month of March.

Our 2010 Census form came in today’s mail. We will get it filled out and returned in the next couple days. I hope everyone else does the same, too.

We are past the half-way point of Lent. I hope it has been good for you so far.

Peace and blessings,
Sister Mary Lou


March 9, 2010: The snow piles are really shrinking.

The snow piles are really shrinking. Ten days ago I went out to our cemetery and very few of the grave markers were sticking out of the snow. Yesterday most of them were visible. And it appears that the water is sinking into the ground. In places where there are puddles at night, they are gone in the morning.

Last week we had a prayer memorial service for Sister Mary Goretti’s brother. He died in Oregon and she was not able to attend the funeral so we had a prayer service in connection with our Sisters’ Evening Prayer.

In the wooded area south of the Motherhouse we have two hermitages—places where one can go to pray and be in solitude. Two novices from St. John’s Abbey were our guests the past week. They did join us for Evening Prayer and dinner, so it was good to have opportunity to visit with them—fine young men. Let us pray for all who are considering entering a Religious Community.

On Saturday we will be celebrating the 90th birthday of Sister Jeanne Winter. I frequently play cribbage with her. (We are a pretty evenly matched pair.) In the picture Sister Jeanne is holding a doll baby that is the most realistic doll I have ever seen or held. It was made by Tara, one of the care-givers in Clare Residence.

Daylight Savings Time starts at 2 a.m. on this coming Sunday. Remember to spring your clocks ahead one hour.

Peace and blessings on you and those you love.
Sister Mary Lou


March 1, 2010

Today is our Birthday. One hundred nineteen years ago on this day sixteen women became the first Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, when our community was established here in Little Falls, MN. (3-1-1891)

Spring is coming! I like the longer hours of sunlight each day…and, yes, I know we will get more snow! I pray for the people who suffer because of natural disasters, especially the people of Haiti and Chili.

The Olympics are now over. Many of us enjoyed watching many events. I would never even think about doing some of the moves by the skiers or snowboarders! In his final remarks, one of the speakers last night said, “In these 16 days of Olympics, the participants went on to achieve greatness through the power of a dream.” Isn’t it so true. We each can do much through the power of our own dreams.

Last Thursday Charlie Maguire entertained the Sisters at their evening meal. He sang some of his original songs and played for us. It was an enjoyable evening.

Also last Thursday, there was a Service of Remembrance at St. Otto’s Home for deceased residents and hospice care persons. Since three of our Sisters were hospice care persons, they were included in the prayer service. I attended to represent my classmate, Sr. Camille Squillace. I knew eight of the 45 people listed on the program. This service is held twice a year. I am glad I could attend.

Last Thursday was a busy day! The Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting was held at the Falls Ballroom. After a delicious meal, we listened to guest speaker, Mike Max WCCO Anchor. I appreciated his talk on five characteristics of successful persons. You can tell successful persons: 1) In how they overcome adversity. 2) They learn what they have control over and take control of their own attitude and effort. 3) They learn how to deal with their own fears. 4) They surround themselves with great people and “join hands and go in the same direction.” 5) They work hard and don’t take shortcuts. And one remark that I liked was, “Tough times never last—tough people do.” It was a good evening and I am very happy that I could attend the program.

Yesterday afternoon we had a wonderful cultural experience in listening to the Mila (pronounced mee-lah) Singers. They are a group of 9 women who sing songs of the folk tradition of Eastern Europe—songs of village life and love. We heard songs from Croatia, Bulgaria, Russia, Latvia and Georgia—all sung in their respective languages. The chapel was full of enthusiastic listeners. You can read more about them on milavocalensemble.com.

Tomorrow is the birthday of Dr. Seuss (1904). Read a children’s book. I always read one when I go to a book store.

On Saturday, March 6, 2010 we have Lenten Retreat day.

God bless you.
Sister Mary Lou