December 28, 2010

This will probably be one of the last times I will write “2010.” It seems not so long ago that we started writing “2000.” On January 11th we can write “1/11/’11”

I hope you had a great Christmas. (Folks stranded in airports and other places had a hard time of it.) I have some nice pictures from around the Motherhouse…lots of poinsettias in Chapel and around the building. I counted 20 plants in Chapel. Two families donated ten plants just before Christmas. We are grateful. Thank you.

Many friends and neighbors joined us for the Christmas Eve Pageant and Christmas Eve Mass on Friday. I was pleased at how many people joined us after Mass in St. Francis Hall for cookies, hot chocolate and other goodies. Thank you.

On the 23rd, Sr. Julien and I spent four hours at Coborn’s “Making a Joyful Noise” as part of the Food Shelf fund-raiser. Total collection from the 14-day’s work was over $5,000. Thank you, generous donors and all volunteers who sat near the green collection box. You help make life easier for a LOT of needy folks.

On Sunday we celebrated Sister Sylvia’s 90th birthday. Many family members and friends joined us Sisters for cake and ice cream, etc. Congratulations, Sister Sylvia.

At 6 p.m. on Thursday, we start the 24-hour Vigil of Prayer/Fast for Peace. Individuals are signed up to pray every hour for 24-hours for World Peace. May the Lord hear and listen to our prayers. May peace start in our own hearts.

I want to share with you two blessings from our prayer book. It is my prayer for you.

“May God bless us all with peaceful homes and loving communities.”

“May knowledge become clearer in us that we may know the breadth of God’s blessings, the length of God’s promises the height of God’s majesty, the depth of God’s judgments.”

May the Lord bless and continue to care for each of us in the New Year.

Sister Mary Lou


December 21, 2010

HAPPY FIRST DAY OF WINTER!!! This is the calendar day, but to my thinking winter has already been here a month! The snow piles are growing wherever one looks.

At Mass this morning we sang the song, “Soon and very soon we are goin’ to see the King… Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah.” We are well into the fourth week of Advent and all the candles on the Advent Wreath are now lit. Soon and very soon we will celebrate the birth of Our Lord. Jesus came in history two thousand years ago. Jesus comes again to us in the Eucharist as His Body and Blood. Jesus comes to us in one another, our brothers and sisters. My prayer, for you, my readers, is that Jesus will come to you in the graces and blessings you desire and need in your personal life.

Last Thursday we had our Employee/Sister noon pot-luck luncheon. After the meal we had the drawings for the baskets and other items. All the proceeds from this Caring by Sharing project were donated to the Boys and Girls Club and to Hands of Hope. Each group received approximately $530. Thank you for your generosity, Employees and Sisters. During the meal a group of employees sang some Christmas songs for our entertainment. What talent!

Last Friday evening the group From Age to Age presented a marvelous program in our Chapel. They are a professional vocal ensemble who makes beautiful music together. They sang the Our Father (Otche Nash) and Hail Mary (Bogoroditse Devo, Raduisya) in Russian. (We had the translations.) Except for the music, the Chapel was wrapped in meditative-prayerful silence. Violin, harpsichord, cello and viola added to the beauty of the evening’s music.

In earlier writings I’ve talked about reading to Mrs. Hanson’s First Graders. I brought a box of Christmas mice from my mouse collection to the classroom and they used them to decorate the Christmas tree in their room. I was please to share my treasures with the students.

Our services in the Motherhouse Chapel on Christmas Eve begin at 7 p.m. with songs and Scripture readings. The Mass begins at 7:30 p.m. There will be refreshments in St. Francis Hall after Mass. You are most welcome to come. Mass on Christmas Day is at 8:30 a.m. The next day, Sunday, December 26th is the Feast of the Holy Family. Again, Mass is at 8:30 a.m.

Merry Christmas to you and those you love. Let us pray for peace in our hearts, our world and our universe.

Pax et Bonum.

Sister Mary Lou


December 14, 2010

BRRRRRRRRR! We got only a few inches of snow last Friday/Saturday and now the cold…it was minus 16 yesterday morning. I’m happy there is no wind. The snow piles are growing. (But nothing like the snow they received in the Twin Cities!) Snow mobilers have something to play on now.

We are into the third week of Advent. May your preparations for Christ’s birth be taking shape…especially the spiritual preparations to welcome Jesus.

Sunday was the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe—Patroness of the Americas. May Mary look upon our country and bring us peace and blessings…but we’ve got to work at it, too.

We had two wonderful concerts this past weekend. Friday night’s strings concerts brought a full house with standing room filling up, too. The St. Francis Community Chorale joined the Strings Orchestra in singing the Hallelujah Chorus from G. F, Handel’s Messiah. It was fantastic! You can listen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auZcaznDMRB8.

Sunday night’s Community Chorale Concert brought another full house. I say “Thank You” to those forty singers who practice long hours and so generously share their talents. The fourteen Sestri Na Mir choir opened the program with four Slavic Folk Songs.

Thursday night the Lion’s club members came to sing for us. Then afterwards, we enjoyed pizza with them.

One more concert note. Friday night, Dec.17, at 7:30 p.m., the group “From Age to Age” will be singing in our chapel. They will have excerpts from Handel’s Messiah with harpsichord, a string trio and a cappella selections to help us celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. This group performed in our chapel last June and they were great. Take the time to come and listen. They will be at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Onamia, MN on Dec. 16 at 7:30 p.m. And they’ll be at First Lutheran Church in Brainerd at 7:30 p.m. on the 18th.

At the back of our chapel gathering space are two large Christmas trees decorated with all the ornaments containing prayer requests from our donors. After Christmas 5 or more of these ornaments will be given to each Sister and we will pray for these persons all of 2011.

Peace and prayers,

God bless you.

Sister Mary Lou

The Choir prayed before their performance.


December 7, 2010

Here we are into the second week of Advent already. It is nice that we have almost four full weeks of Advent this year. May the Lord bless us and keep us peaceful as we prepare for the Birth of Christ.

Last Saturday we had a retreat day. The presenter was our Sister Elise. One of her comments was something about the tsunami of shopping that goes on in this consumer society. We often get so engrossed with “presents” that we forget about the “presence” of Jesus in our lives. Sunday I was given a button that says, “JESUS is the Reason for the Season.” Jesus coming into our world is what it is all about.

Last Thursday the Franciscan Sisters hostessed the Little Falls Area Ministerial Association Christmas luncheon. The picture shows St. Francis Hall decorated for the occasion. We were expecting between 25 and 30 guests. Our Sister Mary Pat is the representative for the Franciscan Sistesrs.

On December 2nd, the United Church Women’s group hosted a Christmas Tea at First United Church, the church across the street from the Motherhouse. It was a time of prayer, songs and stories of the flowers of Christmas—and then a delicious lunch. Thank you, ladies.

Saint Nicholas visited us on Monday, the Feast of St. Nicholas, and gave us a little treat with our noontime meal. St. Nicholas, pray for us…and help us be generous as you were.

This is a picture of the Second Floor Clare Residence Advent calendar. Each day the message from one of the little bird houses is posted to remind them of the coming of the Lord on the 25th.

Tomorrow is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the paternal feast of our religious community. Our original title was “Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of Little Falls, MN.” Then because that was too long for computers, we are now titled “Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, MN” We will have morning and evening prayer together in Chapel, Mass and a festive meal to celebrate the day.

When my sister, Rita, was home from Indonesia two years ago, she gave me a lovely painted picture of the Loaves and Fishes. It is painted on “pulled bark”—tree bark that is pulled and stretched out to a thin sheet. I finally got it framed and we hung it in the mailroom. Now on days when I work there, I am reminded of Jesus’ multiplication of bread and fish and also reminded to pray for missionaries through out the world who spread the Word of God.

This coming Friday we will have the St. Francis Strings Orchestras Christmas Concert at 7 p.m. in Sacred Heart Chapel. It is my favorite programs of the year. Then on Sunday we will have the Community Chorale Christmas Concert—again at 7 p.m. It, also, is my favorite concert. I invite you to attend.

On Friday, December 17, the group Age to Age will be performing at 7 p.m. in the Chapel. This too, is a wonderful performance group. I, again, invite you to attend. This group performed in our Chapel last August—and they were good! This group has been together only a couple years.

There has been lots of activity in the kitchen as we get ready for Christmas. Last week, one evening, we had a “Cookie Baking” evening. A number of Sisters and friends got together to make cookies and candies.

God bless you and have a good week.

Sister Mary Lou