Just a couple more days left of 2011

It seems like a very short time ago that we started writing 2000! And soon we will be writing 2012. I hope you had a good and peaceful Christmas. A friend gave me a “Keep Christ in Christmas” magnet that I proudly put on my car. With all the stress on “buy, buy, buy” one can easily forget that “Jesus is the Reason for the Season.” We had a very nice Christmas here at the Motherhouse. We had full-house for our Christmas Eve Mass. I was so pleased that so many came to St. Francis Hall afterwards for hot chocolate, goodies and to visit with one another.

Theologian Howard Thurman (1899-1981) said, “When the song of the angels is stilled, when the star in the shy is gone, when the kings and princes are home, when the shepherds are back with their flock, the work of Christmas begins: to find the lost, to heal the broken, to feed the hungry, to release the prisoner, to rebuild the nations, to bring peace among all to make music in the heart.” I say: “There is plenty to do.”

About a month ago I talked about our Caring-by-Sharing Program during Advent. The Franciscan Sisters, employees and volunteers, raised $1,393 that was donated to the Minnesota Military Family Foundation. What a generous gift.

Sister Justina Bieganek will celebrate her 100th birthday on January 16th. We will celebrate the event on Sunday, Dec. 15th, with an 11 a.m. Mass and a reception from 2 – 4 that afternoon here at St. Francis Convent. Congratulations! It will be a great day for her. And knowing her, she will probably be going to work at the Music Center the next day.

Last evening at our Local Community Christmas celebration, we had fun with the Christmas “Chat Pack” cards (from our Gift Shop for $7.99). The questions are good conversation starters…and bound to be a source of lots of laughs.

On December 22nd, Sister Julien and I took part in the Food Shelf fund-raiser at Coborns. We “Made a Joyful Noise” from 3 to 7 p.m. The generosity of shoppers helped the Food Shelf reach and go over their goal. God bless you, generous shoppers.

Starting today and until Saturday noon we have a Girls Retreat going on. There are 10 girls and each has a Sister Companion. I appreciated all the extra voices for the singing at Mass this morning.

Starting Friday at 6 p.m. and for 24-hours we have “Prayers for Peace.” Each hour for the 24-hours there will be a Sister or an Associate praying for peace. Then on New Year’s Eve we have a special 7 p.m. prayer service in Chapel.

Peace and many blessings in the New Year. Sister Mary Lou

P.S. I wrote this article yesterday and when I looked for it this morning, it had disappeared. I must have forgotten to save it, though, I thought I did. I’ll remember next time!


We are already into the 4th week of Advent

We are already well into the 4th Week of Advent. Did you miss me last week? Good. I was too busy to get anything written. I moved to Campus to a room on 3rd floor at Mary Hall and am now part of that Local Community. For 20+ years I lived at 609 3rd Street—about 4 blocks from the Motherhouse. Because of my broken ankle last July, it was decided that I’d be safer living on Campus…so here I am. My Christmas letters will come at Valentine’s Day in 2012

There have been so many activities the past couple weeks. I will just list them. On December 8th about 25 Lion’s Club members came and sang for and with us. Following their singing we all had pizza in the dining room. The Strings Concert, December 9th, was to a jam packed Chapel. Then the St. Francis Community Chorale Concert on the 11th was to another full house. Tuesday Brothers in Harmony came to sing for the Sisters in Clare Residence. These are a group of guys who just enjoy singing together—and they do it very well. On Friday the 16th was the Age to Age Concert. How twelve people can make such great music is hard for me to understand…but they DO it. These are professional musicians who do a splendid job. If ever you have opportunity to hear them, go to their concert. In preparation for all our guests we got the house beautifully decorated with the help of a group of dedicated volunteers and staff. Christmas is present everywhere! After Chapel, my favorite place is the area right outside Chapel with the tall tree next to the burning fireplace. That is a cozy spot.

Friday afternoon I went to the First Grade program at Lindbergh School. I read to one of the First Grade Classes several times a month. It brought back memories of the many Christmas Programs we had in the schools where I worked. I was amazed at the many songs the children learned for the program…and they were so well behaved, too.

On the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, December 12th, Father Tony Kroll presided at our Bilingual Liturgy. We have these several times a year. We are getting better at singing the Spanish songs! It helps, too, to have Sr. Maurita lead the singing.

Our big Christmas mailing was sent out the end of November. MANY people have returned the paper ornaments with their prayer intentions. These ornaments are hung on two big Christmas trees in Chapel. We all pray for all these donors daily. Then in January each of us will receive a number of these cards as the donors we individually pray for each day.

The Department being recognized in December is the Rehab Department. Those three ladies work hard at keeping us mobile and limber. They are gentle but firm in helping us do what we need to do to move as best we can.

Sunday afternoon I took a little trip out to Camp Ripley to see all the wreaths—a wreath with a large red ribbon at every grave marker. Two semi-trucks brought the wreaths to the Camp and over 350 volunteers place them at the sites on December 10th. There are 4,000+ persons buried at this Veterans Cemetery. My eyes filled with tears just at the sight of it. God bless these men and women who have served our country. May God take care of and bless the families of these men and women.

Our Advent Penance Service is at 6 p.m. tonight.

On Christmas Eve, the singing starts at 7 p.m. Mass is at 7:30 p.m., with treats and visiting after Mass in St. Francis Hall. Our Christmas Day Mass is at 8:30 a.m. You are invited to join us.

The Blood Mobile is coming January 11th (1—7 p.m.), 12th (1—7 p.m.) and 13th (8 a.m.—2 p.m.).

I wish you a Merry Christmas. My prayer for you is from our Franciscan Prayer Book. ”We rejoice again, O God, at this feast of our salvation, seeing in Your coming the promise of Eternal Life. May our hearts by filled with gratitude for the Great Gift You bestowed on us at Christmas. May we always welcome You into our lives, God-with-us. Amen”

Peace, Sister Mary Lou


December 6 is the Feast of St. Nicholas

Second week of Advent…and the week is almost half over.

St. Nicholas came to the Motherhouse dining rooms this noon. He brought a treat for all those who were good! He gave out either a chocolate bar or a bag of Planters Peanuts.

Sisters Maurita and Elise led us in singing, “Jolly Old St. Nicholas” and other Christmas songs. When we were kids St. Nicholas brought us a big bag of salted peanuts in the shell and maybe a little candy or oranges or apples. I remember, with a smile, the fun we had at our Catholic schools on the Feast of St. Nicholas.

St. Francis Hall is decorated for the many events that are held there during the Christmas Season. The first one was the Morrison County Ministerial Association luncheon last Thursday. About 25 folks came for a delicious noon meal and time of sharing.

Last Saturday we had an Advent Day of Reflection, a retreat day. The presenter was Sister Sue Togersen, CSJ from Minneapolis. There were about 40 sisters and friends who came for the day. All who attended were very appreciative of the talks and reflection time. One of the reflection questions she gave was, “What ‘something new’ is God asking of you this Advent?” I can ponder that one question for a long time.

Saturday evening I was privileged to attend the Heartland Symphony Orchestra concert at Charles D. Martin Auditorium here in Little Falls. The music was GREAT. After the intermission we got to sing Christmas Carols with the Orchestra. The last song was the “Hallelujah Chorus.” The Orchestra is made up of about 50 musicians from the Brainerd, Little Falls and surrounding area. A group of singers from the Central Lakes College in Brainerd led us in the singing.

Thursday is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. This is an important feast for our Franciscan Community. We start the day with Morning Prayer together in Chapel, then a festive brunch. Mass is at 11 a.m. and then after 4:15 p.m. Evening Prayer we will have a special dinner. We will have special table decorations.

Two big events coming up in the next few days are the Strings Christmas Concert Friday evening at 7 p.m. in our Sacred Heart Chapel and the St. Francis Chorale Christmas concert at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 11th, also in Chapel.

Wednesday evening those who wish to take part can come to the Convent kitchen to make cookies and have a cookie exchange. That is always so much fun. I can’t take part this year, but I will again next year.

God bless you. Sr. Mary Lou


First week of Advent

Here we are in the middle of the first week of Advent. I took a picture of the Advent Wreath in chapel with one candle lit. I never saw such a blurry picture! I’ll try to do better next week with two candles lit. During Advent Sunday Masses start with the chapel lights dimmed to show darkness/waiting and Rita Hacker playing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” on the harp. It is a very nice way to put one in the Advent/waiting mood.

Our Sister DeSales, age 96, died Friday, Nov. 25, 2011. So now we have another saint in heaven. Her funeral was Tuesday, the 29th, the Feast of All Franciscan Saints. Sr. DeSales was the last member of her immediate family to die and also the last member of her Reception Class to die. May she be enjoying Life with the Lord.

I just went to first floor at the Center to look at the things for “Caring By Sharing.” There is a room full of BEAUTIFUL items…and more being added each day. This year’s “Caring By Sharing” project will be to help support the Minnesota Military Family Foundation (MMFF) this Christmas season. The MMFF is a community-sponsored fund founded in November 2004. Contributions made will go to help local military families by purchasing Christmas gifts for children and groceries for families of deployed military members. For every $1 that a person donates, they will have a chance to win one of the donated baskets/gifts of their choice. Every winner will get a beautiful gift! And the MMFF will get a beautiful gift, too!

Speaking of beautiful gifts, our employees gave a beautiful gift of $2,756.50 to the Morrison County United Way Campaign. WOW!!! Thank you for your generosity. God bless you.

Another lovely 1,000-piece puzzle got completed over the weekend. This big bird with 31 little birds as part of the picture was another hard one. But the puzzlers just kept working. The free-form edges were a challenge to even get it started. Now they are working on another rectangle puzzle of a peacock with tail spread out—LOTS of blue and gray! They will be at this one for a while, too.

Saturday there will be an Advent Retreat Day. “The Mystery of the Incarnation-reclaiming the sacredness of all matter” is the theme. The presenter is Sister Corrina Thomas, FSPA. She will assist participants in reflecting on the mystery of the Incarnation through the lens of Franciscan spirituality and values in our fragmented world of today. Emmanuel, God With Us, provides the context for a loving relationship with all of creation.

Christmas concerts are on the way. The Strings concert is Friday, December 9 at 7 p.m. in our Sacred Heart Chapel. The St. Francis Community Chorale is Friday, December 11th also at 7 p.m. in our Chapel. And Music Center recitals are this I weekend: Friday (the 2nd) at 7 p.m., Saturday (3rd) at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. and Sunday (4th) at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. If you like music, this is the place to be.

God bless you. Be safe in the snow and on icy roads.

Sister Mary Lou


First snowfall of the season

We got our first real snowfall yesterday—about 5 inches here, windy, poor visibility and very slippery roads. Some guests who were here for the funeral yesterday spent an extra night with us and then left for home this morning. Sounded to me like a good thing to do.

Last week I wrote about Sr. Blanche’s death on Sunday morning. Her funeral was on Thursday. Then Monday early afternoon Sr. Jeanette Martell went to meet the Lord. Her funeral was Saturday. May they both be enjoying life with the Lord and being reunited with their family who have gone before them.

Wednesday afternoon the Community Relations Department personnel were honored. These folks certainly do a lot of work to keep the world informed about activities of our Franciscan Community and our ministries. Thanks you to each of you for all that you do.

On Wednesday was Give to the Max Day. We had many generous donors. With the matching grant we had a total of nearly $17,500. God bless each who donated. There were a number of non-profit organizations at the Great River Arts building during the day. Kathy, our volunteer coordinator, spent most of the day there or driving Sisters back and forth. I was there several hours. Terry, from our kitchen, made Chicken Wild Rice Soup for noon lunch. There was still a little left when I got there so I had a good supper. We had a nice display showing some of our Franciscan Ministries. Horizon Health had their table right across from our display. Sister Lillian was so surprised to see her sister’s picture on their big banner. Kathy had her little Smart Car all decked out to remind passers-by of the Give to the Max Day event. This was the first time we were involved in Give to the Max.

Sr. Lillian had some paintings on display at the Great River Arts exhibit. Yesterday there was a special reception where folks could meet some of the 30 artists whose works in paintings, ceramics, sculpture, jewelry and more are on display. The show will last through January 5th, 2012.

On Thursday evening, Sister Julien Dirkes received the Book of Golden Deeds Award at the VFW, for her many works of service throughout the Little Falls Community. The Little Falls Exchange Club presents the award. Sister Bea Eichten led the invocation. About 15 of our Sisters attended the meal and program. This award had been given out every year since 1972. Sr. Carla Przybilla and Sr. Maureen Blenkush had received this award in the past. As I looked over the list of past recipients, I was surprised at how many I knew. Guess that’s what happens when one has been around for a while!

This month we are remembering the State of Missouri as our State of the Month. We started the day with pancakes with black walnuts baked in them. Yummy!

Thanksgiving Day is Thursday. We all have so many things to be thankful for. Even on the bad days, there are many blessings. I am thankful to all of you who read my blog.

Let us pray, too, for safety on the highways for all winter long. It seems always to take a while for drivers to re-remember how to drive in/on snow and ice. Please be careful.

God bless you,

Sister Mary Lou


Convent news times two

November 11, 2011

May God care for all Veterans, both living and deceased…and their families? Our church bell tolled eleven times at 11 a.m.

Here is the end of a very busy week. This will be a very short blog.

Our blood drive last week was tremendous. Our goal was 245 and we received 255 units of blood. God bless all those generous donors. I say that every time and I mean it every time

Our Franciscan Harvest Supper also was a great success. We served 454 hungry people a delicious meal. The proceeds will support both St. Francis Health and Recreation Center programs and St. Francis Music Center programs. Besides the good food there was lots of good visiting going on.

Last week I took a picture of Josie with the good bread she baked that day.

Next Wednesday is “Give to the Max” day. Please be generous in your giving. Franciscan sisters of Little Falls are one of the 20,000 nonprofits in MN. We have a matching grant up to $7,500 for all the donations we receive that day.

November 14, 2011

Since it was so late in the week when I wrote last week, I will just add a paragraph and post it all at the same time.

Early Sunday morning (7:10 a.m.) our Sister Mary Blanche Fyle went to heaven. She was 91. Our Franciscan Wake will be Wednesday at 7p.m. And her funeral will be Thursday at 11 a.m. May she be enjoying life with the Lord and being with her other family members. Peace and strength to her sister, Sister Sharon, also a member of our Community, and her other family members.

Thursday is the feast of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Patroness of all Third Order Franciscans. Next Sunday is the Feast of Christ the King. And the following Sunday is already the First Sunday of Advent.

Peace and blessings, Sister Mary Lou


Happy Feast of All Saints and All Souls Day

For yesterday, I wish you Happy Feast of All Saints, those already in heaven, and the rest of us in the process of becoming Saints--Saints in the making. And today, All Souls Day, we remember and pray for all our deceased family members, friends and all who have died. Eternal rest give to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.

I am late getting this week’s blog written…and in a couple days it will be time to write another one! Today was the first day of our 3-day blood drive. Wonderful results today—our goal was 90 and we had 106 units of blood donated. My hope is that the next two days will be as good. I call the Party Line radio program to remind people of the blood drive. The last two days after my call, two new donors called and made an appointment to donate blood. That is great. I will report next week on our total collection. After one gives blood, they always give you a sticker that says, “I gave blood today” but the stickers today also said that and then “And I got a good cookie!” That last was a new sentence. We make our own fresh cookies and I’ve heard some people say they come for the cookies. The cookies this week are: decorated Halloween cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies and peanut butter cookies.

Tomorrow is the first Thursday of the month again. (How did it get here so fast?) Anyway, there is Taize Prayer at 6 p.m. in the Chapel Gathering Space.

Saturday night is the night for our Harvest Supper fund raiser…fried chicken, sausage, garden vegetables, cole slaw and homemade bars. Come with a good appetite.

On Halloween Day we were invited to dress-up for some fun in the dining room after we had our lunch. There were some great costumes. The Housekeeping Department came as the Seven Dwarfs. Sneezy was going through the lunch line ahead of me. I guessed him to be Sneezy even before I say his name tag. As they left the dining room they were singing , “HI Ho, Hi Ho it’s Off to Work We Go.”

Last Saturday the Sisters were invited to the Olive Branch Retreat Center on Fuller Lake, near Grey Eagle. We had owned that property for about 10 years and then sold it. The new owners changed the name and did some fixing-up and they wanted us to see the work they had done. It is beautiful. About 40 of us accepted the invitation and enjoyed our visit. You can check them out on the web at http://www.olivebranchretreat.com/ .

Every year in November, Sr. Joel puts up a display where we list those who have died since last November 2nd: 2 priests from the Diocese of St. Cloud, 4 of our Sisters, 66 relatives of Sisters, and 118 Friends, Donors or Associates are listed this year.

Another 1,000-piece puzzle was finished the other day. It was a beautiful wolf family. The irregular outside frame took a little while to finish, then, the rest went fast.

Let us pray for the safety of deer hunters…and wish them a successful harvest. Too many cars are having encounters with deer. My sister-in-law had one last week.

Peace and Blessings on each of you!

(Pictured below are yours truly on the right with Sister Georgine, the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph from Asumbi, Kenya, Sisters Claudia and Mary Idah, and Jeff Odendahl from the Office of Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation in the chicken costume)


Two months from today is Christmas!

Do you have your shopping done and the cards sent out? Not me.

Last Sunday was World Mission Sunday—a day to remember and support Missionaries throughout the world who spread the Word of God. Let us support missionary activity through prayer and economic aid. Sister Joel put up a nice ambiance reminder and then also used the altar hanging we received from Africa. We’ve had many Sisters serve in the foreign missions since our first venture of “To Peru in 62.”

Sunday afternoon was special because about 15 KC’s came to the Motherhouse and served cake and ice cream to all of us and our guests. What a nice treat. They have been doing this for at least the last 10+ years. Thank you, gentlemen. We are grateful.

Tomorrow we will have a Farewell get-together to thank Sister Donna for her 36 years of service in the Community Relations Department. That’s a lot of typing and writing of the weekly Community News Letters. Thank you, Sister, for all that time and work spent at the computer.

Thursday evening we will have the Take Back the Night program and shirt display in the St. Francis Gym. This program helps make us aware of the extent of domestic violence. At the in-service I attended this morning we were told that 1 of 4 women are assaulted by their partner and 12 were killed in MN last year. She also talked about the ways children are affected by domestic violence. Hands of Hope, a local group, helped over 300 people last year. Let us work and pray for an end to this abuse.

Tuesdays and Thursdays we’ve been watching a series of ½-hour DVDs to let us know about the changes in the Roman Missal that will be taking place the First Sunday of Advent. These have been informative.

Last week many Sisters were helping clean grapes for juice and jelly.

And last week, too, they finished stuffing envelopes for our Christmas Appeal. Here are the boxes all ready to go to the post office in a couple weeks. Thank you, volunteers.

The Music Center will have two Music Recitals Sunday afternoon—at 1 and 3 p.m. in Room 242 at St. Francis Center.

Last Saturday I attended the SFO Fall Gathering at the St. Paul Cathedral. It’s been many years since I visited the Cathedral. It is such a beautiful Church. While on my way to the basement meeting room I came across a plaque of St. Justin on the wall. Since I received the name “Justin” on my Reception Day, that saint is still special to me. The meeting was good and the high-point was Mass in the main Church.

God bless you. Sister Mary Lou


BRRRRRRRRR: It takes a little getting used to 40 degree temps

I am grateful for the bits of rain we had last week. I expect we will get more. As I looked out the window just now a large flock of geese just went over and the ½ moon is still visible on this bright sunshiny morning.

It was the best spent $10 and 2 ½ hours of entertainment I’ve had in some time. Yesterday four of us went to Brainerd to attend the GERITOL FROLICS, directed by Ed Yunker. The performers are ages 55 to 89. They sing and dance and tell stories and just make you laugh and clap your hands. The dances are great and the singing is fantastic. The 5-person band makes music fill the jam-packed auditorium. It is a cast and crew of 65 from Brainerd, and surrounding area. If you ever have the chance, I’d urge you to go to the Geritol Frolics. It is 8 performances on two weekends in October.

Each month we are highlighting a different state in the dining room. This month it is Michigan. The tables have little stand-ups with interesting facts about the state. Fluoridated water originated in Grand Rapids January 25, 1945. Apples are Michigan’s largest and most valuable fruit crop. “Snap, Crackle and Pop” were born in Battle Creek MI...and of course we know about the cars.

Each month, too, a different department is recognized, October is the time to honor the Franciscan Life Center. Sr. Bernice has lots to do with scheduling retreats, prayer days, workshops Centering Prayer and Lectio Divina prayer etc., etc. etc. Thank you, Sister, for your hard work,

On Friday evening, we had, a new to me, prayer experience, “Visio Divina.” You may have experienced “Lectio Divina,” a method of praying with Scripture. “Visio Divina” (Latin for “divine seeing”) is a method for praying with images, pictures. We used the image of the creation as portrayed in the St. John’s Bible. Visio Divina invites us to see beyond first and second impressions, to see and be surprised and transformed by God, Who is never limited or tied to an image, but speaks through them. Dawn Carillo led us in this beautiful time of prayer.

This past weekend we had six couples make the Marriage Encounter at St. Francis Center. Father Michael, OSB, was presider at their Saturday evening Mass.

All is in readiness for 75 volunteers to come “stuff 16,500 envelopes” for our annual Christmas Appeal. They will get the job done in two days! The funds raised will be used for equipment to assist our elder Sisters who reside in our nursing care area of Clare Residence.

The Blood Mobile will be here November 2nd, 3rd and 4th. On November 5th we have a Harvest Supper fund raiser. There is a Soup Supper February 4th and a Spaghetti Supper April 21st. I read all these things in our Community Newsletter in a six-inch long listing of upcoming events.

Peace and blessings,

Sister Mary Lou


What a difference a week makes!

We’ve had many nice warm days, a tiny bit of rain and the golden and red trees have lost a good share of their leaves. The flowers in the little bed near the west convent door are still beautiful. For the middle of October this is still very nice.

I need to make a correction from last week’s article. I said 150,000 children rode Orphan Trains from New York City to find new homes. The more accurate number is 250,000.

Yesterday we had 7 new Associates make their one-year Commitment as Franciscan Associates—so for the year that is a total of 13 new Associates. A total of 53 Associates were recognized for their 25, 20, 15, 10 and 5 year anniversaries. We had about 60 guests for the Mass, lunch and the afternoon program. Our Sister Jean Schwieters was the program speaker. She talked about what we need to do to become a saint.

One day last week I rode my scooter out to the cemetery to visit the Sisters there and to see where Sr. Felix is buried. Then on my way home I stopped to look at the wagon load of pumpkins and squash near our garden. We will have lots of good stuff to eat for most of the winter. Thank you, Sr. Ruth and helpers, for all your hard work to make this possible.

On Saturday Sr. Mary Ann and I went to Browns Valley for the Canonical Establishment of a new Secular Franciscan Fraternity—St. Anthony of Padua Fraternity. It was a very happy day for this group. (One thing I know is that Browns Valley is a long way from Little Falls.) It was a very wonderful day.

Saturday night I attended the Heartland Orchestra Concert at Charles D. Martin Auditorium here in Little Falls. This is the 35th Anniversary of providing live symphonic music to Central Minnesota. I was delighted to see the 30+ students from Little Falls High School and Middle School, Forestview Middle School in Baxter, Brainerd High School, and Ripple River Strings and Great River String in Crosby playing with the Heartland Orchestra. What a wonderful opportunity for these students to play with a top-notch orchestra. It was an evening of beautiful music.

I just noticed in my calendar that Saturday, October 15, is National Grouch Day! How many of us qualify to celebrate that day?

Blessings on you and those you love.

Sister Mary Lou


Feast of St. Francis!

What a glorious day! Franciscan Father John Schwieters, OFM, brother of our Sr. Jean, was celebrant for our Community Mass this morning. We had many guests. We had good music and we sang some of our favorite hymns (“Salve Sancte Pater” by our Sr. Theophane Ahles, “Prayer Before the San Damiano Cross” by our Sr. Rita Barthel, “Francis, Friend of All Things Living”, and “May We Follow in the Footsteps of Jesus.”)

It is bright and sunny and near the 80 degrees we had yesterday. What more could one want? Not much. Some rain would be good. It is really dry. But I’m not sure farmers trying to harvest corn and beans want rain.

The Mississippi River below the dam is really low. There are big rocks sticking out everywhere. “They say” September was one of the driest Septembers ever. We have some beautiful red and yellow trees here and in other places in town… feast for the eyes. With all the wind the leaves are falling by the bushel…a nice sound to walk in.

Last evening we had the Transitus service. It is a remembrance of the death of St. Francis and him giving his last words to six of his faithful followers. The Transitus is a very prayerful, reverent and thoughtful experience.

Last Sunday we had the Blessing of Animals at Washington Park. There were about 40 dogs of all sizes, many cats, one rabbit and a turtle that I saw. After the closing prayer the animals and people had a treat. This was about the 15th year that we’ve done the Animal Blessing. One thing I always marvel at is that the dogs can be yipping and barking and once the prayers and singing starts, they are all quiet. A number of dogs were interested in the rabbit, but owners kept them just far enough away that they couldn’t touch her.

Last Saturday was the 53rd Orphan Train Reunion. Three original Orphan Train riders were present. They are ages 99, 98 and 94. (Our Sister Justina (age 99 ¾) is one of the original Orphan Train Riders and came to Minnesota in 1912.) The Orphan Trains ran from New York City from 1854 to 1929 and brought over 150,000 children to new homes in 47 States. The children who now attend the reunions are the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren of Orphan Train riders. I heard several stories of the lives of some of these riders. Our library has quite a few books on the Orphan Train riders.

St. Alexius Parish in West Union, MN, is my home parish. The first Sunday in October is always the date for their Sausage Supper. A number of us Sisters attended. The sausage and sauerkraut were very good…as was everything else. By the time I left for home they had already sold over 1,600 tickets. Pretty good for a parish of 75 families!

The Community Gardens are being cleaned up and readied for winter…and in waiting for the next growing season.

This picture shows part of the display that was at Ministry Day at the St. Cloud Civic Center on Sept.26th.

Sr. Ruth told me that last week she processed thirty-five 5-gallon pails of apples. These will be used for pies and sauce and apple juice. That is a lot of apples!

Thursday morning of this week is when we Sisters will get our flu shots. They are effective. The shots and good hygiene habits kept us flu-free last year. God is good.

Pax et Bonum

Sister Mary Lou