February 28, 2011

The last day of February. Sounds like March will come in as a lamb. That’s fine with me! To see signs of spring one has to look up. Looking down one sees only snow. There is a tree on the east side of the Motherhouse that is filled with little tree leaf buds. I will keep watching that tree.

After last week’s 10+ inches of snow, the pile of snow behind Mary Hall was bigger than I had ever seen it.

Saturday we had the funeral for our Sister Mary Leonette /Bursch. age 90, who died peacefully and quietly on February 22nd. She was a Franciscan Sister for 71 years. (I had her as a Home Ec teacher for cooking when I was a freshman at St. Francis High School in 1949.) She was gentle and unassuming in her living, teaching and all the ministries she was part of. At the time of her Diamond Jubilee she said, “I praise the Lord and thank Him for walking with me hand-in-hand on my journey as a pilgrim. I feel His presence in various ways through faith and love in good times and in times of suffering.” She lived this so well.

Being an elementary school teacher is part of my blood. I like to read children’s books…and read them to children. Dr. Seuss was born March 2, 1904. Such an imagination that man had! I have to practice every time I read one of his books.

March 1st is Founders Day. It was March 1, 1891 that the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, Minnesota came into being…which makes us 120 years young this year. I stand in awe of the many holy women who have been and are part of our membership…and of all the various ministries that are part of our heritage. God has blessed us and continues to bless us in so many ways. Thank you, Lord, for your care for us. St. Francis, pray for us.

Friday, March 4th is World Day of Prayer. Here in Little Falls, the gathering will take place at 1 p.m. at St. Mary’s Church. This year the women of Chile have written the service around the theme “How many loaves have you?” Together we are asked to respond to what we have and how we can share it with others. The offering received will support the work of World Day of Payer USA and assist the needs of families who are victims of many forms of poverty, violence and human trafficking. World Day of Prayer is a worldwide ecumenical movement of Christian women of many traditions who come together annually to observe a common day of prayer on the first Friday in March. Each year the worm of a different country serve as the writers of the worship service. Be a part of the day.

Saturday, March 5th we will have the funeral for Sister Marguerite Barbeln at 11 a.m..

Lent begins a week from Wednesday, March 9th. Time to start thinking about what you will “do” for the Lenten practice. Next week I will tell you what I have in mind.

Let us pray for peace in the many troubled parts of our world…and all those who suffer because of all the violence.

God bless you.

Sister Mary Lou


February 21, 2011

Well, the dirty snow banks don’t show anymore! It was quite late in the day when the snow started here in Little Falls. And when it started it meant business! I pray for the safety of all who HAVE to be out in this kind of weather. I hope this blizzard doesn’t interfere with too many plans.

Saturday night at 11:18 p.m. our dear Sister Marguerite Barbeln, age 86, left us and went to heaven. Not too long ago she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and she chose not to seek treatment. She was a gentle and quiet person with a good sense of humor. She was very patient in her suffering and was so ready to meet the Lord. May she be enjoying life with the Lord. Sr. Marguerite, pray for us.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week we are having a furniture sale and clothing exchange. When I took this picture a few days ago, items were starting to collect. Many things will have new homes and many people will be happy with their new treasures.

This coming Saturday morning there will be a group of CCD students and parents at the Motherhouse for a tour. For many this is the first time they ever visited the Motherhouse.

We show them the Chapel and explain the large San Damiano Crucifix and it’s importance to us Franciscans. We also show them the Library and explain to them how we made the altar breads that become the Body of Jesus at Mass. This was a ministry our Sisters did for over 100 years. Now we no longer bake the wafers, but we order them and then distribute them to over 100 churches and hospitals, mostly in Minnesota. At the end of the tour the students usually go to the dining room for a little snack. They like that part, too.

This past weekend we had eleven couples here for the Marriage Encounter. Next weekend we will have a group from Anoka, MN here for a Stephen Ministry experience. That is such a good program to train parishioners to mentor those in need of a friend in tough times.

A couple times a year the Employees and Sisters serve a meal at Oasis Share-a-Meal at First Lutheran Church here in town. This is a free meal to any and everyone who comes to the Church. Usually it is about 60 people who come. It is a wonderful opportunity for good food and fellowship. Our kitchen staff makes the meal, with donations of ingredients from the Employees and Sisters. And then we go, too, to the Church to serve the meal. I have helped many times and it is a good experience.

I forgot one item that I had intended t o include in last week’s blog. On the opening night of our meetings a week ago, each of us received a lovely bronze medal of our Community Logo. The Tau Cross is in the center. St. Francis signed his name by using the Tau symbol.

God bless you and keep safe.

Sister Mary Lou


February 13, 2011

WOW!!!... From minus 23 on Thursday morning to 46 this afternoon. It took a while for our January thaw to arrive, but it is here for a few days, at least. Then with the cool-down next weekend, that should help control the snow melt and maybe the flooding situation, too. There is open water below the dam on the Mississippi River here in Little Falls. Two gates are open to let the water through.

Our week of meetings is over. It was a good week with lots of prayer and discussion and some decisions made…and LOTS of information. We had Mass at 4:15 p.m. Monday through Friday. Thursday’s homily is one I will never forget…and not a word was spoken. The opening song was “Gaze upon Christ. Consider Christ. Contemplate Christ.” Carolyn went to the altar and looked at the big San Damiano Crucifix we have behind the altar. She looked at it from several directions. Then she knelt and prayed before the Crucifix and finally bowed low and prayed in silence. It was profound!

Each morning and afternoon session started with a call to prayer by the ringing of the big bowls. Tapping the bowls with a special mallet and/or moving the mallet around the rim of the bowls made such a full and resonating sound and brought our attention back to the work of the week.

Since our theme was around weaving our future, there was a loom set up in the meeting room and whoever wanted, could weave the strands of cloth through the many threads. Quite a lot of work was done.

Evenings were mostly free for visiting, playing cards or board games etc. The planning Committee frequently had meetings during the noon hour or in the evenings. One evening we had a talent show. Many Sisters shared their talents. Here we see Sr. Fran playing her harmonica and Sr. Antonette telling us a funny story. It was a time for lots of laughter and so much fun.

All but about a dozen Sisters were here in Little Falls the past week. Now most have returned to their homes and places of work throughout the United States and Ecuador.

It seems pretty quiet around here now, but not for long.

Tuesday and Wednesday we have a group of about 35 Episcopalian Ministers and their Bishop meeting here. Then on the weekend a Marriage Encounter Group will be coming. Sister Christelle does a wonderful job of hostessing all these groups.

Monday is Valentine’s Day. In our family this has always been a special day as it was Mom and Dad’s wedding anniversary. They were married 67 years at the time of Mom’s death in 2000. What an example of love and fidelity they were to us and to so many.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you.

Peace and blessings,

Sister Mary Lou


February 6, 2011

Bask in today’s temperatures in the 20 degree plus range, because tomorrow it is predicted to be 20 below zero in the morning! There is so much snow buildup on roads, parking lots and sidewalks. Though it is nothing like the picture my brother sent me of a road north of Dubuque, IA where the road is carved out of snow banks that are 2 or 3 times higher than the cars. That’s a lot of snow. I hope melting takes place slowly when spring comes.

Sister Mary Ann and I were suppose to go to Browns Valley for a SFO meeting today, but that got cancelled yesterday afternoon because of the rain, ice and snow they were having in the western part of the State. So today for me feels like a “snow day” like when I was teaching—a day when I can do things I hadn’t planned on doing—like writing my blog!

This is the week of our Legislative/Direction Setting part of our Delegate Assembly Meetings: from tonight’s opening with prayer at 6:30 in Chapel until after noon on Saturday. Most of the Sisters who are coming have arrived. Chapel was pretty full for Mass this morning…and the singing was full and resounding, too.

Judy and Julene from Archives put together a lovely six-bulletin-board display of some of the highlights of our Community over the past 120 years. We officially became the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, Little Falls, Minnesota, on March 1, 1891—120 years ago. Sister Mary Francis was elected the first Mother Superior of the Community on March 3, 1891. After a month the display will be set up in Archives for the coming year. Since I’ve been a member of the Community nearly half that time, I remember lots of the things shown.

Last night we had our Soup Supper. I don’t know how many people came, but Terry B. said we served a lot of soup! Guests could also purchase loaves of fresh home-made bread to take home with them. It is always great to see and hear Sisters and guests having a good time sharing memories. (Last year the Soup Supper was cancelled because of a blizzard.) April 16 is the date for the next Spaghetti Supper.

Sister Grace is here from our Mexico Mission and is staying at our house during the time of our meetings. On Friday five of her nine sisters came to visit. Now that was a good time!

Friday morning, Sister Celine was busy decorating cookies for Valentine’s Day…trays and trays of cookies. What a good treat awaits us.

We have four guest Sisters staying at our house this week, so it is exciting with all the visiting and activity.

God bless you and please keep us in your prayers this week. Thank you.

Sister Mary Lou


February 2, 2011

Feast of the Presentation

And, also Groundhog Day.

As I write this, the sun is shining and the temp is minus 10 degrees…no wind chill.

I noticed on my calendar this morning that today starts the Frostbite Festival in Fergus Falls and is Winter Frolics in Two Harbors. They will have the cold and snow they celebrate. I heard on the radio that is was minus 44 wind chill in Morris this morning. I’d not feel bad if we didn’t get another flake of snow this winter, but I doubt that will happen.

Saturday evening, February 5th, we will have the Soup Supper from 4:30 to 7 p. m. We will have chicken wild rice, beef barley vegetable and tomato tortellini soups along with fresh baked cracked wheat and white bread, bars and beverages. Hope you can come. Today Sister Julien and Terry will be on the Party Line radio program this morning to talk about the Supper.

Last Sunday afternoon several of us Sisters attended the Pro-Life Dinner and program at the Falls Ballroom. The program and speakers were interesting to listen to, and the food as usual, was very good. There were about 400 persons in attendance. When I think of pro-life, I also include all life issues, not only the abortion issue.

Yesterday three of us former teachers went to Pierz to visit students at Holy Trinity School as they celebrate Catholic Schools Week. That week was always my favorite week of the year. It was a lot of work, but so much fun. I visited the two Kindergarten classrooms. I talked with the students, read them a story, told them a Bible story and treated them to a cookie and gave them a little gift. It was a fun time for me.

Next week we will have Legislative/Direction-Setting Meetings of the Delegate Assembly from Sunday evening through Saturday (February 6-12th). April 8-10 we will have the Election Session of the Delegate Assembly when we will elect new leadership Sisters for our Community. June 12th we will have Installation of New Leadership. Please keep us in prayer these important days.

Keep warm and safe.

Peace and blessings,

Sister Mary Lou