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)