What a blessing to have the gift of time for prayer and reflection

Retreat ended at noon on Sunday. The general consensus seemed to be that it was a very good retreat —prayerful and reflective. What a blessing to have the gift of time for prayer and reflection.

Sr. Cabrini’s funeral was on Friday morning. She had great devotion to Blessed Mother Mary. She made and prayed many rosaries.

On Friday evening St. Francis Music Center presented the Sestri Choir in concert. (The name Sestri means “sisters”). They sing folk songs from the Slavic countries: Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Russia and the Ukraine. This group of 19 women, directed by Celo V’ec, makes beautiful music and have a lot of fun doing it. The little group of strings players, Bartok Babes, played two songs between the two parts of the singing. Celo founder and conductor of Sestri, also started the world famous Yale Slavic chorus in 1969, the first year of undergraduate co-education at Yale. This choir was the first all women’s group on the Yale Campus. Celo was a music major at Yale College and a member of the all-male Yale Russian chorus. In 2009, the Chorus celebrated their 40th anniversary with a reunion concert that drew alumnae from all across the globe. After attending this reunion, Celo was inspired to start a local group. He received an individual arts grant from the Minnesota State Arts board and it was then that Sestri began.

Sunday night there was an Ecumenical Prayer Service at First United Church. It was planned by Pastor Damen Heitmann and Franciscan Sisters Bernice and Jean. We had prayer, quiet reflection, conversation, singing and heard quotes from Martin Luther King, our Nation’s Presidents, Religious Leaders and Scripture. My favorite quote was from Bishop Desmond Tutu: “Keep feeling the need for being first. But I want you to be the first in love. I want you to be the first in moral excellence. I want you to be the first in generosity.”

Last night was our evening to honor our wonderful employees. After a social hour we had a delicious dinner catered by Will and his Falls Ballroom crew.

Fourteen employees received awards for 5, 10, 20 and 25 years of service. Terry Bernardy received the Francis Award.

Five young members of the Rick Family preformed for us. They all play piano and a string instrument. They are students at St. Francis Music Center.

And another HARD puzzle was finished this week. We knew the Peacock puzzle would be a hard one, but the Christmas Cookie puzzle was equally hard…and very lovely to look at.

We’ve received a couple inches of new snow…so the world looks beautiful…and roads must be slippery, since I’ve heard about many fender-benders and more serious accidents.

Be safe by being careful. Peace and blessings, Sister Mary Lou


What a celebration it was! Sister Justina turns 100 years old!

Yesterday was the big celebration of Sr. Justina’s 100 Birthday. And what a celebration it was! At Mass, the St. Francis Community Chorale sang along with our Sisters’ choir and the congregation. Fr. Ken Brenny, her first cousin, was the presider and homilist. The Chapel was full. We had LOTS of guests for dinner. And in no time at all it was time for the Open House. Again, LOTS of guests! Sr. Justina was in good form and was enjoying all the goings-on.

There were letter greetings from Governor Mark Dayton, President and Michelle Obama, Bishop John F. Kinney and the New York Foundling Home.

Also, yesterday afternoon at 4:10 p.m., Sister Cabrini Loerzel, age 87, went to heaven. Sisters had been sitting with her the past several days. Her Funeral will be on Friday.

Retreat for about 50 Sisters starts tonight at 7 p.m. Fr. Giles Schinelli, TOR, is the director. “Contemplating the contours and challenges of ongoing conversion: St. Francis and the Salutation of the Virtues,” is the theme. That’s quite a title! “A Salutation of the Virtues” is one of the writings/prayers of St. Francis.

The Stephen Ministers from Anoka were here the 13--15th. Our Sr. Rita Barthel was working with the group when they first started coming here in 1986. Joan Bednarzyk has been coordination this retreat the past 21 years. After this year someone else will be doing that job.

Bloodmobile Report: Our goal was 240 units. We received 229 units. And 20 others came but could not donate. So I would say we had a very successful event. There will be another Blood Drive n April.

Last week we honored the Finance Department. The clever bulletin board display showed enlargements of paper money bills with the pictures of the staff on each bill. I am so grateful for that staff in taking care of paying bills and all that Social Security “stuff.”

May God bless us. May God look favorably upon us. May God give us peace.

Sister Mary Lou


What a difference a day makes!

Yesterday the Little Falls high temperature was a record breaking 52 degrees. Today a high of 34 degrees already was in the early a.m. hours. We’ve had .10 inch of rain and now it is snowing…with expected accumulation about 1 to 2 inches. Wind chill of 4 degrees.

After prayer this morning, Sr. Donna told us that today she would be donating her 81st unit of blood. That is a LOT of blood—10 gallons + 1! Thank you, Donna, for your generous gift of life. The Bloodmobile is here today, Thursday and Friday. These first two days from 1 to 7 p.m. and Friday 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

This week is National Immigration Week. Today is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. We are remembering St. Josephine Bakhuta (1869-1947.) She was an ex-slave and Sister, who was kidnapped as a 9 year-old. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II on May 17, 1992, and canonized in 2000, the first native of the Sudan to be so recognized. Let us pray for all those who are enslaved for the “profit” of their “masters.”

Tomorrow at 2 p.m., we are recognizing the Finance Department for their many services to the Sisters—and paying our bills. Thank you, for your many services to us. (I am most grateful I don’t have to figure all those things out.)

On Sunday we celebrate Sr. Justina’s 100 birthdays. It will be a Great Day. I’m sure we will have many guests for Mass (11 a.m.) and the open house from 2 –4 p.m. Congratulations, Sr. Justina.

Retreat starts Monday evening at 7 p.m. until noon of Saturday, the 22nd. It is a long list of people who are signed up to make the retreat. I am one of them.

After our meal for the Sisters ‘ Christmas Party on the 7th, we had a sing-a-long. The funniest song we sang was a new version of “Twelve Days of Christmas”. We sang “The 12 Days of Christmas MN Style”… A Bald Eagle in a Fir tree, 2 red-eyed loons, 3 spring chix, 4 snow ties spinning, 5 woolen scarves, 6 bunnies hopping, 7 mice a-squeaking, 8 kittens purring, 9 wolves a-howling, 10 skunks a-spraying, 11 kids coughing, 12 geese a-honking. And, then, too, did the actions. That song was good for a lot of laughs.

Finally, the HARD 1,000-piece peacock puzzle was finished. It took several weeks. I admire those who were so persistent to finish it. Now they are working on a plate of cookies and that is about as hard. It is great to see Sisters and employees working so diligently to put the puzzles together…a wonderful way to relax.

The Christmas decorations are all packed away for another year. All that is left are the many beautiful poinsettias that will last until Eastertime.

Peace and blessings, Sister Mary Lou


The Christmas decorations are disappearing

This must be the “January lull.” The Christmas decorations are disappearing and put away for another year. The weekly calendar is not packed with activities and events. Sister Kizzie made a snowlady—little in size because of the lack of snow. I took a picture yesterday because when our temperatures go to the 40s+ today the snow won’t last long!

The past days we’ve had notices of the deaths of a number of family members of employees and the brother of one of our Sisters. May all the deceased be enjoying Life with the Lord. And we wish peace, strength and courage for the living members of the families.

Last night Channel Kare 11 TV did a 5-or 6-minute segment on our Sister Karen Niedjelski, Kindergarten teacher at St. Andrew’s School in Elk River. The program was very interesting and very well done. I think it would be fun to sit in on her classes. Those are lucky children who are in her class. Click here to view the video clip.

On Saturday, the 7th, we will have our Sisters’ Christmas/Epiphany celebration…always good food and good visiting.

Next week we will have the first of three computer Technology Inservice programs for those of us who need to know about what the machine is capable of doing.

January 8—14 is National Migration Week—a time to remember the giftedness and blessings Migrants are and be welcoming and hospitable to them who find themselves far away from home and in a vulnerable situation.

The Bloodmobile will be here Wednesday and Thursday (11th and 12th) from 1 to 7 p.m. and Friday (13th) from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. If you wish to make an appointment, call Sr. Julien at 632-0663.

And, of course, the big event of January is on Sunday, the 15th: the Celebration of the 100th Birthday of Sr. Justina, with Mass at 11 a.m. and an Open House from 2 – 4 p.m.

The quote from my calendar is: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not and act but a habit.” -- Aristotle

Peace and God’s protection on each of us. Sister Mary Lou