Another weekend of beautiful music

We had a weekend of beautiful music here on campus. Friday night and Saturday the St. Francis Music Center had their Spring Festival Recitals. One can be very proud of the achievements of these students.

Saturday the Legacy Chorale of Greater Minnesota presented Requiem in d Minor by W.A. Mozart with a Chamber Orchestra. Those 50+ singers and 20+ orchestra members made for a beautiful musical experience for a Chapel full of listeners. It’s hard to express in words the experience of this great piece of music. Thank you for coming again to perform in our Chapel. The Chorale performed here ten years ago in their first year of their existence. There was a reception in St. Francis Hall after the performance. Thank you, Chorale and Orchestra, for sharing your talents with us here in Little Falls.

Sunday afternoon the St. Francis Community Chorale presented their Spring Concert for us in our Chapel.  The first half of the production featured music honoring the gift of water. Another high-light of the afternoon was Celo V'ec's  beautiful singing of “Old Man River.” I had goose-bumps as I listened. The second half of the program was a lighter theme with “60’s” music. After the concert everyone was invited to St. Francis Hall to have goodies and visit with the performers and guests. Thank you for sharing your talents, also.

Tomorrow is the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker. Pope Pius XII instituted this feast of St. Joseph in 1955.  The day is dedicated to the dignity of labor and to honoring workers throughout the countries of the world. St. Joseph worked as a carpenter to provide the necessities for his family. Let us pray for: --parents who struggle to raise their children with upright values,  --for just salaries for all who make a living by the work of their hands—for parents who by their love and faithfulness are models of faithful commitment in our fragmented societies.  St.  Joseph,  pray for us.

Next Sunday, May 6, the St. Camillus Place Advisory Board will again sponsor Spring Magic. There is a dinner at noon with a dance from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Falls Ballroom for people in Morrison County who are developmentally disabled. The purpose of this event is to provide an opportunity to attend a social event that may otherwise not be available to people with developmental disabilities in Morrison County. The philosophy is to provide the dinner and afternoon entertainment, with donations from the participants and guests helping meet the associated expenses. Three of us Sisters are members on the Advisory Board. Thank you to all the businesses who donated to the help pay expenses.

God bless you this week,
Peace and blessings,
Sister Mary Lou


“Dear mother earth, who day by day, unfolds rich blessings on our way, alleluia!"

“Dear mother earth, who day by day, Unfolds rich blessings on our way, alleluia!  Alleluia! The fruits and flow’rs that verdant grow, Let them God’s glory also show.  Alleluia!  Alleluia!  Alleluia!  Alleluia!” (Verse 4 of the song,  “All Creatures of Our God and King”)

We sang several verses of that song Monday at our Earth Day Celebration.  We prayed St. Francis’ Canticle of Creatures, also.  Another part of out Earth Day service, too, was to plant two trees near Breezy Inn.  One tree was in memory of Rose Januschka, employee Steve’s wife, who died earlier this year…a Fall Fiesta Maple.  And the other tree was an Indian Summer Crab Apple tree in memory of Sr. Antonette Ahles’ family.  (Pictured: Steve Januschka and Sister Antonette Ahles)

On Sunday evening we had a gathering of people from First United Church and the Sisters in a prayer service, “Together for the Common Good.”  We reflected on how or where  do we encounter God’s Creation  and what does it mean to think of the natural world as a neighbor. (Pictured: Jeff Odendahl and Rev. Damen Heitmann)

Saturday evening we served over 300 people for our Spaghetti Supper.  It was a good event with lots of good eating and good visiting.  I always like to see family and friends sitting and visiting after they finish their meal.  The earnings go to the Health and Rec Center and to the Music Center to help with scholarships…worthy causes indeed.

According to my calculations we did very well on our blood drive.  Our goal was 231 and we got 252 units of blood.  I am impressed with the generosity of the people in this area.  Thank you

Every month we have a Dining Experience celebrating a different state. The question on the message board was, “What has an “O” at each end and a big “HI” in the middle?  “Ohio,” of course.   Some of our foods for the day were:  Amish Chicken Soup, Buckeye Candies, Pork Ribs and Kraut, Cincinnati Chili,  Hot Dogs Deluxe and Shoofly Pie.

This morning I went to St. Otto’s Home for a meeting that wasn’t.  So after I found out that we didn’t have a meeting I went to third floor to visit a friend who is recovering from shoulder surgery.  So my trip was not in vain and it was a great morning to be outside.  I took this picture of the three flags flying near St. Otto’s.

This afternoon we had a treat in the dining room and honored our Leadership Sisters and Staff.  We have a number of new employees and this was a way for everyone to see and meet the Leadership Team and the new employees.  The Values Committee had a clever way to get us “mixed together.”  Each table had a different colored napkin at the table.  When we went through the line we picked up a napkin and that was where we sat to eat our treat. (When I saw the variety of napkins, my thought was that we are using up all the left-over napkins from other gatherings!  It was that, too!)

We have lots of musical events coming up this coming weekend.  Friday night and Saturday the Music Center students are having their spring recitals at the Center –7 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday.  Then Saturday night, at 7 p.m., in Chapel, we have the Legacy Chorale Concert and Orchestra doing Mozart’s Requiem.  And on Sunday afternoon our St. Francis Community Chorale will treat us to great music for their Spring Concert (in Chapel.)

The Lion’s Club was selling roses last weekend.  We were gifted with the flowers they didn’t sell.  So this week we have been enjoying beautiful bouquets of roses…and praying for our generous donors.  Thank you.

Today is the Feast of Saint Mark, the writer of the Gospel of Mark.  While we are not writing the Psalms or a Gospel, we do become living forms of God’s Word when we allow the Holy Spirit to speak through our lives (and we may be the only Gospel that many people will ever read.)  May my life be a Gospel written to proclaim God’s Good News to the world.

Peace and blessings on your week.                                                                                                                     Sister Mary Lou


Here comes winter again?

Here comes a little taste of winter again.  We had just a dusting of snow here last night…and about 1 1/3 inches of rain over the weekend.  Thanks you, God, for the much needed moisture…and for protecting us from storms.  And, God, please take care of those who suffered losses because of the tornados and storms.

Today, April 16th is the date on which in 1209, Pope Innocent III approved the first Franciscan Rule and the Order received its canonical status.  On this date, many Franciscans throughout the world formally renew their commitment to the Franciscan way of life.  We will do so today. (And on Saturday at the Secular Franciscan Spring Retreat, the Secular Franciscans renewed their Commitment.)  

Our vows of poverty, chastity and obedience are NOT private vows intended only for our own personal piety and salvation.  Ours are public vows offered to the Church for the building up of God’s presence here on earth.  By pronouncing our vows publically, we express our commitment to faithfully live our charism, which is our unique gift to the Church.

On Saturday 73 Franciscans attended this retreat sponsored by the Elk River Fraternity of Secular Franciscans.  The program folders were unique and beautiful.  They were pictures of St. Francis drawn by the Kindergarten, first and third graders of St. Andrews School in Elk River.  Thank you, children.  The retreat day was very good.

Saturday evening a number of us attended the Heartland Symphony Orchestra concert at Charles D. Martin Auditorium here in town.   We were privileged to be at the world-premier performance of the North Country Suite, 2011, composed by Rick Sowash (b. 1950).   This piece of music was commissioned by the Heartland Symphony Orchestra in commemoration of the 35th anniversary of ithe Orchestra’s founding.  The North Country suite has five movements:  Spirit of the North, Northern Lights, Father of Waters, Boreal Forest, Into the Wind.    It is a beautiful piece of music.  It reminded me of the Grand Canyon Suite.  Echo Kowalzek, age 80+, led the clapping for Johann Strauss, Senior’s Radetzky March, Op.228.  It is tradition to clap with the music for certain parts of the March.

Then on Sunday afternoon St. Francis Music Center presented the Sforzando String Orchestra and the Con Brio String Orchestra Spring Concert.  These sixty musicians are fantastic.  I thank them for sharing their talents with all of us.  Celo V’ec is to be commended for his teaching and directing these two orchestras.  Again, the chapel was filled.  Listening to great music was a good way to spend time on a dark and rainy day.

This is Severe Weather Awareness Week.  We will take part in the tornado drill on Thursday at 1:45 p.m.  We will go to the tunnel as our place of safety as we do during a tornado.  Let us pray that we don’t need to go there for a “real” tornado.  Have you figured out where you will go if there is a tornado in your area?

Saturday, April 21st we have a Spaghetti Supper fund-raiser.  We start serving at 4:30 p.m.   Come for a good meal and good visiting.

Next Monday, April 23rd, is Earth Day.  We will have a Prayer Service at 2 p.m. and we will also plant two trees.  Everyone needs to be responsible to care for Mother Earth—to protect our land, air and waters from contamination and pollution.  Spirit of God, open my eyes to Your wonders and my ears to Your Mysteries.

My blessing for you today is from today’s Morning Prayer:  “May God enlighten the eyes of our soul to guide our feet in the way of that peace which surpasses all understanding.”                                             

Sister Mary Lou


HAPPY EASTER. May the Risen Christ bless us...

HAPPY EASTER.  May the Risen Christ bless us.  May the Peace of Christ fill our lives.  May the joy of new life resurrect our spirits.

On Holy Thursday, our evening service began with a 4:30 p.m. Agape Prayer and delicious evening meal.  At 7 p.m., we had the Eucharist, the Washing of Feet, and Adoration until 10 p.m. Our Holy Week and Easter Services were spirit filled and inspirational.  Those who read the Passion on Palm Sunday and Good Friday did exceptionally well.  

On Friday morning, forty + people took part in the Silent Walk for Peace.  It was impressive to see that large group walking silently and carrying the large wooden cross through the downtown part of Little Falls.  There were prayers and a song at each of the 10 stops:  Maple Island Park, the Veterans Memorial, Bank Square, the Government Center, the jail, St. Mary’s School, St. Gabriel’s Hospital, Alverna Apartments and St. Otto’s Home, and the Motherhouse.  We prayed for the care of the earth, all veterans (living and deceased), a just economic system in our country, those imprisoned (justly or unjustly), students and teachers, the sick and the elderly and the Franciscan Sisters and their ministries.  A couple times traffic had to stop for the group to cross the streets.

The Easter Vigil service with the blessing of the fire and lighting of the candles, the readings, the blessing of water and especially the Eucharist are very special to me.  Quite a few of us spent some time on Easter Sunday with our families—always a very special time, indeed.Before breakfast on Easter Morning, Father Michael blessed our foods for the day: eggs, breads, ham, wine, etc.

I took the picture of these apple blossoms after the first hard freeze this week.  I don’t know how they look now after four mornings of hard freezes.  Our little orchard usually produces plenty of apples for apple sauce for our needs.  We will have to wait and see what happens this year.   (It would have been better if this cold weather had come in March.)

Sister Bernice grew the grass for this lovely, small replica of the empty tomb with the stone rolled away.

Monique Sobania, at the piano, and four of her children helped provide beautiful music for our Easter Sunday morning Eucharist.  Those four young strings players are so talented!  We are so grateful that they share their talents with us.

These three days, 11th, 12th ad 13th, we have the Bloodmobile here for a blood drive.  Our goal is 250 units.  I’ll report back next week for our actual total.  God bless all blood donors.  They give the gift of life.

Last week my last paragraph announced the death of Sister Marcelline Virnig, age 96, who died Monday afternoon.  Her funeral was Easter Monday.  Then Wednesday afternoon Sister Marcella Schuller, age 95, died and her funeral is today, Thursday.

Saturday we have the Spring Retreat for the Secular Franciscans.  So far, at least 60 have registered for the day.  It will be a good day.  Our speaker is Franciscan Priest, Father Anthony Criscitelli.

On Sunday, the 15th, the Strings Orchestra will have a concert in Chapel at 3 p.m.  It is always a wonderful event.  I invite you to come .

Next week, April 16 to 20, is Severe Weather Awareness Week.  We will have a tornado drill on Thursday when the State-wide tornado drill will take place.  Let us pray that the drill is the only time this season we need to head to the tunnel.  May God protect us from severe storms…and give us seasonable rain for crops and trees.

Again, Happy Easter.                                                                                                                                Peace and blessings,                                                                                                                                   Sister Mary Lou


Monday of Holy Week

Monday of Holy Week; what a full week of activities.  On Thursday evening several of us attended the Chrism Mass at the St. Cloud Cathedral.  It is at this Mass the Holy Oils used in the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Ordination and Anointing of the Sick are blessed.  Most of the Priests of the St. Cloud Diocese attend this Mass and renew their commitment as priests.  This was Bishop Kinney’s last time to preside at this ceremony as he will be retiring this summer.  MANY of the young people who will be confirmed this year were also present for the Mass.  I am most grateful to our Bishop and our Priests who serve the people of our diocese so well.  Thank you.

Saturday we hosted the “Seeds of Kindness” Habitat for Humanity fundraiser.  There were 31 beautifully decorated tables.  Besides a delicious luncheon, there was a live auction and silent auction plus other activities.  We are privileged to host the activity right here so we can see the great creativity of the “table setters” by just walking into St. Francis Hall.  Terry and his dietary crew make the food for the meal. (See more photos of decorated tables below.)

On Saturday evening a couple of us went to St. Francis Parish in St.  Francis, MN for the “Journey with Jesus to Calvary” presentation.  What a wonderful way to get into the mood of Holy Week.  Jane Keepers wrote the script and people of the parish were the actors.  The characters in the play shared their feelings of what it was for them to be part of Jesus’ journey to His Death.   It was a marvelous presentation.   The man who portrayed Jesus did a fantastic job.  He had a LOT of lines to memorize.

Cleaning and grinding horse radish seems to be a springtime job.  Sister Ruth and Sr. Antonette were busy the other morning cleaning the long roots.  Later in the day Sr. Ruth ground many quarts of horse radish and has it all ready for us to enjoy.

Friday afternoon there was a “Peace and Occupy Rally from 1 to 3 p.m.  along Highway 27 on the east side of Little Falls.  The focus was peace, economic justice and care for the environment.  A number of Sisters, Franciscan Associates and Friends were peacefully holding signs to help get the message of awareness across.

From this noon until Wednesday afternoon we have the Nursing Leadership Symposium meeting here in St. Francis Hall.  This group is sponsored by Aging Services of MN.  There are about 22 participants and about 15 of them are staying in our guest rooms at St. Francis Center.

Another puzzle got finished over the weekend.  It is a stained glass window of St. Francis and the animals.  It was another hard one and took quite a few days to assemble.

The announcement just came over the public address system that Sister Marcelline Virnig, age 96, just died.  May she enjoy spending Easter in heaven with Jesus.  I had stopped by her room after lunch today to say a prayer for her.

I wish each of you a prayer-filled Holy Week and many graces to bless your Easter.  

Sister Mary Lou

P.S.  I had an error in last weeks schedule for Holy Week.  The silent Walk for Peace starts at 9:30 a.m.

More tables....