Last days and Knights of October

October 29, 2012

Let us all pray for the folks on the East Coast who are dealing with very stormy weather conditions these days…and for those who have to stay there to care for those in danger. Our little snow and rain the past couple days is a blessing as it provided moisture that mother earth needs.

Last Thursday the Reception Department was recognized. For many people this is the first face and contact with the Franciscan Sisters. Sister Fabian has been working in this department for the past 30 years. WOW! Congratulations. She’s seen many changes in locations where the department has been centered. Recently a writer came to interview her. The picture shows the tall and the short of it. Thank you, Sr. Fabian, for your gentle and caring service.

Several events went on that I missed, but were important to the Franciscan Sisters. Yesterday afternoon the Knights of Columbus came to serve ice cream and cake to the Sisters. Also, yesterday afternoon the Music Center had Halloween recitals—piano, flute, guitar and vocal. All performers were in costumes. Thanks, students for sharing your talents.

Over the weekend we had a group of Knitters here at St. Francis Center. After brunch Sunday, I went to 3rd floor to see some of the interesting items they were making — scarves, mittens, caps and fun decorations.

The Bloodmobile will be here Wednesday and Thursday (1-7 p.m.) and Friday (8 a.m.-2 p.m.) this week. Thanks to all who share this gift of life with their neighbor.

The past two weekends a number of Sisters attended the Geritol Frolics program in Brainerd. This group of 40+ elders put on a very entertaining 2 ½ hour production. They must be very tired after all the dancing and singing and clothes changes they do from one act to the next.

Saturday evening we have our Franciscan Harvest Supper (4:30 to 7 p.m.). Bring your appetite and join us.

After lunch today I went to Lindbergh School to read to the First Graders. One poem I read was “Little Orphan Annie” by James Whitcomb Riley. The students really got into the last line of each verse: “ ... and the goblins will get ya, if you don’t watch out!”

Safe hunting to all hunters. Happy Halloween. Happy All Saints Day to all you Saints in heaven and on earth. Peace to the Faithful Departed. We continue to pray for you.

Let us all pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as we do our voting next week.

Peace and blessings,
Sister Mary Lou


Thousands and thousands of lives touched

October 23, 2012

After lunch today, I filled my thirsty car and was happy to discover that gas was $3.39 a gallon and then on Tuesdays my 5 cent coupon is worth 10 cents. The last time I paid less than that was December 24, 2011 when I paid $3.09

Early this morning we had a very nice thunderstorm that dropped about an inch+ of rain. We praise God for that blessing, too. It sounds like more rain the next couple days. It will be very good to get moisture into our dry earth before it gets really cold and the ground freezes.

So many things to write about again. I’m not going to even attempt to put them in chronological order.

Yesterday Virginia Sanderson, a friend of Sister Maristell, donated a lovely picture of an apple she had painted. She read the story of Sr. Maristell’s revelation about the Trinity that Sr. Grace heard from Sr. Maristell the day Sr. Maristell died. (The story can be found at fslf.org under “More News—July 27, 21012.) Thank you, Virginia.

Today the first group of 64 volunteers came to “stuff envelopes” for our annual Christmas Appeal. These folks will be stuffing about 16,000+ envelopes and will most probably finish on Thursday. If you don’t get an envelope and want one, let me know. I invited you to send a donation to the Franciscan Sisters.

On Sunday, October 7th, we had our Donor Day appreciation gathering here in Little Falls. Then on the 21st we had a similar gathering at St. Olaf’s Church in Minneapolis so the Twin Cities donors don’t have so far to travel. At that gathering, Robyn Gray, Director of St. Francis Music Center, was the speaker. I learned so many things from her talk and want to share some of them with you.

The Music Center was started in 1979 by our Sister Cecilia Schmitt. In those 33 years, thousands and thousands of lives in central Minnesota have been touched. There are 17 teachers who teach private lessons in piano, violin, viola, cello, string bass guitar, base guitar, banjo, mandolin, voice, organ, all the band instruments, the trap set, accordion and composition. They also teach classes in dance, gymnastics, Preschool Music, and College Prep Music Theory. There are two multi-generational chestras, St. Francis Community Chorale, Sestri—a women’s group that sings folksongs of Eastern Europe, and Brothers in Harmony, a men’s singing ensemble.

Each week over 500 students come to the Center for lessons and classes, orchestra and the choirs. There are 12 student recitals a year, two major orchestra concerts and three chorale concerts each year. Each spring there is a big dance recital and a gymnastics recital. About 200 young pianists from the area come each spring for the Keyboard Festival. The Music Center brings music to Little Falls, a town with a population of 8,000, and the biggest town in Morrison County, with opportunities that would not be there if it were not for the Music Center. There is not another community school for the arts in a town of our size in all of the United States.

Morrison County is also one of the poorer counties in MN, so the Music Center reaches the rural poor, a demographic often overlooked by grantmakers and other programs. Scholarships are available to students needing assistance because of grants, donors and fund-raisers. The URock Summer Camp is for Middle and High School students who want to be in a band. They learn business and skills to make a band work. Thank you Music Center staff for all you do to help students ages 1 1/2 to 82.

Sue Roelandt, one of our faithful 5-year volunteers on second floor died on October 13th. We had a prayer/memorial service for her in our Chapel last week. She liked working here and we liked having her come here.

Sunday, October 21st, was World Mission Sunday. Sr. Joel fixed a nice display in the sanctuary to remind us that as Christians we are to take the Word of God to the whole world. God bless and care for Missionaries who do this throughout the world.

Two new American saints were canonized last Sunday: Saint Kateri Tekakwitha and Saint Marianne Cope. Saint Kateri was a Mohawk Indian and Saint Marianne was a Franciscan Sister who worked with Father Damian in caring for lepers in Hawaii. A couple of our Sisters went to the diocesan celebration for Saint Kateri in Ogalvie this past Sunday.

Walter was busy washing the Mary Hall front windows this afternoon. It was misting slightly, but he wanted to finish that job today…and before more rain or even snow.

The Knit N Stitch ladies are coming this weekend. It is always fun to see the creative things they make. I will go to look, take a picture or two…and maybe learn something, also.

Up-coming events:
  • Halloween Recitals Sunday at 1 p.m. at St. Francis Center in Rooms 242 and 244
  • The Blood Mobile will be here on October 30, 31 and November 1st
                Tuesday, Wednesday (1 to 7 p.m.)
                Friday (8 a.m. to 2 p.m.)
  • Our Harvest Dinner is Saturday, November 3rd, 4:30 to 7 p.m. - Join Us!
  • Elections are Tuesday, November 6th - Please vote!
  • The Rose Ensemble will have a concert in our Chapel Saturday, November 10th at 7 p.m.

Peace and blessings, Be safe.

Sister Mary Lou


Local Heros

October 16, 2012

Happy Boss’ Day today to all who are in leadership positions.

Today is World Food Day, a good time to reflect on the realities and to ask what can be done to help people obtain the food they need for a basic livelihood. In developing countries almost 11 million children under the age of 5 die each year with malnutrition and hunger causing 60% of these deaths.

The big news for Little Falls last week was that native son, Dr. Brian Kobilka, won the 2012 Nobel Prize for Chemistry. He is a graduate of St. Mary’s Parochial School and Little Falls High School and currently is a medical doctor and professor and chair of molecular and cellular physiology at the Stanford University School of Medicine in California. He shares the prize with Robert Lefkowitz, a professor at Duke University in North Carolina. Congratulations, gentlemen.

On Wednesday, Oct 10th, we invited the five “Laundry Ladies” to the Convent for lunch as our way of thanking them for their 127 years of service. The on-campus laundry will be closed as of October 15th because of aging equipment and needed repairs. Our laundry services will be out-sourced. The ladies mentioned that this past summer was the hottest ever.

The state of Vermont was the Dining Adventure for the Month of October. Foods we had that day were: Ham-boiled dinner, corn meal muffins, 3-bean salad, and apple pie with Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. Vermont was the first state to join the Union after the original 13 colonies and the first state to abolish slavery. A few other interesting facts are: state bird is the Hermit Thrush, state animal the Morgan Horse, state tree the Sugar Maple, state amphibian the Northern Leopard Frog, cooled water fish the Brook Trout, state butterfly, the Monarch Butterfly, warm water fish the Walleye. The largest employer is IBM. Vermont has more covered bridges than any other state.

During the Eucharistic Celebration, on Sunday, October 14th, we welcomed eleven new Associates. Fifty-two Associates celebrated their commitment of 25, 20, 15, 10 and 5 years as Associates. All Associates present renewed their commitment. Franciscan Associates are men and women who wish to grow in Franciscan Spirituality. We have approximately 260 Franciscan Associates. Congratulations to our new Associates.

One of our volunteers, Larry J. Sharon, Chief Warrant Officer 5, was honored October 7th “for dedicated service from 14, August 1963 to 19 June, 2004” and was “inducted into the Court of Honor at Camp Ripley, MN on October 7, 2012 by order of the Adjutant of MN.” (Words from the award.) Four Minnesota National Guard soldiers were inducted into the Minnesota National Guard Court of Honor at this ceremony.

A number of us Sisters attended the Heartland Symphony Orchestra Concert at Charles Martin Auditorium last Saturday evening. It was a great concert. Josh Aerie is a great conductor and selected great music. Thank you, players for providing such a wonderful cultural experience in our town and in Brainerd.

The Bloodmobile will be here October 30, 31 and November 1st. Mark your calendars.

November 3rd is the date for our Fall Harvest Supper, from 4:30 to 7 p.m. The menu is: fried chicken, sausage, garden vegetables, coleslaw, breadsticks, homemade bars and beverages. Again mark your calendar.

Give to the Max Day is November 15th. Any donation to our ministries received on that day will be matched, which will make your gift go even further. You can pledge now at www.GiveMN.org.

One more upcoming event: The Rose Ensemble will be performing Saturday, November 7th in our Sacred Heart Chapel at 7 p.m. ($12 and $9 for seniors and students) The Rose Ensemble is a vocal and instrumental group who do music from Medieval and Renaissance Italy. This program will be repeated at St. Mary’s Church in Alexandria, MN at 7 p.m. on November 8, 2012. This is another cultural experience you don’t want to miss.

If you are able to volunteer your time during any of these upcoming events, please call Kathy at 320-632-0691.

Showers are in the weather forecast. May the Lord send us good soaking rains on the earth before the ground freezes.

Peace and blessings,
Sister Mary Lou


Adventures of Autumn

October 8, 2012

Last week between Wednesday evening and Thursday morning we moved from summer to fall...and I think it is here to stay. We had and have the promise of some much needed rain. I even washed my car in hopes of bringing it on. When I came outside after lunch today, the sidewalk and roads were a little damp, so a little shower went through. I pray God send us more rain. Last week I showed a picture of the beautiful red tree outside Clare Residence. Today there are only a couple dozen leaves left on that tree.

Our guys cut down the dying pine tree at the end of the circle drive. We thanked the tree for being a good tree.

What busy days the last few days. We had a beautiful celebration of the Transitus Wednesday evening. The Transitus is the celebration of the remembering of the death of St. Francis. Then on October 4th we celebrated the Feast of St. Francis. Many Secular Franciscans and our Franciscan Associates joined us for Mass and Lunch.

Thursday was a very windy day and we were affected by a domino effect “problem.” The wind blew a tree branch over a power line that shut off electricity for a few seconds…and that’s all it took to mess up the timers on the chapel lights! When it was time for 4:15 prayer, the one light that was on stayed on, and all the other chapel lights that were off stayed off. So we all took our books downstairs and prayed in St. Francis Hall.

Thursday evening from 6 to 7 p.m. we had Taize prayer, as we do the first Thursday of every month. We used floor lamps for lighting. The next day all got fixed and the timers are working well again.

On Friday the Sisters and most employees received our flu shots. May the flu stay away from all of us!

Saturday we hosted 90+ guests for the 52nd Orphan Train Reunion. Since last year’s gathering the three original Riders who were with us last year died: Helen (Perkins) Koscianski (age 96) on May 21, 2012, Sister Justina Bieganek, July 20 (age 100), and Pat Theissen (age 97) died October 1, 2012. The spirit of the three was definitely with us on Saturday. The three daughters of Helen Koscianski came with a doll donated by Pat Theissen, to the Orphan Train Organization. This doll was wearing the original coat Agnes “Pat” (Chambers) Theissen wore when she came to Minnesota on the Orphan Train in 1916. The original tag was sewn to the front of the coat. I got goose-bumps when I saw the doll and the tags. For more information on the Orphan train see www.orphantrainridersofMinnesota.com. From 1854 to 1929 over 250,000 children from the urban East Coast, predominately NY, were placed out on what has become known as the Orphan Trains. One thing that amazed me is the statistic that one in 25 Americans is connected to an Orphan Train rider. There is and Orphan Train Museum and Research Center at 300 Washington in Concordia, KS, 66901 (Phone: 785-243-4471.) Next year’s reunion is the first Saturday of October 2013. The morning presentation was a speaker telling of her grandparents, Earl and Emily Kidder. Emily was an Orphan train Rider. In the afternoon we heard stories of other train riders. Some were so sad in the treatment of the riders when they reached their new homes. There was a silent auction to help raise funds for the organization.

On Sunday we had our Donor Day Appreciation event. One Hundred fifty-five guests joined us for Mass and a delicious dinner. After the dinner I was the speaker telling why we have the “Blessing of Animals.” Then we went out to the west lawn for the blessing of 35 animals- mostly dogs, a couple cats and 2 gingkoes. Father Michael, OSB, and a number of our Sisters blessed each animal individually. (I gave my sister, Cecelia, a copy of the blessing so she could bless her new dog. She said. “I blessed her last night when she woke me up three times!” She will also bless her with our blessing.) When our guests left yesterday they were each given a little birdhouse that our elder Sisters painted and decorated. It was hard to make choices since each birdhouse was so unique and beautiful.

The "puzzlers" finished two puzzles this week.

This is the week all the Diocesan Priests are meeting at Arrow Wood in Alexandria for their yearly meeting and workshop. Let us keep them and Bishop Kinney in our prayers.

On Wednesday we will have our Vermont Dining Adventure. I wonder what we will have to eat as Vermont treasured recipes. Pat, our Librarian, picks out such interesting bits of information to put at the tables--so we can get a little smarter, too.

Next Sunday we will be welcoming a large group of Franciscan Associates for Mass and lunch. Several new Associates will make their first-time commitment and the others will renew their commitment.

Let us pray for plentiful, gentle rains before the ground freezes.

Peace and blessings on each of you.
Sister Mary Lou


Happy Feast of St. Francis!

and Happy Feast of St. Therese, the Little Flower. May we all learn her “Little Way” of “loving God as a little child: a trustful, willingness to be led, taught and raised in true maturity according to God’s plan rather than her own.”

Our week together last week in our Community Meetings was a very good week. But it wasn’t all work! 

And now, yesterday and today, are more quiet days. Most Sisters have returned to their Missions.

We here at the Motherhouse prepare for another busy week: Celebration of Sr. DeLourdes’ 90th birthday (Tuesday); The Transitus (Commemoration of the death of St. Francis, 7 p.m. Wednesday evening); Feast of St. Francis Thursday; Flu Shot Clinic for the Sisters, Friday morning and for the Employees from 12 to 2 p.m.; the Orphan Train Reunion on Saturday, and Donor Day on Sunday. There is no time to get bored around here!

For Donor Day, there is an 11 a.m. Mass, followed by lunch and then the Blessing of Animals on the West Lawn. Why the Blessing of Animals? St. Francis realized that God made all of Creation…all of creation is in God’s Hands, cared for and loved by God. Animals, our pets, too, need to be cared for by humans and respected because they are made by our Loving Creator. And so near the Feast of St. Francis, many places have a special blessing of animals. There are many stories in the Life of St. Francis where he had inter-action with animals: preaching to the birds and the Wolf of Gubbio are the best known.

These last days have been beautiful and warm…and now is the promise of rain at least in some places. That, too, will be a great blessing. As I understand from radio reports, the harvest is about completed. We have some beautiful colored leaves on many trees here on campus. Pictured, too, is a wagon load of Sr. Ruth’s garden produce.

Yesterday morning I woke up to have the moon shining brightly into my room. It made me think of a little poem I learned as a child:

“I see the moon and the moon sees me.
God loves the moon and God loves me.”

Peace and blessings on your week.

Sister Mary Lou

P.S. Sunday, October 7th is the West Union, MN, Sausage Supper, 1 to 6 p.m.