Hope that lights your way

December 31, 2012

HAPPY NEW YEAR. May the Lord give you love that warms your heart, hope that lights your way, and joy that fills your heart and home this day and all through the New Year.

I hope you had a good Christmas. May you share your love with others, as Jesus came to share His love with us.

The week before Christmas we had our Employee/Sister pot luck lunch. After lunch we had the drawings for the many beautiful gift baskets that were donated by Sisters and Employees. The proceeds ($1,468) were donated to Kinship of Morrison County program. This group helps young people in our area.

On December 20th, Sister Julien and I were at Coborn’s Superstore making a joyful noise to raise funds for the Food Shelf. In the four hours we were there, we collected $472.32. It was a lot of fun and we are grateful to all the generous donors.

Our Christmas Services were wonderful. On Christmas Eve both Chapels were full. The music was top notch and all was very prayerful. Many town’s people join us for the Christmas eve and day services.

The Blood Mobile will be here January 9 and 10 from 1 to 7 p.m. and January 11 from 8 a .m. to 2 p.m.

For years we have a 24-hour prayer-time to end the Old Year and bring in the New Year. Sisters and others spend an hour from 7 p.m. on the 20th until 7 p.m. on the 31st praying for peace and the needs of the Church and the world. This will end with a New Year’s Eve prayer service in Chapel for all at 7 p.m. tonight. Everyone is aware that there are many needs to pray for!

The theme for the Dining Room Decorations this month is snow people. Each table and the counter tops have many kinds of snow people…a festive touch. Peace and blessings on you and those you love.

 Stay well.
 Sister Mary Lou


Merry Christmas!

December 21, 2012

May Jesus, the Prince of Peace and his holy Mother Mary keep you and those you love, in their care this Christmas and all through the new year!

Merry Christmas,
Sister Mary Lou


Preparations continue, Christmas is close!

December 17, 2012

Third Week of Advent. Christmas is a bit more than a week away. May the Lord be with you as you continue your preparation for Christmas.

Last Thursday evening the Lions Club members came to sing Christmas songs for the Sisters. As part of the program one of the Lions, Brad, gave a tribute to the Sisters he knew who gave him a chance to get an education and become a successful elementary school teacher. When he was a student at the Junior College in Fergus Falls we hired him to help clean classrooms after school and take 6th grade boys phy ed. The money he made helped pay his college bills and also gave him a desire to be a teacher. Thanks, Brad.

On Friday evening the two Strings Orchestras from St. Francis Music Center presented their concerts. A jam-packed Chapel of people enjoyed the beautiful music. The acoustics in Sacred Heart Chapel are so good. Performers like to perform there. The Con ‘Brio Orchestra has 28 members and the Sforzando Orchestra has 27 members. In the program, Celo ‘V’ec writes a very interesting little history of each of the 13 pieces. I really like that. Celo was given a beautiful Christmas cactus in thanks for his work.

Saturday we had 6/10 inch of rain during the day. Later the temperatures dropped and we got a little snow. This left roads and sidewalks icy and bumpy. I just stayed inside Saturday and Sunday.

Sister Donna completed a beautiful puzzle. We each are one of those birds in the hands of a God who loves and cared for us. The pieces to this puzzle were really little.

In the back of the small chapel are two Christmas trees, covered with the prayer intentions sent in by our Donors. If you returned your card, it is there. All of us Sisters are praying for you now and all through the year.

On the 12th we celebrated the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas. I admire Juan Diego, a poor farmer to whom Our Lady appeared and asked him to tell the Bishop to build a church in her honor in the place where they stood. To prove she was sending Juan, she filled his cloak with roses and a picture of herself on his cloak. This church is a place of pilgrimage in Mexico.

Tomorrow evening at 6 p.m. we will be having our Advent Penance Service.

On Thursday from 3 to 7 p.m., Sr. Julien and I will be at Coborn’s Superstore “Making a Joyful Noise” as a fund raiser for the Food Shelf. We thank generous donors who help this very worthy cause.

 Let us pray for the people suffering because of the Sandy Hook School tragedy.

Have a good week.
God bless you.

Sister Mary Lou


Second Week of Advent

 December 10, 2012

Our snowstorm over the week end blest us with 11 inches of clean, white snow. My car on the parking lot looked like a big white bump until Keith brushed all the snow off of it. Yesterday’s wind moved the fluffy snow all around. Today all the schools in the area started two hours late. The trees look beautiful…and the snow piles are big! Tonight trucks will come and move those piles to the big field.

The bakery has been a busy place today with tubs of cookies ready to be decorated and sweet breads ready for frosting, too.

Saturday was the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Our Community is The Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of Little Falls, MN. So this is our Feast Day, too, along with the Feast of St. Francis. We 3rd floor of Mary Hall Sisters were in charge of setting and decorating the dining room tables. We had light and dark blue napkins and then little vases with blue water and a little white mum on the tables. After the meal the Sisters could take a flower along with them if they wished to do so.

Last Thursday the local Ministerial Association had their Christmas Luncheon here. Pictured here are the ministers of the various churches and the Sisters who joined them for a delicious lunch. The large, hand-made quilted wall hanging was a gift to us from my friend Ron.

Thursday was also the Feast of St. Nicholas. My sister, Cecelia, made this St. Nicholas for me many years ago. She even has a little mouse in the back-pack. The other picture shows our local St. Nicholas on his rounds distributing candy and peanuts to all the Sisters and the Departments.

Today was the funeral of Father Dave Gallus, a Crosier priest. For many years he came here to Celebrate Mass with us. Many of us would have liked to have gone to his Wake and Funeral. But white-out driving conditions and hazardous roads kept us all home. We prayed for him here. May he rest in peace.

Our Evening Prayer tonight was a Memorial Service for Sister Joel’s sister, Pauline Mans, age 97, who died last week in a Nursing home in Riceville, IA. Because of the distance, Sr. Joel did not attend the funeral. When a sibling dies and the Sister cannot attend the funeral, we have our own prayer service here as part of evening prayer.

On Wednesday, the Feast of our Lady of Guadalupe, and Patroness of the Americas, Father Tony Kroll will lead us in a bi-lingual Mass. We are getting better at singing the Mexican songs. They say, “Practice makes perfect.” Well, I wouldn’t go that far but I would say, “Practice makes better.”

Friday, 7 p.m., is the Christmas Concert for the two Strings Orchestras. They do so well! If you are in the area, do stop by. You’ll not be sorry you did.

Our Fioretti Fraternity of Secular Franciscans will have our Christmas party here in the Heritage Dining Room Saturday afternoon. It will be a good time.

Our Minister, Jim Hein is having some health problems. His heart is acting-up—going very fast. Please pray for him. He was at the Park Rapids Hospital and now is in the St. Cloud Hospital.

Again, Happy Second Week of Advent.

Lots of Sisters have already mailed their Christmas cards. I hope to get mine out within the week.

Peace and many blessings,
Sister Mary Lou


The first week of Advent

December 3, 2012

The first week of Advent. Since the tenth century, Advent has marked the beginning of the Church Year in the West.  Today, Advent is hardly notice, rarely observed, obliterated by a shopping tsunami. Advent is not four weeks of shopping for Christmas. The word “advent” literally means “arrival.” Advent is a time for being awake and aware, a time for longing and waiting, a time for preparing for the coming of Christ.  Jesus tells us to light our lamps and wait for the Master.  Our waiting should be an active not passive waiting. During Advent we get ready to become active participants in God’s incarnation by creating peace in our spiritual, social and personal relationships. In Advent we are asked to look at our lives, and if we see something amiss, we need to correct it.  We need to turn our swords into plowshares. Our lives need to be transfigured into vessels of God’s love and compassion. Advent is a time to renounce our clinging to false securities so our eyes will not be so blinded that we cannot see the arrival of Christ in our midst.  (Gerry Straub)

As I was driving to Brainerd yesterday afternoon in the dense fog, I was thinking of how we see, as in a fog, and how Steve Emblom, who died Saturday morning, is seeing things as they really are from the perspective of God and heaven.

 Last Wednesday the State of Montana was featured as our Dining Adventure. Terry and the kitchen crew do a nice job of serving foods from the state.  And the ambiance is great, too.

Friday night a number of us Sisters attended the dinner and the Hole-in-the-Day Players play, “Lie, Cheat and Genuflect” at the Falls Ballroom.  It was an evening of MANY laughs. Allen, our Head Housekeeper, had a main role in the play. Thanks, Allen, for such a fun evening.

Preparations for Christmas are happening around here, too. One day last week, Sr. Deborah Honer’s brother, brought us six beautiful huge poinsettias. Sister Antonette has the dining room windows on second floor painted. And Terry has a whole lot of delicious little fruit cakes baked and ready for us to eat and to give as gifts.

Yesterday was our Advent Retreat Day.  “Living into the Incarnation” was the theme of Jim Smith’s presentation.  Most of us are familiar with “Lexio Divina”  (listening with the ear of our heart) as a form of prayer using Sacred Scripture. Jim talked about “Visio Divina” using pictures and our sight and vision to see God in our daily lives and all around us…God meets us here. And a third concept was “Vita Divina” witnessing God in our own lives and the lives of others, especially the marginalized as a means to live the Incarnation.

Last evening the St. Francis Community Chorale presented their concert, "O Holy Night” directed by Barb Stumpf. The Brothers in Harmony were also part of the concert. Seven-year-old Jaylene Newman was the soloist for “Some Children See Him.”  What a wonderful strong voice she has and so much poise to sing before a Chapel full of people.

Saturday, December 8th, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception is our Patronal Feast, the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception. We will have Morning Prayer together at 8 a.m. followed by breakfast.  Mass is at 11 a.m. and Evening Prayer at 4:15 followed by dinner.

God bless you this first week of Advent.                                                                                                 

May you find God in the events of your day.    
Sr. Mary Lou