Goodbye 2013, Hello 2014

This will probably be the last time I write “2013.” The year carried MANY blessing. Take a couple minutes to count your many blessings in this year. I say “Thank You, Lord, loving God for your goodness to me.” I hope you can say the same thing. Yes, there have been a few tough spots, also, but that’s OK because that’s how we grow in patience and trust. May we be blest in the New Year. May the New Year be better because of us, our actions, our words and works.

The weather is something else! From warmer days on Friday and Saturday to minus 23 here in Little Falls this morning. I am grateful my traveling was on the warmer days! Saturday our family was in Hutchinson for the wedding of our grand-niece, Emily. It was beautiful. The wedding party had a horse-drawn carriage ride from the Church to the reception at the Events Center. We wish Emily and Max a long and happy life together. May God bless them.

Christmas services here were beautiful. The singing was joyful and full-voiced. We appreciate the male voices that fill in the harmonies. Again, Merry Christmas to you.

Yesterday Kendra Sobania played some of her violin pieces in concert for a chapel full of enthusiastic listeners. Celo V’ec and Kendra’s family were also part of the performance. I’m so happy to see these young people use and share their musical talents.

Today and until 7 p.m. tomorrow there is going on 24-hours of prayers for peace. New Year’s Eve at 7 p.m. we will have a World Peace and Healing Service in chapel. Please join us in spirit for peace in the many warring parts of our world, and peace in our families and in our own hearts.

Our Mass on Wednesday, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God/New Year’s Day is at 8:30 a.m.

Saturday afternoon we Sisters will have our Christmas Christmas party. How will we celebrate? We have a special evening prayer, snacks and later a festive Christmas dinner followed by singing Christmas songs. We like to sing together.

I wish you Happy New Year. May your days be of peace and happiness, filled with love of God and service to those in need.

God bless you.
Sister Mary Lou

P.S. On Monday, Dec 23rd Sr. Clara Stang and I spent 4 hours at Coborn’s Superstore sitting at the table helping to raise money for the Food Shelf. I waited for one of our employees to come past and take our picture – to prove we were there. Melissa and her family came past so we asked the children to join us on the picture. During our shift we filled the box with $591.06. That’s a nice donation! The Food Shelf Board likes the Sisters to take the last shift…so we do it. Usually Sr. Julien comes with me, but she is still recovering from knee surgery in November and didn't come this year. Thank you to all the generous donors.


Christmas Blessings!


The birth of Christ brought love, joy, peace,

faith and hope into our world.

May these gifts be yours this Christmas.

Here are some of the cribs I've seen here.

Today is the funeral for Sister Corrine. Last night there were great stories about our 99 year young friend. We will miss her.

Peace and blessings, 
Sister Mary Lou


Remember the reason for the season

Third Week of Advent (and the week is half over already.)

Last week was quite a week! We spent many hours sitting with Sisters who were dying. Sister Mary Goretti Lampert, age 90, died at 8:15 p.m., December 10th while I was sitting and praying with her. One and a half hours later, 9:45 p.m., Sister May Emily Donnay, age 86, died. Then on Friday, Sister Corrine Millner, just 3 months short of her 100th birthday, died at 7:25 a.m. Sister Mary Goretti’s funeral was Monday, the 16th. Sister Emily’s funeral will be on the 19th and Sister Corrine’s funeral will be on the 23rd. May each of them now be enjoying Life with the Lord. And may they send to us the strength we need at this time. This is a lot of loss in a short time.

Last night a number of us Sisters went on the bus along with residents from St. Otto’s Home and another nursing home, to have Dinner with Santa at the Holiday Inn in St. Cloud. Today’s St. Cloud Times said that 535 residents from 28 nursing homes, apartments and assisted living facilities were at the dinner. There were also 50 costumes Santa, Mrs. Santas, Elves and Reindeer who served us a delicious chicken dinner. And at the end of the meal each of us received a small gift. That was a lot of setting up, serving and wrapping! The Holiday Inn and Express Employment Professionals of St. Cloud organized this free event. They know how to do it! Just the logistics of getting everyone on the right bus at the end of the meal, was something to witness. I say “Thanks” to everyone who helped with the evening’s doings.

Tonight we had our Advent Communal Penance Service at the Motherhouse. Three Priests from the area came to hear confessions. Then after they left here, they were going to one of the parishes to have a Communal Penance Service there. Let us keep our Priests in prayer during this busy time of the year.

Last Thursday, decorated Christmas Trees were sprouting up all over the building…Chapel, hallways, offices, nooks and crannies. It really helps put one in the spirit of Christmas. Today, I received a song that reminds us to say “Merry Christmas” and not “Happy Holiday’s” for if it were not for the birth of Christ, we’d not be celebrating at this time.

Last Friday night the St. Francis Music Center String Orchestras gave outstanding performances to a packed Chapel. The Chorale joined the Orchestras and sang the Halleluiah Chorus. What a finale! It was so beautiful.

Monday evening, about 20 members of the Lion’s Club entertained the Sisters. Because they start singing at 5 p.m., we enjoy pizza with them as they ate their supper about 7:30.

This is one of the two trees in Chapel that contain the prayer requests of generous donors. There are hundreds of ornaments on each tree. Later, each of us Sisters will receive pile of these ornaments and we will pray especially for those donors all through 2014.

Sister Joel set up a lovely shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe for the feast on December 12th. Mother Mary is the patroness of the Americas. How we need her to intercede for us.

Last week I showed a picture of the little battery-operated tea candle I lit on December 6th. This afternoon it finally went out...12 days later.

Today we had the Employee/Sister Christmas potluck and had drawings for our Caring by Sharing baskets that each department created. The Caring by Sharing project raise $1395.00 from FSLF employees and sisters. This year’s donations will help support Habitat for Humanity of Morrison County and Oasis Central Minnesota.

Peace and blessings as we near Christmas.
May your travel be safe.
Sister Mary Lou


Joys of the Season!

Feast of the Immaculate Conception celebrated today.

Second week of Advent.

If this were January, I wouldn't mind the severe cold so much. Last week we had a foot of fluffy white snow. The best thing about that is that the earth has a good blanket to protect alfalfa and other crops. Yesterday we had just a dusting of new snow—but enough to make slippery roads and sidewalks. It was minus 11 here this morning.

Because December 8th fell on a Sunday, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception was transferred to today. Our official title is Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception. So today is special to us. We started the day with Morning Prayer together in Chapel, then a waffle breakfast with several choices for toppings. Mass is at 11 a.m. and after Evening Prayer we will have a festive dinner. Sr. Joel has a lovely Mary shrine in the sanctuary in Chapel.

There were deer tracks right outside our main door this morning. We've seen the deer in the apple orchard and in summer in the garden, but this is the first time I've seen tracks right outside our door.

Last week Terry B. made a batch of 51 small fruit cakes. He has one more batch to go. They are the best ever! Those of us who wish some for gifts, have just to sign-up for them. I ordered a couple.

Last Thursday the Ministerial Group were invited to a noon luncheon. We had about 30 guests. The food was good. The prayer was prayerful and the visiting was great.

St. Nicholas was around on Thursday bringing treats to everyone.

Last Friday, the Feast of St. Nicholas, I turned on one of those little flickering battery lights by my St. Nicholas. I thought those little lights would burn about 5 to 10 hours. Well, this little light is still going strong and this is the 4th day! I can hardly believe it.

In spring and summer we have mother ducks sitting on eggs. Now we have a large snow duck on the wall of Clare Residence. It happened when Keith was blowing snow on the sidewalks. I’ll bet one couldn't do that if one tried and here it is, just part of a day’s work. And with these cold temperatures, that duck will stay a while.

On Saturday, Sister Joan Tuberty lead a retreat day, for about 30 Sisters, Associates and others. The focus of the retreat day was Mary, Mother of Jesus. Pictured is the icon Sr. Joan drew.

Remember to keep Christ in Christmas. Keep warm and safe. Remember those who don’t have sufficient housing, food and clothing.

Peace and blessings,
Sister Mary Lou


Giving is not what we have to spare. Giving is what we have to share

Happy Advent. Pope Benedict XVI wrote: “Advent means a presence begun, the presence of God. To celebrate Advent means to bring to life within ourselves the hidden Presence of God.” My prayer is that during this Advent we become more aware of God’s Presence in our lives in the ordinary day-to-day events that come our way. Let us bring HOPE and PEACE in our daily encounters with the people around us.

Last evening St. Francis Music Center presented the St. Francis Community Chorale and the Brothers in Harmony in a concert titled “Christmas in Our Hearts!” A packed and over-flowing audience filled Sacred Heart Chapel and enjoyed over an hour of beautiful music. Joan Wingert was the “step-in” director for Barb Stumpf last evening. She did a very fine job.

One special number was “Coming Home” dedicated to Barb Stumpf and her two daughters. Barb is credited with starting and directing the Chorale. Barb’s husband, Ray, died recently. Ray was a loved Middle School teacher here in Little Falls. Pictured is a bulletin board at the Continuing Education Center (CEC) honoring Ray.

We had a bi-lingual Mass this morning honoring Sister Dorothy Kazel, Sister Ita Ford, Sister Maura Clark and lay missioner, Jean Donovan who were murdered in El Salvador in 1980. The witness of Bishop Oscar Romero, Archbishop of El Salvador, who had been assassinated nine months before, gave them the strength and courage and determination to continue to work for the poor and persecuted of that country.

“Giving is not what we have to spare. Giving is what we have to share.” This is the quote on the flyer that talks about our Caring by Sharing project here at the Motherhouse. This year’s project will help support Habitat for Humanity of Morrison County and Oasis Central Minnesota. Habitat for Humanity’s vision is: “A world where everyone has a decent place to live.” Oasis of Central Minnesota has four main programs offered in Central Minnesota: Share-A-Meal, Paint-A-Thon, Fix-A-Home and Ruby’s Pantry. For every dollar we donate, we receive a chance to will a donated basket/gift. Drawings will be on Thursday, December 19 at the Sister-Employee Christmas Potluck Luncheon. There are LOTS of beautiful baskets and the quilt, too.

The Feast of St. Nicholas is December 6th. When we were children, St. Nicholas came to our house the evening of the 5th and brought us goodies—usually apples or oranges and some candy and peanuts. Many years ago my sister, Cecelia, made this St. Nicholas for me. In his back-pack he has gifts (and sticks for bad children) and also a little mouse. In his basket on his arm is a cradle for Baby Jesus Who will arrive on the 25th.

On Thursday members of the Little Falls area Ministerial Group will be coming for a Christmas Luncheon. It is always a happy gathering. Yes, Christmas parties are beginning. Enjoy and remember that it is about the coming of Jesus into our world.

Winter poked its nose into our area with gentle snow all day—about 4 inches of the fluffy stuff. It is beautiful to see and makes the trees and landscape so clean and white. May you all be safe while driving this winter.

Our patronal Feast of the Immaculate Conception is Sunday, but in the Liturgical calendar, the second Sunday of Advent supersedes the feast day. So we will celebrate the feast on Monday, December 9th.

Peace and blessings,
Sister Mary Lou


Give thanks for the many blessing we receive every day

Thanksgiving Day is this week—but every day is a day to give thanks for the many blessings we receive every day. Thank you for reading my blog. Thank you for feed-back, too. May you be blessed…your family and friends, also.

Yesterday afternoon I attended White Christmas at the Paramount Theatre in St. Cloud. One of the words of wisdom was: "When you can’t sleep, count your blessings instead of sheep." So when I woke up during the night and couldn't go back to sleep I started counting my blessings…there are SO MANY.

Last week we celebrated a first-time event, that I am aware of. Sister Nancy was married for 30 years and she has been a Franciscan Sister for 30 years, also…a total of 60 years of commitment! We had a reception with treats. Congratulations, Sister Nancy.

In the Church Year, yesterday we celebrated the last Sunday of the Church year and the Feast of Christ the King. This is one of my favorite feasts. Sr. Joel had the altar decorated beautifully. Thanks.

Yesterday, too, we commissioned two new Franciscan Community Volunteers. We welcome Kristen Wall and Alison Swoboda. The picture with the four people include, Sister Bea, Community Minister, Kristen, Alison and Pat Schlauderaff, director of the Franciscan Volunteers. Another picture shows all the Volunteers receiving the Blessing of the Franciscan Sisters and Associates…and then the congregation singing the blessing. Thank you for the good work you do, Volunteers.

Sunday is December 1st already! It is the First Sunday of Advent. It is also the first of the Christmas concerts. The St. Francis Chorale Christmas Concert is at 7 p.m. in our Chapel. This is the place to be if you want to get into the Christmas Spirit.


Peace and blessings, 
Sister Mary Lou


Bless those gathered in this place, with thankful hearts and gifts of grace.

Jim Gilbert in his book Minnesota Nature Notes (p.266) says that “November 19 is the average day for permanent snow cover in the Twin Cities.” Right now, today, it doesn't seem that will happen this year and that is just fine with me.

Last Wednesday our Dining Adventure honored the state of Nebraska. The food was great and the decorations were, as always, also great.

It was a quiet weekend here and that was fine with everyone. The choirs and orchestras are all practicing and soon we’ll be having concerts. And next week we celebrate Thanksgiving Day. I’m glad for a Thanksgiving Day, but there are so many things each day to be thankful for. Take a few minutes right now to think of at least 10 things you are thankful for today.

Our noon EnLUNCHment program on Wednesday will be a memorial service honoring the 14 Sisters who died since last November. Eternal Rest give to them, O Lord. And let Perpetual Light shine upon them.

Centering Prayer will happen Thursday evening from 6 to 7 p.m.

Friday is the Feast of St. Cecilia, patroness of musicians. I’d like to thank all those who make music to cheer us and help make out Church liturgies more prayerful, worshipful events.

Have a safe and healthy week. Pray for those who are sick and are recovering from surgery. Please keep praying for Jim Weiler, the farmer from Morris, MN who was run over by a combine. He is continuing to heal, but still needs lots of prayers. Thank you.

Peace and blessings,
Sr. Mary Lou