A is for Alligator, B is for Birthday, C is for Communion

February 25, 2013

Ten months from today is Christmas! I’ve not started my Christmas cards yet. How about you? And by the end of this week we are into March. How can that be!

God did it again yesterday, by frosting trees, bushes, electric wires etc. with beautiful white hoar frost. It fills my heart with awe that our God could make such beauty and then give bright sunshine to highlight the whole thing. Thank you, God, for your goodness to us…and for eyesight to witness the beauty.

Yesterday was the 15th Annual Share Sunday event. It is a talent show fund-raiser for the county Food Shelves and the local Boys and Girls Club. Judging the talent is a terribly hard job. I know. I was one of the three judges. Category I (ages 8 and under), Category II ages (9—14), and Category III (16 and older). Everybody went away with a cash prize. Sisters Maurita (guitar), Fran (harmonica), and Lillian (flute) were part of category III. During their songs, Sisters Bernarda and Bea danced up a storm and were a supportive presence for the musicians. It was a fun afternoon.

Yesterday was also the party to celebrate Sister Mary Goretti’s 90th birthday. MANY family and friends, former students and co-teachers came to celebrate with us. It was a very happy day for her. She is pictured below with her three sisters.

Last Wednesday our Dining Adventure was the State of Florida. The foods were great: Florida Gumbo (with alligator meat), Cuban Pulled Pork, Pink flamingo Slaw, Harvey Wall Banger Bundt Cake, Chicken Breasts with mango-avocado salsa, Pineapple Rice and Key Lime Pie. Yummy. I told the cooks they could make all these things again.

Saturday morning we had a group of First Communion second graders, parents and teachers from Flensburg, Randall and Sobieski come to tour the Motherhouse. The students get a short history of the Franciscan Sisters, saw the Altar Bread Display and Video, our Chapel, St. Clare Library, the Health and Recreation Center. We also talk about the outside Stations, the Grotto, Our Lady of the Highway shrine, the Labyrinth and Community Gardens. Sisters Christelle, Sharon and I helped with the tour. At one time we made the Communion Wafers here for over 150 parishes, hospitals and other churches. We made altar breads from 1898 to 2005—over 100 years. October 1961 was the first time parishes were charged for altar breads. In 1980 they used 1,000 pounds of wheat flour per month. In 1985, 6,596,085 altar breads were sent out. At this time we are a distribution center and package and resend out altar breads that we order from the Cavanagh Co. in Rhode Island.

Below are two historic pictures from our Alter Bread ministry that I thought you may enjoy. One of Sister Anne Furnstahl using the cutter and the other of Sister Adella Blonigen baking the bread.

Saturday evening St. Francis Music Center sponsored a concert by “Sestri” (“Sisters” in Bulgarian), in our Chapel. Devoted to the study and performance of women’s Slavic folk music, Sestri is the brainchild of musical director Celo V’ec, who in 1969 founded the Yale Slavic Chorus, a similar women’s group which still enjoys great popularity among Yale choral ensembles. The members of Sestri are delighted in their musical comradeship and are very excite to share this body of astounding, exotic music with our communities. Sestri performs a wide variety of eastern European music—Bulgarian, Macedonian, Serbian, Croatian, from the Ukraine, Georgia, Latvia and Russia. The last song, “Mnogaya Lyeta”, from Russia, was printed on the program and the audience was invited to sing along with the chorus.

We have the Way of the Cross (Stations) every Friday in our Chapel every Friday at 3:30 p.m. We invite you to join us if you wish to.

This coming weekend about 25 members of the Benton County Homemakers Club will be with us at St. Francis Center for a weekend retreat. They always have so much fun and they make such beautiful things.

God bless you. May your Lent continue to be fruitful.

Sister Mary Lou


The wonder of God’s Kingdom

February 19, 2013

We are into the First Week of Lent. And it will be over before we know it! We are made right with God through Jesus Christ and this is a gift. Jesus gave Himself; God initiated our relationship with God and continues to do so unless we do something stupid to break off that relationship. This gift comes to us with a responsibility on our part to live as He directs … to walk as Christ walked: doing justice, seeking mercy and sharing kindness, utilizing our gifts and talents for the sake of witnessing to the wonder of God’s Kingdom in our midst. At Mass on Monday, Father Michael used the quote from C S Lewis, “Next to the Blessed Sacrament Itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.” So, taking care of our brothers and sisters and all of creation is what it’s all about.

After the snow last Monday we had all kinds of beautifully decorated trees and shrubs until the wind came up. Then for a while, being outside was like walking in a heavy snowfall.

I was in the Cities for a Secular Franciscan Regional Council Meeting on Saturday. Driving conditions were about as perfect as one would want them.

At 5 p.m. Monday our temperature was 14 degrees, but the wind chill was much below zero.

Monday evening St. Gabriel’s Hospital was holding its employee Appreciation event in St. Francis Hall. They had many employees being recognized for their many years of service. While working at switchboard this noon we had many beautiful flowers to admire before they were taken away as dining room decorations.

At Wednesday’s Dining Adventure, we will be celebrating the State of Florida. It is always fun to see what foods will be served and what the table decorations will be. We have creative people to put it all together. I’ll show you a picture or two next week.

Saturday morning some of the CCD students from three area parishes will be coming for a tour of the Motherhouse and will learn some things about the Sisters and our ministries.

Saturday at 7 p.m. the Sestri Singers will put on a concert in Sacred Heart Chapel. It is free and we welcome everyone.

May you have a grace-filled Lenten week.

Peace and blessings,
Sister Mary Lou


Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes

Monday, February 11, 2013
Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes World Day of the Sick (Help/Pray for the sick and their care givers.)

Well, we had a good blizzard on Sunday! The radio says we had about 10 inches of snow yesterday. Today it is windy and a wind chill of about zero. A little while ago I went out to take a few snow pictures. Area schools are closed today. I am happy they do that rather than have children outside waiting for buses when the roads are not well plowed and very icy. Sr. Phyllis is standing in front of the BIG snow pile behind Mary Hall. Snow-laden pine trees on the cemetery path are beautiful. My car is a big snow-bump on the parking lot. The view from the library windows into the courtyard is lovely. 

I’ve never seen a flower like this before. It is a Bromeliad plant. It has been blooming a couple weeks already. It is in the Gathering Place in front of the Our Lady of Guadalupe picture.

Last Wednesday the Mailroom Department was honored at Morning Coffee. Penny postcards were in from 1898 until­­­­­­­­­­­­­ 1952 and letter postage was 3 cents from 1932 until1958 when they went to 4 cents for the first ounce. Now first class letters are 46 cents and postcards are 33 cents. Forever stamps were introduced in 2007.

Tomorrow, the day before Ash Wednesday, has many names. For the Franciscan Sisters it is Doughnut Day. So Morning Coffee Break will feature fresh home-made doughnuts. They are so good when fresh and still warm. Our kitchen crew makes them and frosts them with a variety of frostings.

Thursday is Valentine’s Day. I have mine all ready for the First Graders at Lindbergh School in Mrs. Hanson’s room. I read to this class a couple times a month.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you. (This has always been a special day in our family since it was Mom and Dad’s Wedding Anniversary.)

Peace and blessings,
Sister Mary Lou


From Soup Supper to Doughnut Day

February 4, 2013

A little bit of fluffy white snow every afternoon and evening…just enough to make it slippery and messy…and not enough to really add up very much. It is very pretty and clean to look at.

Yesterday was Prayer Sunday. The Blessed Sacrament was in our beautiful monstrance on the altar from after Mass until after 4:15 evening prayer. Many Sisters spent extended prayer time in Chapel all through the day. It was a quiet, peaceful day.

Saturday evening we had our Soup Supper…4 kinds of delicious soups. (Teeny-tiny snowflakes started falling about 4 p.m. and they kept increasing in size as the hours went by.) That did not deter 330+ guests from coming to the Convent Dining Room to enjoy food and friendship. Terry said we used 450 soup bowls—so folks did go back for seconds, and maybe even thirds.

Tuesday evening Sister Elise will be giving her second presentation on the “Vatican II Anniversary: Year of Faith.” The first talk a month ago was great. I expect this one to be just as good. May all last month’s listeners come again this month.

Wednesday morning this week, the Values Committee will sponsor a “Mail Services Appreciation” morning coffee break. The Mailroom Department receives and sends out USPS mail and packages, receives and send out UPS packages, Speedy Delivery Services, FedEx Services, sells stamps to Sisters and Employees, does laminating projects for various departments here, and when we can, “whatever else is asked of us.” I usually work there on Thursdays and sub there when needed.

Friday, February 9th, is the one year anniversary since Father John Eccleston died. He was our Chaplain here at the Motherhouse for MANY years. He was 83. May he be enjoying Life with the Lord.

Sunday, February 10, is the Empty Bowls soup lunch at the Church across the street, First United Church, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. After the meal you get to keep the hand-made, unique ceramic bowl. This is a fundraiser for Oasis Share-A-Meal. This group serves a free meal every Thursday at First Lutheran Church for all who come—about 90 people a week.

A week from Wednesday, February 13, is Ash Wednesday. The day before Ash Wednesday has many names. It is called: Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Day, Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, and for the Franciscan Sisters “Doughnut Day” because Sr. Margaret Fruth used to always make the best doughnuts that day. We keep the tradition going.

No pictures this week.

Peace and blessings on you and those you love
Sr. Mary Lou