Starting to bloom, full-force!

April 29, 2013

Spring has arrived with a possible short fallback toward the end of the week for a couple days. Sr. Helen’s little flower patch is starting to bloom full-force. Let us praise God for the beauty we see all around us.

Saturday I went looking for a dandelion…and found 6 of them. For me, a dandelion is the first indication that spring is really here…it has taken a long time to arrive this year.

The other day Sr. Carolyn and two of her friends were making music for the Sisters living on second floor. Sr. Sylvia was keeping time to the music with her feet and Sr. Ida doing the same with her hands on her lap. It is fun to see the Sisters enjoy the entertainment.

In the dining room we have a display of the water color paintings done “by a student”. They are really quite lovely. I think one of the Sisters was the teacher, but I don’t know who.

Last week we celebrated the Volunteer Department. Kathy gets many volunteers who help in all sorts of places. Her bulletin board was decorated with MANY hats because volunteers do wear many hats in the various works they do around here. In 2012, 304 volunteers contributed 13,400+ hours keeping the Clothes Review open, helping in the Gift Shop, the Kitchen, the Gardens, at Fundraisers, the Blood Drives, the Music Center, Clare Residence, Community Relations, Driving, Maintenance, the Library, Health and Recreation, and for numerous special events like the Green Fair.

For many years, a pair of ducks have made their nest in the corner of the enclosed courtyard. Mother duck is there again this year. She is so well camouflaged one needs to be very near to see her, and then the shiny black eye is the first thing one sees.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday the Nurses have their Leadership Symposium here in St. Francis Hall. Some stay overnight here and others go to a motel. They come from all over the State. We are expecting about 22 people.

Thursday evening we have Taize Prayer at 6 p.m. in chapel. This hour-long prayer has a lot of time for quiet meditation.

Sunday is the First Sunday of the month and thus we have Adoration from after Mass until the end of evening Prayer at 4:30 p.m. spirit of Jesus, be with us.

Peace and blessings, Sister Mary Lou


Earth Day…Let us care for the Earth

April 22, 2013 Earth Day…Let us care for and respect the Earth…It’s the only one we have. National Volunteer Week. Thank you each for all the volunteer work you do to help make the world a better place and bring joy to people’s lives.

The 11 inches of snow we received last Thursday/Friday is for the most part melted...in preparation for that which will arrive today and tomorrow. The little crocus and tulips continue to grow even after being covered with snow several times. Let us pray for those in areas that are/and will be experiencing flooding as the snow melts…and for the people working to keep people and property safe.

Sisters Margaret and Mary Irene from Kenya, Africa, have been with us a week. They have both left Little Falls and are on to other things. They had their experience of a major Minnesota blizzard. It was great to have them visit with us these days. They are wise women and were a joy to have with us. We learned from them and they from us.

Last Saturday we had the Seeds of Kindness luncheon in St. Francis Hall. This was their third year here at the Convent, but the 6th year of these Seeds of Kindness meals. This is a fund-raiser for Habitat for Humanity. When the snow melts and the ground thaws, Habitat for Humanity will have groundbreaking for their 14th home in Morrison County. Anyway, back to the luncheon…Ladies invite their guests and decorate their table with their own table ware from home. There are from 5 to 9 places per table. Each of the 30 tables is so unique and beautiful. All 203 places had a guest. Here are pictures of a few of the tables.

Yesterday, Sunday, the St. Francis Community Choral and the Brothers in Harmony presented their Spring Concert in Sacred Heart Chapel. Barb Stumpf is director and Vicki Spofford accompanies the group. They perform such a wide variety of music…something for everybody. The Chapel was full. Thank you, all, for sharing your talent and for all the time you take to practice. You are good! And we are so fortunate to have these wonderful experiences available to us.

The April dining Adventure featured the State of New York. The food was good. Here are a few of the decorations along the serving line in the dining room.

Last Wednesday we had a farewell/retirement party for Valerie Bleeker who has worked at the switchboard for the past 20 years. We miss her and wish her good health. One gift was a large lemon with two yellow roses. The saying was, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Well said. Thank you, Valerie, for your year’s of service.

This afternoon we had our Earth Day Celebration in St. Francis Hall, rather than outside where we usually have it. (It is now snowing hard, again.) Rick reminded us of a little history of this event. Earth Day was celebrated the first time in 1970 at which time 20 million people participated in rallies across the United States. By 1990, Earth Day was being celebrated across the globe, with 200 million participants that year. By the end of 1970, lawmakers in Congress had created the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Within five years, the EPA had banned the insecticide DDT and Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act and established the first safety and emission standards for automobiles. In 2009 the United Nations unanimously declared April 22nd as International Mother Earth Day. St. Francis, in the early 1200s, in his Canticle of the Creatures uses the term “sister mother earth.” So we gathered today to recall the good gifts God has bestowed on us. And let us remember our responsibilities to be good stewards of all creation. We usually plant a tree on Earth Day. Not today. But we will do it some day later.

Wednesday and Thursday we have a meeting here for the treasurers of Religious Communities from this region. Sr. Susan says they expect 17 people from about 10 different Religious Communities.

April 21—27 is Wildfire Prevention Week. It is to increase awareness of outdoor fire hazards. In Minnesota firefighters fight and average of 1,400 a year with 31,000 acres burned. Ninety-eight percent of wildfires in MN are caused by people, and the number one reason is escaped debris-burning fires. Let us take care of mother earth.

Thought for the day: “Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” Marcel Proust (1871-1922)

Peace and blessings, Let us pray for those in harms way because of the ravages of water and storms. Sister Mary Lou

P.S. Tuesday morning: Temp: 24 degrees. We had about three inches of snow yesterday and overnight. It is very crunchy underfoot. Cars cannot sneak up on one!


April 15, 2013 Tax Day

Last week, I had a picture of the little crocus and tulip plants poking their heads out of the ground. Last Thursday they got covered with 8 to 9 inches of snow and a little more again last night and it will happen again this Wednesday and Thursday. Today, Bryan Karrick, St. Cloud Times meteorologist, said , “It seems we’re overachieving in the snow department this winter.” I agree. Sr. Joel has two large vases of pussy willows in Chapel…so we live in hope that SPRING will get here and stay a while!

Last evening two special guests arrived to spend a week with us here in Little Falls. They are Sisters Margaret and Irene from Kenya. Their Community of the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph and our Community have been friends for many years. In our dining room there are a couple nice displays to welcome them.

Saturday evening we had our Spaghetti Supper—a fund raiser for the Music Center and the Health and Recreation Departments. A lot of work goes into an event like this. Terry told me that they make 60 gallons of spaghetti sauce…and put 60 pounds of hamburger in it. They also cook up 70 pounds of spaghetti. They serve 25 loaves of garlic bread and also serve 30+ pans of bars. Many of the bars are made by the Sisters and friends. They also make gluten-free spaghetti sauce, gluten-free spaghetti and meatless spaghetti sauce. We served 383 meals…which is great considering the inclement weather that afternoon and evening.

I was privileged to attend three beautiful concerts over the weekend. Friday evening I attended “A Celtic Celebration” presented by the Legacy Chorale of Greater Minnesota in Brainerd. Special guest Brian Solum, was the Highland Bagpiper. I’ve never before heard a bagpipe playing with an orchestra. It was beautiful. The lyrics for each song were printed in the program. There were about 30 singers and an orchestra of about 8.

On Saturday I attended the final concert of the year of the Heartland Symphony Orchestra at the Charles D. Martin Auditorium. That group of about 50 members makes beautiful music. They played songs from the movies. Such fun to listen to. The Heartland Symphony does three concerts a year in both Brainerd and Little Falls.

Then the third concert was here right at home in Sacred Heart Chapel by the St. Francis Music Center’s two strings orchestras. The Sforzando String Orchestra features many younger strings players. The Con Brio String Orchestra membership is those who have played longer. All players are very talented players. Between the first orchestra and the second orchestra performances, were two numbers featuring Maway Quillo playing the Violoncelli and brother Kori Qillo assisted by Kathy Pederson at the piano. Director, Celo V’ec, certainly knows how to get beautiful music out of the players. A chapel full of listeners braved heavy snow to come for the program. Thank you for a wonderful afternoon.

Our Blood Donors are awesome!!! Our goal was 248 units. Thursday’s weather was terrible with snow and snowy, icy roads. Many Thursday donors came Wednesday. Yet 38 donors braved the weather and came before we had to close down at 11 a.m. We surpassed out goal with 251 units of blood collected in the three day drive. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Sr. Julien said this is the first time in her 12 years of having the blood mobile come here that we’ve had to close early because of the weather. The next drive is ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­June 18th, 19th and 20th.

On April 16, 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 their Franciscan Way of Life. We sisters will renew our vows at Mass on the 16th.

This week, April 15 to 19th, is Severe Weather Awareness Week. We will be having a tornado drill on Thursday morning. Our tunnel is the safest place to be. We need to practice it. Last summer we headed to the tunnel four times. Discuss with your family where you will go in severe weather.

Wednesday’s Dining Adventure will feature the State of New York. I wonder what we will be served?

On Saturday, the Habitat for Humanity fund-raiser, Seeds of Kindness, will hold their special luncheon in St. Francis Hall. I’ll show you pictures of a few of the creative, beautiful tables next week.

Sunday April 21st, is World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Please join us in prayer for an increase of Sister and Priest Vocations… but also pray for those in married and single vocations.

Also, Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m., the Community Chorale will have their spring concert in Sacred Heart Chapel. This is another great feast for the ears.

April 22nd is Earth Day. We will have a special prayer service at 2 p.m. We have to take care of the Earth and treat it good.

Let us pray for all those killed and hurt in the bombing at the Boston Marathon today. What a senseless act. Both victims and perpetrators need our prayers.

Peace and blessings,
Sister Mary Lou


Second Week of Easter

Spring is on the way. I saw my first robin last Thursday (4th). The snow is going fast. The piles are about all that is left. Some of the trees have large leaf buds. Last evening I checked Sr. Helen’s flower garden on the east side of Mary Hall. The tulips and crocus are poking their heads out. I think I should tell them to go back under, since the weather forecast for the rest of the week says we’ll have rain and snow!

We had the funeral for Sister Doris last Wednesday. She was the last of her siblings to die. Three members of the next generation came for the funeral. She was a secretary before she entered the convent and did that ministry most of her life.

About 22 people were here for the Nursing symposium last week. Now the first couple days of this week we have a retreat for Pastoral Ministers of the Diocese of St. Cloud.

The next three days the Red Cross Bloodmobile will be here for a blood drive. Our total goal is 240 units of blood. That’s a lot. But with the weather like it is, folks can’t work in their yards/gardens…so they might just a well come donate a unit of blood…and enjoy good cookies.

Saturday (13th), we have a Spaghetti Supper from 4:30 to 7 p.m. The profits go to the Music Center and Health and Recreation Departments. Come on over!

Sunday, the 14th, at 3 p.m., the two Strings Orchestras are giving a concert in our Sacred Heart Chapel.

Peace and blessings, Pray for one another.
Sister Mary Lou


Celebrating the Joy of the Risen Christ

Easter Monday April 1, 2013

May the joy of the Risen Christ fill all our hearts this Easter. All our Holy Week Services were very prayer-filled and well done. Thank you, Father Michael, Sister Jean, Sister Joel, the Choir and all who helped in any way to make things happen so smoothly and prayerfully.

I’ll just show a few pictures I took of events of Holy Week. Thursday evening we had our Agape Meal. Sr. Joel set up a beautiful centerpiece.  The chalice is from Israel. And we have the Hot Cross Buns for Holy Saturday breakfast. Next is the open tabernacle after Holy Thursday evening Adoration that ended at 10 p.m. There were about 30 people who joined us for both the Silent walk for Peace through town and for the outdoor Stations of the Cross. Father Michael sets up this little arrangement for the Blessing of the Fire on Holy Saturday night. (It burns bright and big for the Blessing of the Fire and the lighting of the Easter Candle and then all of a sudden it collapses in on itself and goes out.) 

On Tuesday we had the Funeral for Sr. Rachel Zenzen. She was quite a lady…full of fun, great hospitality, a good cook and did beautiful embroidery work. Even just days before her death, she was trimming postage stamps.

Early Easter morning, Sister Doris Goldammer, age 96, went to spend Easter in Heaven with the Risen Lord. On Palm Sunday she had gotten sick and was taken to the hospital overnight and then returned to the Convent to die. Sisters sat with her most of the time last week. The Funeral for Sr. Doris is Wednesday, April 3rd at 11 a.m.

Tuesday through Thursday the Nursing Leadership group will be having their meetings here in St. Francis Hall. We are expecting 20 to 25 people.

On Saturday, April 6th, we will be having an all-day meeting for many Sisters

Sunday, April 7th, is prayer Sunday…a quiet, prayerful day on campus.

Next week, April 9th, 10th and 11th, The American Red Cross Bloodmobile will be here for a blood drive. May we have another good turn-out. The home-made cookies served after a blood donation are always a good hit!

The snow banks area shrinking fast. It is amazing how they’ve gone down the past few days. Today was sunny, but the wind had a bite to it. Some trees are showing lots of leaf buds. Spring looks hopeful now.

May Easter Joy continue to fill your hearts and voices.

Peace and blessings,
Sister Mary Lou