A time to laugh, a time to cry

I never wonder, “What shall I write about?” News just keeps happening right in front of us.

Last Friday, October 25, 2013, two sisters died—Sister Sylvia Schik, age 92, at 6:40 a.m. and Sister Judine Cassidy, age 87, at 1:20 p.m. Twice before two Sisters died on the same day: March 13, 2009 and March 24, 2009. And four times, I think it was, that Sisters died a day apart.

Sister Sylvia’s Funeral was Monday. Many Sisters, Family Members and Friends were here to see her off to heaven. Her nephew, Father Leroy Schik, was the presider at the Mass and his brother, Crosier priest Fr. Jerry Schik, gave a beautiful homily. Sister was quite an artist. She loved to paint. Pictured are a couple of her works. Note the one is a painting of St Francis painted on the fungal growth of a tree.

Sister Judine Cassidy’s Funeral will be Saturday, November 2, 2013. She was assistant principal of St Francis High School from 1958 to 1960 and then Principal from 1960 until the school closed in 1977. She knew “her girls” very well and could give a married or maiden name for anyone who graduated during the time she was principal. After St. Francis High School closed, she worked as Counselor (1977-1980) and Director of Guidance (1980-1984) at Bishop Ford Central Catholic High School in Brooklyn NY. Then from 1988 to 2006 she was Assistant Principal and Director of Guidance at Msgr. Farrell High School, Staten Island, NY. She retired in 2006 and lived in Clare Residence since 2010.

We will miss both of these great ladies. May they be enjoying Life with the Lord now and for all eternity.

Tuesday and Wednesday last week, fifty-seven volunteers stuffed over 16,000 envelopes for our Christmas Appeal mailing. Many of you will receive these envelopes sometime after November 5th!

And while I am on the topic of “giving,” GIVE TO THE MAX Day is November 14, 2013. You are invited to donate to our ministries that day and matching grants will double your donation that day. You can donate online at giveMN.org (mention Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls) or on Facebook or at fslf.org. Last year we received $16,000 and are hoping for $20,000 this year. The donations will support ministries and outreach to youth. Thank you for your generosity.

On Sunday, October 20th, the KC’s served cake and ice cream to the Sisters. This is such a tasty gift to the Sisters. We THANK YOU. (An aside note: my brother and three nephews became 4th Degree Knights last weekend.)

New Jersey was featured as our Dining Adventure on Tuesday, October 22nd. Besides the good food, I always enjoy the decorations atop the food line and the information sheets on the dining room tables.

The Altar Bread Department was recognized on October 23rd. The Franciscan Sisters have made and distributed Altar Breads for over 100 years. We no longer make the Altar Breads, but we are a distribution center and send altar breads to 150+ parishes, chapels and nursing homes.

The Bloodmobile will be here the next three days: Wednesday-Thursday, October 30 and 31st and Friday, November 1st. The hours for Wed. and Thur. are 1 to 7 p.m. and on Friday 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. There are many openings the last two days.

Keep Halloween a safe and fun day. On Friday, All Saints Day, remember all the Saints who have gone before us and also the ones living with us at the present time. And on Saturday, All Sous Day, pray for all who have died and gone before us. Eternal rest give to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.

The Franciscan Harvest Supper will be held on Saturday, November 9, from 4:30-7 p.m. Fried chicken, sausage, garden vegetables, coleslaw, homemade bars and beverages will be served. Ticket prices include: Adults-$8.50; Children 5-12 years-$4; Children under 5 years-Free. Proceeds from the Franciscan Harvest Supper will benefit St. Francis Health and Recreation Center and St. Francis Music Center

Please pray for two families, friends of ours, who suffer greatly after a severe farm accident.

Peace and blessings until I write again,
Sister Mary Lou


Even when it's cold outside our memories keep us warm!

Brrr!!! I’m not used to this cooler and snowy, rainy weather. We have over ½ inch of rain in the rain gauge. I am grateful for the moisture to help get over the drought. Yesterday’s inch or so of snow is melted today. My hope is that farmers will be able to get their crops harvested. On our trip to Hutchinson on Saturday I was very aware that much more harvesting is completed there than here.

Two weeks of news to report. Half of last week was filled with our total Community Meetings. It is always good and exciting to have all the Sisters home. Last evening, the dining room seemed so empty now that so many Sisters have returned to their missions.

On October 13th we welcomed 9 new Franciscan Associates. Two other Associates made their Commitment this same weekend in Tennessee. We now have a total of 283 Associates. We are grateful that they share our Franciscan Spirit and values.

On October 9th we had the largest tour group ever. All 105 students from St. Henry’s School in Perham, MN came to visit. Many of them knew Sister Sylvia Schik from when she taught art classes there. The students came for Mass, then, had the bag lunches they brought with them, before they boarded the bus for the two-hour ride home. Father Herzing was the presider at the Mass. He moved from Perham to Little Falls this past summer. So everyone was happy to see him. He needed the students to help with the homily—the story of Jonah, who was not wanting to do what God asked him and then being thrown out of the boat. I was most impressed by the good behavior of the students during Mass and how they sang!

On October 12th we celebrated Sister Rosaria’s 90th birthday. She likes root beer floats, so that was the treat of the day. Yummy! Sister Rosaria’s health is not the best but she was able to sit in a chair and enjoy the celebration.

Sunday was Mission Sunday. We've had Sisters serving in many countries. Pictured are the altar decorations from Sunday.

When I walked past the kitchen, I saw these two big squash. One weighed 64 pounds and the other 42 pounds. We’ll have quite a few meals from those big veggies.

The American Red Cross Bloodmobile will be at St. Francis Convent October 30-31 (1-7 p.m.) and November 1st (8 a.m. – 2 p.m.)

Sister Elise will present a two-part presentation: Peacemaking in the Franciscan Tradition: not surrender, not domination, a third way. The dates are November 6 and 13 both from 6 to 7 p.m. in St. Francis Hall.

Our Franciscan Harvest Supper fund-raiser is Saturday, November 9, 4:30-7 p.m. On the menu: chicken, sausage, garden vegetables, coleslaw, homemade bars and beverages. For more information contact (320) 632-2981 or info@fslf.org; www.fslf.org.

My 3-year-old grand-niece wants to be Our Lady of Guadalupe for their All Saints Party on November 1st.

Here she is pictures in her newly-made dress…all ready for the day.

I am sure there are other things I could also write about, but they've skipped my mind for now.

Peace and blessings,
Sister Mary Lou


If These Walls Could Speak

Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary—Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray us, the needs of the people of our Country and our governmental leaders that they work for the Common Good.

A beautiful fall day is ours, this day. We had a couple inches of rain the past weekend. I was in Browns Valley yesterday. They had lots of rain in the western part of our state…ditches full of water and wet fields, too. I saw many flocks of migrating black birds and lots of birds lined up on the high-line wires. I am grateful that we didn’t get the snow they had in the Black Hills. Pictured are some scenes from around campus.

Thursday evening we had the Transitus Prayer Service in our Chapel. The Transitus is a service that remembers the death of St. Francis and the messages he gave to some of his followers before his death. It is such a prayerful and inspiring presentation. I did get a couple pictures of a few of the actors. Thank you for a great prayer experience.

Our feast of St. Francis was wonderful. We had Morning Prayer together in Chapel followed by a delicious brunch. Many Associates and Secular Franciscans joined us for a festive Mass with a beautiful homily given by Sr. Elise. The extra voices made for great music. In the evening we were treated to a spectacular concert by The Rose Ensemble. This group of about a dozen performers sang us a history of American Blue Grass music. We look forward to their coming back again. The acoustics in our Chapel is great and musicians like to perform there.

Saturday’s big event was hosting the 53rd Orphan Train Reunion. The 100+ attendees came from CA, FL, AZ, MN and many points in between. The program presenters sang songs telling stories of Orphan Train riders and showed slides of many Orphan Train riders. The presenters, from Texas, also did a Program to sold-out crowds, on the 3rd and 6th of October at the Union Depot in St. Paul. The table decorations were train engineer caps with a kerchief similar to what they wore around their necks. A railroad lawyer and engineers have now gotten interested in the history of the Orphan Train Riders and have provided much useful history to the Orphan Train leaders and riders.

Yesterday’s St. Cloud Times had a very nice article on the St. Francis Music Center’s Sestri (“Sisters” in Bohemian) choral group. The group of approximately 20 Sestri members, sing Slavic folk songs in the native languages. Celo V’ec directs the chorus.

Last week, too, was Sr. Jeanne Winter’s funeral. Here are a couple pictures from her memorial boards. Note the card made with pheasant feathers. She also did lots of tatting—an art I have not yet learned. I need someone to show me how to do it.

Some 300 pounds of cabbage were cut up and are now in the crock jars fermenting into sauerkraut. Thank you, Larry for all the cabbage you donated to us. I will think of you each time we have sauerkraut for meals for the next year. If I remember correctly, Sr. Ruth said she made 48 gallons of kraut.

Next week (Sunday afternoon through Wednesday) we will be having Community Meetings and all the Sisters from far and wide will be here. Please keep us in your prayers. The first ones will start arriving tomorrow. It is always good to have everyone here. Lord, give safe travel. Thanks.

Peace and blessings,
Sister Mary Lou


Memories are like keepsakes, always treasured.

A quick trip last evening to the Mary Grotto and the Peace Garden, show the fall ambiance is in place…beautiful pumpkins and gourds all over…so bright and colorful. Gardens are being cleared and readied for winter…for a new growing season next spring.

Saturday morning, Sister Jeanne Winter, age 93, went to heaven. She has been in failing health for some time. I will always remember the many games of cribbage I played with her. Her mind was clear and she could count the points with accuracy. I’m sure it was a happy reunion with her sister, Sister Francis, and her other family members. Eternal Rest give to her, O Lord, and let Perpetual Light shine upon her. May she rest in peace. (As I came in the east door of the convent for Mass this morning, the wooden casket, the clothes, vow formula and information sheet were in the entryway waiting for the undertaker to come get them.)

For many weeks already, we've had a table outside the kitchen for employees to share their excess garden produce. It has been a great thing for those who do not have gardens of their own. Thank you for your spirit of generosity.

Sunday noon we had the Blessing of Animals at Washington Park here in Little Falls. We had MANY dogs—big ones and little ones and quite a few cats…and one bee, because we know honey bees are in trouble these days…and we also know bees are very important in the pollination of crops.

We will be having a busy week with a Wake Tuesday evening, Sr. Jeanne’s’ Funeral on Wednesday, the Transitus Thursday evening at 7 p.m., the Feast of St. Francis on Friday, and the Rose Ensemble Concert Friday evening at 7 p.m. (It’s almost like, “If in doubt, go to Chapel. Something will be going on.”)

On Saturday, October 6th, we will hostess the 53rd Orphan Train reunion.

Happy Feast of St. Francis.
Pax et Bonum (Peace and all good.) 
Sister Mary Lou