Oodles of fun

What can I say about the weather? I thought I was finished taking pictures of snow covered trees and bushes. But, last Thursday evening I was out on my scooter looking at the bushes on the west side of St. Francis Center. Though most of us are tired of snow for this season, we have to admit that God’s artistry produces beautiful results. Today we await rain and snow to return later this evening. Yesterday was sunny and warm at 53 degrees…and so we live in hope of more of it to come our way.

Yesterday I went to Alverna Apartments to play cribbage with my friend, Al Gallus. We played one game and then went to St. Otto’s Chapel for the Living Stations of the Cross. These were done by students of Our Lady of Lourdes School. Student actors will always read the Scripture story of the Passion and Death and Resurrection of Jesus with a fuller understanding of Jesus’ love for us. The narration connected the actions then to our present day situations and challenged us to Christ-like ways of responding in our day. Thank you, Students, for a very inspirational presentation.

All day Saturday I attended a Regional Secular Franciscan Gathering in Cold Spring. I was presenter in one of the small group sessions in the morning and again in the afternoon. God bless all Secular Franciscans.

This cactus stands in the East Entrance of the Convent. I park my scooter next t it every day. One day I thought I needed to show the plant to you…and the little note that is next to it. It is quite a plant and an interesting history.

The Nursing Leadership Symposium folks will be here Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week. They like coming here for their meetings. They tried another site, but came back here their next meeting.

Peace and blessings on you this Fourth Week of Lent.

God bless you,
Sister Mary Lou


Blessed Beyond Measure

Third Week of Lent

“Two roads diverge in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” (Robert Frost, poet, born March 26, 1874)

I just got a call to go to the bakery to take a picture of the fruits of the morning labors of Sr. Clara and Gerry…many loaves of bread just out of the oven and a few of the many fresh apple pies that we will have for supper tonight. They also made chocolate chip cookies. Sr. Clara wants to know more about baking and thought, “Go to an expert to learn.” Gerry is that expert! She worked in our bakery for 30+ years. Now in retirement and living at Alverna Apartments, a block away, she comes to volunteer in the bakery…and loves it…and we are happy to see her, also.

Earlier this morning we had a dusting of snow. Sounds like it could happen all week with possible accumulation on Thursday. Come, Spring. Come. “Spring is when you feel like whistling, even with a shoe full of slush.” (Doug Larson”)

March is Food Shelf Month. There were containers all over the building waiting to accept donations. Through the generosity of the Employees and Sisters we collected $1,038.60. THANK YOU. And all who use the Food Shelf are grateful, too, for your generosity. May God bless you greatly.

This is National Agricultural Week. This is a time to recognize and celebrate the efforts of our nation’s agriculture industry. This industry plays a vital role in maintaining a strong economy by creating jobs and producing an abundance of affordable high-quality products from the food on our tables to the clothes on our backs. Many of us come from a farming background. I am grateful for what I learned as a farmer’s daughter. Thank you, all farmers!

Yesterday, several of us went to the Dedication and Open House at Faith Lutheran Church. Last year, toward the end of April they broke ground for their new building. And now they are using it. It is very nice. Someone did make the comment that it was a good thing the ground was still frozen, or that parking lot would have been a muddy mess! At the end of the Dedication, they released three doves. I’m not sure if they were named “Faith, Hope and Charity,” or “Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”

Yesterday, too, was the 16th Annual Share Sunday, in honor of George Bzdok. All proceeds go to the County Food Shelves (there are three of them) and to the Boys and Girls Club. There were 4 categories of contestants: ages 9 and under, ages 10 & 11, ages 12 -14 and adult/professional. Some of the students show tremendous talent. My favorite act was the Japanese Dance that Mariah did. She was like a rubber-band with all her moves. (Made me a little jealous to see her move so easlily.)

On Saturday I attended the funeral of Jim O’Toole—an Irishman who died on St. Patrick’s Day. He was an educator who loved to see students do well. I remember him most for his work on the St. Cloud Diocesan Board of Education. He volunteered in many places after he retired.

When I went to Second Floor last Thursday, the First Day of Spring, I saw this broom standing upright all by itself in the middle of the floor. Quite something to see. I don’t know if it works like that every day or just on the day of the change of the seasons.

Painters have been busy in the Art Room. Sr. Mary Z. is about finished with this beauty. Getting it framed is the next thing.

Peace and blessings, Stay safe and healthy.
Sr. Mary Lou


Happy St. Patrick’s Day to one and all

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to one and all. Would that each of us was so zealous in proclaiming the Faith as St. Patrick was!

We are past the middle of March. It sounds like we will have some bumpy weather the next couple days. It amazes me how the snow piles are going down. The moisture must be going into the ground because I don’t see little rivers all over the place. The storm warning for this evening until Wednesday should make life interesting—especially if one has to travel. According to the calendar spring comes Thursday morning. Welcome, Spring. Come and stay.

Today we have an Irish Lunch and dinner as our Dining Adventure as we honor Ireland. I expect Irish Soda Bread as one of the offerings.

Tuesday is the Employee/Sisters Retreat. I look forward to hearing motivational speaker, Mark Scharenbroich. Some of our Sisters were his teachers when he was a student at Holy Spirit School in St. Cloud.

The second of Sr. Elise’s presentations on Living the Paschal Mystery is Tuesday evening at 6:30 p.m.

Several of us attended the 60th Jubilee celebration for Crosier Brother Mike Glidden in Onamia, yesterday. He touched the lives of MANY young men as he coached basketball for so many years of his active ministry.

The other afternoon, Sr. Carolyn and her friends played music so the Sisters could dance. The smiles on their faces showed they were having a good time…and dancing is a good way to get exercise.

Lastly, consider the following: Today is the oldest you've ever been, yet the youngest you’ll ever be so…Enjoy this day while it lasts.

Peace and blessings,
Sister Mary Lou


In search for signs that Spring Is Coming!

It is looking hopeful that spring is coming. The snowbanks are starting to shrink and show the dirt hidden in the snow. Let us pray for gradual melting to reduce flooding damage. Thirty-nine degrees right now as I type this.

“In our church Year, we also have spring time. It is the season of Lent. The term ‘Lent’ comes from the old English word ‘Lente’ which means spring. This suggests growth, new life and new possibilities. This is exactly what the Church hopes for each one of us. We are called to turn away from things that are not life-giving and turn to time-honored spiritual practices like prayer, fasting and almsgiving, so that God’s Spirit may grow ever stronger in our hearts. This is called conversion.” (Fr. James Deegan, OMI, director of Christ the King Retreat Center)

Sr. Mary Dumonceaux just got on to the limo to start her journey to our Mission in Mexico. The limo was early so I got this picture of her and the driver, just as she was getting into the vehicle. God bless you, Sr. Mary , as you begin your ministry in Mexico.

From Friday afternoon until last evening the Knit ‘N Stitch Ladies were here for a retreat weekend. They always have so much fun…and make such fun things. I especially liked the little Teddy Bears. The brochure said every child should have a Teddy Bear. These are going to Africa, probably an orphanage there. Thank you, ladies.

At the recognition dinner for years of service, the employees each receive a gift. Allen wanted a tattoo. Last week was the appointed time. Allen wanted an owl, known for its wisdom. Note our Franciscan Emblom on the lower left.

Pictured are from the display for Sister Celine. She liked sheep…and all animals. One picture showed her holding a tiny bear cub. The folks at Camp Ripley were checking on the health of the Mother Bear, who was still hibernating, and her two cubs. They also tagged the babies. The smile on Sr. Celine’s face tells you that this was a very special time.

Sister Ruth and Terry were busy making over 800 donuts last Tuesday morning. Donuts on Shrove Tuesday, or Fat Tuesday as it is sometimes called, are a tradition in our Franciscan Community. We enjoyed them all day.

Sr. Julien and Father Michal were generous in distributing ashes last Wednesday.

Wednesday evening (6:30 p.m.) we will have the first of Sr. Elise’s three presentations on Living the Paschal Mystery. Last week she used some of this material for the retreat she presented to the Crosier Priests and Brothers. On Sunday some of us will be going to Onamia for Brother Mike’s 60th Jubilee.

Saturday afternoon we will celebrate Sr. Mary Dulski’s 90th birthday. Thanks for all the good you’ve done all those years, Sr. Mary.

God bless you. Have a good week.
Sister Mary Lou


Busy Hands, Happy Hearts!

There are so many things to write about his week. I’m going to start with Sunday. It was Adoration Sunday—a Payer Day with the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. And at Our Lady of Lourdes Church there was Confirmation…both days to boost our prayer life and strengthen our faith. Congratulations to all those youth who were confirmed. May you stay true to the Faith you are strengthened in by this Sacrament.

Sister Celine Jonas, age 95, died at 5 a.m. on Friday, February 28th. The Franciscan Wake is Monday, March 3rd and her funeral is Tuesday March 4 at 11 a.m. Before she died she said several times, “I am leaving this world.” And she did. We will miss her quiet, gentle ways.

Now backing up to Saturday. This was the Founding Day of our Franciscan Community by 16 courageous women in 1891. Bishop Donald was the presider at our very festive Liturgy on Saturday. He greeted each Sister after Mass…followed by a nice lunch. He got a tour of our buildings and visited the Sisters on second and third floors of Clare Residence. Mid-afternoon we had coffee and goodies and more visiting. Saturday we had a delicious meal to celebrate our past and look forward to our future. Bishop Donald stayed overnight because he had Confirmation on Sunday…and he had only to travel to the west side of town.

The picture below is from the worship aid for March 1st Mass. It shows the first three houses of our Sisters. The 1st picture is that of the reconstructed little log house which now stands in Belle Prairie, MN. The second house was a slab shanty that housed the Sisters, orphans and animals until the construction of Hurrle Hall was finished. And the third picture is that of the completed Hurrle Hall. The ministries of the Franciscan Sisters all started in this building. It was the first Motherhouse where the Sisters lived. It was our first nursing home, high school, hospital, school of nursing, novitiate, County Food Shelf, etc. Judi, from the Archives Department, put together a beautiful and informative little booklet telling a short history of the first Sixteen Sisters.

Guests at St. Francis Center this weekend were a group of ladies from Benton County (Home Ec. Teachers) learning new projects and crafts they can teach their 4-H summer campers. This group has been coming for the past 17 years.

Last Thursday we honored the Philippines as our Dining Adventure. I told the cooks they could make those foods again. Pictured are some of the ambiance items along the food line in the dining room.

It was a very smiley Sister Mercita who celebrated her 90th birthday Tuesday afternoon. One of her great joys in ministry was the ten years she worked on Ship Hope. Thank you, Sr. Mercita for all the good you’ve done during these 90 years.

Sunday noon was the Empty Bowls meal at First Lutheran Church. Empty Bowls is a fund-raiser for Oasis Share-A-Meal. Five different restaurants furnished delicious soups, Reality Roasters furnished the Coffee. The Franciscan Sisters donated 30 loaves of bread. Other businesses donated items and labor for the meal. Musical entertainment wad furnished by a number of local groups. (I am prejudiced toward Sestri because they are from our St. Francis Music Center.) The ceramic bowls were made by the art students of the Swanville and Little Falls Public Schools. After the meal we could keep our bowl as a reminder of all the empty bowls in our community. Once a week Oasis furnishes a meal at First Lutheran Church for all who come.

Tomorrow, Tuesday is doughnut Day here at the Motherhouse. We will have fresh home-made doughnuts for morning snack…and throughout the day. And then the Lenten fasting begins tomorrow.

Wednesday is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent…(and that means Easter is April 20th.) May the penance you do for Lent lead you to a closer relationship to Our Lord.

The first Friday of March is World Day of Prayer. World Day of Prayer is an ecumenical movement of many Christian traditions who come together to observe a common day of prayer. This year the prayer is prepared by the women of Egypt. We will gather at First Lutheran Church at 1:30 p.m.

Daylight Saving Time begins at 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 16th. Spring those clocks ahead one hour.

Blessings and Peace,
Sister Mary Lou