God bless all Veterans

God bless all Veterans, deceased and living, and their families. I went out to our cemetery and took a picture of the grave site of our Sister Cornelia Lee, a nurse veteran and member of our community who died in 1943. We also have three armed services veteran priests buried in our cemetery.

Yesterday I went to Camp Ripley for their Memorial Day Service. Hundreds of us were there for the music by the Richfield Symphony Band Concert, the Parade of Flags, the placing of the wreaths, the Armed Forces Medley (when members stand who are part of each group), the Memorial Address by Frank Presfield, State Commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Helmet/Rifle/Taps Ceremony and singing “God Bless America.” God gave us a little breeze, a nice cloud cover and no rain. I got “goose bumps” a number of times during those two and a half hours.

This was the 21st year for these Memorial Day Services at the Camp. David Swantek, director of the MN State Veterans Cemetery, told us that there are over 5,100+ veterans and their spouses buried in the Cemetery. There are about 400 burials a year. The grounds are beautiful.

While there I also went to the Committal Hall at the Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery to see the second of artist Charles Kapsner’s new 8-foot by 10-foot painting honoring the Navy branch of the Armed Services. Last year the Army picture was on display for the first time. Yet to come are the paintings for the Air Force, Coast Guard and Marine Corps. They are beautiful memorials. Thank you, Mr. Kapsner, for sharing your wonderful talents.

On Saturday, several of us went to Mill Park, on the west side of the Mississippi River, very near to the old paper mill. I’d never been there before. Folks were busy fishing and enjoying one of our first 80 degree days. I saw the osprey nest at the top of a pole. One thing I enjoyed was seeing all the mud swallows VERY busy building their nests on the railroad trestle. How do they know which nest is theirs in that long line of nests? On Sunday there was not one swallow to be seen. Do they keep holy the Lord’s Day, too?

Just before we went to Mill Park we stopped at Pine Grove Park to see the trillium and the Jack-in-the-pulpits. The forest floor is covered in white flowers…really beautiful!

The Sisters living in Angela Community of Clare Residence have been watching tiny worms hatch into Painted Lady butterflies. It has been fun to see this new life emerge. The butterflies will be released tomorrow to make their way in this big, wide world.

A new wall decoration appeared one of these last several days. “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another.” With the saying is displayed a feather butterfly and two small tatted flowers made by Sr. Jean Winter and a large tatted doily made by her sister, Sr. Francis Winter. Very pretty.

Last Thursday we had two events happening at the same time. In St Francis Hall, the St. Francis Music Center had its 2014 Spring Gymnastics Recital. These 29 little folks showed things they’ve learned to do on the balance beam, the bars, their floor rolls, handstands, cartwheels, jumps, and basic tumbling skills. Keep up the good work. You’ve learned a lot of skills already. Each student received a medal and a certificate.

Then at the same time, CEC Graduation was taking place in the gym at St. Francis Center. Nineteen young women and men took part in the ceremony here and another two graduated from their local high schools. I am so proud of these students for overcoming the difficulties they’ve had to overcome and persevere in getting their diploma. Three Former School Board Members gave a scholarship to one student. The Franciscan Sisters gave two scholarships from the Sister Judine Cassidy Scholarship Fund. Sister Judine died this past year. She had been active in Secondary Education her whole life.

This week we Sisters have All Community Meetings from Tuesday noon until Friday noon. Please keep us in prayer. Because of our meetings we will have Mass at 4:15 on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Last week when in the orchard, I found only two little branches with flowers. This week there are trees full of blossoms. The bees are busy near the lilac bushes. Gardeners are busy planting and watering in the Community Gardens. The blue jay is watching everything that is happening from his treetop perch.

God bless you. Pray for us. Keep safe on the roads and on/in the water.
Sister Mary Lou


Beauty in Bloom

Great weather for ducks! The ducklings in the courtyard hatched over the weekend. This morning Mother Duck, named “Clare,” and her 11 little ones were escorted across the hallway to freedom. The men, with umbrellas and raincoats, walked with them to get them across the highway and on to the parking lot at First United Church. From there on they were on their own to get to the Mississippi River which is about a block away. We’ve had this event happen for many years and it is fun to watch.

Last week Tri-County Paving used their trucks to deliver 4 truckloads of compost to the two-acre -convent garden. The gardens will grow organic vegetables to serve both the convent and the Little Falls Community High School in the Garden-to-Cafeteria program. This is the second year of the program. Sister Ruth, a horticulturalist, manages the Franciscan Sister’ organic garden and works directly with students and their supervisor. Sr. Ruth said that the project tripled the previous garden area. Vocational Agriculture Teacher, Doug Ploof, said, “The garden project has been a wonderful opportunity to teach sustainable agriculture to our students in horticulture and plant science.”

Over the weekend, too, St. Francis Music Center had the 2014 Dance Recital, coached by Trista LaFontnaine. Some of those girls are REALLY good. I particularly enjoy the youngest students. Each one does their own thing to their own timing—and they are so cute! Each dancer received a certificate and a medal.

Sunday afternoon I rode around campus looking for beauty. I found a lovely patch of blooming, yellow tulips in Deb’s Garden. And one tree in the orchard had a couple branches of white flowers.

Today is not a work day for the man fixing the leaking roof. He did get in 1 ½ days of work last week. After today and tomorrow, the weather should be good for work.

We had a retirement party for Carol Isder who had worked at Clare Residence for 19 years. Thanks, Carol for you wonderful care of our sick Sisters, god bless you.

I’m hoping next Sunday will be sunny and dry. That is the day for the program at the Veteran’s Cemetery at Camp Ripley. I’ve been there a number of times and so appreciate the beautiful job they do. Always the grounds are so lovely and well kept. I think my sister will be coming to join me. Her husband was a veteran.

Have a safe weekend. Let’s all pray for our Veterans, living and deceased.

My blog will be short today because, my computer is ill and after lunch will get TLC from Lisa and Elsie.

God bless you.
Sister Mary Lou


My heart sings for joy

May 13, 2014- Feast of Our Lady of Fatima

Spring is definitely on the way. The “radio guy” this morning said we’ve had about 3 inches of rain since it started last Wednesday. The tree buds are getting bigger and the lawns are beautiful. Newly planted grass seeds are showing thin, little blades. It makes my heart sing for joy. Pictured is our faithful Steve, trimming the bush near the St. Joseph statue.

This past weekend was pure joy…no place to travel, no meetings, no goings-on…just a quiet time at home! I played cribbage a couple hours with my friend Al. (We each won and lost about the same number of games.)

On May 8th, sixteen of us went to St. Ben’s College for Breakfast with the Bishop. This was sponsored by the Catholic Foundation and was an opportunity for them to say “Thank You” to the Sisters: Benedictine, Notre Dame and Franciscan for their work as Catholic Educators in the Diocese of St. Cloud since 1857. The Catholic Foundation, by their grants, help parents pay tuition for their children so they can attend Catholic Schools. This past year they gave out 42 three hundred dollar grants. I believe in Catholic Education. I guess I should after being a teacher and principal in Catholic Schools for almost 50 years.

Thursday is the feast of Saints Isidore and Maria. Isidore is the patron of farmers. While he plowed the fields, he prayed in his heart. He and his wife Maria, who was also canonized for her holiness, bridged the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Isidore died May 15, 1130 and Maria died in 1175. Let us pray for farmers and gardeners and ask St. Isidore for a good growing season and a good harvest. St. Isidore, pray for us.

The Music Center has Spring Music Recitals Saturday (1 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.) in rooms 242, 244 at Sr. Francis Center. Thanks for sharing your talents, all you Music Students.

Yesterday I read to my First Graders at Lindbergh School for the last time this school year. Where has the year gone? (And September will be here soon.) It’s been fun seeing the students grow in wisdom and age.

Pax et Bonum.
Sister Mary Lou


May God continue to bless and care for all

I just couldn’t get a blog together last week…too many things going on. So here it is today with many items…and some I’ll forget to mention, I’m sure.

Praise the Lord as we continue to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus…and the coming of spring. Tree leaf buds are appearing…and then all of a sudden the trees are full and green! I’m so grateful that we have the change of seasons here in Minnesota.

Sunday, April 27th, the St. Francis Music Center sponsored a beautiful spring concert by the St. Francis Community Chorale. I was not there, but have heard great reports of how beautiful it was. A very appreciative audience enjoyed great music. Some of the songs were “Earth Songs.” The wooden banners of the earth symbols were in the background. It was great having Barb back directing the group. (She had taken a leave during the time of her husband’s final illness and death.) Welcome back, Barb. Thanks, Joan, for doing a fine job in the interim.

As this concert the Earth Citizen Awards were announced. Recipients were: Brianda Cediel and Sister Tonie Rausch, Jane and John Merdan, Sister Ange Mayers, Robyn Gray and Anne Heisick. Brianda and Sr. Tonie were recognized for together funding Hands Across the World, an agency for assisting Refugees, teaching English as a second language, helping them navigate in this new country. Jane and John are farmers who care for the earth in their farming practices and in their land preservation and wildlife habitat improvement, and care for people via work in the local Food Shelf etc. Sr. Ange is recognized for living up to the principles of the Earth Charter, composting food scraps, repairing equipment rather than buying new, recycling, using natural cleaning supplies as much as possible to protect the environment, and coordinating trips rather than using the car as often. Robyn and Anne have been instrumental in the Green Fair Folk Festival, working with vendors and exploring new avenues to help educate the Little Falls community about care for the earth. Robyn recently applied for a grant and initiated a music program designed to counter youth violence. Through her love for music the young and the not-so-young develop the music already within them. Both Anne and Robyn have a strong commitment to peace tolerance and non-violence, treating all people with respect.

On Earth Day, April 22nd, we had a Prayer Service in St. Francis Hall. Usually we have this outside and then plant a tree. Because of the very chilly weather we prayed inside and we will plant a tree at a later date when the ground is warmer.

Saturday evening, April 26th, we had another successful Spaghetti Supper. We served 292 meals to eager guests who loved the delicious food and enjoyed the warm fellowship. The presence of the Sisters and Franciscan hospitality continues to draw people in our prayers and for that we are grateful. Proceeds raised will support St. Francis Health and Recreation Center and St. Francis Music Center.

Earlier in April an Employee/Sister Reflections was scheduled and had to be postponed because of a blizzard. The event happened April 29th. Motivational speaker Mark Scharenbroich did his “Nice Bike” presentation. His basic message is that we need to acknowledge people, compliment them… build relationships, and how that affects the other person and what it does for oneself. If you ever have a chance to hear Mark speak, it will be a good experience.

We celebrated Sr. Mary Dulski’s 90th birthday last week. Many family members come to join her. Thanks for all the good you’ve done these many years.

On Thursday, May 1st, we honored our 200+ Volunteers. Kathy Whittington and her crew did another fabulous job setting up a beautiful dining room and Terry and his crew for serving a delicious meal. We are grateful for all the services our volunteers do for us. A one-man-band, Charlie Roth, was our entertainment. If you would like to learn more about him you can visit his website: http://charlierothmusic.com/  He was good! May God continue to bless and care for all our volunteers in all your needs.

Monday, May 5th, was the Taste of St. Cloud fundraiser for the Franciscan Community volunteers, at Coyote Moon Grille and Golf Club in east St. Cloud. Six hundred eighteen tickets were sold. I knew there were A LOT of people enjoying all the good foods and enjoying the company of each other. Pat Schlauderaff, Director of Franciscan Community Volunteers wrote: “The weather was amazing. The seeds of the Franciscan Sisters have planted for all the years are truly coming to fruition at this time. I heard over and over again how peoples’ lives were touched by the Franciscans…education, companionship, leadership, etc.” It was an amazing evening. Thanks to all who made it happen.

Three days this week we are hostess to the Nursing Leadership Symposium. This group comes four times a year for updates to their profession as leaders in nursing homes. We welcome you and are happy that you like coming here.

Yesterday was Day of Caring in Little Falls. Over 1,000 High School students and others washed windows, raked yards, cleaned parks and did other chores for residents in Little Falls and Randall. It is amazing how much work can be done by noon when there are so many hands helping. Thanks for all you did today. God bless you for your generosity…and let’s hope that it continues.

This coming Sunday is Mother’s Day and also World Day of Prayer for Vocations. God bless all mothers—living and deceased.

Pax et Bonum (Peace and all good)
Sister Mary Lou