It's not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy

August 25, 2014 (Four months from today is Christmas. I haven’t started my Christmas shopping yet.) Feast of St. Louis, King of France, Secular Franciscan and Patron of the Franciscan Third Order—died in 1270

Yesterday morning, we had 1 ¼ inches of rain. Today the humidity is down and it is very pleasant outside. I drove past the High School earlier today. The parking lot is full. Teachers are in pre-school workshops this week…and classes start next Tuesday. I always found these day exciting. I always looked forward to the beginning of the school year. May the Holy Spirit guide teachers and students to make the best use of the opportunities that are theirs this coming school year.

Yesterday’s big event was the celebration of 75th anniversary for Sister Marie Theis and the 80 anniversary for Sister Fabian Schneider as Little Falls Franciscan Sisters. The presider at the Mass was Father Joe Backowski, who was a little kid when he lived near the Sisters at Foley, MN., when Sr. Fabian was stationed there. He says the Sisters were a positive influence on his vocation to become a priest.

Father Deogratias Mngumi, from Same Diocese, Tanzania, East Africa is visiting us for several weeks. He was a student at Chanjali Seminary when Sisters Karen Niedzielski and Sister Tonie Rausch were teaching at the Seminary (1986-1994). His Bishop told Father Deogratias that he need to come visit the Sisters who were so influential in his studies for the priesthood. While here the Sisters are giving him experiences of life in the United States. Last evening they took him to see a Minnesota dairy farm. Saturday morning he was presider at Mass. I understood quite a bit of what he said. I need more practice at listening to him talk. Welcome Father.

This painting is one started by Sister Mary Christine Wiener and finished by Sister Mary Zirbes. Those apples look like you could just take one off the plate and eat it.

Last Wednesday evening we had the Employee Families and Sisters Picnic. The weather that evening was perfect (though the weather forecasters talked all day about late afternoon and evening showers.) God is so good to us.

About the same time as the picnic my friend, Larry Anderson from Morris, MN, came with a pick-up loaded with vegetables. He gave us 660+ pounds of cabbage and peppers, tomatoes and melons. Much of the cabbage will become sauerkraut. Thank you, Larry, for your generous gifts.

August 14 and 15th, “Church Ladies Extravaganza”, a FUN-Raiser for Oasis Central Minnesota was another wonderful success. Robyn Gray, from our St. Francis Music Center, wrote and directed the play which was performed at the Falls Ballroom. Sell-out crowds enjoyed the dinner and the show. About $10,000 was raised to help support Oasis projects of Food Shelf, Paint-a-Thon and Home Fix-Up. Thank you, Robyn, and to all the cast and support folks who helped make it a very enjoyable evening.

“In daily life, we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” Brother David Steindl-Rash

God bless you.
Sr. Mary Lou


The sky is the limit

What a nice surprise to see an inch of rain in the rain gauge yesterday morning when I went to Chapel for Mass. I never saw the lightening or heard the thunder “they” said happened with the rain during the night. Thank you, God, for this blessing.

In July, Sister Donna Zetah was recognized as the 2014 Peace Honoree at the annual Franciscan Federation Conference. She studied to become a registered nurse so she could serve those in need, which turned into a life-long ministry. After serving in various hospitals, she went to Peru in 1968 to work as a nurse. When she returned 10 years later, she worked with Midwest Migrant Health to bring health care and education to Spanish-speaking migrant workers in nearly 30 locations in the United States and in Honduras and Guatemala. Now at age 85 she serves the Hispanic population in the Little Falls area, offering translation and advocacy service. She also visits people in their homes in hospitals or nursing homes—wherever there may be a need. Congratulations, Sister Donna. We are proud of you and the work you do. (You do us proud.)

Last Thursday Sister Christelle Watercott was also honored by notification from the Little Falls Chamber of Commerce that she will be the September Employee of the Month. Sr. Christelle has done and continues to do so much by her welcoming of all guests who visit or stay overnight at St. Francis Center. Congratulations, Sister. We look forward to the RECORD write-up and picture. I am also glad that Marcia has joined your department in helping with hostessing our many guests. (You, also, do us proud.)

Speaking of guests, this week we will have about 30 nurses here Tuesday through Thursday for their Nursing Leadership Symposium. These nurses come from all over the State pf Minnesota. Tomorrow they will travel by bus to visit the Nursing Home in Perham, MN. Welcome.

Wednesday, 20th, we have our annual Employee/Sister Picnic. If there is rain, there is a plan B. We just move from Breezy Inn to the Dining Room and St. Francis Hall.

We will have Centering Pray at 6 p.m. on Thursday in Chapel.

Saturday will be a special Evening Prayer for our 75th and 80th year Jubiliarians followed by dinner and a program. Sister Marie Theis will celebrate 75 years and Sister Fabian Schneider will celebrate 80 years as Franciscans. Congratulations, Sisters. I can’t imagine the many lives the two of you have contacted in all your years of service.

Thursday, August 28th, we have a one-day Blood Drive from 1:00 to 7:00 p.m. For appointments or information call Sister Julien at 320-632-0663.

And…after next week we are into September: Labor Day, the beginning of the School Year, and the Little Falls Arts and Crafts Fair, September 5, 6 and 7th.

Peace and Blessings on you and those you love,
Sister Mary Lou


Let us be grateful for the many blessings that are ours every day

My eyes almost popped out of my head when I went past the rain gauge this morning. When I came past it last night after supper we had 2 inches of rain in it. This morning it had 4 inches. I am sure many plants are smiling in thanksgiving for this great gift from God. Lots of people were happy about the rain, also. I am thanking God for the rain. We needed it.

Tuesday noon several of us were invited to have lunch on a pontoon ride on the Mississippi River. What a peaceful, relaxing way to spend a couple hours on a perfect-weather day.

Last Wednesday was the Green Fair Folk Festival on the west parking lot of the Convent. Care of Creation is important to the Franciscan sisters, therefore, in 2007a Campus Green Committee was formed with a mission to educate on environmental issues and “green” the campus in every way possible. So, some interesting points to remember: We sold 550 slices of peanut butter and jelly bread. We used 30 pounds of popcorn, 200 gallons of water were given away and we used 6 pounds of peanut butter and 6 pounds of jelly, The campus tour on a horse-drawn wagon was VERY popular. There were 7 U-Rock bands (28 students participated.) There were more education vendors letting us know how to better care for the earth. The “face-painter” was outstanding. Designs were intricate and beautiful. I’m sure some kids didn’t want to wash their faces before going to bed! We had about 1,200 guests for the evening. The weather was perfect and the necessary clean-up was finished before 9:30 p.m. With lots of people helping, clean-up goes fast. Next year’s date is August 9, 2015.

Last Friday we had the Commissioning Mass for the new Franciscan Community Volunteers: Breanna Wegner is from Wells, MN and will be working at St. Benedict Sr. Center/STRIDE Academy, Kevin Trettel is from Jordan, MN and will be at Place of Hope Homeless Program, Kristen Wall from Rochester, MN and will be working at Casa Guadalupe, and Shaina Lawrence, from Tehachapi, CA., will be working at the Boys and Girl Club-Southside. We wish you well in your volunteer services and thank you for your service to these non-profit programs. Three pillars of the program are: Community, Spirituality and Service.

Sister Joel Bieniek celebrated her 97th Birthday on Sunday, the 10th, and Sister Bernarda Sanoski will celebrate her 98 Birthday on the 15th. Congratulations, Sisters. You’ve influenced a lot of people in those many years.

We celebrated the 25th and 50th Jubilarians on Sunday, the 10th: Sister Mary Hroscikoski, Sister Mary Dumonceaux, Sister Beatrice Eichten, Sister Sharon Fitzpatrick, Sister Carol Virnig. It was a wonderful celebration, congratulations to each of them.

On Sunday, August 24th, we will celebrate Sister Marie Theis’ 75th Anniversary as a Franciscan Sister and Sister Fabian Schneider’s, 80th Jubilee as a Franciscan Sister. Again, Congratulations.

We have a one-day blood drive scheduled for august 28th.

Peace and blessing. Let us be grateful for the many blessings that are ours every day.

Sister Mary Lou


Summer festivities everywhere!

Welcome to August. The big news and activity around here this week is the Green Fair Folk Festival happening Wednesday evening. Many people have been very busy making things for the Fair. Wednesday they will be making fresh bread (whole wheat and white bread) for the peanut butter and jelly slices that will be sold at the Fair. Last year we used 23 loaves of bread (23 slices per loaf) and lots of peanut butter and jelly. I know it will again be a very popular booth. The horse drawn wagon tours of the campus will also be popular. The U-Rock bands have been practicing the past two weekends. There are 6 bands and each will play three pieces at the concert starting at 5:30. And there will be many other activities, too. You are invited to join us between 4 and 8 p.m. Wednesday, August 6, 2014.

August 1 and 2 we had the General Federation of Women’s Clubs of MN (GFWC) meeting here. This is their third time meeting here at St. Francis. “This organization is an international women’s organization dedicated to community improvement by enhancing the lives of others through volunteer service.” There were about 40 ladies: 28 stayed at St. Francis Center overnight. They came from Park Rapids, Grand Rapid, Sleepy Eye, Crookston, Warren, Golden Valley, Fertile, Henderson, Waubun, Fosston, Hawley, Delano, Plymouth, Hancock, Morris, Starbuck, Silver Lake, Hutchinson, International Falls.

Saturday was the Morrison County Paint-A-Thon. Eight houses were painted. The Franciscan Sisters furnished the caramel and cinnamon rolls for the breakfast. Home owners are so proud of how their home looks with a fresh coat of paint. We had about 100 painters. The slogan on the green t-shirts said, “Building Community by Working Together.” So true, isn’t it?

This was the weekend for the “Eltgroth Family Camp-Out.” There were about 27 of us at Lindbergh State Park. (Three of us stayed here at the convent.) Some came to go swimming at the pool Saturday afternoon. A good time was had by all.

The County Fair starts on Thursday. I need to figure out when I can go for a few hours. I like seeing the exhibits and the 4-H projects.

The flowers near the west entrance are so full and fragrant. Thanks, Steve, for taking such good care of them.

Sunday, August 10, is a special day as we celebrate Jubilees for Sisters Bea Eichten, Carol Virnig, Mary Dumonceaux, and Sharon Fitzpatrick who have been Franciscan Sisters for 50 years. Sister Mary Hroscikoski celebrates her 25th anniversary. Congratulations, Sisters…and Thank You for all the good works you’ve done these 225 years.

Have a great week.
Peace and blessings,
Sr. Mary Lou Eltgroth