Ring in the new year!

My wish for you is that you had a grace-filled, wonderful Christmas celebrating the coming of Our Savior, Jesus Christ, with family and friends. The Christmas Masses here were prayerful and filled with music that made the heart happy. After the 7:30 p.m. Mass on the 24th, MANY people came to St. Francis Hall to enjoy goodies and visit. Following are some pictures that caught my attention as I moved around the building.

We had lovely green grass for Christmas, but that night we received a couple inches of fresh white snow. Now the cold is taking over. I hope the cold kills some of the “sickness bugs” going around. I remember when I was teaching, I liked some really cold days for that reason.

After Thanksgiving we mailed out some 16,000 Christmas letters to Donors and friends. Each envelope contained a little tag like the one shown here. Donors could write the intentions for which they want the Sisters to pray for in the coming year. All tags were hung on two trees at the back of Chapel. Now after Epiphany, the tags will be divided among us Sisters and these are the people we will individually pray for in the coming year. God bless you generous donors. You are being prayed for.

Our Dining Room tables were beautifully decorated with some of the decorations used for the past 19 years. This picture shows a collage of one of each of those decorations.

For 11 evenings before Christmas the local Food Shelf had fund-raiser time at Coborns Superstore. Pairs of volunteers worked to Make a Joyful Noise for four hours each evening. Sister Julien and I were the workers on the 23rd. We greeted each customer with “Merry Christmas” as they left the store. Through their generosity we raised $475 on our shift. Approximately $3,500 was raised in the eleven days. Thank you, generous donors. That will help the Food Shelf and feed many hungry people this holy Season and afterwards, too.

We will be having a 24-hour prayer vigil for Peace on New Year’s Eve. We invite you to join us in praying for peace in our hearts, in our Church and in our World…wherever there is strife and unrest.

January 4—10 is National Migration Week. The theme is “We are One Family Under God.” This is a time to reflect on the plight of migrants and refugees worldwide. In June 2014 the number of refugees worldwide exceeded 50 million children, women and men. Half of these refugees are children traveling alone or in groups. Millions of these refugees are people displaced because of natural disasters, wars, human trafficking, political unrest—to name a few reasons. Please pray for them and for us so that we do our part so all can live as One Family Under God and care for them however we can.

I wish you a safe, healthy and blessed New Year.
Peace, Sister Mary Lou


Christmas Blessings

December 22, 2014 First full day of winter.

We are in the Fourth week of Advent. In a few days we celebrate the Birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. May Christ bless each of us with many blessings this Holy Season.

Last week we brought to a close the end of an era. For 45 years the Franciscan Sisters operated the Clothes Review. These last many years it has been housed here on St. Francis campus. From now on the ministry will be handled at “New 2 You” a new Thrift shop in conjunction with the Boys and Girls Club on the west side of Little Falls. I stopped there on Saturday to see it for myself. It is really nice. Besides clothes they have household items, furniture and every so MANY other things. (A few of the employees, wearing attire from the Clothes Review, furnished a little entertainment at lunch.)

Last Thursday we had our Sister/Employee pot-luck lunch and also the drawings for the many baskets. The proceeds went to the Boys and Girls Club. The total exceeded our expectations. We raised $1,577. Thank you to all who supported this effort. One of our Franciscan goals is to support at risk youth. Support of the Boys and Girls Club helps us reach that goal.

Saturday I drove out to the Veterans Cemetery at Camp Ripley. I knew that on December 13th there was a short ceremony and then LOTS of volunteers went to work to put a wreath with a red ribbon at each of the 3,800 grave sites. In 2006, 5 wreaths were placed—one for each branch of the military. The program has grown. The wreaths will be removed on January 31, 2015. Let us pray for the families of these and all military families.

Christmas Eve Singing starts at 7:00 p.m. Mass is at 7:30 p.m. followed by refreshments and visiting in St. Francis Hall after Mass.

Christmas Day Mass is at 8:30 a.m.

In the Spirit of Christmas which is PEACE, 
 the Miracle of Christmas which is HOPE, 
 and the Heart of Christmas which is LOVE.

Merry Christmas!

Peace, health and safety to you and those you love,
Sister Mary Lou


Making a Joyful Noise

The third week of Advent is half over. Christmas decorations are up all over. Last week I took a picture of Jane fixing the ribbon on top of the big tree in the entryway. Now is the finished product.

Friday, Dec. 12, the St. Francis Preparatory and Concert Orchestras presented their “Making Merry” Christmas Concert. The response to the ten beginning violin students in the Preparatory Orchestra was loud and proud. The Concert Orchestra performance was fantastic. Some Music Center Alumna, Faculty Members and Friends from the Heartland Symphony Orchestra joined the St. Francis Concert Orchestra. We are so fortunate to have such high caliber entertainment right here in Little Falls. It’s easy to see that the players enjoy playing and sharing their talents.

The local Lion’s Club members came to sing Christmas Carols with us and we shared pizza with them. They start singing at 5 p.m. and go to four or five other places to sing for the elderly. So by the time they get here they are hungry for supper. We always enjoy their visit.

I was scheduled to go to St. Cloud for dinner with Santa at the Holiday Inn on Monday evening. Because of my shoulder injury, I decided it best for me to not attend. Several Sisters did join the 450+ Senior Citizens who were there. I hear that it was a fun evening. (My shoulder is much better and I am back to doing most of what I did before my fall. I am grateful for all the prayers and the fine care I received in Convent Care.)

Tomorrow we have the Sister/Employee Christmas Lunch and then all the drawings for the Caring by Sharing Gift Baskets. Thus far we’ve taken in over $1,293 that will go to the Boys and Girls Club. And tomorrow we will find out who wins the beautiful baskets that have been on display the past two weeks.

Tomorrow, too, we will have a prayer service as we put closure to the ministry of the Clothes Review. For over 45 years the Clothes Review has served the needs of those in need. Most of that time, the Clothes Review was housed here on St. Francis Campus.

From now on the ministry of the Clothes Review will be taken over by “New 2 You” as a way to help with the Boys and Girls Club expenses and helping Habitat for Humanity, also. The hours at New 2 You are 9 to 5 Tuesday through Saturday. They are looking for volunteers. One volunteer said, “Giving back to the community feels good! I’m making new friends and learning new skills.”

On the 23rd, from 4 to 7 p.m., Sr. Julien and I will be at Coborns “Making a Joyful Noise,” which is a fund-raiser for the Morrison County Food Shelf. The two of us always have a successful evening.

Christmas Eve Services start with singing Christmas Carols at 7 p.m. on the 23rd. The Mass starts at 7:30 p.m. Treats will be served in St. Francis Hall after Mass. All are invited to join us.

Mass on Christmas Day will be at the usual time of 8:30 a.m. Again, all are invited to join us.

Peace and God’s blessings on you and those you love,
Sister Mary Lou

The Blood Mobile will be here January 7 and 8 (1 to 7 p.m.) and 9th (8 a.m. to 2 p.m.) Mark your calendars.


Many reflections these past weeks...

Here I am again. I never did get my writing for last week completed, so I just decided to start afresh today. These weeks are packed with activities. We are into the Second Week of Advent. I have read some great Advent reflections on the beautiful Sacred Scripture readings for the Mass these Advent days.

On December 1st, we honored Sister Irenemaree who became a United States Citizen on November 18th. Congratulations, Sister. A group of Sisters entertained us with an Australian Song.

On December 4th, we celebrated Sr. Annella Bieniek’s 90th birthday. Many family and friends joined us for the afternoon treat in the dining room.

Saturday’s Advent Day of Reflection was led by David Liedl. Each of the reflection presentation showed how we can get a deeper sense of God by seeing and taking note of Where we find God in out day –to-day living. God is faithful. We need to tone down the noise so we can hear/see how God is showing Himself to us through others how we can serve this loving God. (It was after lunch when I tried a flying lesson in the dining room and landed on the floor with a big thump. I landed on my shoulder. No broken bones, but soreness now a few days and my right arm is getting stronger with more movement and less pain each day.)

Saturday was the Feast of St. Nicholas. Those of us from German descent probably have memories of St. Nick coming to our childhood home. St. Nicholas brought us kids salted peanuts in the shell and an orange or apple, as I remember it. We would be doing our homework at the kitchen table and there would be big ruckus on the porch. Then we’d find our bag of goodies. My sister, Cecelia, made this St Nick for me quite a few years ago. He comes out of the box for December 6th and stays around until after Christmas.

The St. Francis Music Center presented the Choral Christmas concert, “Christmas Candlelight Carols”, on Sunday December 7th. The music was wonderful. The St. Francis Children’s Choir added a special something to the evening performance. Those 12 girls really know how to open their mouths and sing out. I think some people stayed home because of the impending bad roads and weather conditions.

This coming Friday night, December 12th, the St. Francis Music Center will present their Orchestra Concert. This too, is a great event and wonderful entertainment. Thank you, young and older, who share your musical talent with us.

Monday we celebrated the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. This is the patronal feast for our religious community—so Mass and meals are very special times of getting together for prayer and visiting.

Friday is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas. The many Sisters who have been missioned in Central and South America and with the Hispanics in the USA, have helped us have a deeper appreciation of this feast. Just this afternoon I read a good article on Our Lady of Guadalupe that helps me see the importance of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the life of so many people.

Lion’s Club member will come sing Christmas carols for us on Thursday and then we will join them for pizza after the singing. It’s always a good time.

“Caring by Sharing” is an event that has happened here for a number of years. The different departments make up baskets and boxes of wonderful items. Employees, Sisters and others buy $1.00 tickets and put them in the box of their choice. On December 18th, we will have the drawings of the baskets. Every year the baskets get bigger and better. This year the proceeds will go the Boys and Girls Club here in Little Falls.

I’m sure I’ve missed some of the goings on around here, but this is all I can think of at this time.

Peace and blessings on you this Second Week of Advent.

Sister Mary Lou