Christmas celebrations abound!

December 14, 2015

Already the Third Week of Advent. As we prepare for the Birth of Jesus, may our hearts be kind and merciful to everyone…those near at hand and those far away.

The local Lion’s Club members came to St. Francis to entertain the Sisters with some Christmas songs. They invited us to join them in some of the songs and that was great fun. After the singing we all enjoyed a pizza treat.

Friday evening, the 11th, the Saint Francis Music Center presented us with wonderful music by the St. Francis Preparatory Orchestra and the St. Francis Concert Orchestra, directed by Bobbi French.

The title of the program was “Sweet Holiday Suites.” In music, a “suite” is a collection of pieces that are somehow related to one another—in tone or style or by composer’s design. The play on words in the title was a convenient way to teach younger students the correct pronunciation of the word “suite.” Thank you to all players for sharing your talent and giving us an hour’s worth of great entertainment. Their next concert is Friday, April 22, 2016, at 7 p.m.

Saturday was the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. We had a special Mass and prayed for the people of the Americas—North, South and Central America. The Virgin Mary is the Patron of the Americas.

As of January 1st, we will no longer be a distribution site for altar Breads—something the Franciscan Sisters have done for nearly 125 years. Pictured is Sister Anne with the last delivery of altar breads that will be sent out in the next couple weeks.

Sister Anne has been in charge of this department for 41 ½ years. That is a long time! THANK YOU, SISTER ANNE for all those years of service.
Pope Francis declared this year The Extraordinary Year of Mercy. The Vatican has a website set up for this special year. The address is: www.im.va. This is a great place to find out more about this special year. The logo shows Jesus as the Good Shepherd, who is carrying another person. Sister Mary Obowa has sewn the logo onto a piece of linen that adorns the ambo in our Chapel.

On Thursday we will have our Employee/Sister pot luck lunch and also for the drawings for all the lovely gifts that have been on display in the Clare Parlor the past couple weeks.

Sister Ruth is still busy processing tomatoes in tomato juice. The tomatoes were frozen a couple months ago when she was too busy with other garden produce to make the juice. She makes such good juice. I always take it for breakfast. Thank you, Sister Ruth, for all the nutritious food you bring to our table.

May your week be blessed. May all the Christmas cards get to their destination on time. “They say” today is the busiest Mail Day of the year. Sister Georgine would agree. We had LOTS of mail delivered today.

May Jesus and His Teachings become more of a part of our life these last weeks of Advent.

Sister Mary Lou


We prepare for the Lord

We are into the Second Week of Advent.  “Behold, the Lord comes to save His People: blessed are those prepared to meet Him.”  May the hustle and bustle of the season not deter us from the meaning of Advent—of Who we are waiting for.

The Little Falls Ministerial Group met here for lunch on Thursday, December 3rd.  They are a large group taking care of the spiritual needs of the people of our area.

Shawn Colberg, professor at St. John’s University, was the speaker at the December 5th, Advent Reflection Day.  He spoke about Saint Bonaventure’s take on the Incarnation of Jesus and how this is meaningful in our lives.  Shawn reminded us of the importance of seeing Jesus in the present moment.  Do I believe God?  Will I do what God asks of me?  At least 70 people came for the day.  That was a great turn-out.

Saint Nicholas came to visit the sisters and guests at noon on December 5th, the eve of the Feast of Saint Nicholas.  He handed out little treats to both the naughty and the nice.

Sunday evening’s St. Francis Community Chorale and Children’s Choir Concert, was a real treat for our ears. Sacred Heart Chapel was full of eager listeners.  I commend directors Barb Stumpf and Joan Wingert for a job well done.  (I took a picture of one of jars of the “free-will offerings” taken in that night.)  All their practices and efforts were well worth the effort.  Thank you for sharing your talents and your efforts.

On Friday night, December 11th, we will have the privilege of hearing the St. Francis Music Center’s two Orchestras.  The program will take place at 7 p.m. in Chapel.  We invite you to attend.

Usually we have a Communion Service on Saturdays.  This week, because of the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas, we will have Mass at 11 a.m.  Father Tony Kroll will be the Celebrant.

Christmas decorations are going up all over the building.  These are a couple pictures I too today.

Peace and God bless you,

Sister Mary Lou


Advent Season is Upon Us

First Week of Advent.  ‘Behold, the Lord will come, and all His holy ones with Him; and on that day there will be a great light.” (Zec. 14:5, 7.)  Let us continue to pray for the light of the World to bring peace to our suffering and troubled world.

We had about 4 inches of snow yesterday…and from the sounds of it, it will all be melted by the weekend.  The wet, sticky snow was good for making good snowmen.  My sister, Rita, will be

returning to Indonesia on Friday.  Here she is with her snowman.  She will leave the farm near West Union at 6:30 a.m. and arrive at her home in Sentani, Indonesia at about 7 a.m. on Monday her time.  Her trip takes her from Minneapolis to Tokyo to Singapore to Jarkarta to Jayaoura to Sentani with a couple layovers along the way.  It’s a long trip.  She does cross the International Dateline along the journey.

I hope our Thanksgiving Day was truly a day to give thanks for the blessings from a good God who loves us very much.  Our table was laden with good food…but the first event of the day was to attend Mass.

Sunday is the Second Sunday of Advent and also the Feast of Saint Nicholas.  I hope you’ve been good so Saint Nicholas can leave you some goodies.  I remember, as a child, Saint Nicholas always left us some peanuts and candy.  There’d be a big racket on the porch, but no one was there, but there was a bag of goodies on the wood box!

December 8th, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, is a big feast for our Religious Community.  We are mindful that our religious title is Franciscan sisters of the Immaculate Conception.  We go by Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls as a legal title since it is called for in so many dealings with the public.  It is also the day on which Pope Francis will have the Catholic Church begin the “Year of Mercy.”  Now during Advent we prepare for the Birth of Jesus—the God of Mercy among us.
December 12th, is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas.

We will host the Ministerial Christmas Luncheon on Thursday, December 3rd, in St. Francis Hall from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The Advent Day of Reflection is Saturday, December 5th, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.  The speaker is Shawn Colberg.

We will have opportunities for lots of music enjoyment in the next two weeks.  I hope you can join us for some of the events.

St. Francis Music Center has Christmas Recitals December 4th at 7 p.m.; December 5th at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.; December 6th at 1 p.m.  Their recitals are all held in Room 242 at St. Francis Center. 

Sunday, December 6th, the Music Center presents their Christmas Chorale Concert at 7 p.m. in our Chapel.  This concert will be repeated on December 13th at Bethany Lutheran Church in Cushing, MN.

Friday, December 11th, the two Music Center Orchestras will present their Christmas Concert at 7 p.m. in our Chapel.

The 8th Annual Franciscan Community Volunteers will host their Christmas Open House on December 6th,  from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Franciscan Welcoming House (1600 11th Ave. South, St. Cloud, MN.)

The other day I went to the Pottery shop for my first and last time.  Pictured is Sr. Tonie standing beside the kiln her father donated to St. Francis High School in the middle 1960s.  Soon the kiln will have a new home.

Pax et Bonum. (Peace and All Good)                                                                                                                         
May the Lord, bless us and all our brothers and sisters throughout the world.                                                    Sister Mary Lou 


Thanksgiving Greetings

“Now thank we our God with heart and hands an voices, Who wondrously things hath done, In Whom His world rejoices…” We think and sing these words with special fondness this week as we as a Nation celebrate Thanksgiving Day. And as we know, we need to/and do Thank God every day for the many blessings He bestows on us each day. I am thankful to you my readers.

Last week, I forgot to include Veterans Day information on our deceased Sister Cornelia (Ann) Lee, who was a World War I Veteran. She was born in Ireland in 1892. As a young girl she came to the United States and received a degree in nursing at Boston City Hospital. On completing her course there in 1917, she immediately volunteered her service as in the Army Nurse Corps. She entered active service in early 1918. After brief military training, she with a company of other nurses were sent to England and then to a base hospital in France. Soon after the armistice was signed, she returned to this country. In 1921 she received her honorable discharge from the army. She went to Chicago where she was active as a nurse until November 1922, when she entered the Franciscan Community in Little Falls, MN. “She was a Lieutenant in the United States Army,” (Sister Margaret Fruth, 1961.) While working at St. Francis Hospital in Breckenridge, Doctor Rimer and Doctor Thane were talking about their service as surgeons in France. They wondered whatever happened to that wonderful Army nurse Ann Lee. Sister Cornelia looked down and her face became redder and redder. Later they found out that she was the Ann Lee they were talking about.

Last Thursday we had a Memorial Service honoring Sister Rosaria’s brother, Alvin Hagel, who died November 1st. Sister was not able to attend to Funeral Mass. So we celebrated him here in our Chapel. In the story-telling part of the service, Sr. Rosaria talked about his gentle and generous ways. Then another Sister told about a time when she and another Sister were visiting Alvin sometime before his death. He had a very large watermelon. After cutting off a piece for himself, he gave the rest to the Sisters. The only box he had was a Grain Belt Beer box. Folks in the lobby of the Nursing Home saw them carrying out the box, and commented that they “wanted to visit whoever they visited.”

Sunday, December 6th St. Francis Music Center will present a Concert, “Can You Hear the Angels Sing?” by St. Francis Community Chorale and St. Francis Children’s Choir at 7 p.m. in Sacred Heart Chapel at St. Francis Convent.

Friday, December 11th, St. Francis Music Center will present “Sweet Holiday Suites” by two Orchestra Concerts (St. Francis Preparatory Orchestra and St. Francis Concert Orchestra) at 7 p.m. at St. Francis Convent in Sacred Heat Chapel.

Tuesday we have a Bi-Lingual Mass honoring Father Teddy Niehaus, OFM, Cap. He worked in Nicaragua for 40 plus years. He was the nephew of three Niehaus Sisters in our Community—Sisters Inez, Venard and Helen.

Thursday is the Little Falls Community Thanksgiving Meal at the High School from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Franciscan Sisters and volunteers are busy in the kitchen peeling all the potatoes for the meal.


Peace and blessings, 
Sister Mary Lou


Harvesting memories

This is National Bible Week. How about challenging yourself to read from the Bible for 15 minutes each day this week? I’m setting aside an extra 15 minutes each evening this week. Please read some Scripture, too, this week.

Saturday we had our Harvest Dinner. It was a delicious meal. I especially liked the roasted vegetables. We had 400+ guests plus 87 Sisters. (The left-over vegetables were in the soup this noon.) Thank you to all who came for this fund-raiser to support the Music Center and Health and Recreation programs. And THANK YOU to all the Volunteers who helped make the evening possible. God bless you all.

A week from Thursday is Thanksgiving Day. We have MANY things to be thankful for. I’m going to see if I can make a list of 1,000 things I’m grateful for…there are probably more.

In early December the Music Center sponsored Concerts will start. I’ll list dates and times next week.

The Feast of Christ the King is this coming Sunday the 22nd and then is the First Sunday of Advent on the 29th. How can it be?

From what I heard on the radio, we are in for a dull and dreary week. So enjoy these bright flowers. They are blooming in the Convent Dining Room.

Peace and all Good.
Sister Mary Lou


Is it really Fall?

Three days of warm, sunny weather. It’s hard to believe we are near mid-November…I’m kind of really liking it! Our family gathered in Cohasset for our brother, Nick’s 80th birthday over the weekend…and they were great days to travel. But…I hear that we are in for some changes coming later this week! Last year we had a whole bunch of snow on the ground already.

Let us keep our Veterans in prayer as we celebrate Veteran’s Day on Wednesday. They have given a lot and deserve our thanks and prayers.

Last week I observed a fellow on a lift doing some repair work around the high chapel windows. I’m glad it was him and not me up there!

Each November we have a display in the back of the Gathering Space to honor deceased Sisters, Priests, Relatives, Donors and Friends. Each day the book is placed on the altar during our Mass.

Friday is World Kindness Day. It’s a good idea for every day.

Our Harvest Supper is Saturday, November 14th. The menu is: Chicken, Sausage, garden vegetables, coleslaw, breadsticks, homemade bars and beverages—4:30 to 7 p.m. Tickets are available at the door. Proceeds will benefit St. Music Center and St. Francis Health and Recreation Center. We’d be happy to have you join us.

Morrison County Public Health will be having meeting here on Tuesday and Wednesday. Other meetings taking place here this week are CentaCare Health, Silver Sneakers, St. Francis Community Chorale Practice (on Thursday at 7 p.m.), Mid MN United, and Sports Yoga (5:30 Wednesday). Next Sunday there is a meeting of about 35 people in reparation for a mission to Homa Bay, Africa, our Sister Community. As you can see there is a lot of activity here all the time.

Some time ago I clipped the following quote: “Christopher Columbus was the world’s most remarkable salesman. He started out not knowing where he was going. When he arrived he didn’t know where he was. And when he returned, he didn’t know where he had been. And he did it all on a big cash advance and he received a repeat order.”

May you always know where you’ve been, where you are going and have joy on the way.

Peace and all good.
Sister Mary Lou

Let the light shine down

November 2, 2015

Today, All Soul’s Day, we remember the Faithful Departed, all those who have died. Eternal rest give to them, O Lord, and let Perpetual Light shine upon them. May they rest in peace and in the presence if the Lord.

Our Cemetery has a number of spaces marked off for winter funerals. A white pole and board marker makes it easy to find empty burial plots when the whole place is all covered with snow. Then the grave digger can find where to dig.

Yesterday was the first Sunday of the month and Adoration Sunday. This means that the Blessed Sacrament is exposed from after Mass until 4 p.m., and we Sisters spend extra hours in prayer.

We had our Blood Drive last week. Our goal was 275 and we received 255 units of blood. That’s a lot of blood and will aid LOTS of people. Thank you to all the generous donors. May God continue to bless and care for you.

Sister Donna Ebner donated her 100th unit of blood! That is a lot of blood…and worth celebrating, which we did.

Last week a pileated woodpecker was very busy on a partially dead tree in the yard. There must have been lots of goodies for that hungry bird.

Peace and blessings,
Sister Mary Lou


Bring on Fall!

We had nearly 1½ inches of rain Friday and last night…and I heard the word “snow” for Thursday. I guess it will come anytime, but I’m never ready for it. I don’t mind snow, it’s the ice that can happen with snow that I don’t like.

The Blood Drive happens Tuesday (1 to 7 p.m.), Wednesday (1 to 7 p.m.) and Thursday (8 a.m. to 2 p.m.) this week. God bless all who will come to donate blood and to share the gift of life with others.

Hooray for Volunteers! Last week with the help of 35 volunteers approximately 16,000 Christmas Appeal envelopes were stuffed, sealed and had address labels applied in one and one-half days! That is record time. God bless each person who helped. We are most grateful for your help.

Most all the trees on campus have dropped their leaves but, the Little Leaf Linden Tree is is still fully dressed!

On Sunday three of us went to Brainerd to see the Geritol Frolics. Cast members are all over age 55—and one is in her “upper-upper” 80s. Singing, dancing, some Berma Shave walk-throughs and stories made for delightful entertainment and lots of hearty laughs. Those 30 singers, seven dancers and five-piece Orchestra really know how to make good music. The songs were mostly from the ‘50s.

Kelly is a “Master Stacker.” What takes the UPS delivery man three or four trips to get the boxes to the mailroom, Kelly gets all on one dolly!

I had a nice surprise this morning. Andy and Shannon came to show off their 13-day-old son, Noah. Three years ago Shannon was one of our Franciscan Volunteers (CFV) and I was her Praying Sister.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN. Let us pray for those who have died and who we celebrate on ALL SOULS Day. And Let us celebrate ALL SAINTS DAY...and living saints in our midst.

Day Light Savings Time ends on November 1st. Enjoy the extra hour of sleep.

Peace and all good.
Sister Mary Lou

P.S. 9:05: I just got home from the Concert at St. Mary’s Church. Father Kevin Anderson sang and played guitar for many of the songs he wrote and are on his new CD, HOPE. The music was GREAT. I feel like I was on a 1 ½ hour retreat. Nate, the pianist, uses his talent very well, too. Thank you, both of you.

There will be no blog next week.


Encourage and strengthen all

Yesterday was World Mission Sunday. May God bless, care for, encourage and strengthen all Missionaries all over the world as they spread the Good News of the Gospel. Let us pray for then each day.

I praise God every day for this beautiful fall weather. All the wind last week pretty well took down the leaves on most of the trees on campus—except one golden tree in front of Mary Hall.

During the ritual to mark the closing of Clare’s Well as one of our Franciscan Ministries, the Sisters built a Totem Pole, remembering some of the many good things that happened there during the 27 years we owned and operated Clare’s Well, our Spirituality Farm. The new owners will continue to do some of the same works that we did.

On October 11th we welcomed 11 new Franciscan Associates. At this time we have 308 Associates. God bless each one and thank you for spreading the message of Jesus through your example of living out our Franciscan values in our daily lives.

I noticed on our Weekly Calendar that Tuesday and Wednesday this week the Community Relations Department, with the help of many volunteers, will be “stuffing envelopes” for they yearly Christmas Appeal.

St. Francis Music Center has started practices with the St. Francis Community Chorale. Anyone who likes to sing can join the chorale…just show up for practice at 7:00 p.m. on Thursdays (St. Francis Hall).

The Franciscan Community Volunteers will be here for retreat from Friday evening until Sunday. They do good work and we are proud of them for donating a year for volunteer services.

Look at those squash! Sr. Ruth Lentner grew some giant squash in our garden this year. We also had a great harvest from our pear tree.

Next Sunday, October 25th, the K.C.’s will be in our dining room to treat the Sisters with Cake and Ice Cream. They do this each fall. We thank them in advance for the great treat. We keep you in our prayers and thank you for the many services you do.

The Bloodmobile will be here next Tuesday and Wednesday, October 27 & 28, (1 to 7 p.m.) and Thursday, October 29, (8 a.m. to 2 p.m.) We’d be happy to receive your gift of life. Call Sister Julien (320-632-0663) to make an appointment – or just walk in.

November 12th is GIVE TO THE MAX DAY. We would be grateful if you would remember us, Franciscan Sisters. Little Falls, MN, in your generosity. Visit: GiveMN.org

On Saturday, November 14th, we have our Harvest Supper from 4:30 to 7 p.m. The menu includes chicken, sausage, garden vegetables, coleslaw, fresh bread, and homemade bars. Makes me hungry just thinking about it! Proceeds benefit St. Francis Music Center and St. Francis Health and Recreation programs.

Peace and all Good.
Sister Mary Lou


Some kind of wonderful

A busy weekend and a busy week coming up. ..(it’s always good to have something going on!)

On Saturday, about 65 Orphan Train descendants met for their annual get-together. The morning speaker was Sandy Thalmann from Rochester, MN. She is an adoptee, social worker and professional genealogist. I found it to be a very enlightening talk. Then the entertainment in the afternoon was provided by a group of young Irish Dancers from St. Paul. I was impressed at how fast they could move their feet and keep the top part of their body so still.

Saturday evening we had the “Transitus” Prayer Service which is always the night before the Feast of Saint Francis. The Transitus is a commemoration in drama, readings and song of the time of Saint Francis’ death. The Chapel, in semi darkness, and the words of St. Francis make for a powerful time of prayer. Afterward all were invited to the dining room for almond cookies—Saint Francis’ favorite cookies made by his friend, Lady Jacoba. (Since the chapel was too dark to take pictures, I took a picture of the cookies instead.)

Bishop Don Kettler was the presider at our 8:30 a.m. Sunday Mass. In the afternoon he had a fund-raising event at the Falls Ballroom.

And in the afternoon we had an Open House celebrating Consecrated Life. About 80 people came to have tours and to visit with the sisters. For at least four guests it was the first time they have ever been to St. Francis Convent. At 3 p.m. all were invited to the special Holden Evening Prayer that we use on special occasions. It was a very nice afternoon.

Tuesday afternoon we have registration for our four-day “Discerning Our Future” Community meetings that start at 6:00 p.m. Please keep us in prayer. Thank you.

This coming Sunday is Associate Commitment Day. I’ll have more about that next week.

Peace and All good.
Sister Mary Lou