May the seemingly dead in us give rise to new Life

Sister Joel set up this lovely reminder of Lent in the back of the small Chapel. The seemingly dead branches standing in water will have green leaves on them by Easter time. May the seemingly dead in us give rise to new Life in Christ by our Lenten devotions.

Brrrrrrr. Minus 17 this morning with a predicted high of 19. A good day to stay inside as much as possible! As I type, I am listening to the radio where Party Line staff is visiting with the Norwegian Home Guard. For LOTS of years the Norwegians and the National Guard at Camp Ripley do an exchange training program in each others home country. This year they can do no skiing in Minnesota

Saturday evening several of us attended “Wish You Were Here—Small Falls, MN USA.” This was a comedy play by Jason Schommer. A couple of our employees were in the cast. It was a time for many good laughs.

Yesterday noon a number of us Sisters attended the Empty bowls meal at First Lutheran Church. This was an awareness meal to remind us that always there is an empty bowl. We paid for the soup and got to take the bowl home with us. Here are our bowls from yesterday.

When I left work at the switchboard this noon, I was thinking about my blog. I didn’t have many pictures. Then I looked up and saw this beautiful stained glass piece hanging in the doorway of the Franciscan Life Office. Sister Mary Obowa made this many years ago.

The next thing I saw this wood carved picture of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. “This group of saints was invoked with special confidence because they have proven themselves efficacious helpers in adversity and difficulties. They are invoked as a group because of the Black Plague which devastated Europe from 1346 to 1349. Among its symptoms were the tongue turning black, a parched throat, violent headache, fever, and boils on the abdomen. It attacked without warning, robbed its victims of reason and killed within a few hours; many died without the Last Sacraments. Brigands roamed the roads, people suspected of contamination were attacked, animals died, people starved, whole villages vanished into the grave, social order and family ties broke down, and the disease appeared incurable. The pious turned to Heaven begging the intervention of the saints, praying to be spared or cured. This group devotion began in Germany.” Quite a story about the picture. The book near the picture tells who the saints are and why they were venerated..

The next thing I saw was this beautiful clock. It chimes on the hour, half-hour and quarter-hour. The little sign says it was given to us in July of 1983 by Mr. and Mrs. Paul A. Virnig. It was handmade by Paul A. Virnig. The wood is red oak from the farm the Sisters owned in the early days of our Community.

History lesson: In the early days we had milked cows to provide dairy products for the Sisters, the Hospital, Orphanage, etc. In the spring the cows were driven down the road to the farm west of town where they could eat grass in the pasture…and in the fall they were driven back to the barn here on campus. (I remember as a Novice going out to the “farm” for picnics.)

Our Dining Adventure will feature the State of Washington. There is a picture of an Apple on the poster.

Wednesday evening (6:30 p.m.) Sister Elise Saggau will do her presentation: “Lent: A Sacramental Journey into Easter.” You are invited to come.

Friday afternoon (3:30 p.m.) we have Stations of the Cross. You are invited to join us. They last about half an hour.

Sunday, March 1st, is FSLF Founding Day…the day we became a Religious Order. Mass will be at 11 a.m. Bishop Don Kettler will be the celebrant of the Mass. Happy 124th Birthday to us.

Happy Lent. Peace and many blessings on you.
Sister Mary Lou


Blessings to you this Lent Season

Ash Wednesday. “God of mercy and compassion, You are always at work to save us, but in this season of Lent You offer Your generous grace in a special way to all Your People through the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, which we prepare to celebrate in full at Easter. Look kindly on all those You have chosen, both those preparing for Baptism and those already Baptized and renew us by the power of the Gospel, through Christ our Lord. Amen.” Repent, and believe in the Gospel.

BRRRRR! Minus 14 and a wind chill of minus 30 this morning—and “they say” we could have a high of zero or one above today. Something to look forward to! In the dining room is a beautiful bulletin board, made by our Archives department, that says “Spring is Around the Corner.” All the lovely flowers and summer scenes do lift ones spirits.

Last Saturday was Valentine’s Day. That evening we had a Valentine’s Party. All the Sisters came to the main dining room for dinner and then games afterwards. It was a fun-time everyone.

Shrove Tuesday, the Day before Ash Wednesday for us, Little Falls Franciscan Sisters, is “Donut Day.” We’ve celebrated this day for at least 80 years. My thoughts go back to Sister Margaret Fruth who made donuts for everyone. Yesterday morning Sister Ruth, Terry and Gerry spent many hours making 1,400 donuts that were served in the dining room and also taken to the Hospital, Clinic, St. Camillus Place, St. Otto’s, Welcoming House, to Father Joe and Father Jeremy and to other places that I can’t remember right now.

Sunday is the 4th annual Empty Bowls soup meal from 11 a.m. to 2 p. at First Lutheran Church. This is a fund-raiser for Oasis of Central Minnesota. One pays $10.00 for a ticket. This ticket entitles you to all the soup you can eat and then you can take home a beautiful, ceramic bowl. This event is a reminder to us of the many people throughout the world who don’t have enough food.

Sister Elise Saggau will present three Wednesday evening (6:30-7:30 p.m.) talks on February 25, March 4 and March 11. The topic is; “Lent: A Sacramental Journey to Easter” Session One: “Continual Conversion;” Session Two: ”Baptism” and Session Three: “Eucharist.” We invite you to come join us in St. Francis Hall.

For many years, all Sisters with February birthdays and living on campus, have had a meal together. Last week was the day…and here is the gathered group: Sisters: (Front row) Dorothy Ann and Mary Blasé (Back row) Hope, Donna, Mary Ann, Mercita and Caroline

This pretty pattern was found in the courtyard along the wall leading to the dining room. I think the snow pattern is so unique.

Have a prayerful Lent and spend some extra time with the Lord.

Sister Mary Lou Eltgroth


God Shed His Grace On Thee

What a beautiful end of March day on the 9th of February! The thermometer outside the Motherhouse said 50 degrees at noon time—but the sun was shining directly on it, too. The weather Channel is showing the rainy/snowy mess in the Northeast and lists our actual temperature at 34.

Today is the Feast of St. Apillonia, died 249, the Patron of Dentists. Now you always wanted to know that, didn’t you?

Saturday evenings’ Soup Supper was another grand success. We served 400 meals. After their first bowl of soup, many folks went back for a second bowl. So there were lots of happy diners. We thank the Sisters, Volunteers, Businesses and Individuals who helped make the event another wonderful evening. The proceeds go to the Health and Rec Center and to the Music Center.

Yesterday afternoon we had a prayer service for an end to human trafficking. Saint Josephine Bakhita (1869-1947) was kidnapped when she was 7 years old and made to work in a number of places. When she was finally given her freedom she joined the religious community of Daughters of Charity. UNICIEF reports that across the world, there are more than one million children entering the sex trade every year and that approximately 30 million children have lost their childhood through sexual exploitation over the past 30 years. An estimated 1,000-1,500 Guatemalan babies and children are trafficked each year for adoption in North America and Europe. This says nothing of the young girls who have been exploited on city streets and hidden in brothels, or young boys who have been deprived of an education because of the need to be wage earners. God, give us the strength needed to bring an end to the demands that foster all forms of sexual exploitation in our country and beyond.

On display in the dining room, are MANY BEAUTIFUL basket and ceramic items made by Sister Mary Blasé Kulzer. All who gathered around the tables were in awe at the variety and beauty of her artistry. After this display, the items will go into the Gift Shop and can be purchased there.

Yesterday I attended the Birthday Party for my friend 95-year-young Keith Manbeck. After he was in Service, he then was a mailman for nearly 30 years and has been very actively retired for 35+ years. Keith is still driving folks to doctors’ appointments and doing many other jobs. He’s done many beautiful carpentry projects. Way to go, Keith!

Friday afternoon, we celebrated Sister Dorothy Ann Rudolph’s 90th Birthday. Here we also have another very active 90-year-old! She takes Communion to many shut-ins, visits lots of elderly older people and is sacristan at St. Mary’s Church. Sr. Mary Pat said, ”This is the first time we are having pizza and beer for a 90th birthday snack.” Thanks, Sr. Dorothy Ann, for all the good you’ve done these many years.

Last Tuesday we had our Employee Appreciation Dinner and Recognition. Kelly Olson was named the St. Francis Award winner. She is deserving of that recognition for all that she does for the Sisters and their health-care needs. God bless you, Kelly. There were 22 nominations for the award. I’m glad I didn’t have to make the choice. Pictured are Sister Julien and Kelly with her award. Also pictured are some of the other employees who were honed because of their years of service.

Wednesday is the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. We will be having a Prayer Service at 1 p.m. as part of World Day of Healing. There are so many sick persons in need of healing here and throughout the world. For them we pray.

Peace and blessings.
Happy Valentine’s Day. 
Sister Mary Lou


What's normal anyway?

I’m sure the Groundhog saw its shadow—and even if it didn't, I know we will still have some winter left…since we've not had a lot of it yet! Let us pray for the safety of the folks that have gotten so much snow lately. And I am praying for some more snow here or the earth will be really short of moisture for the coming growing season.

The retreat is over and life is pretty much back to normal—whatever that is.

Tomorrow evening we have the Employee Appreciation Dinner and program. Phyllis Dobis(Finance) is celebrating 35 years, Elsie Miller (Technology) 30 years, Donna Field (Leadership) 25 years, Sandy McNeill (Health and Rec) 15 years, Melissa Harris (Clare Residence), Amy Hollingsworth (Nutrition services), Nicole Maslowski (Health and Rec) and Jeff Odendahl (JPIC) all celebrating 10 years and Dick Beyreuther (Finance) and Alex Kulus (Nutrition Service) celebrating 5 years. Congratulations and God’s blessings on each of you. The Francis Award winner will also be announced. Who will it be? I’m looking forward to the program. A group of Sisters will present the musical Brother Juniper. (Way back when I was in the novitiate, some 60 years ago, they did this play, too.)

Thursday we have a bi-lingual Mass to honor Dorothy Stang, assassinated in 2005 in Brazil.

Thursday from 6 to 7 p.m. we will have Taize Prayer in Sacred Heart Chapel.

The other BIG event this week is the Soup Supper Saturday. Serving is from 4:30 to 7 p.m. There will be three varieties of homemade soup: Chicken Wild-Rice, Beef Barley Vegetable and Bean and Ham. Also, we’ll have fresh bread: cracked wheat and while, Bars, Beverage. St. Francis Music Center and St. Francis Health and Rec will receive the profits for scholarships for students.

A prayer service dedicated to ending human trafficking and support for victims of trafficking will be held on Sunday from 2 to 3  p.m.

Most of us have been well, but we did have a few cases of the flu. The Care Center has done a great job of taking care of the sick and keeping the rest of us well. Thank you.

This is it for this week. 

Peace and blessings,
Sister Mary Lou