Blessings upon Blessings

Did you see the super-eclipse Sunday night? I did not. It was cloudy. The pictures look great.

Many of spent many hours in front of TVs this past week watching the various events that were part of Pope Francis’ visit to the United States of America. It was wonderful to have Pope Francis in our country. I found his messages were gentle, encouraging, informative, motivating and strong. He spoke to all: the old, the young, religious, priests, bishops, the laity, prisoners, handicapped , civic and church leaders. May we heed his messages and become better people. God bless Pope Francis. He asked for our prayers. Let’s do it.

I liked what he said to Elders: “Elderly people…are a storehouse of wisdom forged by experience and [they] seek in many ways, especially through volunteer work, to share their stories and their insights. I know that many of them are retired, but still active…keep working to build up this land.”

The canonization of Junipero Serra was another special event. This Franciscan was the first saint canonized on American soil. Saint Junipero, pray for us.

Saturday was the first class of a two-year series of classes titled “Engaging Franciscan Spirituality.” The objective of the program is: “for each participant to gain enough information, education and formation in Franciscan spirituality so they can continue their spiritual journey following Christ in the footprints of Saints Francis and Clare as well as to be able to articulate that spirituality to others.” It’s always good when people learn more about Saint Francis and Saint Clare.

Ten days ago, Lori Johnson made her commitment as a Franciscan Associate. She cannot be here on October 11th when many others will be making their commitment. We are happy to welcome her to our Franciscan Family.

Sunday, the 27th, we had the Blessing of Animals at Washington Park here in Little Falls. I counted 40 dogs of many different breeds. We also had a little kitty and two other large cats (in their carrying cages.) After the blessing, each pet owner received a small medal to attach to the pet’s collar. Then there were treats for the pets and cookies for the owners. May Saint Francis bless and care for all animals, His Creatures…and us people, too.

On Saturday, October 3rd, we will host the 55th Annual Orphan Train Reunion/Conference. Between 1854--1929, more than 250,000 children were placed out on orphan trains from the East Coast, venturing into unknown territory in the West to settle with unknown families across America. Our, now deceased Sister Justina, was one of those riders and she started these reunions here at St. Francis. It is the descendants of these riders who now come to find out more about Orphan Train history. There are fewer than 50 orphan train riders living throughout the United States today.

Saturday evening, October 3rd, at 7 p.m., we will have our Transitus Prayer Service in Chapel. During this time of prayer we remember the Death of St. Francis.

Sunday, October 4th, at 8:30 a.m. Bishop Kettler will preside at our Community Mass for the Feast of St. Francis.

Then Sunday afternoon we will host an Open House, from 1:30 to 3:30, in honor of the Year of Consecrated Life, as declared by Pope Francis last January. We will have snacks, tours and visiting with a special Evening Prayer at 3:00 p.m. Please come and join us.

Sunday is also the Sausage Supper in my home parish of St. Alexius, in West Union. I guess I will miss it this year. That hasn’t happened too many times in the last 30+ years.

Next Week, October 6th through 9th, we will be having all Community Meetings. Please pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as we make decisions Discerning our Future. Thank you.

Happy Feast of St. Francis. I will be praying for you, all my Blog readers.
Peace and prayers,
Sister Mary Lou

These are a few photos I took around the convent. Enjoy.


Fall is a busy time of year!

September 23, 2015

I started writing this week’s article and then my computer locked up and I couldn’t do a thing. So this morning one of our technology specialists, Lisa, came over and fixed the problem in about a minute! I’m so glad we have Lisa and Elsie to help us out when we have computer troubles. Most of us need their help on a regular basis. Lisa is teaching a computer class a couple times a month…and for that we are grateful.

The first day of fall. We had almost an inch of rain in a very short time this morning…then bright sun and now after 2:30 it is clouded up again…getting ready for another shower. “They say” we could have 3 to 4 inches of rain by the time it stops on Thursday night.

Last Thursday and Friday (17 & 18th) 175 people were here to attend the 35th Annual Statewide Historic Preservation Conference. They had such interesting topics: Dealing with Vacant Storefronts and Blighted Property, Building Rehabilitation on Main Street, Appropriate Plaster Techniques, Code Challenges and Creative Solutions.

On Saturday was the Fall Day of Reflection, a retreat day for Associates and Sisters and was sponsored by the Associate program. Approximately 60 of us listened to Sister Carmen Barsody’s presentation on the topic of “Acknowledging the Worth and Dignity of “The Other.” Through her presentation and our conversation we were asked to find what connects us with an “other” in our lives and use that as a foundation to work toward lessening the gap that separates us. Jesus reminds us in Luke 10:27, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

Sunday was a perfect day for all our guests to travel to our Donor Day activities here at the Motherhouse. About 175 guests came for Mass, a delicious roast beef dinner, and program on caring for creation and some of the things we Franciscan Sisters have done and are doing. We Franciscan Sisters thank all those who support us and our ministries. At the program, Pope Francis and Saint Clare were guests of honor. (They were Jeff Odendahl and Sister Carol Schmit dressed for their parts.)

Our friend, Larry Anderson brought us more cabbage and other garden produce when he came on Sunday. He said that was a total of about 1,500 pounds of cabbage. THANK YOU LARRY.

The outdoor statues of St. Joseph and the Virgin Mary got power washed and repainted last week. Neil and Walter have them looking bright and shiny again. The next job they tackled was to power wash and paint the fence on the east side of the Motherhouse.

The nice days of summer when it is not too windy, Sister Fabian, age 100, goes for a walk outside to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air. Here she is resting after a trip around the “circle drive.”

Tuesday morning we were entertained by two friends having a little fun together. Russ and Sister Janice Welle played us a few tunes. They will do it again in October.

If anyone wants to know, yesterday was Elephant Appreciation Day. ( Didn’t you always want to know that?)

Today’s Dining Adventure featured the state of Georgia. Some of the foods served today were: Chicken Breast and Peach Salsa, Oven Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Black Eyed Peas, Peach Cobbler, BBB Beef Sliders, Molasses Cookies, Georgia Blueberry Casserole. Here are a few pictures of the ambiance.

We are having the Annual Blessing of Animals this coming Sunday—because we have an Open House to celebrate Consecrated Life on October 4th, the Feast of St. Francis. This is the 20th Anniversary of doing this animal blessing at Washington Park. It was started by the clergy of the Episcopal Church and we Franciscans joined them early on. Because of the anniversary, each participant will receive a little medal that says, “Saint Francis of Assis, Protector of Animals” and a prayer card, “Prayer for My Pet.”

Soon Sisters will be arriving for our All Community Meetings, October 6 through 9th. It is always good to have everybody here for these gatherings.

Sister Ruth was busy cooking two big pots of salsa this afternoon. Earlier she made another two pots of salsa — a total of about 24 gallons. Yummy!

Another puzzle got finished today. It is such a pretty fall scene.

IN PLAIN SIGHT is a book of poems and photographs from FAITHFUL FOOLS STREET MINISTRY, the group that Sister Carmen Barsody works with. One poem resonated very well with me. It is: “I am not alone” by Ed Bowers. The poem is: “This contraption in front of me is my best friend. // I use it to help me walk and does not judge me or pity me or let me down. // We are both traveling in the same direction so we must be coming from the same place. // The innocence of silence surrounds me and my companion on our slow journey home. // I notice that I am envied by those who have less than me. // There are thieves out there.” I feel the same way about my walker.

I leave you today with a thought from my friend Gerry Straub: We do not need to run to catch God: we need to stop running and let God catch us.

Peace and God bless you. Sister Mary Lou


Hidden Treasures

What a great weekend! The 43rd Little Falls Arts and Crafts Fair is now a memory. The 600 vendors have all gone home and the city is all cleaned up so that you’d never know we had 100,000 guests in town the past couple days. Gina, from the Chamber of Commerce Office, and I both agree that it was another great success. Vendors were pleased with their sales and buyers were happy with their purchases. The weather was perfect both days, but the extra wind later Sunday afternoon was causing a little stress. I spent many hours with the vendors on Kidder Street and at all other places. The new batteries on my scooter served me very well. I think I saw almost every one of the 600 booths. Sixteen vendors stayed at St. Frances Center Friday and/or Saturday nights. I marvel at the creativity of the artisans who make such beautiful items. Thanks to all who attended the Little Falls Arts and Crafts Fair.

There was also a car show out at the Fairgrounds. There were 400+ antique cars to look at. And the cooks made over 900 hamburgers for lunch. That, too, was a lot of fun.

This is International Housekeepers Week. For all of us, I wish to thank our housekeepers who keep the place sparkly clean…and for all the setups and takedowns they do for all the meetings and events that go on around here. We’d never be able to make it without you. God bless you

The Diocesan Pastoral Council had their meeting here on Saturday…so we were privileged to have Bishop Kettler here to preside at Mass on Saturday.

Tomorrow we have a bilingual Mass honoring Dom Helder Camera, Brazilian Archbishop, who was martyred for his Catholic Faith. We have many such martyrs in our own day who die because of their belief in Jesus Christ. All you holy martyrs, pray for us.

This coming Saturday is the Fall Day of Reflection—a retreat day. The presenter is our own Sister Carmen Barsody. Her topic is: Acknowledging the Worth and Dignity of “The Other.”

Sunday, September 20, is Donor Day. Speakers are Sr. Carol Schmit and Jeff Odendahl. Their topic is “Care of Creation” and some of the things the Franciscan Sisters do to care for creation. I hope you can make it. Mass is at 11 a.m.

Next Monday is International Day of Peace. Would that peace could reign and war be no more. Let’s each do our little piece for peace in our part of the world.

God bless you.
Sister Mary Lou


Labor Day 2015

Labor Day, September 7, 2015

Happy Labor Day. God bless and care for all who labor for our personal benefit and for the benefit of the Common Good. I am grateful for my years of labor as an elementary school teacher and principal and the many other things I “labored at.” The easy and good things made me happy and the tough things helped me grow to be a better person.

The following prayer was in our TAU-USA Magazine. I want to share it with you. Dear Lord: So far today, God, I’ve done all right. I haven’t gossiped, haven’t lost my temper, haven’t been greedy or grumpy; nasty, selfish or over-indulgent. I’m really glad about that! But in a few minutes, God, I’m going to get out of bed and from then on I’m probably going to need all the help I can get. Thank you, in Jesus Name. Amen.

Saturday evening there was a celebration at Holy Spirit Parish in St. Cloud to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the founding of St. Bartolome Parish in Maracay, Venezuela. Eighteen of our Sisters were Missionaries there from 1967 to 1992. Happy Anniversary and thank you for all the good you did at that Mission.

Last Wednesday we invited the CEC teachers for noon lunch. After so many years of their presence, we will miss the teachers and students from that program of the Public High School. I was sad to go down that darkened Ground Floor hallway and see the empty classrooms. The program has moved to one of the Public School’s own buildings. And we have plans to make use of these rooms in coming days and months.

Sister Ruth’s friend, Kevin, from Idaho, is visiting here. He’s such a joy to have around. The other day he was helping Sr. Ruth shuck sweet corn that we’ll have for supper tonight. Both he and Sr. Ruth know so much about horticulture and growing good, nourishing food.

This coming weekend is the Little Falls Arts and Crafts Fair. Today’s newspaper says it should be partly cloudy with high temp from 66 to 73 from Friday to Sunday. Those are good temp. Lack of strong winds would also be very good. We have a number of guests/vendors staying at St. Francis Center for a couple nights. They like to come here because it’s only a few blocks away from their booth—lots better than having to drive 30 or more miles to find a hotel/motel.

I am doing well after my new pacemaker was put in last week. I already have more pep and energy and do not tire so easily. My challenge is to take it easy with my left arm, to not lift more than two pounds for the next 5 weeks and not raise my left arm too high. Thanks to all who kept me in prayer.

Let us pray for students and teachers as they start school tomorrow. My their year be a year of great learning in both academics and life skills.

Sunday, September 13 is International Chocolate Day!

Peace and many blessings, Sr. Mary Lou


Hello September!

How can it be September already? I’m back from our trip to our nephew’s wedding near Denver, CO. The day was perfect for an outdoor wedding in the mountains of Colorado. The temperature was about 75 degrees and overcast with about 4 drops of rain. Andrea and Jon are a very happy couple. She is from the Netherlands and 15 of her family members were here to celebrate with us. Jon is a geologist and has a job there. I went with my brother, Richard and his wife, Louise. Their 50th anniversary was August 28th.

We stopped to visit a couple cousins on our journey. We also took time to look at things at the Murdo Museum, the Badlands National Park, Wall Drug, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Custer State Park, the Old West Museum in Cheyenne WY., the Garden of the Gods and other stops. We saw lots of cattle eating on dry pasture lands in South Dakota, and lots of cattle eating in lush pastures in Kansa, Nebraska and Iowa. I often praised God for the beauty and vastness of creation that I witnessed each day. I’ll share a few pictures.

Meanwhile back here in Little Life went on (just fine without me). On August 27 and 28th there was a Red Cross Blood Drive. They received 219 units of blood, which is 30 units over the goal. God bless you, generous donors.

Four new Franciscan Community Volunteers were Commissioned at our Sunday Mass on August 30th. They are Johnny McCracken from Gap, PA; Kyle Lamb from Avon, MN; Ranya Agcaoili from Kahului, HI and Rebecca Ferrera from Newbury Park, CA. Welcome to you and we wish you well in your volunteer services.

This noon today we invited the CEC staff to lunch so we’d have a chance to see them one more time. The Continuing Education Center classes have been held at St. Francis Center for the past 24 years. The program has now moved to a building that belongs to the Public School district. I’ve always said that the CEC teachers and staff are the best teachers in the District! We will miss the teachers and the students.

Monday is Labor Day. Make it a safe one. Some schools have already started classes and others will start the day after Labor Day. Let us all pray for both teachers and students that it be a profitable year for each one.

Peace and many blessings,
Sister Mary Lou