June 5, 2017

We are into summer big-time. It is sunny and 80+ degrees outside as I write this article. Next January we dream of these days.

Last week Sully Gwast had a “Show and Tell” event here at the Motherhouse. He brought his pet Emu for us to see. He said he bought two eggs and put them in a chicken incubator set at 97 degrees.  Only one egg hatched. Now his bird is three weeks old and about a foot tall, but when it grows up, it will be about five feet tall. I don’t know that I saw an emu before. It is the second largest bird in Australia.

On Saturday the MN Farmers Union women had their annual meeting in St. Francis Hall. There were about 40 women and a few men in attendance. God bless these women for the good works they do. Farm women and men work hard to produce the food we enjoy. Thank you for your labor. I pray daily for favorable weather for a good growing season.

Sister Cordy Korkowski, director of Donor Relations, awarded two Sister Judine Cassidy Scholarships to two CEC students on May 25, 2017. Shania Rossum will be attending Central Lakes College in Brainerd and will be enrolled full time in the Horticulture Program. The second scholarship recipient, Nattalie Cluever, is set to attend Central Lakes College in Brainerd as well. She will be enrolled in the Dental Assistant Program.. Laura Dunlap, director of the CEC (Continuing Education Center) program expressed gratitude for the gift from the Franciscan Sisters and acknowledged the Franciscan Sisters at the event in appreciation for their interest and support of the CEC program.  For MANY years this program took place at what was St. Francis High School, now known as St. Francis Center.

Tuesday through Thursday we will be hosting “Girls Camp.” Girls and leaders will set up their tents in Assisi Park, south of the Motherhouse buildings. Sounds like the weather will be great. Pictures next week.

We have a couple acres of land plowed and used for Community Gardens. The plots are planted and cared for by those who would not otherwise have a spot for a garden. This is the scariest scare crow out there. And this hill of beans is growing nicely.

God bless you these summer days.
Sister Mary Lou


May 31, 2017

Tomorrow, June 1st, is the Feast of Saint Justin. On my Receptions Day, July 31, 1953, I was given the name, “Sister Mary Justin”, which I used for about 14 years, until we were allowed to go back to our Baptismal name. I am glad I am again “Mary Lou.”

We had a couple inches of rain the past week. Everything is lush green…and lawns need mowing about every 5 days. Keith spends a lot of time mowing our big campus.

As I look at my calendar, we have a few quiet days…and that is OK. The next big event will be our celebration for the seven Sisters who will celebrate their 60th jubilee on June 25th.

This year I did not get out to Camp Ripley Veterans Cemetery for their Memorial Day Services. I did listen to the re-broadcast on the radio. Local artist, Charles Kapsner, has finished three of the five big 8-by-10-foot murals in the Committal Hall. Approximately 6,500 veterans/spouses are buried at the Camp. “O Caption!  My Captain” comes to my mind when I think of the Veterans Cemetery.  “Thank you” to all the women and men who have served/serve our country in the Military Services.

Peace and God’s blessings on you and those you love,

Sister Mary Lou


May 22, 2017

Psalm 84 was part of Morning Prayer for today. One line says, “Clothed ion generous growth by early rains…” What a true statement when one is outdoors and looks at all the lush, green grass and green leaves on the trees and bushes! In the past week we’ve had about 2 inches of rain. Sunshine today is much appreciated.

Two of the intercessions at Morning Prayer were: “May those who are young move into the future confident of their place in this world and aware of their responsibility to humanity.”...and  “May those who are old remember gratefully Your many gifts and willingly pass on to the next generation their hopes and dreams.” These are such good things to pray for especially as we celebrate high school and college graduations.

Yesterday about 100 guests joined us for Liturgy and lunch as we celebrated a “Donor Memorial Liturgy.” A meaningful quote in the program, from John F. Kennedy, was, “We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.” All of you, our Donors, are remembered at least once a day in our Community prayers.

Alexia, one of our nurses here on second floor, showed us  the big rosary she recently made. By now it is probably on display on the wall in her living room. It is beautiful to see close-up.


At Mass last Friday, we sang the Blessing of St. Francis over Sisters Joel Bieniek and Sister Antonette Ahles who have been Franciscan Sisters for 80 years.

After our week of meetings, many of us felt that we needed to just sit back and ponder the events of the week before moving on with life.

God bless you and all your activities this week.
Sister Mary Lou


May 15, 2017

Happy Mother’s Day greetings, one day after the event. 

Today is the Feast of Saint Isidore, Patron of farmers and gardeners. Isidore served as a day laborer on the farm of Juan de Vargas outside Madrid, Spain. His day began with Mass. Isidore’s fellow laborers complained that Isidore was preoccupied with his devotions and neglected his work. Vergas, determined to discover the truth, watched Isidore in secret. He said that he saw Isidore rapt in prayer while, in the field, an angel guided the plow. After a life of humble service, Isidore died in 1130.  Maria, his wife, died in 1175. He was canonized March 12, 1622. Saint Isidore, pray for us and give us a good growing season and a good harvest.

Saturday was the funeral for Jim Hein, a Secular Franciscan and a dear friend. Mary Larson, from Brainerd, picked me up Saturday morning and took me along to Menahga, MN for the funeral. Jim did much for the revitalization of the Secular Franciscan Order here in central Minnesota.

We will be having an “All Community Gathering” starting Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. until 3p.m. on Friday (May 16—19).
Sunday, May 21st, we have a Memorial Mass at 11 a.m. for decease family members of Donors to our Franciscan Sisters. We’d like to see you. Donors get prayed for every day at Evening Prayer—and in between times, too.

South of our cemetery we have a couple long rows of lilacs. Right now they are in full bloom. I have been bringing in bouquets of them in for the Sisters to enjoy. The fragrance can be smelled for a long distance. I love it.

Last week we had a group of about 30 Directors of Nursing here for a 3-day meeting. One evening they did a “Giving Back Time” service project when they did some raking the grounds. This group has met here a couple times a year for about 26 years.

On Saturday, the 13th, we had a Memorial Service for Jerry Rausch, brother of Sisters Rose Mae and Tonie Rausch who were not able to attend his funeral out east.

Just as I was typing this article, Cheryl came past my room and asked me if I wanted a “Some more.”  I’ve not had one of those for a long time, so you can guess my response!

We have rain showers forecast for the next several days. That will be an OK thing as our sandy soil can use frequent drinks.

Blessings and safe travels on your Memorial Day weekend. Eternal rest to those we remember these days.

God bless you.
Sister Mary Lou

P.S.  Please keep us in your prayers as we meet this week.  Thanks.



I just googled  “History of May Day.” Very interesting. Check it out.

It is also the Feast of Saint Joseph, the Worker. As St. Joseph cared for and supported his family, I pray today for all fathers who care for and support their families. St. Joseph, care for all fathers and mothers who care for their families and their extended families. Give them the strength and energy to do the job well.

 We woke up this morning to see a couple inches of snow covering the green grass and everything else, too. That is not what I expected to see.
Friday evening we had two concerts in Sacred Heart Chapel. The advanced group played VERY well also, and were fun to listen to…and those who started lessons recently also played very well.  I marvel at the talent of so many musicians and am happy they can get lessons at St. Francis Music Center.

Tonight is the “Taste of St. Cloud” fundraiser. This event helps support our Franciscan Volunteers Program. It is always such a fun event…and so much good food!  All who attend always have a wonderful time…and never go away hungry. The vendors get good publicity, too.

Today and tomorrow the Diocesan Pastoral Associates are having a couple retreat days at St. Francis Center. I am happy that we have the space to host such events.

Thursday is the National Day of Prayer. We all know that our Nation and its people can use lots of prayers.

Thursday evening we are having our Volunteer Appreciation dinner. We are very grateful for all our wonderful volunteers. They assist us in so many ways. And just as I started to type the last sentence, a lady with her beautiful dog, Thor. The lady said they got the dog a year and a half ago when they moved to MN…and they thought that would be a good name for here in the north-country.

Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. the St Francis Chorale will present their Spring Concert in Sacred Heart Chapel. I know it will be a delight for our ears.

May the Lord bless you.

Sister Mary Lou


April17, 2017—Easter Monday


One of the Intercessions from Morning Prayer today is:  Lord, as we begin this week of service, sustain us in the JOY of Easter.  (What a good thing to pray for and to live each day.)  And another intercession is: “Bless all agricultural workers and farmers, especially family farmers, and bless the soil as it accepts the gift of new seed in this hopeful springtime”…  Another very good thing to pray for.

Sister Elizabeth (Betty) Martell, age 89, died Holy Saturday afternoon, April15, 2017, at 4:42 p.m. in her room in Clare Residence, here at the Motherhouse.  Visitation is after 4 p.m. on Thursday, April 20.  The Franciscan Wake is at 7 p.m.  Mass of Christian Burial is Friday, April 21 at 1:00 p.m.  Sister Betty’s sister, Sister Jeanette Martell, died November 14, 2011. 

This week (April 17 to 21) is Severe Weather Awareness Week.  We will be participating in the State-wide Tornado Watch on Thursday, the 20th, beginning at 1:00 p.m.  At 1:45 a Tornado Alert will be announced over the P.A. and the sirens will be sounded.  At that time all who are able will gather in the tunnel until the “all clear”: is announced.  Those who can’t go to the tunnel will go to a hallway away from windows. 

Thursday, April 20th, at 2 p.m. we will have an Earth Day Prayer Service in St. Francis Hall.

Friday, April 21, at 7:30 the Legacy Chorale will gift us with a concert in Chapel.  There will be a preconcert Dialogue starting at 7:10.

On April 22nd the Secular Franciscans will have their spring Retreat in St. Francis Hall.

Sunday, April 23rd is Divine Mercy Sunday.

There will be an Orchestra Concert at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 28, in the Chapel.

May 7th at 2 p.m. we will have the Spring Choral Concert  in the Chapel.

Blessings on all of  you this Easter Week.

Sister Mary Lou


February 27, 2017

This morning we had the funeral for Sister Mary Evangeline Stanoch, age 95, who died Thursday, February 23, 2017.  She was the last of the 10 siblings to join her parents in heaven.  We had a good “send-off” for her with many nieces, nephews and other family members joining us Sisters for the Mass of Christian Burial.

Wednesday is Ash Wednesday.  Tomorrow, Tuesday,  the day before Lent starts, is Donut Day here at the Convent.  It is a long-time tradition in our Community to serve home-made, fresh donuts to everyone this day.  On Wednesday we get serious about Lent—mostly by prayer for the many needs of the people of the world and for peace in the world and amongst the peoples of the world.

March 1st is the anniversary of the Founding of our Community.  This year we will celebrate it the day before because the 1st is Ash Wednesday.  I thank God for those 16 women, who in 1891, got permission from the Bishop to start this new Franciscan community in central Minnesota.  We are now 126 Sisters ministering in 7  States and  in Mexico and  South America.

Last Tuesday we had a party to celebrate the retirement of Sister Jean Schwieters as Liturgist and Choir Director and Sister Joel Bieniek as Sacristan and Flower Arranger for many years.


I recently took pictures of our three eldest elders: Sister Joel Bieniek is 99, Sister Bernarda Sanoski is 100 and Sister Fabian Schneider is 101.

Thursday is the birthday of Dr. Seuss (born in 1904).  This author wrote many books for children-- and that adults also enjoy.  My favorite is To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street.  When was the last time you read a children’s book?  It’s good for your heart and your soul.

Peace and blessings as you celebrate Lent.
Sister Mary Lou


February 20, 2017

PRESIDENTS” DAY.  Let us all pray for our president and all governmental leaders.  They need it.  We need it.

“Temps flirt with 60s” is the headline in today’s paper.  It’s hard to believe that is a February day.  One has to look hard to find a snow pile to find a snow pile anywhere.  I do believe we will still get another blast of winter weather.  And right now we have a steady rain.  I wonder when it will turn to snow.

Sister Donna finished this 1,000-piece puzzle last week.  It is a beauty.  Because of the irregular shape it took a little longer than usual to complete…but well worth the effort!

And here is another 1,000 piece puzzle that took a while to complete…and another beautiful work of art.

I’m reading the book The Crazy Quilt by Ruth Jesness Tweed and came across this little verse that says it well:

My prayer for you, my readers, is that God bless and continue to care for you.


Sister Mary Lou


February 7, 2017

Last Saturday’s Soup Supper is now a memory.  We served 1,043 bowls of soup in the dining room and had 60 servings to go to homes off campus.  The soups were delicious.  The conversations and visiting were wonderful to see and hear.  The weather was conducive to making one want to have good, hot soup.  Thanks to the cooks for their fine work.  Thanks to all who worked to make it a successful event.  The proceeds went to help music students and participants in the Health and Wellness programs.

From my observations, it looks to be a quiet week.  And that is good.  After so many activities, it’s nice to have some catch-up time.

One day last week, Carol brought in her “good dishes” and we Sisters on Second Floor had a nice Tea Party.  The little cakes were delicious and the company was great, too.

I found this blessing on a card and thought it good for all of us.  “May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human and enough hope to make you happy.”

God bless you and those you love (and the ones you have a hard time with, too.)


Sister Mary Lou


January 30, 2017

It’s almost the end of January.  We have very little snow on the ground at this time…but I think some is forecast to come in the next couple days.  Thursday is Groundhog Day.  Regaurdless,  if the creature sees his shadow or not, I think we’ll still have 6 more weeks of Winter.

Yesterday afternoon, St. Francis Music Center presented the Honors Concert, a program featuring 16 of their most accomplished students.  Wow!  Are they every good!  We heard piano, violin, flute, cello, and vocal presentations.  I praise God for the talents of these youth and their willingness to share them with us.  Sacred Heart Chapel was nicely filled with an appreciative audience.

Last Tuesday, 24th, we had our Appreciation dinner and celebrated the 16 employees who have worked here for 5, 10, 15, 25 and 30 years.  We have such wonderful employees!  Thanks to each of you for your faithful service.

On Saturday, the Franciscan Community Volunteers, who live and work in the Saint Cloud area, came for a few hours in the afternoon to play BINGO with the Sisters and then served us a treat, too.  These young men and women give a year of their time to volunteer at a non-profit facility.  God bless them for their dedication.  They live with the  Sisters at the Welcoming House in Saint Cloud.

We have a new employee here on Second Floor (the Care Center).  To welcome Trevor, Sister Maurita wrote words to a song that we sang for him:  God bless dear Trevor/  Keep him well and true./ Stand beside him and guide him/ Through the ups and downs of the job/ Through the good times and the hard times/  But we’ll pray for you./ God bless Trevor, Our newfound friend. God bless Trevor in his new found job.

Monthly we have what we call “enLUNCHment.”  It is a time for Sisters to share about their life and ministry. (It’s great to hear the information while they are still alive rather than at their Wake Service!)  Last Wednesday Sister Therese Furnstahl, Franciscan Sister for 73 years, shared her story.  She had interesting stories from her years in health care and home care work.

God bless you.  Make it a great week.

Sister Mary Lou


January 23, 2017

Today is the Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children – A very good thing to pray for.  In my little reflection book, Living Faith, Sister Macrina Wiederkehr. OSB, reminds us that “Evil spelled backwards is live.”  (I’d not thought of that before.) We need to live life with a positive outlook, free of worry and fear…and work for that same blessing for all people.

We have a new President of the United States.  In another context, Red (in the comic strip Red & Rover) says”…with Great Power comes Great Responsibility.” Let us keep President Trump and our political leaders in our prayers.

I am listening to Party Line on our local radio station.  They just reminded me that next week is Catholic Schools Week.  Catholic Schools are dear to my heart, since my professional life was working in Catholic Schools.  God bless parishes that have and support Catholic Schools.  God bless the teachers, students and parents and their boards of Education.

Last week—Monday through Friday-- we had a Retreat for Sisters going on here at the Motherhouse.  The retreat director was a Franciscan  Friar, Father Chuck Faso.  Retreat participants liked the retreat and I liked his homilies at daily Mass.

Tomorrow evening we have a special meal and program as part of our Employee  Appreciation event.  Many employees will be recognized for their years of  service.  More about that next week.

Next Sunday, January 29th, the Music Center is hosting an Honors Concert.  This concert features 16 of the Music Center’s most accomplished students.  They will share their talents in playing violin, piano, flute and cello.  The concert is free and open to the public.  Robyn Gray, Music Center Director, says, “I encourage you to come.”  I’ll be there.

Have a good week.
Peace and blessings on you.
Sister  Mary Lou



January 9, 2017

We KNOW we are in the season of winter.  We’ve had about 4 to 6 inches of snow the last couple days and by Thursday we should have minus 30 degree temperatures.  We've already had a minus 28 so minus 30 isn’t that much colder.  We can take it.

Today is the feast of the Baptism of the Lord and the end of the Christmas season.  The Catholic Church Calendar goes to Ordinary time tomorrow. Today there are ladders and boxes everywhere as the Christmas decorations get packed away for 11 months.

We had another successful Red Cross Blood Drive lasts week. We received 248 units of blood…another 25 people who came to donate were turned away because their blood was low.  God bless all generous donors and workers who make it possible for the Blood Drive to happen.

On Saturday we Sisters had our Christmas celebration.  With all the activities all around, we have our special prayer, singing from the “Black Books, and goodies after the 1st.  The Black Books are old books containing some of our favorite songs “from long ago.”  Always there are good stories to share.  When I get it typed up I will send out the story of the Selfish Giant.  It is my favorite Christmas-time story.

Next week, 16th through 20th, we have a Sisters Retreat going on… so it will be quite quiet around here.  Those of us not making the retreat work to keep the noise level down out of respect for the retreatants.

Stay healthy and spread happiness wherever you are.

God bless you.

Sister Mary Lou


January 5, 2017

HAPPY NEW YEAR.  “We are all on a journey, each day unsure of what’s around the next bend.  But uncertainty doesn’t have to be scary.  As people of faith, we know that we are always loved by God in in God’s care.  What are my hopes and dreams for the New Year?  Ask the Lord to guide you each day in the year ahead.”  (Living Faith, pages 1-2)

On Saturday, December 31st, we had a Peace Prayer Service.  The Opening Prayer said it well:  We praise You, O God, for your presence with us, for your constant care and concern for us, for You Mercy.  Open our eyes, our ears and our hearts to the truth and beauty around us.  Make us aware also of what does not reflect You, but demeans Your Creation; war, oppression, violence and prejudice of any kind.  Give us wisdom and courage to witness to the peace that comes from You and from following  Your Gospel way. Amen.

The annual Convent Caring by Sharing Project this year, sponsored by the Franciscan Sisters, Emp[oyees and Friends, collected $1,815 to assist Tool Shed.  (Most of us had never even heard of Tool Shed before this.)  “Tool Shed is a group that assists teaching life skills to women in transition specifically following incarceration.  Tool Shed promotes weekly support groups to ex-offenders and their families, helping them rebuild their lives and relationships with Morrison county at-risk families.  Assisting at-risk families is the most effective way to break the cycle, building a strong, heathy foundation on which to build an improved life style.”  (Morrison County Record, Page12, Section B, December, 2016)

The Bloodmobile is here today (1 to7 p.m.) tomorrow (1 to 7 p.m.) and Friday (8 a.m. to 2 p.m.)  God bless all those who are willing to share their life-blood with those who need it.  And God bless the men and women who work for the Red Cross in this life saving project.  From the number of waiting donors in St. Francis Hall right now, they should have no problem in meeting their goal, whatever it is—every bed is occupied and every chair has someone on it.  I was concerned that the extreme cold weather would keep people at home.  It has not!

I make a point to visit the veterans cemetery every year. A wreath in placed on every grave site, it is very beautiful!

Walk in love.  Live in Light.  And never lose hope.

Keep safe and warm.’
Peace and blessings

Sister Mary Lou