Greenwood Secular Franciscans Gather for Annual Retreat

 

The St. Francis Secular Franciscan Fraternity at St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Greenwood, came together this past weekend for their annual retreat. Brother Patrick McCormack, OFM, led the  Seculars in a very stimulating and prayerful time together.

 

Brother Patrick McCormack, OFM is a member of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Province.

 

All gathered Friday evening for a Holy Hour after which Br. Patrick gave the group several questions to ponder; “Is this what I want with my whole heart?”  “What is it that I value?” “What is my understanding of Community/Fraternity?” With much to consider, the evening came to a close with Night Prayer.

 

On Saturday, Brother challenged the group to think about the word Community and opened it up starting with its Latin roots. Com=Cum=with and munity = munas=gift. He continued with the question, “What gift do I bring to Community?” A familiar question all remember from Initial Formation! The discussion broadened to consider, “What gifts do I bring to this Fraternity? What gifts are shared with me?”

 

 

The weekend was filled with reflecting, sharing , praying, enjoying meals and celebrating each other. All were enriched by a sense of peace and assuredness, as well as insight and gratitude for all that God has done in them, for them, and through them.

Franciscan Sisters Capture St. Francis School Fall Festival

The day for the annual St. Francis of Assisi School Fall Festival turned out to be a beautiful day in the Delta. The weather was perfect for outdoor fun and games. Many volunteers had arrived early to grill the BBQ chicken, fry our traditional catfish and prepare many other foods for the hungry festival goers.

While the adults enjoyed bingo and kept an eye on the Silent Auction the younger ones easily migrated to the games and activies.

Each of the Friars and Sisters were eager to serve and do all they could to contribute to the success of the event.

Sisters Emy Beth and Monica Mary came to St. Francis to support our efforts and share in the days activities.

As the day wound down and the crowd deserted the cafeteria, we found Mrs. Lewis happily enjoying a well needed break and a few quiet moments, grateful for all the God had done at St. Francis… again.

 

 

 

Franciscans of the Delta Gather over Labor Day

Sunday of Labor Day weekend was a  wonderful occasion of sharing, laughter, food and Franciscan joy for the Sisters of Mound Bayou and Greenwood along with the Franciscan Friars of Greenwood. Following the Sunday Liturgy at St. Francis all came together at the Convent for an afternoon together.

 

Shared stories of labors in the Lord’s vineyard, memories of growth in the Franciscan life and joy in the delicious food shared were all voiced in the simple spirit of St. Francis. Pax et bonum!

 

Franciscan Sisters Pause to Go Beyond the Tech Web

“Come let us worship the Lord, all things live for Him” Ps. 95:6

“How many, O Lord, are the wonders and designs, You have made for us.”   Ps. 40:5

“Let everything  that lives and breathes give praise to the Lord.” Ps 150:6

Let us ask Him to help us see more than webs and obstacles to trip us up.  Let us seek to view all the events of our day with the eyes of a child who knows the Father’s love.

Mississippi Sisters Begin a New Year Together

We Sisters at St. Francis have been busy with many things as this new school year begins. The Friars community had determined this summer was the time to address a ceiling “face lift” in a major area of our home for which we are very grateful. So first on our list was some major removal of dust after this summer ceiling replacement project. Then it was time for getting things ready in school and the classrooms. The meeting of faculty and staff; new and old, meeting parents and students and readying the classrooms to begin the new school year. Once that was in place we were able to come together and share thoughts and plans for our year together in community.

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Our lanterns then became the centerpiece for a special meal we prepared for the Friars on their Provincial Feast of the Assumption Of the Blessed Virgin Mary and as a farewell for our pastor Fr. Greg who has been reassigned.

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The evening ended as we all gathered in our chapel with a special Night Prayer of Thanksgiving. The prayer was based on the writings of Bonaventure where he tells us that the Blessed Virgin Mary, to St. Francis, was Mother, Advocate, and Queen. Peace and God’s blessings to all.

Franciscans Remember 20 year Anniversary in Greenwood MS.

Twenty years ago the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity answered the request of the Franciscan Friars of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Province to join them in ministry at St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Greenwood, MS. On July 28, 1997 four sisters; Sister Natalie Binversie, Sister Rochelle Kerkhof, Sister Delores Vogt and Sister James Ellen Woolsey left the Motherhouse as the Community blessed them singing, “The Blessing of St. Francis”.

Many of our Sisters have served here since that day and have found the blessings of life and ministry at St. Francis to be as real for them as it was for those pioneer Sisters. In remembrance of these 20 years of presence and all the Sisters who have served here over the years, Fr. Jim Gannon, Provincial, and the Franciscan Friars of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Province gifted us with a beautiful bouquet of flowers.  We are enjoying them with deep gratitude.

Tribute to Sister Margaret Held, SSSF and Paula Merrill, SCN

Saturday, May 20 started out like a normal Saturday. The St. Francis of Assisi Sisters were getting lots done in school and the convent but they reserved time to drive to Durant,MS to attend the dedication and blessing of a monument in honor of the two Sisters who had been murdered in their home in Durant in August, 2016. The sun was out and it was getting hot and humid. The trip to Durant took about 50 minutes. As things would have it sometimes, we arrived for a 2:00 pm dedication only to find out that it had been rescheduled for 3:00pm. This provided a nice chance to visit and relax as we waited. Six Sisters, members of the School Sisters of St. Francis and of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth had arrived before us. These are the communities that mourn the loss of Sisters Margaret and Paula.  The monument stood somberly covered in readiness for the ceremony.

Soon others gathered along with Fr. Greg Plata, priests and a deacon of the diocese, and Bishop Joseph Kopacz .

As we had driven into Durant we saw many buildings and homes with evidence of temporary repair due to the tornado which had hit the town just three weeks earlier.

Now as we waited, the sky began to darken.

At three o’clock all seemed to be in readiness and Fr. Greg began the service.

Soon more and more umbrellas opened up as the sprinkles grew steadier.

The Bishop, who had come from celebrating a parish Confirmation and needed to leave shortly for another Confirmation, was getting his share of this MS storm also. Thunder and lightning accompanied the strong wind and heavy downpour with no let up. The rain came at us in all directions. Everyone was getting drenched.

The service continued, and Bishop Kopacz never paused until Fr. Greg began searching for the Holy Water for the blessing. The Bishop spoke to the crowd and with a grin,  asked, “Do we really need Holy Water with all this rain?  It seems that God has provided more than enough!”

The crowd did not stay around long as all were invited to St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Lexington

 where the two Sisters served, prayed and were were a powerful presence in the Faith Community.  Mass and a fried catfish dinner followed with more sharing of the blessings these two Sisters had been to the people there.

The rain poured down as we drove back to Greenwood. Our pace was slow, but following the tail lights of the car ahead of us helped. Suddenly the tail lights became flashing alert lights and a line of red lights. There had been a bad accident ahead of us. As we waited in the pouring rain we thanked God for our safety and prayed for the victims of the accident. We returned home wet, but grateful for the many blessings of that day.

Franciscan Sisters of Greenwood Enjoy the Calm and Beauty of Sky Lake

It is often said that we can miss the beauty in our own backyard. This was true of the Sisters at St. Francis of Assisi until this past weekend. Just 35 minutes from our home we discovered “Sky Lake” An article published in our local paper, The Commonwealth describes it as; “a hidden gem tucked away in the remote reaches of southern Leflore County and northern Humphreys County.”  Near the town of Belzoni,                                                                MS,  Sky Lake is an old abandoned channel of the Mississippi River.                                                                        Native Americans are thought to have occupied it thousands of years ago.

The 1,735 ft. boardwalk, which is 12 feet above the forest floor, was completed in 2010. The shallow swamp is home to some of the largest and oldest bald cypress trees on earth. Some are thought to be more than 1,000 years old and are in the same family as the Sequoia and Redwood trees.

Along  the boardwalk we learned many interesting facts about the cypress and the area.

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The day was overcast and the temperature of about 70, so combined with the humidity we had an ideal day to slowly enjoy God’s nature from the boardwalk.

Surrounded by all of these reflections of God’s beauty  in nature we also reflected and pondered the wonder of God’s immensity.

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We noticed many things small and large as we walked along the walkway.

We saw the most brilliant warbler flying about the area, but never spotted the alligators or bear!

It didn’t take us long to understand why it is called “Sky Lake”! The reflections were beautiful. It was hard sometimes to see where the tree ended and the water began.

We are sure we will re-visit “Sky Lake” in other seasons of the year to see the changes and to show visitors who travel to our home.

 

St. Francis of Assisi Parish Celebrates May Crowning

Many parishes honor Mary in the month of May by crowning her Mother of Us All. St. Francis keeps this tradition alive each year.   Some of our First Communicants returned this Sunday to do the honors for us. After Mass we all processed to the grotto for the occasion.

The familiar verses of Immaculate Mary accompanied the beat of feet in the procession.  Then, with great care, Brother Craig assisted the children in the crowning, while all sang Hail, Holy Queen.

This was a great day for photo-ops and celebrating, so following the picture-taking everyone was invited to the school cafeteria for a lunch and cupcakes to honor the occasion.  And yet again Brother Craig was right there to assist in the service!  This “Good Shepherd Sunday” at St. Francis was marked by many happy lambs and sheep as all made their way home.

Greenwood Parishes Celebrate 25 First Communions

The last weekend of April was a big weekend for the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity in Greenwood. Twenty five young Catholics, under the care of Sisters Elena and Kathleen, participated in a retreat on Saturday while the parents gathered with Fathers Greg, OFM and Michael C.Ss.R.  The children came from Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish and St. Francis Parish combined with 2 children from Sacred Heart Parish in Winona.

Anticipation before mass!

Offering of self and the gifts.

Presentation of the First Holy Communion Candles

The Padrinos holding the Communion candle for the Hispanic Communicants.

Such radiant faces after mass told the story!

Mrs. Jackie Lewis, Principal of St. Francis School joins the communicants, Fr. Greg and Sr. Elena.