What is a transportation Fair?
That’s what happens when an excited group of Kindergarteners complete a reading unit on transportation. Parents and community friends joined in the excitement by bringing several types of vehicles for the children to look at, study and even climb on.
Once the vehicles were all parked on the playground, Sister Kathleen reminded students of their task and off they went with clipboards and worksheets in hand!
Students moved from vehicle to vehicle filling in their worksheets. They had to draw the vehicle, count the number of wheels, circle the colors they saw, determine whether the size was L, M, or S and tell if the vehicle was used for work or play. With such a variety of types of transportation, the children had plenty of work to do!
Children drove, climbed, honked and steered their way around the vehicle lot. Everyone had a great time, made lots of noise and learned lots too.
Time marched on and it was finally time to say goodbye to the vehicles and their owners. All joined for a group photo op with Sparky and then it was back to school.
Who knew that transportation could be such a fun topic?
The Secular Franciscans of St. Francis of Assisi, Greenwood held their annual retreat the weekend of October 14-16. Friday evening began with Evening Prayer in the parish church, a light supper and then the DVD “Clare and Francis”, put out by Ignatius Press. It was the perfect setting for the message Brother Patrick McCormack, OFM was to give us on Saturday.
Saturday, following Morning prayer in church, we all moved over to St. Francis of Assisi School cafeteria where Brother Patrick spoke to us of St. Francis’ life. He looked at the relationships of child to parent in the times of Francis and Clare, and also at the relationship of poor to rich and the struggles they faced. In all the challenges and changes of St. Francis’ life, he turned to God. This conversation with God was, for Francis, always a priority and ever present at each new juncture. Francis would always ask,”What do you want of me Lord?” At the close of this first session Brother sent us off with the scripture Sir 2:1-6.
All were able to spend time in church in “conversation” with the Lord, receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation and pray the Franciscan Crown as a group before a simple lunch was shared.
Francis, his prayer life and challenges were the topic for the next gathering with Br. Patrick. St. Francis’ community was growing, he turned to the Lord to seek direction. Mt. 19;21, Lk. 9;3 and Mt. 16;24 gave Francis the basis of his Franciscan life and gave all some food for prayer.
Returning to the cafeteria there were opportunities for sharing thoughts and ideas.
The final session with Brother Patrick concerned the end of Francis’ life. He was losing his eyesight, his health in general was declining and the order had grown beyond his dream. Through it all St. Francis did not complain, rather he turned to prayer. He became prayer. Br. Patrick said; “When you are in conversation with God you are never alone,” and St. Francis was never alone.
Br. Patrick then gave the OFS a challenge, urging them to spend time in conversation with God and to seek what it is the Lord wants of their Fraternity. “Define what this Fraternity of OFS can do to be a conduit of the love and mercy of God.” “What do you want of us, Lord?”
Saturday evening held a celebration of the Franciscan family. The Friars, Franciscan Sisters, several Pax Christi Franciscan members as well as the Secular Franciscans all came together for the annual Family dinner provided by the St. Francis of Assisi Fraternity. It was a wonderful feast and sharing of the abundant blessings which are ours here at St. Francis Parish.
Sunday after Mass the OFS had a final wrap up session. It was a continuation of the bonding that the entire weekend had provided. The following are examples of the messages members were taking away from the retreat;
“Together…Where do we go from here…Not me, but we…Franciscan Compassion…Falling in love all over again with Francis…Franciscan prayer…Living the Gospel…New beginnings”.
October 8, 2016 was the date set for St. Francis of Assisi School to hold their annual Fall Festival. The days before were busy with preparations.
And the day begins…
The weather could not have been nicer and regardless of the age, there seemed to be fun for everyone.
There are always moments for special photo ops!
“O God, you gave your servant, Francis, a heart full of praise. Fill our hearts with praise as we celebrate this feast of St. Francis.”
A hymn from an old Slovak Hymnal states; “Blessed Francis Holy Father now our hearts to thee we raise, as we gather ’round thine altar, pouring forth our hymns of praise.”
So, the Franciscan Sisters and Friars of St. Francis Mission, Greenwood, gathered along with 2 visiting benefactors who are aspiring Secular Franciscans, to sing praises to God. The hymn chosen for this evening, was the “Canticle of the Sun” by Marty Haugen, giving praise for all of God’s creation as seen in the eyes of St. Francis.
A group picture to commemorate the gathering.
Francis loved to celebrate life and all God’s gifts so a gathering of Franciscans seems to imply food!
“Bless thy children holy Francis, with those wounded hands of thine, from thy glorious throne in heaven where resplendently they shine.”
“We praise God with the entire Church and all our Franciscan brother and sisters.”
Picture a fine Fall Friday afternoon. After a busy day of school, 15 vivacious young Catholic girls, plus one aspiring to become Catholic, arrived at the Franciscan Sisters convent door full of smiles, excitement and anticipation.
First things first, and in this case that would be an after school snack. The smell of fresh popped corn always tickles the olfactory nerves and a cold drink to wash it down hits the spot.
The snack was soon devoured and the group was ready for some fun.
The “Heads Up” game, sponsored and tailor made by Sister Elena included words unique to our group and our Faith. The game surely got the young ladies off their chairs and at times jumping to give a clue to their team mates.
Soon it was time for Sister Kathleen to tell a story, and if you haven’t heard her tell a story, well she is a great story teller. Since we are so close to the feast of St. Francis we had decided to focus our activities on our patron. Sister Kathleen shared the story of Francis and the wolf of Gubbio. She had everyone spellbound and even made a few jump when she startled them.
After the story there was an outside game of tag to go with the story. Sister Elena got for volunteers to be the wolf and St. Francis. The rest of the girls became the villagers. Of course it was St. Francis after the wolf and the wolf after the villagers and the rest was all fun!
Using coffee filters, tempera paints, paper plates, and ribbons to hang them on, the young ladies made Canticle of the Creatures wall hangings. They were so engaged and happy with their creations which they each proudly took home.
Whiffs of a proven favorite menu item were soon filling the air. Sister Annette always hears the young ladies exclaim, “You are such a good cook!” And I just smile at them.
Then the best part came!
Our time together was fast coming to an end. It was time to thank the good Lord for a great afternoon.
One of the young ladies was wearing a t-shirt which added a perfect finish to our evening together.
On September 25, 2016, seven Secular Franciscans and Sister Annette traveled to Columbia, MS to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the canonical establishment of two Fraternities in St. Joan of Arc Region; Our Lady’s Little Portion, Columbia, MS. and St. Marianne Cope, Gautier, MS.
The drive down, although early, was filled with plenty of sharing, laughter, bonding and prayer. The sun came up full and bright for this special day.
The celebration started with the parish mass at Holy Trinity Church, Columbia. Then continued in the parish hall with a delicious meal and catching up on life’s happenings.
The Ministers of both celebrating Fraternities shared the history of their beginnings and God’s movement in their Fraternities.
It seems Secular Franciscans have a good time in whatever gathering they have. Their lives reflect the simplicity and the littleness which St. Francis enjoyed and encouraged all his followers to imitate.
The St. Francis of Assisi Fraternity of Greenwood brought along a gift for each of the celebrating fraternities.
As the day came to a close there was yet time for some pictures and memory making.
Pictured above are; St. Joan of Arc Regional Minister, Cherryle Fruge. The two celebrating Fraternity Ministers are Carolyn Seal and Patricia Houghton. The St. Joan of Arc Region Spiritual Assistant isBrother Juniper Crouch OFM.
The San Damiano Cross is ever-present where Secular Franciscans gather.
On Wednesday, September 21, the students, faculty and staff of St. Francis of Assisi School Greenwood, MS showed their support and appreciation to the First Responders at a school Mass. The celebration included special blessings for the group of public servants. Mrs. Lewis, the principal had invited State Troopers, the Greenwood Police Department, the Leflore County Sheriff’s Department, the Greenwood Fire Department and Medstat. She said the intention was to counteract the sometimes negative perception of law enforcement. The student body was eager to extend their support, respect and gratitude to the men and women who were able to attend.
Following Mass and the blessing a light lunch was provided for those First Responders who were able to stay.
The students had a moment with the men and women who were off duty at the time.
The Greenwood Fire Chief, Marcus Banks said, “Prayer is always important, regardless of your profession. I’m elated about this.” The Greenwood Police Chief, Ray Moore said that the salute to the First Responders is a wonderful show of support. “It really makes us feel good. You have no idea what it means. It really touches our hearts.”
Other First Responders echoed the same sentiments. We were told that many other men and women would have come, but were unable because they were on duty.
The gesture turned out to be a blessing not only for the First Responders of our area, but also to our Faculty, Staff and Student Body here at St. Francis.
As a part of our Community Days sharing we wanted to have some reminder for ourselves of the many references to Mercy which had been given to us in Sister Natalie’s letter and in other sources. Sister Kathleen came up with a simple plan of placing cards containing “Mercy Thoughts” in chapel. Each day she shares with us another thought.
These reminders should help us live out our Community goal: “To Bear Witness to God’s Merciful love – Living in Hope.”
The shrine of “Mary, Mother of the Delta” was a vision of Rev Theodore Dorcey, C.S.s. R. The statue of Mary and Child is an original work of art, in Carrara marble, by Italian sculptor Armondo Battelli, commissioned by Rev. Francis Quinn in 1952 for the Church of St. Mary’s in Jackson, MS. The statue had stood at the entrance of the church until structural issues caused the church to close. Now she stands as Mother of the Delta.
The time had come and the procession began to form. The road was newly made, a bit rough and very dry and dusty.
The choir was first to be seated. Once the Bishop and 10-15 Priests were in the area near the temporary altar, Aztec dancers from Our Lady of Victories Church in Cleveland, MS danced a traditional tribal dance with a banner of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The Sun added beauty to the evening as Mass was begun.
Bishop Joseph Kopacz reminded us that Mary has many titles; Mother of Mercy, Our Lady of Good Succour, Mary Undoer of Knots and here in the our midst, Our Lady of the Delta. He also reminded us that Mary reveals the tender compassion of God.
Bishop Kopacz prayed, “Mary Mother of the Delta, humble handmaid of the Lord, bring us to fullness of unity and charity.”
The shrine also comprises raised rose beds, benches and trellises, all located in an open field next to a small pond. There is much more construction planned for the shrine site as donations are made.
Bishop Kopacz reminded us that our Holy Father Pope Francis says, “we must not be afraid to have our shoes get soiled by the mud of the street.” As we glanced at our shoes we had to smile. And our Bishop said he had just polished his shoes!