St. Francis of Assisi School Invite First Responders

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.

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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.

Franciscan Sisters Develop Mercy Reminders

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.

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These reminders should help us live out our Community goal: “To Bear Witness to God’s Merciful love – Living in Hope.”

Franciscan Sisters Witnessed the Dedication of Shrine at Locus Benedictus

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.

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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!

Franciscan Sisters Visit the Developing Shrine Site of Our Lady of the Delta

 

“Locus Benedictus” (a place of blessing) is a retreat center on the west side of Greenwood, MS which is situated on 67 acres of land in the heart of the Mississippi Delta. The broad mission of Locus Benedictus and its ministries is based on the directives of Jesus Christ in preaching the Gospel through prayer, contemplation, and action.” Mission Statement

Locus Benedictus was approved as a retreat center by Bishop Joseph Kopacz, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Jackson, MS on December 18, 2014.

On Wednesday September 7, 2016 the Shrine to Mary, Mother of the Delta is to be dedicated and blessed. Most Reverend Joseph Kopacz, will preside over the dedication and blessing.

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After a walking tour of the shrine area and of the retreat center, a brief explanation was given of the long term plans for Locus Benedictus which will include a gated community area, retired priests’ village, a large hall, and  administration buildings. A small chapel , Mercy Chapel, already exists on the property as does residence for four Redemptorist priests who serve the Hispanic community in the Delta. All of Locus Benedictus is under the care of a Board of Directors.

The next posting will include pictures of the completed shrine of Our Lady of the Delta.

Franciscan Sisters Celebrate Assisi Gift

Sister Kathleen had the privilege of going on Pilgrimage to Assisi this past summer. While there she found a most beautiful art piece with the right price. Her excitement bubbled over this summer when she arrived back at the Motherhouse where she shared the piece with some of the Sisters. For some of us here at St. Francis it remained a surprise. but what was the best way to unveil the picture and give it it’s due respect? That would  be by way of a prayer service, which Sister Kathleen soon put together. Everything was in readiness as we gathered in chapel.

St Francis emphasized these three devotions: the crib in which the infant Jesus was laid, the cross on which Jesus died, and the ciborium or the Eucharist wherein Francis most clearly saw the humility and poverty of the Incarnation.

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Sister Kathleen played the keyboard as we sang a hymn between each selection.

The cross makes visible the very reason why Jesus came into the world. “He was known to be of human estate, obediently accepting even death: death on a cross”. In the cross Francis saw the ultimate sign of the humility and poverty of God. This was followed by the singing a verse of “Glory in the Cross”

Francis saw the Eucharist as the extension of the Incarnation into our daily lives. In his Letter to the Entire Order he sings out: “Let the heavens exult when Christ, the Son of the Living God, is present on the altar in the hands of a priest! O wonderful loftiness and stupendous dignity! The Lord of the universe, God and the Son of God, so humbles himself that for our salvation he hides himself under an ordinary piece of bread! Look at the humility of God, and pour out your hearts before him! Humble yourselves that you may be exalted by him! Hold back nothing of yourselves for yourselves, That he who gives himself totally to you may receive you totally!” We responded by singing in English a verse of “Panis Angelicus”

And lastly, Mary in her “yes” to God, became the gate through which salvation entered the world. “Be it done to me according to your word”, Mary said. In that crib lies the Son of the God who “so loved the world that he sent His only Son.” “He emptied himself and took the form of a slave, being born  in the likeness of men”. In Greccio, Francis celebrated the Crib, the Lord’s birth and made the ultimate link between creation and Incarnation visible. Celano recounts, “The night is lit up like the day, delighting both man and beasts….The  forest amplifies the cries and the boulders echo back the joyful crown….The whole night abounds with jubilation.” For here in humility and poverty heaven touches earth in a baby, a baby who is God, who is Love Incarnate.   The hymn? “Infant Holy Infant Lowly” was then sung.

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The moment of the unveiling of the long anticipated surprise had come!

 

It was only fitting that we all give a simple blessing before Sister Kathleen had the joyous blessing of placing this special picture in our chapel. Now we have present in our small chapel the representation of “the crib”, tying together the three devotions of St. Francis; “the crib, the cross and the ciborium or the Eucharist.

The question remains for some of us; is it Mary and St. Joseph, or is it Mary and St. Francis, or is it St. Clare and St. Francis? This remains for us to ponder, but what is our focus is the central figure; Jesus.

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Another perfect setting for a group picture!

Franciscan Sisters Join in Farewell

The term Saint has been applied to the two Sisters who passed away this week in  Durant, MS. The root word of “saint” is Sanctus which means holy. To live a holy life is to do what Jesus asks of us: to live the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. Mercy was what these two Sisters lived as they ministered to the people of Holmes County. The ministries of Sisters Paula and Margaret and the Franciscan Sisters of St. Francis in Greenwood would at times cross and mingle. It was only natural then, that we would want to honor these Sisters with our presence at the wake service at St. Thomas parish in Lexington, MS on Sunday evening.

 Family members, School Sisters of St. Francis and Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, as well as local friends and neighbors gathered. The church held about 145 people. Outside another 160 chairs were set up under a tent and still more people stood.  All those outside were able to participate via monitor in the Wake service lead by Bishop Joseph Kopacz.

A Memorial Mass celebrating the lives and service of Sr. Margaret Held, OFS and Sister Paula Merrill, SCN was held at the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle in Jackson, MS the following day.

The Bishop asked Fr. Greg Plata, OFM as Pastor of St. Thomas Parish where the Sisters attended, to  give the homily.  The quotes below are parts of Father Greg’s homily.

“Sr. Margaret and Sr. Paula, when taking their vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, did so for one reason: they wanted to express their love for Christ and His church in a radical way. They imitated the humility of Christ, humbly going about their work as St. Paul says in Philippians, “always looking to others’ interests rather than to their own.”

“It may seem romantic to some, but it is not easy working among those who are poor.  Yet, the poor can also teach us so much about faith and trust in God.”

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As the mass concluded and the Bishop processed out it was time for us to enjoy a little sharing with Sisters Emy Beth and Monica Mary from Mound Bayou, MS who also attended the Memorial Mass.

Sister Paula and Sister Margaret freely chose to serve others amidst the uncertainties, unfairness and violence of this world. Yet, like the anawim, they did it with trust, and they did it with love.” That love is what we will always hold in memory when we think of these two Sisters.

Franciscan Sisters in Greenwood, MS share a “linked” idea.

This summer at  the Motherhouse we had a total Community gathering. All of the Sisters enjoyed the times of sharing, renewing friendships and praying together. As a ritual during Morning and Evening Praise we each received a link.

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We are all linked to each other as Community Members.

These links remind us of how connected we are to each other and how God has  joined us together.

Now that we are all back on our respective missions we have tried to carry the meaning and creativity along with us from the Motherhouse. As the 4 of us come together and as life would have it there was a “missing link” Alas, the Hardware store could save the day! And so we came together.

Borrowing an idea seen at the Motherhouse a paper chain was constructed for our table holding our names and qualities which we strive to  live together. As our days together began to unfold the mailman delivered the “missing link”. So now we have 5 links. That was easy….Jesus in our midst!

Now how to use the metal chain links in a meaningful way? Sister Kathleen came up with an idea based on the Jewish tradition of the Mezuzah which hung by the doorway. The Mezuzah held a prayer, “Shema Yisrael“, beginning with the words;  “Hear, O Israel, the LORD (is) our God, the LORD is One”.

Our Community has a goal each year and this year it is “To Bear Witness to God’s Merciful Love – Living in Hope”

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The chain of our links  and the link of Jesus is hung by the door we most often use to enter and leave. The sign or prayer next to it reads; “Help us to walk together in Hope, as we go to share the Mercy we have come to know.” So as we leave to do the Lord’s will and work we are reminded of our goal and the power of the Lord at work among us and the manner in which we should live.

Franciscan Sisters in Greenwood Prepare for New School Year

The days of summer break have passed quickly with renewing time spent at the Motherhouse, attending educational classes, workshops, visiting family and helping out with Motherhouse activities. Now the Sisters again find themselves preparing their classrooms for the opening day of school. This always involves bulletin boards!

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As the days near for school to start our new Principal was busy at work too. Signs in front of school greet the teachers as they arrive.

Teachers and staff attended a well planned in-service day. We were all greeted with; “Welcome Back! It’s Going to Be a Great Year”.  After an opening Ice Breaker where we each got to chose 3 candy bars, we were sure it was going to be great! But then came the activity. If you chose a Snicker Bar you were asked to tell the group the number of years you had been teaching. A Butterfinger called for your funniest experience while teaching, a $100 Grand  required you to share your most rewarding teaching experience,  a Milky Way Bar gave its owner a chance to tell about family, and finally, a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup meant you were to share one attainable goal that you have set for this school year. Needless to say we had a lot of laughs and learned a little more about each other. Then it was down to business.

Our school cooks had been working hard too. They prepared a beautiful lunch for us to enjoy.

Franciscan Sisters Sharing The Beauty around them.

St. Francis of Assisi School can boasts of some beautiful daylilies growing in front of the building. What is unique about these flowers besides their attractiveness is that they all came from Sister Caritas’ garden at the Motherhouse. They traveled by train with the Sisters back to St. Francis and others came by car when 2 of our Sisters journeyed down here one hot August weekend to bring school supplies.  Amazing generosity in the Franciscan way!

Roses are plentiful at St. Francis. Some of these date back to when Sister Carol was here. Those who know her, know she has a heart for roses.

Amaryllis do well in Mississippi. My first fall here I recognized the amaryllis bulbs in the flower bed. Having raised them in WI and in Nebraska I knew that I had to dig them up, let them dry out and store them for the winter. So I proceeded, but wondered to myself if the climate here would affect these bulbs differently in the winter. What to do? I decided to dig some of the bulbs up as I was accustom to and leave some in the ground….just in case! After the winter’s cold was past I planted the bulbs I had dug up and soon learned a Mississippi gardening tip! Amaryllis bulbs do not need to be dug up. Since then I save some work and just enjoy their amazing beauty.

Hydrangea is a plant that grows easily around St. Francis Convent. I would wager that these hydrangea have been here for years! We have added last years Easter hydrangea from church, which came back hearty and full of color this year.

 Because Mississippi is milder in the winter than up north we are able to plant flowers in the winter. Pansies, Viola, Petunia and Snapdragons do well here over the colder months, but die out as the summer warms up.

There are many other flowers that brighten the St. Francis convent and school beds.

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We are blessed to be able to enjoy so many colors and various types of flowers. Who but God could have created flowers?  “And God saw that it was good” Genesis 1

Franciscan Sister Experiences Southern Warmth and Appreciation

Sister Mary Ann Tupy is completing her years of ministry as Principal at St. Francis of Assisi School in Greenwood, MS. It is with sadness and deep appreciation that so many attempt to thank her and wish her God’s blessings.

Open House was sponsored by the combined Advisory Council and Home School Board.

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The school children had their opportunity to express gratitude to Sister Mary Ann also. May Day began typically with the student body gathered in church for a prayer service. Following the service Sister Elena presented a video montage of many St. Francis students finishing the sentence, “If I were Sister Mary Ann, the first thing I would do when I got to Hawaii would be…” This brought many laughs and led us into the next event.

Then all left church to go to the playground where they gathered around the May Pole. The May Pole wrapping was   dedicated to Sister Mary Ann. Here a chair, covered in an authentic silk screened purple cloth (purple being the color of the Island of Kauai), was provided for her. Let the fun begin!

Following the May Pole dance, each class presented a lei which they had made for Sister.  Each class crafted a unique type of lei, so Sister Mary Ann was bedecked with a variety of creations using money, candy, beads, and flowers of silk, foam and paper.

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The Sisters had some plans of their own…in a Hawaiian theme of course!

One of Sister Mary Ann’s favorite places in Mississippi is Lake Grenada so it only seemed right that we would include this in our plans.

Sunday Mass offered an opportunity for the parish to celebrate Sister Mary Ann and wish blessings upon her.

A picnic/tamale dinner was held after mass.

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The final day of the school year came to a close and as is typical, the faculty and staff shared a relaxing meal together before the work of finishing up the classrooms began. They took this opportunity to say thank you to Sister Mary Ann.

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True Southern warmth has blessed Sister Mary Ann and will remain in her heart as she goes forth to minister to the children at St. Theresa’s in Kekaha, HI.