Franciscan Reflection on Families

On this feast of the Holy Family

it is a day to sit before these images in our convent chapel

and to:

give thanks for our own families.

pray for the families of our students and parishes.

ponder the humility of God as he comes to a simple family.

reflect on the hardships and fears as well as the graces and wonders that were part of these day for Mary and Joseph.

Happy Feastday to our Motherhouse community

and to all of us who belong to so many different families!

Merry Christmas!

 

Franciscan View of Poinsettias

img_1890

 

And the Word became flesh…”

The beautiful poinsettia in our convent chapel reminds me that God created everything as a good and wonderful piece of the image of Himself.  Yet a certain gleam is added to the created beauty of that flower.  Just so, Divinity was added to the beauty of Human Nature in the Incarnation of Jesus.  What a gift to see our humanity become so privileged!

Merry Christmas!

Mercy in the Franciscan Classroom

…I was hungry and you fed me, thirsty and you gave me to drink…

This Year of Mercy calls us all to be mindful of those in need, whatever form that need may take.  Sister Kathleen is aiming to bring about a mindfulness of those in need within her Kindergarteners.  St. Francis Parish takes part in the Lenten Rice Bowl project sponsored by Catholic Relief Services.  Sister has brought the program into her classroom as well.

rice bowl 001Kindergarten students have been contributing money to the Rice Bowl.  Now they ventured upon a lesson about what Catholic Relief Services does with their contributions.  They learned about Maria and her family, citizens of Colombia who have endured much violence and hardship.  A biography and video about Maria’s life and the influence of Catholic Relief Services really brought the message home to the students.

The lesson included making a paper prayer chain.  Students learned that part of being merciful is being united to those in need.  We learned that we are all one in God’s family and so we should help and pray for one another.  The class came up with simple prayers they would like to pray for Maria and her family.

stuff 029In a prayerful atmosphere they wrote their prayers on a chain link.  God can write straight (or forward) even with our wobbly (or backward) lines.

stuff 031The links were then made into a chain.  The students gathered around the chain and our map to recall that no matter how far away some of our brothers and sisters might live, we are still family.  They all prayed a prayer of blessing over the chain we had made.

Later in the day we prayed for Maria and her family again.  Next all helped in measuring and preparing empanadas from the Rice Bowl recipes for Lent.  What a great and holy snack to end our day of learning to be merciful!

stuff 038

Category is…”Before and After” Franciscan Style

Although we continue to journey towards Christmas during these Advent days, getting our homes ready for the great Feast can be symbolic of the deeper work of getting our hearts prepared.  In that spirit, the Franciscan Sisters at Greenwood set aside the first morning of vacation to transform the convent.  Just as Advent calls us to transform our everyday ploddings into a journey of hope, just so, take a look and see some of the before and after changes in the convent’s everyday surroundings.

All the latent possibilities within the boxes and bins are being brought out into the light of day!  Let’s start with the tree.

Many plain, ordinary nooks and crannies of our home and our life could do with a little light and grace for the season!

 

Windows and walls, though they let in the light and keep out the cold from day to day, do not merit much attention.  With  the right materials and a moment of time, these plain elements of a room take on new beauty.

The kitchen is the heart of the home.  Even this room gets a Christmas flavor!

Our Advent days challenge us to make room in our hearts for the coming there of Jesus our King.  May the beauty brought to our homes be a sign of the inner “decorating” we continue to do as the Feast of the Incarnations draws near.

 

St. Francis School, Greenwood Frolics at the Farm

Isn’t autumn a beautiful time for a field trip?  The Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten and First Grade classes at St. Francis of Assisi School in Greenwood thought so.  They all piled on the big bus bright and early and took off for Bull Bottom Farm.

 

The first event was a ride in the wagon through the hilly pasture.  Somehow those hills seemed huge in our tractor drawn vehicle.  It was a beautiful and fun ride through the woods and meadows.  Eventually we arrived at the pumpkin patch!

 

Ready, set, go!  We’re off through the pumpkin patch in search of the perfect pumpkin.  Each visitor could choose one pumpkin to take home.  What a treasure!

The ride back to the main farm area took us through patches of cotton and sunflowers.

Without missing a beat all were off to play in the corn box…a variation on the old favorite, the sand box!

We didn’t even get lost in the corn maze!

Our next stop was “Tiny Town”, a set of miniature buildings just right for kids to play in.

Let’s take a little rocking chair break on the old front porch.

Next stop…LUNCH!  Hot dogs and chips sound delicious!

Now we’re off to the slide, the swing and the sand box.  We’re getting dirty now!

What is a farm without some animals to pet?  We checked out the goats, rabbits, pigs and chickens.

The giant slide was the crowning activity of our fantastic day!  Slippery sliding is a major amount of fun!

Fun, fresh air and frolicking makes for tired children.  The bus ride back to school was just the right time and place for a good nap.

summer and fall 2015 091All went home with a pumpkin and plenty of memories of a day at the farm!  What a harvest of blessings!

Pope’s Call to Action Reaches the Mississippi Delta

For whoever is not against us is for us.
Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink
because you belong to Christ,
amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.

Mk. 9:38ff

These words from Sunday’s Gospel were the impetus behind the action of church youth groups from all the corners of Greenwood, Mississippi.  On September 27 youth from about a dozen youth groups gathered for the 27th annual canned food drive here in the city.  Sr. Kathleen joined the troops as one of the many drivers for the activity.

 

Youth gathered and registered at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church.  This is the parish that originally did the food collection after a visit to a Mexico mission where adults saw food distribution facilities run out of supplies and thus send the hungry away.  Coming back to their own well-stocked pantries, those adults were motivated to not only send increased donations to the mission, but to open their eyes and hearts to the needs of the hungry right here in our own community.  Drawing the youth into the planning, this became an annual youth group project which has since spread to churches throughout the community.  All of this history was shared with the youth as they gathered yesterday.

 

The afternoon began with a short message and blessing from Pastor Calvin Collins of New Zion Baptist Church.  He urged all to take to heart Pope Francis’ call to act on their faith.  He repeatedly challenged the young people to “give legs to their faith”.

 

cc

 

Next, the youth were reminded that each of us is like a tiny spark on our own.  We are of infinite value, but our efforts can sometimes seem futile.  But, if we join our efforts as one community, they can become very powerful.  These thoughts were symbolized by each young person presenting a candle, thus adding their small light to bring forth a great light.

Soon, church groups were sent forth to their vehicles armed with bright yellow tote bags to collect food and maps to direct their drivers to specific neighborhoods of the city.

cans map 001

Young people go door to door either picking up canned goods left on the doorstep, or ringing doorbells to ask support for their cause.

As the yellow bags filled and the sun began to set, the youth congregated once again at Immaculate Heart of Mary parish center to repack all the canned goods on a trailer.  They enjoyed hamburgers and hot dogs and finally the trailer was towed to the Food Pantry.  A final count of canned goods was not yet available, but results looked most promising.  These young people had truly “given legs to their faith!”

can drive 019

St. Francis of Assisi Kindergarten Sampler

St. Francis of Assisi School has now enjoyed 19 days of learning and exploring as a school community.  Check out the journey our kindergarten room and students have been on since before the first day to the present.

243

This was the look of the classroom before work began…an empty slate!

 

Learning is a carnival, isn’t it?  Numbers are learned with popcorn and colors are mastered with cotton candy.

 

 

 

Soon the classroom looked like it was ready.  Now it really needs some smiling students!

The bells ring, the school days begin!  We are glad to have Brother Patrick join us as our Art Teacher.

 

Along with art and reading and math and writing and of course, religion classes, we also study science.  We begin by exploring how we can use our senses to learn about our world.  Popcorn is the perfect snack to employ use of all the senses.  First, we examine a popcorn seed.  Expressions on faces reveal that the children weren’t quite sure what this was.

As the popcorn popper heats up, little faces are full of anticipation.

 

And then…sight, sound and smell all at once.  It’s amazing!

 

Of course, the best sense to use was the sense of taste.  What could be better?

Kindergarten has had many adventures so far and we anticipate many, many more.  We’ll keep you posted!

 

Looking at A Home Visit With Franciscan Eyes

This summer I was so blessed as to be able to spend several days with my brother in southwestern Wisconsin.  Each place on God’s good earth has its own beauty, so here’s a peek at some of God’s fingerprints that I got to see.

There was time for pulling out a favorite recipe…chocolate chip cookies!

220The roadsides were elegant with God’s garden planted by His hand only.

The country roads took us to visit the Motherhouse of The Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Lacrosse, WI.  This was the place where Sister Thea Bowman entered religious life.  We were blessed to view the display the sisters have created to share the life of Sr. Thea.

Even sitting in the grass on a sunny day revealed a certain beauty.

 

A summer’s evening is perfect for Concerts On the Square.  The Madison Chamber Orchestra offers weekly free concerts on the capitol square.  Everyone brings refreshments and vendors sell food as well.  It’s a wonderful experience of shared joy in taste, sight and sound!

233

Some Wisconsin residents get very creative with their yards and love to make a statement in beauty.

238

What you can do with an old stump and outdated satellite dish!

There were reminders that the harvest is plenty but the laborers are few.

Come, to Greenwood, Mississippi, Oh Holy Spirit!

The Kindergarten students of St. Francis School in Greenwood, MS enjoyed making the Spirit alive and active with their dove kites.  As part of their religion class, they considered how the wind in invisible to the eye, but its effects are quite evident.  So it is with the Spirit.  See the joy of celebrating the Spirit!

Come, O Holy Spirit, come! From Your bright and blissful Home Rays of healing light impart.

Come, Father of the poor, Source of gifts that will endure Light of ev’ry human heart.

 

A dove kite waits to be claimed by little hands.

A dove kite waits to be claimed by little hands.

O most blessed Light divine, Let Your radiance in us shine, And our inmost being fill.

Bend the stubborn heart and will,

Melt the frozen, warm the chill,

Guide the steps that go astray.

On the faithful who in You, Trust with childlike piety, Deign Your sevenfold gift to send. 
Give them virtue’s rich increase, Saving grace to die in peace, Give them joys that never end.

Amen. Alleluia!

(Text from the Sequence for Pentecost)

retireespentecost 045 - Copy

The Ascension…What’s Your View?

I was searching for some interesting art work for the Feast of the Ascension and I came upon this painting done by Salvador Dali.  At first it made me smile, with its focus on the soles of Jesus’ feet.  But, the more I thought about the image, the more I appreciated it.  The words of Scripture this morning featured that famous question, “Why do you stand there staring up into the sky?”  Why am I staring into the sky, wanting to hold onto the soles of Jesus’ feet, when his face of Wisdom, his heart of Love and his hands of Healing are all waiting to be recognized in the depths of my soul, in the silence of my heart?  Indeed, why am I staring up into the sky?