Franciscan Sisters and Hispanic Community Honor Our Lady of Guadalupe

Balloons, streamers, costumes and flowers surely signal a celebration!  All these elements lent themselves to the celebration of the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe here at St. Francis Parish in Greenwood.  Families bedecked a trailer with balloons, drapery and ribbon in the colors of Mexico where Our Lady appeared to Juan Diego.

Those gathered in the street soon moved inside a parishioner’s home to bring out the image of the Virgin.

After the blessing of the image, it was time for the last minute preparations of the float!

Clouds filled the December sky and a brisk wind pushed us along the route of the procession.  Participants joined in praying the rosary and singing Spanish songs honoring the Virgin of Guadalupe.

The procession ended in front of St. Francis Church where many more members of the Hispanic Community waited.

St. Francis church held a joyful congregation of the faithful.  Some of the families spent most of Saturday preparing the church for the liturgy.  The beautiful statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe was banked in roses of every hue.  Those coming to celebrate brought countless more bouquets and plants so that Mary was surrounded with the beauties of God’s creation. So, beauty abounded in so many forms–the beat of feet following the image in procession, the lilt of voices raised in praise, the rhythms of the rosary prayed in faith, the reverent faces of children honoring their heavenly Mother, and the vibrant colors of blooms opening at the feet of the Virgin.  Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!

St. Francis School Kindergarten Transportation Fair

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?

St. Francis of Assisi Secular Franciscan Retreat

 

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.

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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”.

St. Francis of Assisi Greenwood Fall Festival

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…

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The weather could not have been nicer and regardless of the age, there seemed to be fun for everyone.

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There are always moments for special photo ops!

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The Silent Auction offered about 20 items, while several raffle items included a Vizio 65-inch Smart TV and a Regions Bank adult bicycle.

 

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 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 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.

Southeastern University of LA Students Celebrate May Day at St. Francis of Assisi School

As the final days of school approach a group of Students from Southeastern Louisiana University spent time at St. Francis of Assisi School in Greenwood. They did a variety of services as well and enjoyed working with our students. May Day was a big event in the midst of their visit.

These are some of the big cracks in our basketball court caused by the flooding of the playground. When the lake and creek overflow the water shifts the ground which causes the  cement to resettle and crack. It is one of those situations we cannot permanently fix, but this surely is a wonderful, if temporary fix for a popular play area for our students.

While fixing the cement our visitors did some painting on the court. They added the St. Francis School logo…

…and they left us an inspirational message.

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This is a motto for life. Whenever things get hard don’t give up. “Go the extra degree” Water doesn’t boil at 211 degrees, but one degree more and it does. 212! We don’t know what we can do unless we give it that extra effort.

There was Painting in the Friary, helping in the classrooms, holding music sessions and daily fun time with the students. And then came May Day!

As the day drew to a close the many smiles and faces of enjoyment were visible everywhere you looked. We give thanks to God for the good weather and for the ready helping hands of our visitors from Southeastern LA university.

Franciscan Sisters join St. Francis Parish in May Crowning Celebration

The Franciscan Sister joined the parishianers of St. Francis Parish in a procession to the grotto of our Lady next to our convent. It was there that one of this year’s First Communicants had the honor of crowning Mary.

The Statue is a little high so Sister Kathleen artfully covered the ladder with a sheet.

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May our Lady intercede on behalf of all mothers; living, deceased, spiritual and all those who have been mothers to us in any way.

May our Lady intercede on behalf of all mothers; living, deceased, spiritual and all those who have been mothers to us in any way.