Drive-Thru Farewell for the Sisters in Greenwood

St. Francis Parish and School held a Drive-Thru Farewell for the Sisters.  It was a beautiful day with bright sunshine and welcome shade in the Sisters’ front yard.  The scent of magnolias rode on the playful breeze.

2 small tents contained tables filled with “happys” for all who would attend.  The planning committee had filled white lunch bags with a bag holding two remarkably delicious chocolate chip cookies, a bookmark from our own Vocation Department and a photo souvenir of the occasion.  The cover of the souvenir was filled with verbs describing all the ways our sisters had formed the faith of those they worked with and met.  Inside were the photos and names of all who had served here at St. Francis over the years.  It was all beautifully done.

Brother Patrick had prepared simple signs saying “Vaya con Dios” and “God Go with You”. There were balloons and decorated baskets for cards.

The event began with a small gathering of all the Friars, several of the parish women who would help greet guests, and the Sisters.  Father Cam began by reading a Proclamation from the Leflore County Board of Supervisors.  This was then presented to Sister Janet.

Next, Father Kim read a Proclamation from Mayor Carolyn McAdams which was then presented to Sister Janet.  This was followed by a key to the city being bestowed on each of us by Fr. Kim in the name of the Mayor.  Both proclamations communicated gratitude for all the many listed ministries done by our Sisters here over the years.  Sister Kathleen also received a special plaque from the school listing all the staff members she had worked with over the years.

Following the presentations, the Sisters were seated near the driveway in front of the convent.  Over the next 2 hours about 50 cars pulled up, placed cards and remembrances in the baskets and called out wishes and thankful thoughts from their cars and then drove on.  About midway through the event, a “parade” of about 12 vehicles gathered to drive through.  They were led by Andrew McQueen, Leflore County Constable.  He used his squad car with lights flashing and siren blaring.  As he drove the full length of the property driveway at about 1 mph, the other cars followed honking and waving.  Soraya Ratliff, granddaughter of Preston and Jackie Ratliff, stood and waved from the sunroof of their car.  It was quite a sight.  The above photo includes 2 former students of St. Francis School, Soraya and Preston Ratliff III.  In the background Mrs. Edith Spells and Ms. Maxine Ford enjoy some shade.

After many greetings and as many photo-ops, the Sisters retired to the Convent, the helpers headed home and the Friars removed the tables, tents, etc.  It was a memorable afternoon which was followed by a 4:00 p.m. Pentecost Mass.  This was the first public liturgy since mid-March.  Members of the liturgy committee came at various times to contribute to various parts of the Pentecost environment.  All was aflame with the color red and with candles.  15 parish members took part in the 4 p.m. Mass.  Sunday was highlighted by the 11:00 Mass which brought together 18 parish members while others participated via Facebook.  It was a source of joy to see and pray with the good people of St. Francis.

In the afternoon the Sisters sat down to open cards and gifts.  It had been announced that contributions be made to a scholarship fund for the school in lieu of gifts.  So after sharing cards, messages and gifts, the Sisters wrote thank you cards and prepared the $300 received for presentation to Jackie Lewis, principal.  Others have communicated the fact that they will be contributing to the scholarship by mail.  We have much to be thankful for!

Opening St. Francis of Assisi Church for Public Mass

Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Kathleen Murphy shares on the opening up of St. Francis of Assisi Church, Greenwood, Mississippi for public Masses.

The Diocese of Jackson, Mississippi declared that Pentecost Sunday would be the day that parishes would open their churches for public Mass.  So, preparations began to make this a safe, welcoming and joyful liturgical celebration.  One of the first tasks was to take down the hymn numbers which remained from the season of Lent.

Father Kim met with the ushers during the week preceding Pentecost.  They developed a seating chart to be used as church members arrived.  This provided for seating at opposite ends of the pew and leaving an empty pew between worshippers.  Father also scheduled an English and Spanish Mass on Saturday and the same on Sunday.  Staff called each parish member to find out which Mass they planned to attend.

Sister Kathleen and the ladies of the Liturgy Committee worked at separate times to cooperatively create a fitting environment for the celebration of the coming of the Holy Spirit among us.

Father Kim had also requested help from Sister Linda and her sewing crew to provide masks for those who needed one.  This help was much appreciated and the mask basket was soon nearly empty!


The church maintenance crew worked to sanitize all areas of the church and hand sanitizer bottles stood ready near the entrance.  No hymnals were to be used so Brother Craig prepared typed copies of song lyrics which were projected on the wall.

With all in readiness, the church was unlocked about 45 minutes before the 4:00 p.m. liturgy.  Brother Craig and Mr. Jones head usher stood near the doors with no-contact thermometers in hand.  As parish members arrived, their temperature was taken and they were shown a place to sit.  16 members attended this first Mass with great joy.  The process was repeated on Sunday at 11:00 a.m.  20 attended this Mass which was also livestreamed for those not comfortable in attending.

When the last hymn was finished, the ushers led church members out one pew at a time so that they could socialize outside in the fresh air and at a distance.

All seemed filled with joy to return to the church on the Birthday of the Church!

As the parish gathered again for Trinity Sunday, numbers increased at each of the Masses and all seemed very comfortable and joyful in offering praise to God together.

St. Francis of Assisi Convent at Pentecost

Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Kathleen Murphy shares two images of the St. Francis of Assisi Convent Chapel, Greenwood, Mississippi.

On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well-pleased.” Mk 1:10-11


Franciscan Sisters Are Guests for Parish Radio Show

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Sister Kathleen Murphy, Sister Janet Rose and Sister Maria Goretti Scandaliato talk about a recent invitation to be guests on the parish radio show and other pandemic developments at St. Francis of Assisi, Greenwood, Mississippi.

Here we are, masked and live at WGNL, a local radio station owned and operated by members of St. Francis Parish. Each Thursday, owners Mr. and Mrs. Ruben Hughes, provide 30 minutes of free on air time for “The St. Francis Show”. This week the host, Mr. Robert Tanner invited us to join Fr. Kim on the show. The conversation covered many topics, but we were happy to speak about our ministry in the school and parish and the many joys and blessings that life in Greenwood has brought.

We invite you to watch the radio show.

Outside of this brief claim to fame, life with COVID continues in our new found routine of daily Zoom classes. This will end next Friday. Between classes and time to prepare the lessons we have been doing cleaning and sorting tasks as one normally does at the end of the school year.
Our governor has allowed partial opening of businesses in Mississippi. Beyond the essential businesses which have been open, now gift shops, clothing stores, shoe stores, book stores and some other small businesses are allowed to open with restrictions as to numbers and distancing. The rate of new cases being reported has not really dropped yet for our county and in the last week we have heard of several cases and even fatalities among the acquaintances of our church members.

So far, however, we have heard of no cases in the school or parish families, so we certainly are counting that as a great blessing.
The diocese has published new guidelines which go into effect this weekend. As of Saturday, drive up confessions are allowed and as of Sunday, parishes may have Adoration time. Only 10 people will be allowed to enter the church at a time and all are to wear masks while in the church. We Sisters are each taking a time period to be in church in case there are not other parishioners there. We will plan to step out if the number reaches 10. As we all have noted in so many ways…these are different times! Prayers and blessings from Greenwood!

Franciscan Sisters’ Triduum 2020 Remembrances

Franciscan Sister Kathleen Murphy shares on Triduum memories at St. Francis of Assisi Convent, Greenwood, Mississippi.

Holy Thursday brought a day free from school responsibilities as well as another opportunity for online worship. You see our laptop setup in chapel along with our liturgical setting. We are blessed to be able to have the Blessed Sacrament present with us in our home.

We joined our parish family for the Facebook liturgy after which we received Holy Communion and spent time in quiet prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. Joining our voices in repetition of Jesus, Remember Me. We then went quietly to bed to see what the next day would bring.

Good Friday morning dawned with welcome sunshine and warmth. Our chapel was stripped and bare except for this simple display of the Lamb of God. We worked on school work for the upcoming week, did some spring cleaning and prepared for our 3:00 online service. Father Father Cam led a simple, striking celebration of the Lord’s Passion. After receiving Holy Communion, all went went about their tasks quietly. We also joined the virtual version of the national praying of the Litany of the the Sacred Heart of Jesus with Archbishop Gomez in Los Angeles.

Holy Saturday morning allowed time for Sister Maria Goretti to bake Easter bread and rolls. In the afternoon the Sisters gathered for an egg dying session. Sisters Janet and Kathleen are at work while Sr. Maria Goretti abandoned her station to serve as photographer.

Sister Kathleen displayed the Easter message in front of the convent while God took care of adding a splash of color with the beautifully blooming roses.

One of the parish members came to remove the purple cloth from our outdoor cross and replace it with Easter white and a cascade of lilies and other flowers.

As quiet descended on our home, all gathered in chapel for the facebook Easter vigil. Our own chapel water fountain and Paschal candle were lit at the appropriate moments of the liturgy. With alleluias in our hearts, we concluded the celebration and the day.

As Sister Kathleen walked the grounds a bit on our gray Easter  morning, Holy Saturday night’s raindrops had settled on this beautiful fresh Easter rose.

After our online morning Mass, all went about the tasks of preparing their part of the Easter dinner. Our menu choices were a bit limited by what was available in the store. Shortages of flour, eggs and many kinds of meat made themselves known in our meal planning, but all had plenty to work with in the end. By 1:00 all of us gathered around this table setting and with prayer began the joy of feasting. A quiet afternoon featured working on puzzles, playing 5 Crowns and beginning to watch the threatening weather. We were blessed to end the day in safety and quiet joy!


We now have Easter Monday as a free day, but Tuesday will find us back to our online class work. Tuesday is also slated to bring a decision from our Governor regarding when or if schools will come back in session. We pray for wisdom on the part of all!

Social Distancing Among God’s Creatures and Creations

Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Kathleen Murphy shares on life and social distancing in Greenwood, Mississippi.

One mockingbird and one turtle are out on this beautiful Spring Palm Sunday and they are practicing their social distancing techniques.

These may look like gnomes, or carvings, but they are actually “knees” of the Cyprus tree that you see to the right. They, too, have gotten the message about social distancing!

Another beautiful moment on this holy day was provided by our eldest parish family member, Papa Sam Leach, 89. Though the church is locked by diocesan decree and there are no services, Papa Sam drove up at the normal Mass time of 11:00, parked and swung his crippled legs out of the car. There he sat in prayer before his beloved church until Mass would have been over around 12:00 and he drove home. What an example of faith!



Franciscan Sister’s Correspondence During Covid-19 Crisis

Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Kathleen Murphy shares on the current situation at St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Greenwood, Mississippi.

This morning’s news reported that Greenwood will be the first host of a drive-thru testing station in the state. This seems to be due to the fact that our Leflore County has 18 confirmed cases and now 2 deaths in the county. Our hospital has set up a Covid-19 unit separate from the normal ICU. They have 4 patients there, 3 of which are on ventilators presently.

For us, Sisters, life continues with our new normal. We are generally the only ones in the school building. Mrs. Lewis comes and goes and it seems that maybe our cafeteria manager and assistant may be coming in to cook food from the freezer for the general community.
Days now begin with a live streamed Mass celebrated in the friary, followed by reception of Holy Communion. We are then off to school where we are planning and gathering materials for our daily Zoom meeting class sessions. Each of us is doing 2 sessions per day.

We received return work from our students on Friday and unpacked them yesterday, having given them time to sit in a confined tub so as to let germs die. Now we have LOTS of work to correct and grade.

Unfortunately we have not noticed any slowing of traffic passing on the highway right outside of our house. We also have a grocery store right across that highway and customer traffic seems to be about the same as ever.

To our knowledge, only one church continued with services. We pray that they will be safe!

Our friars are live streaming daily and Sunday Masses, Stations of the Cross, Bible class and weekly reflections. Most of these are done in both English and Spanish.

As the class bells echo down our empty halls and the grass grows higher on our playground, as the church bells continue to ring over empty pews, we feel the absence of our school and parish communities.

We keep you all in our prayers that God’s protective hand will shelter us according to His will!

Franciscan Sisters Focus on Deep Cleaning

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity serving schools throughout the United States are into deep cleaning. Sister Kathleen Murphy sends a St. Patrick’s day message from St. Francis of Assisi School, Greenwood, Mississippi.

Sanitizing in the absence of our little ones. Bleach solution and shop towels and gloves…oh my!

On this St. Patrick’s Day, praying for the blessing of good health and success of bleach cleaning EVERYTHING! Even glue bottles could attract germs. Sticky business!

The Autobiography of a Misplaced Hawk by Franciscan Sister Kathleen Murphy OSF

Franciscan Sister Kathleen Murphy shares on a recent winged creature in her kindergarten classroom at St. Francis of Assisi School, Greenwood, Mississippi.

The Autobiography of a Misplaced Hawk

You may surmise that my misadventures began here in this hole bearing a resemblance to a batman entrance. I was on the hunt for a blackbird snack. Having set my sights on a bird I throttled up and sped after it. When it took a sudden left tack I tried to apply my brakes to no avail. I found myself crashing into another world from which I could find no escape.

Vainly I searched for a tree or bush in which to hide. I decided these boxes were the highest perch I could find. While I pondered my plight, several humans became involved. First, several teachers, who had heard my crashing entrance searched in vain for the source of the noise. I was hiding out of sight. I learned that the first graders who inhabit this space had just stepped out for a bathroom break. I was glad for they would have been very scary to me. As I heard Sister Kathleen approaching with the class, I panicked and tried to get through that hole in the window and caused more glass to crash.


This brought Sister Kathleen to the door where she readily spied me. I was so shocked by my failure to escape that I needed to land and regroup. A computer monitor seemed like a good perch and that’s where she saw me. Sister immediately closed the door and got on her phone to Brother Mark. Then after just a few seconds I heard all those little feet retreating and I breathed a relieved sigh!

That sense of relief didn’t last long! Having realized that some panes of the transom windows of each room had been removed to allow heat and cooling circulation in the hall, Sister Kathleen began to visualize me cruising the halls into other rooms. She alerted Mrs. Lewis, the principal who was involved with classroom supervision with the Assistant Superintendent. Now I heard the feet of all the students being ushered to the cafeteria where there were no points of entry for me.
As I was adjusting to that noise, here came several men. There were Brother Mark and Mr. Lara, (the school maintenance team) Mr. Randle, (school parent and county Emergency Management Chief) and a police officer. This called for action, so I began cruising the room. My best choice seemed to be hiding behind the massive TV cabinet. As I quietly huddled in this small space I heard the police officer try his best to convince the other men that I had flown back out the window. The others, remaining unconvinced, watched as Mr. Randle began to pound on the cabinet.

Clearly this was no longer a safe haven, so I was up and out, doing laps of the room. I decided to try intimidation and did a bit of a dive bomb on the police officer. No one ran out, so I toured the room again and spotted the hole in the window. Out I flew to freedom!

Once Brother Hawk had made his exit, the students still could not return to the room due to the broken window which would allow other creatures in as well as the broken glass littering one side of the room.
Upon closer inspection, Sister Kathleen found a bloody talon print from the hawk which had tried to capture a smaller bird, but apparently lost its grip. The print was on the top of the computer monitor where the hawk had perched.

The First Grade settled into the cafeteria for the rest of the day to work there in safety.

Brother Mark and Mr. Lara began work on the window after school and soon had the new glass set in place. All was returned to normal and we pray that all God’s creatures stay where they belong.


St. Francis of Assisi Mardi Gras Party

Some time during the month of February, Greenwood, Mississippi’s St. Francis of Assisi Mardi Gras Party is a real fun time event. It is also an extreme blessing to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School.  A significant fund raiser, it provides for the many big and small needs of a parish school.

Sister Janet, Sister Maria Goretti and Sister Kathleen were among the volunteers who created the atmosphere at Leflore County Civic Center. The group knew what they were doing and the proper supplies were on hand to finish in time for the arrival of guests.

The February 11, 2020 event was held from 7 p.m. to midnight and included music, food, much conversation and many hues of Mardi Gras colors. May the Lord watch over us all during the coming days of Lent.