Thursday, September 4, 2014

A Bit of This and That About Our Sisters!

Our sisters are always finding ways to share the message of God's love and God's gifts and to share as well our Franciscan spirituality and charism. Below are just a few of the activities in which sisters have been engaged over recent weeks!

Sr. Dominica LoBianco was asked by the group Faith in Public Life to represent the faith groups from the local area to  lobby with SEUI, a union of service workers. The group stayed at the Renaissance Hotel. Both their first evening and the following morning, they were educated on immigration reform issues and trained on points for lobbying. The total group of about 100 people went to the southeast lawn of the Capitol for the prayer service from 10-10:30 A.M.—during which they experienced a severe downpour. Following the prayer service, they proceeded to visit our senators and representatives as a team.


Sr. Dominica and two of the lobbyers.

Between 25 and 30 Portland Companions in Faith enjoyed their 12th year of faith sharing and getting to know our sisters.   They divided their time at their monthly meetings to include faith sharing as a major focus as well as studying the Third Order Rule that the sisters follow in order to getting to know our sisters better.  The sisters explained how living the Third Order Rule forms the fabric of their daily lives in community. The companions also enjoyed the new study guide for companions on the Primacy of Christ—finding creative ways to approach the material as well as to share ways in which it has impacted their lives.  Donations to Drexel Neumann Academy is another way in which the Portland companions give expression to their Gospel vision.  They collect spare change monthly.  In May, after collecting spare change for 10 months, they sent Sr. Maggie Gannon, the president of Drexel Neumann Academy, a check for $300. On July 19, 14 companions gathered for a pot luck picnic at Santa Chiara Convent where Srs. Theresa Lamkin, Celeste Clavel, and Mary Jo Chaves live. After a brief respite in August for planning the coming year, the group will resume their gatherings on September 2—beginning their 13th  year together. Want to know more about our companion program? Visit our website, http://www.osfphila.org/companions.
 
Sr. Loretta Francis Mann was recently featured in an article in the Hartford, Connecticut newspaper, The Courant. The article described Loretta’s work in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at St. Francis Hospital in Hartford where she cuddles premature and sick infants. Loretta explained that, while the babies need long-term care, their parents often have other responsibilities that prevent them from being at the hospital full-time. During the time that Loretta volunteers in the unit, she reads to the babies, sings to them, and rocks them to sleep—all after having prayed for them.  The article also outlines Loretta’s earlier ministry experiences and summarizes her rationale for her present work as a volunteer.  Check out the article and the great photos at http://www.osfphila.org/http%3A/%252Fwww.osfphila.org/inthenews.
 

Sr. Elaine Thaden is one of our vocation directors. The following is a summary of just one of the activities in which she is involved--the VOCARE program in Spokane, Washington.

From July 7-10 the sisters of the Spokane diocese held our annual vocation awareness experience for young women ages 13 to 18. Thirty-eight excited, interested, great-hearted girls attended from eastern and western Washington, eastern Oregon, and Idaho. Half of these were returning participants for the second and third time. Although they have little or no exposure to sisters in their home areas, it was heartening to see how these young women longed to learn more about religious life. Our team of sisters from various congregations took the “first-year” girls around town on a bus to learn first-hand about the different ministries and community life-styles of our own sisters as well as the Sisters of Providence, the Holy Names, the Missionaries of Charity, the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, the Poor Clares, and the Sisters of Mary Mother of the Church.

 For the returning participants, we provided new ministry-site visits, a special retreat day, deeper input on the nature of religious life, and an evening when the girls could visit one- on-one with a sister of their choice.  Besides our core team of sisters, 20 other local sisters came to the Diocesan Retreat Center to tell their stories, answer questions, and conference privately with the young ladies. This made it possible to included congregations we could not visit on the bus trip: Carmelites, Dominicans, and Benedictines.  Involving all these sisters was not the only way VOCARE was a community-wide effort. Approximately $6,000 had to be raised to keep the cost at a minimum for the girls. We reached our goal with help from the Knights of Columbus, the Catholic Daughters, parish fund raisers, and the Serra Club. In addition, most of the meals were provided by groups such as Home Schooling Parents, Secular Franciscans, a local restaurant owner, the associates of the Holy Names Sisters, the Diocesan Retreat Center, and the Sisters of Mary Mother of the Church who reside there.  

The girls’ evaluations indicated that it was well worth the months of preparation, the energy expended during the four days, and the coping with 98-100 degree weather. One typical response was “ I would love to attend again in order to learn more about religious life and to see if it may be my calling, to have a time to get away and have my faith grow and become stronger, and to have fun with all the wonderful sisters and my new friends.” 


 
At the end of the 2014 school year, Sr. Elizabeth Murphy retired as principal of St. John Vianney School in Orlando. Parishioners and guests from throughout the diocese were invited to a dinner and evening of celebration recognizing Elizabeth’s 28 years of service and dedication –both as teacher and principal. Sr. Donna Desien represented the congregation at the celebration. The invitation encouraged guests—through various levels of sponsorship and as a way to “truly recognize and celebrate her achievements”—to become “part of the legacy that Elizabeth…shared with the…school and parish community.” And Elizabeth’s plans for her “retirement”? She has already agreed to remain in the parish and to serve as the assistant director of development.

 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Personal Mission Statements

This morning I was reading posts from some of my blogger friends (I have to admit that I've been lax about this lately) and spent some time on one by Ceil at http://www.ceilryan.com. Ceil wrote a beautiful reflection about using a scripture quote as a guide to interpreting a job description. Her post reminded me of something I had almost forgotten I had done a number of years ago. After I first started this job in communications for my religious congregation, we had a workshop based on some of the premises of Stephen Covey. One of the ideas was creating a mission statement. After the workshop a small group of us got together a few times to create our own person mission statements. I had decided to base mine on one of my favorite scripture quotes from Micah: This is what Yahweh asks of you--only this: to live justly, to love tenderly, and to walk humbly with your God. I don't think it turned out exactly the way it was supposed to but it did turn out the way I wanted it to be!

I have to admit that I haven't looked at it in quite a while. However, Ceil's post nudged me a bit. I check out my computer files and sure enough there it was. I decided it was time to resurrect it and what it stands for--not only in relationship to my job but also as a way to live out our congregation's mission statement in my own life.

Do you have a personal mission statement? If you did, what would it be based on?

Mission Statement

 I am called

 to live justly

 being the woman God made me to be rather than trying to conform to the expectations of others

speaking my truth with gentle conviction

defending the right of each person to speak his/her truth

acknowledging and using the giftedness that is mine

rejoicing in the piece of the world that is mine yet challenging myself to explore beyond its narrow borders

 to love tenderly

 believing in and celebrating the giftedness and “godness” of each person I meet each day

creating an atmosphere where none feel threatened

being a bridge-builder

being able to challenge without breaking

being able to be challenged without being broken

 to walk humbly with my God

 living out of the deep belief that who I am before God is who I am

being always cognizant that each person I meet is walking with that same God

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Franciscan Federation 2014

Our sisters were once again part of the Franciscan Federation’s Annual Conference which was held in St. Louis, Missouri. Sister Marie Angela Presenza was our congregation’s nominee for the annual federation award because of the many ways in which she lives out the conference theme, “Cultivating Kindom Power.” The statement announcing Sr. Angela as this year’s choice summarizes the reasons for her selection: “Marie has spent her life in community and her years in ministry honing her natural skills for hospitality and compassion. Whether exercising leadership in Catholic education, planning programs, contracting with presenters of various faiths, hosting retreats, inviting volunteer participation, connecting with a wide variety of departments to assure the smooth running of programs at the Franciscan Spiritual Center, Marie Angela embodies the relationship that we Franciscan hold as a core value. Her contemplative spirit enables her to live and minister with humility, grace, and enthusiasm, tirelessly and quietly welcoming all wherever she happens to be.”

Sr. Marie Angela Presenza was our congregation’s nominee for the Federation Award.

The conference offered a rich array of presentations and activities. On Friday evening, first time attendees had an opportunity to attend an orientation session prior to the opening ritual and social. On all three days, keynote speakers Margie Will, OSF, and Michael Crosby, OFM, Cap., provided further understanding of the theme as they addressed the topics “Franciscan Life: Contemporary Challenges,” “The Gospel: Reflecting On and Reclaiming Our Core Charism,” and “Kindom Power: How do we cultivate it? How do we communicate it?”   Margie and Michael also addressed a number of the challenges raised at last year’s conference.

Standing (l-r) Srs. Jeanne Nisley, Lynne Patrice Lavin, Annette Lucchese, Marie Angela Presenza, Clare Weckowski, Ruth Bernadette O’Connor, Anne Amati, Kathleen Moffatt, Betty Kane. Kneeling (l-r) Srs. Marie Lucey, Betsy Goodwin, Christa Marie Thompson.

Sr. Dorita Slaughter (right), this year’s lottery winner, chats with Srs. Jeanne Nisley and Kathleen Moffatt during the celebration banquet. 

In addition to time for business meetings, elections, and networking, attendees enjoyed time for optional breakout sessions.
·       Trafficking DVD: The Dark Side of Chocolate
·       Custodians of the Franciscan Intellectual Tradition: Collaborative Possibilities
·       Franciscans and Ecology: 35 years into Francis’ Patronage 

The gathering closed on Monday morning following the approval of the JPIC resolution and a commissioning prayer service.

 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Sr. Kathy Flood Professes First Vows!


On August 10 Sr. Kathleen Mary Flood professed her first vows as a Sister of St. Francis.  The event took place during a Eucharistic liturgy at Our Lady of Angels Convent. The chapel was filled with the sisters and with Kathleen’s family and friends.  The opening hymn, “Everyday God,” seemed especially appropriate as the congregants reflected on God’s great love that brought Kathy to this day, to this moment in time.  The Eucharistic liturgy was presided over by Fr. Cyprian Rosen, OFM, Cap., and Fr. Jay McKee of Good Shepherd Parish in Perryville, Maryland. Fr. McKee offered a beautiful homily.  Sounds of joy and praise filled the chapel as Sr. Esther Anderson welcomed Kathleen into the congregation and gave her copies of the Third Order Regular Rule of St. Francis and the Constitutions and Directives of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia as well as a beautiful San Damiano crucifix.
Sr. Kathleen Flood professed her first vows as a Sister of St. Francis of Philadelphia.

Sr. Esther Anderson presented Sr. Kathy with copies of the Third Order Regular Franciscan Rule, our congregation's Constitutions and Directives, and a beautiful San Damiano Crucifix.
 
Kathleen says of making her first vows: “In the weeks leading up to my profession, the excitement and happiness expressed by each sister I encountered—physically or virtually— gave me a growing sense of joy, confidence, and peace.  It felt like a balloon of goodness was gently expanding within my chest.  So, in making my first profession of vows, I felt held aloft and buoyed by the prayers, love, and support of sisters, family, and friends near and far.  Yes, I am still floating peacefully and I hope to stay aloft for many years!” 

After Sr. Kathy professed her first vows and Sr. Sara Marks renewed her vows for one year, they received the blessing of all of the sisters, companions, and guests.
 
Kathleen Mary was born in Queens, New York, to Raymond and Virginia Flood.  She is a graduate of St. Vincent Ferrer High School.  Her mother, Virginia, died only a few months after Kathy entered candidacy in 2011. Kathy earned her bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from the New York Institute of Technology.  She has since completed technical, business, and theology courses at Villanova and St. Bonaventure Universities. Prior to entering the congregation, Kathy worked providing computer and information security engineering and consulting services for corporations.  She also taught at the junior high level at Good Shepherd Catholic School in Perryville, Maryland.
 
For the past year, Sr. Kathleen has been serving guests at St. Francis Inn in the Kensington section of Philadelphia.  At the end of August, she will continue her education as a student at Neumann University working toward a graduate degree in Pastoral Counseling.  As for the future, Kathleen states she will let the Holy Spirit work to guide her.  “There is much need for pastoral counseling across a diverse range of ministries.  I only hope I will be able to use my gifts, education, and learned experiences to serve the people of God,” she said. 

During the same service, Sr. Sara Marks renewed her vows—dedicating herself freely and unreservedly as a Sister of St. Francis—for another year,

Following the liturgy, Sr. Esther Anderson witnessed the signing of the vow agreements.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Doing the ASL Ice Bucket Challenge!

Yesterday I did the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. No one actually challenged me to do it--I saw it on the news and knew that it was something I had to do. Believe it or not I actually knew personally five people who have died with ALS. When I was living in Wilmington, I lived in a convent where we were privileged to have a cook--a woman named Helena Janas who grew up in Poland. She began having a lot of mobility problems. It took a long time to diagnose what was wrong with her but eventually she was diagnosed with ALS. I learned after I moved from there that she had died. Also when I was teaching in Wilmington, I worked with a young teacher who eventually entered the priesthood. I knew he had had a bout with cancer but also learned that, while he seemed to "beat" the cancer he was later diagnosed with ALS. In  2009 my brother Paul began having what seemed like minor mobility issues and mentioned it to his doctor. After a number of tests he was diagnosed with ALS in April of that year and in less than a year was totally paralyzed and unable to speak or to swallow. He died in April 2010. A few months after his death I read in the paper that a second cousin whom I remembered meeting only when he was a young child had also died of ALS. Around the same time that my brother was diagnosed, one of our sisters was also diagnosed. In her case--at least in the early years--problems were primarily with her speech. However, as time went on she eventually lost more and more mobility as well.

Five people--seems almost impossible! So I gathered a few of our sisters from the offices here at the motherhouse, asked my boss to video me, got someone to help me with the bucket of ice water, and went for it! I really don't know anyone who can afford $100--the amount stipulated on most of the videos that I saw--so I mentioned no particular dollar amount--just asked people to do the challenge or make a donation or both. And believe it or not, a few people have actually given me or promised me money to send along with my own donation! Yesterday I did the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. No one actually challenged me to do it--I saw it on the news and knew that it was something I had to do. Believe it or not I actually knew personally five people who have died with ALS. When I was living in Wilmington, I lived in a convent where we were privileged to have a cook--a woman named Helena Janas who grew up in Poland. She began having a lot of mobility problems. It took a long time to diagnose what was wrong with her but eventually she was diagnosed with ALS. I learned after I moved from there that she had died. Also when I was teaching in Wilmington, I worked with a young teacher who eventually entered the priesthood. I knew he had had a bout with cancer but also learned that, while he seemed to "beat" the cancer he was later diagnosed with ALS. In 2009 my brother Paul began having what seemed like minor mobility issues and mentioned it to his doctor. After a number of tests he was diagnosed with ALS in April of that year and in less than a year was totally paralyzed and unable to speak or to swallow. He died in April 2010. A few months after his death I read in the paper that a second cousin whom I remembered meeting only when he was a young child had also died of ALS. Around the same time that my brother was diagnosed, one of our sisters was also diagnosed. In her case--at least in the early years--problems were primarily with her speech. However, as time went on she eventually lost more and more mobility as well.

So...the video! I managed to get it on YouTube and I have this really crazy expression on my face! However, my heart's right even if my face isn't!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Meet Sister Catherine Georgine Portner!

Sr. Catherine Georgine is one of our sisters who lives in our retirement residence in Aston, Pennsylvania. She is a delightful woman--someone who can put you at ease within minutes of meeting her and probably have you chuckling along with her as she tell you about her experiences!

Sr. Catherine Georgine (standing) stops to chat with Sr. Judith O'Neill who is celebrating her birthday with her sisters and Sr. Ruth Bernadette.
 

When Sr. Catherine Georgine Portner celebrated her 70th jubilee in 2006, she wrote about her wonderful celebration and about the family and friends who joined her for this memorable occasion: “The closure of my “special” day was the showing of a video—my life from birth as a “coal cracker” and after 70 years turned “diamond. Coal does eventually become a diamond!” Her “coal cracker” background is very special to Sr. Catherine—and to her vocation. She traces her connection with the Sisters of St. Francis back to her early education at St. Fidelis School in Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania, and her first grade teacher Sr. Fernanda. “She was so tall,” Sr. Catherine recalled. “I thought she was a saint!” As a child Catherine spent a lot of time at the parish convent helping the sisters—ironing handkerchiefs, helping to make root beer, carrying buckets of coal, and running errands. “That’s how I got my vocation,” she laughed.

Like all of our sisters in our retirement residences, Sr. Catherine likes to spend quiet time in chapel. Her reading keeps her updated on global issues which often form the focus of her prayers.

During most of her years in the congregation, Sr. Catherine was a teacher—a ministry that took her to Philadelphia, Baltimore, Trenton, Lancaster, and York. She also ministered for a number of years as a caregiver for a family member. Sr. Catherine recalled particularly her first two teaching positions in Philadelphia. She was particularly enthralled with her first teaching experience at St. Alphonsus School. “It was only half a block from the early motherhouse,” she explained. It was such a privilege to live that close to our early history.” Sr. Catherine smiled as she described her second mission—St. Benedict School where she taught music. “I spent most of my time pushing a portable organ around the school to 16 different classrooms,” she said. 

Sr. Catherine enjoys reading spiritual books and articles and discussed an article she had read about St. Francis and the virtue of joy.
 
In 2000 Sr. Catherine moved to Queen of Peace Convent, the independent living residence attached to Assisi House. “It was like a regular convent there,” she explained. “You were free to be yourself.” She laughed when she recalled that when she arrived at Queen of Peace, someone asked if she wanted to work. He immediate response was, “No!” However, she was soon invited to volunteer in the finance office in the motherhouse—a service she continued until she became a resident at Assisi House in 2012—and for a short time actually continued to go travel over to the office periodically.  

Visiting the sisters in Clare Hall is one of the highlights of Sr. Catherine's afternoon. Below she gets a special "hello" from Sr. Rosa Mystica.
 
Of her life in Assisi House, Sr. Catherine has only the highest praise. “I’m well cared for and there are no demands on me,” she said. She enjoys straightening and arranging her room and finds time to check out the computer. Sr. Catherine delights in having time to enjoy two of her favorite pastimes—reading and listening to music. Her reading preferences tend toward autobiographies, newspapers, and spiritual books. After lunch each day she goes back to Clare Hall to visit with the sisters there. Her ever-present smile and joyful manner always manage to elicit a smiling response as she stops to chat with each sister. Like all of the sisters in our retirement residences, Sr. Catherine is very conscious that she has been called to prayer ministry and each day remembers the needs of her sisters, the world, and her former students—many of whom still keep in touch.  

As she approaches her 97th birthday and her 78th year as a Sister of St. Francis, Sr. Catherine surveys her life with a positive eye and a sense of peace.—finding joy both in what has been and what is. That, to me, seems to capture the essence of wisdom!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Ice Cream Social 2014: Mr. Softee Visits the Motherhouse!

On Tuesday we had our annual ice cream social at work--a tradition that  started a number of years ago and has become a favorite among our staff. Our leadership team has the Mr. Softee truck come to the motherhouse grounds around 1:30 and all of our employees gather out on our grounds to select whatever of the Mr. Softee products best suits their fancy--and their appetite! The party runs from 1:30 to 3 and provides an enjoyable--and delicious--break on a hot summer day!

Below are some of the photos from this years social.








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