Tuesday, January 31, 2017

A Prayer in Music

Sometimes music simply says it all!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Already in Our Hearts: Prayer Before the Crucifix

The post below was written by Sr. Mary Jo Chaves who is the coordinator of one of our Companions in Faith groups--this one located in Portland, Oregon. The San Damiano Cross referred to in the article is the one pictured to the right. To learn more about our Companions in Mission program, visit our website,http://osfphila.org/companions/. If you think you might be interested in our program, contact Sr. Jeanne Nisley at (610) 558-7756 or companions@osfphila.com. Many of our sisters are part of the companion faith-sharing groups as you can see from the article below. I'm part of the faith group that meet here in Aston, Pennsylvania--and, although I'm not a "meeting person," I truly love getting together with this group of women. I never cease to be touch--and overwhelmed--by their insights! In fact, we have a gathering this Saturday that I'm looking forward to.
Already in Our Hearts: Prayer Before the Crucifix
Portland Companions Yearend Retreat: January 21, 2017 

On January 21 seven Portland, Oregon companions as well as Srs. Theresa Lamkin, Celeste Clavel, and I participated in the year-end retreat provided by the community  based on the “Prayer Before the Crucifix.”   The sisters hosted the retreat at their home.  After listening to the song “Prayer for Guidance” by John Michael Talbot, each person shared their reflections on the part of the prayer that was relevant in their personal lives. Sr. Mary Jo gave an explanation of the San Damiano Cross as an icon for reflection and contemplation. During some personal reflection time, they pondered the meaning of “right faith, certain hope and perfect charity” as these concepts are expressed in the “Prayer Before the Crucifix.” They enjoyed a potluck lunch and then formed small groups for faith sharing followed by the whole group sharing insights and reflections on the prayer. The retreat ended with the prayer centered  on the figures in the icon. It was an opportunity to pray, reflect, and be together as the group discerned what is already in their hearts.  

Seated left to right:  Sr. Celeste Clavel, Phuong Nguyen, Diane Mathers, Kelly Austin and her dog Mazie, Linda Smith; Standing from left to right:  Hoa Nguyen, Dorothy Charbonneau, Sr. Mary Jo Chaves, Marilyn Krause, Not pictured:  Sr. Theresa Lamkin 


Friday, December 23, 2016

Energy of Nuns: Sisters Working With Those Who Are Poor or Underserved

This film, Energy of Nuns, was created by Julie McElmurry from Franciscan Passages. Julie interviewed sisters from various parts of the country about their work with people who are poor or underserved. Three of the sisters in the film are from my congregation, the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia: Sr. Gloria Keltz, Sr. Angela Joseph Lowe, and Sr. Hope Bauerlin. So proud of each of them!!

And a special Thank You to Julie for all her work in pulling this film together!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Christmas Greetings!

Special Christmas blessings to all of my blogging, facebook, and twitter friends! 
Finding Christmas
Searching for love
In lives that hate,
Searching for peace
In a world at war,
Searching for goodness
Amidst shreds of evil,
Searching for hope
In a world grown cold. 

Finding a God
Whose name is
Finding a maiden
Whose heart said
Finding a stall
Where Peace was born,
Finding within me…
                                                               Ann Marie Slavin, OSF

Friday, December 9, 2016

Sisters of St. Francis Mannequin Challenge

Here it is--just what you've been waiting for...the Sisters of St. Francis wishing you a Blessed Christmas--via the Mannequin Challenge!!

Thanks to all who helped with this--our sisters, staff, volunteers, students from Neumann University!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Meet Sr. John Celeste Weitzel !

When we reflect on our vocation stories, we usually recall one or more individuals who served as a deciding factor in our choice of which congregation we would ultimately enter. For Sr. John Celeste Weitzel, that decisive voice was her mother’s. In elementary school Sr. Celeste was taught by our sisters at St. Clement School in Rosedale, Maryland. During her high school years, she attended local public schools. Also during those years, Celeste became acquainted with the Good Shepherd Sisters, attended monthly retreats with them, and by graduation time felt that might be where God was calling her. When she explained this to her mother, Mrs. Weitzel, who had been taught by our sisters in both elementary and commercial school and who was actively involved at St. Clement Parish, simply said, “Go to the Franciscans!” Celeste heeded that voice and the rest is history! 

During her early years in the congregation, Sr. Celeste ministered in education but later studied to be a physical therapist. When she moved from Baltimore to the Aston area in November 2015, she came with a dream—to work with our sisters at Assisi House who were not getting PT for a specific problem. However, she learned that this would not work because of the arrangements with Mercy LIFE. Sr. Celeste, however, had other dreams as well. When she came to OLA for liturgy, she observed the sisters, noting that some seemed to be having problems with balance or displayed other indications that PT sessions might help. She spoke to Srs. Mary Farrell and Mary Smith about possibilities, conferred with Sr. Ellie Moore about space, did a little shopping and rearranging, and the dream began to take shape. Sisters who were interested in a program for balance and strength got scripts from their doctors. Sr. Celeste began by evaluating individual needs and developing individualized programs that met with each sister’s needs. Recently she opened the program to sisters not living at OLA.  

Sr, Celeste checks Sr. Teresa's blood pressure and heart rate. This check is routine before and after each day's session.
In an exercise to strengthen her Quadriceps, Sr. Jude--wearing weights on her ankle--kicks her leg up to reach Sr. Celeste's hand.
Sr, Jude does exercises to improve balance. (above) Standing on one foot.
Another exercise for balance: Sr. Jude balances on a large ball and "marches" with her hands. Sr. Celeste holds onto the belt that Sr. Jude wears around her waist.
Sr. Celeste (right) shows Sr. Teresa how to hold her head and neck straight in order to improve posture.
Asked about what challenges she encounters in this ministry, Sr. Celeste admitted that one challenge is making PT interesting in a way that makes the sisters want to keep coming back. It is obviously a challenge to keep motivating each individual to want to do “just a little more” and to move on to the next step. As in any ministry, working with different personalities necessitates finding a variety of ways to generate that motivation.

Sr. Jude and Sr. Celeste do a series of armchair push-ups and sit-ups.
Wearing an elastic band around her ankle, Sr. Teresa does a series of stretches: out to each side and front and back
Sr. Celeste helps Sr. Teresa with exercises to strengthen her arm and back muscles. Pretty amazing!!
And blessings? Celeste recalled her earlier work—especially with children—and the two-fold feelings of joy at seeing them overcome difficulties and of gratitude for her own health. She admits to that same sense of duality when she sees the sisters with whom she works walking just a bit straighter, standing and sitting with greater ease, and handling steps with a greater sense of security. And she added, “Because I exercise with each sister, my own balance is better and my muscles are really getting strong!” Then she added, “Earlier in my life, I was grateful to be able to study PT. Now I’m grateful that I’m able to continue to work—without the stress of a ‘job’—and grateful to the community for allowing me to pursue my dream!” 

As one of those sisters who has been fortunate enough to avail myself of Sr. Celeste’s skills, I can attest to the personal satisfaction I feel when I walk up to Communion without reaching out for a pew to steady myself or when—after a workout—I hear that enthusiastic “Good job!”


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Sr. Jean Rupertus: Champion for the City of Chester

People in Chester know Sr. Jean Rupertus. The fact that Sr. Jean was born in the Highland Gardens section of Chester and attended Resurrection Parish School is somewhat incidental to her reputation. Why people know her is that both as the director of Anna’s Place and a Sister of St. Francis, she is out and about trying to help the residents in a variety of ways. 

Anna’s Place is a Sisters of St. Francis-sponsored hospitality center—a safe haven where local residents can come for bingo, classes, and lunch. “The umbrella is one of engaging people, respecting people, and building relationships,” says Sr. Jean. 

Poverty and crime are the major factors that affect Chester residents (http://franciscanlife.blogspot.in/2016/11/chester-city-riddled-with-crime.html and http://franciscanlife.blogspot.com/2016/11/poverty-festering-boil-in-chester.html). Sr. Jean and others from Anna’s Place participate in an annual march conducted by Heeding God’s Call for an End to Gun Violence and Delco United for Sensible Gun Laws in Delaware County. In addition, she and others have picketed a local gun store with the hope of making government officials and citizens aware that gun control is necessary to stop murders and violent crimes.  

Anna’s Place, through Sr. Jean’s direction, has joined with other organizations to address other important issues caused by poverty in the city: childhood respiratory problems and lack of early childhood education, jobs, healthcare, and family unity. 

While being connected to Anna’s Place has brought Sr. Jean back to her roots, her heart has never left the city. Her love for the city’s residents helped to band together a host of volunteers to keep the classes, activities, and weekly luncheons moving. Some come from the two local universities—Neumann and Widener. Additionally, a Sister of Mercy and folks living in Delaware County put in time there weekly along with several other Sisters of St. Francis. 

There is a threat on the horizon, however. The center’s boiler went kaput in late spring. In order for Anna’s Place to remain open this winter, a new heater is imperative. This coming Tuesday—Giving Tuesday 2016—the Sisters of St. Francis are focusing their energies on gathering enough funds to pay for a new heater. To find out more about this ministry and to help, click here http://osfphila.org/support-us/giving-tuesday/.




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