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.








Monday, July 21, 2014

Psalm 86: A Little Help In Being Slow to Anger!

This past Sunday I went to Mass at our retirement residence and, after visiting for a while with one of our sisters, headed to chapel about 15 minutes before Mass began. Since I had a little time, I opened my Mass booklet and spent a few minutes looking over the reflection which happened to be on the responsorial psalm--a section of Psalm 86.
You, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in kindness to all who call upon you.
R: Lord, you are good and forgiving.
Hearken, O Lord, to my prayer and attend to the sound of my pleading.
All the nations you have made shall come and worship you, O Lord, and glorify your name.
R: Lord, you are good and forgiving.
For you are great and you do wondrous deeds; you alone are God.
R: Lord, you are good and forgiving.
You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in kindness and fidelity.
Turn toward me and have pity on me; give your strength to your servant.
R: Lord, you are good and forgiving.

The reflection--written by Fr. James McKarns--was a very short one but one that had quite an effect on me.  Fr. McKarns focused on the words that described God as being "slow to anger." Apparently something in these words touched some special chord in him and he felt called to try to focus on being "slow to anger" for one day. To remind himself during the day, he put a rubber band on his wrist and when he felt himself being annoyed or angered by any situation that day, he simply snapped the rubber band as a reminder. Apparently this little reminder had a positive effect because Fr. McKarns said that at the end of the day he felt a sense of calmness and decided to continue the practice--although he didn't say how long he continued it.

I thought about this both before and during Mass--especially when we sang one of my favorite hymns--"Loving and Forgiving"!  I had to admit that an increased sense of impatience--and even some anger--have been disturbing to me over the last few years. Well, I thought, rubber bands are relatively easy to come by so maybe I'll give it a try. Maybe a visible reminder might help. So...for the last two days I've been wearing a rubber band on my wrist. Do I get impatient and annoyed? Yes! But that visible reminder does help--at some of the strangest times! Will people begin to wonder why I periodically snap the rubber band on my wrist? Maybe--but they'll probably think I'm just distracted or fidgety! (Of course, if they read this they might wonder if they're making me impatient!)

So...what about you? Do you sometimes need something to remind you that God is loving and forgiving? Do you need to remind yourself that to be more like your God you might need to work on being slow to anger and rich in kindness?


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