Friday, July 31, 2009

Happy Birthday, Franciscan Family!

The Confirmation of the Franciscan Rule.Image via Wikipedia

Gathering to Celebrate: Ourselves and Our Franciscan Roots!

Every August our sisters come together at the motherhouse for what we call "Gathering Day." We often say among ourselves that we are at our best when we're together. "Gathering Day" is also one such occasion. Why do we gather? We like us and we like to be together--it's as simple as that. Like everyone else in our world today, we are "busy" people but it's important for us to make time to be together and to celebrate who we are and why we're here.

This year we have a very special reason to gather and to celebrate. 2009 marks the 800th anniversary of the origins of the Franciscan movement. Pretty significant, I'd say, to be part of something that long-lasting and that far reaching! Even more significant is the belief that the Franciscan message, while it has its roots in the Middle Ages, has something to give to our world and our Church today. Francis' goal was simple--exceedingly so. He wanted to live the Gospel and he wanted to let people in his world know about a God who loved them beyond measure. He wanted this, not just for the ordained, not just for those living in monasteries and convents, but for every individual of every social class everywhere in the world. And he found ways to spread this word.

So, come August 9, the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia will be gathering at Our Lady of Angels Convent in Aston, Pennsylvania, to celebrate a story and a way of life that began in 1209 when Pope Innocent III approved Francis' rule. We'll be having some excellent presenters for the day: Joseph Chinnici, OFM; Mary Beth Ingham, CSJ; and Bill Short, OFM.

Making the day even more significant, two of our sisters will be renewing vows at the afternoon liturgy--recommitting themselves to living out that Franciscan message. It promises to be a day of great festivity, celebration, and sisterhood!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sharing the Good News!

'Image by fabiogis50 via Flickr

Sowing the Seeds of Our Franciscan Life

We're reaching out in a variety of ways to spread the "good news" about the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia! I've mentioned earlier about becoming part of Facebook. Right now we have 14 or 15 sisters who are already on Facebook and their contacts are numerous. This morning the communications office had a workshop for any sisters and/or staff who were interested in learning about both Facebook and blogging. We were pleased to have about 25 people attend! We explained ways in which both modes of communication are important in sharing with a broader audience the story of who we are and where we see ourselves making a difference. Our sisters are gifted in so many ways and the seeds of all they do to serve God and God's people--if we continue to sow them far and wide--can flower in many ways and in many places!

A New Look for Good News

Our Good News publication has a whole new look! After ten successful years of publication, the magazine has changed its appearance. Like so many people today, we looked for ways to cut costs and decided that moving to a smaller size would be a decided help. Our aim, of course, also was to maintain the same wonderful quality of writing, photography, and design as well as the same categories and divisions. After a lot of research and collaboration with the wonderful folks who assist us in publication, we came up with what we felt was a remarkable blend of old and new. We had an unveiling--complete with ice cream treats. The response has been pretty overwhelming. We are still receiving emails from our sisters commenting on how much they like the updated product. And the verbal responses are almost too numerous to track. In addition, readers have returned the response cards with many favorable comments. Of course, the full color format is a real draw!

We have also offered readers the option of receiving their copy of Good News by email. That too has had a favorable. So...if you'd like to receive a free subscription of Good News, contact us at We can add you to the list to receive your copy either by postal mail or by email. Just state your preference. The magazine is published three times a year and we can get you on the mailing list for the next issue!
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Who Are The Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia?

PhotographImage via Wikipedia

I've been writing bits and pieces about our life, about the issues that are important to us, and about the beliefs that underlie and give reason to why we do what we do. I've written about some of our sisters--their achievements and their ministries. But I'd like to share a film that somehow pulls it all together. Some of you may have seen it because I've referred my readers to our YouTube channel and some of my Facebook friends have seen it. But--hopefully--I've figured out how to post it here.

So, without further ado--Come and meet the ...

Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Giving and Receiving Gifts!

Service Trip to

Wind River Reservation

Sr. Mary Beth, one of our vocation directors, accompanied as group from Neumann University in Aston, Pennsylvania (six students and one of the campus ministers) for a week of service at St. Stephen’s Mission in Ethete, Wyoming. We have a long history of service there and two of our sisters--Sr. Therese and Sr. Florence--currently minister in the area. The Aston group stayed at the House of Prayer on the grounds of the mission.

Next to the church, on the site of the old convent, is a peace garden and a plaque dedicated to the Sisters of St. Francis who have been there for over 100 years. Sr. Mary Beth told the students a little piece of our history and the impact that our sisters have continued up until the present day with the people of the Shoshone and Arapaho tribes. Our legacy continues in many ways from the various ministries provided there today and those provided by the sisters who have gone before us.

Some of the services provided by the students were painting, landscaping, and cleaning the mission churches—Blessed Sacrament Church, Fort Washakie and St. Joseph the Worker Church, Ethete. They also visited and worked in the Head Start program for a day and sang to the residents in the nursing home right next to the church.

Sr. Theresa was very gracious and hospitable to each to the visitors and it was obvious that she and Sr. Florence are well loved among the parishioners there at St. Stephen’s mission! One afternoon, Sr. Florence joined the group and helped the students to make their own dream catchers. The students were thrilled to be able to take home their own hand-made dream catcher--feathers and all!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Celebrating a Life!

Sister Crispin Dies At 102

The oldest member of our congregation died today and while we mourn her death we are more inclined to celebrate her life and the many ways she gifted us and the people with whom she worked over her 84 years as a Sister of St. Francis of Philadelphia. Sister Crispin was born in Germany. At the age of 16 she came to the United States and entered our community. For most of her life as a Sister of St. Francis, she taught elementary school. Her years in education began in Egg Harbor, New Jersey. After a year, however, she was changed to the Diocese of Allentown and ministered there in various parishes and cities for the next 68 years--almost a lifetime! She taught in Allentown itself as well as in Bethlehem, Minersville, and Catasauqua. She spent an amazing 44 years, however, teaching at Most Blessed Sacrament School (now St. Francis Academy) in Bally, Pennsylvania. A few weeks before her 98th birthday, she traveled to Bally for the rededication of the academy and it was pointed out that she had also been present for the first dedication in 1954! At this second dedication, a star was placed in the school's hallway in her honor. Sr. Crispin loved teaching and especially enjoyed teaching second graders and preparing them to receive their First Holy Communion. A few years ago she did some figuring and decided that she had taught more than 2,000 children--a lifetime achievement for anyone!

Sr. Crispin also love flowers and birds. If you visited her at Assisi House, she loved to point out the bird houses outside her window. I understand that she even named the birds who visited there! She also loved to show visitors her flowers, especially one special one that that was a gift and that required careful attention and nurturing to produce its very unusual bloom.

In addition to her love for the many, many children whose lives she touched, Sr. Crispin also loved her life as a Sister of St. Francis. She wrote a few years ago that she was very grateful for her 80+ years as a Sisters of St. Francis and, she added, "for all the wonderful opportunities I've had and the wonders sisters and people that I have shared my life with." She added that she has always been happy as a Sister of St. Francis and added a very simple reason--"I have found God everywhere I went."

For those of us who knew and loved Sr. Cripen, we also have found God--in her love of life and of nature, in her love and enthusiasm, in her many, many years of generous giving and service to others. We will miss her.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Celebrating and Dreaming!

Photo of an oil painting palette. Photo taken ...Image via Wikipedia

Things I'd Like to Learn...

When I logged on to Blogger this morning, I noted that this is my 100th post so I figured I should celebrate this "centennial event"! I also visited my Facebook page this morning and "played" a bit with one of the applications: Five Things I'd Like To Learn. I figured I might as well dream big, so these are my five things. Actually, I had trouble limiting it to five.

My first two are actually somewhat connected and are related to art. I'd love to be able to do art work--stuff that really looks like art! I always say that I have the soul of an artist but somehow my hands aren't getting the message! Sometimes when I'm on retreat here at the motherhouse I go down to the art room, listen to music, and "play" with art of some kind. I'm sorry to say that it's nothing recognizable--usually just a bit of color splashed on the page or some very crude looking clay clumps. But they're my bits of color and my clumps so I get a lot of pleasure out of them! Still...wouldn't it be great if they were really something? So...figuring I should begin with the basics, I started out my dream list with saying that I would like to learn how to draw. Then my second wish or dream was to learn to do oil painting. Many, many, many years ago I took a little course at the local high school in oil painting--five sessions. I can't say I accomplished anything great (wasn't actually much teaching done-just a "Draw this" approach but I did have fun with it. And if I'm going to learn art, I'd like to learn also how to use water colors, oil pastels, chalk pastels, the whole works. If I'm dreaming, I might as well dream big!

For my third wish or dream I'd like to learn photography. When I was in charge of yearbook in several of the schools where I taught, I used to do pretty well with a 35mm camera and because they belonged to the school or were loaned by the photographer, they were fairly decent ones. For some reason or other, however, digital cameras totally baffle me. When I see everything constantly moving, I seem to lose all sense of--I'm not even sure what. And no matter how hard I try to hold it still, some muscle or some part of me always seems to move at that critical moment when I press the button! So...simply said, I'd love to face that challenge and be able to take some decent photos with a digital camera that won't run away during the encounter!

A fourth thing I'd like to learn is to play the piano--or maybe the guitar--or even shake a tambourine! I'm no more musical than I am artistic but there is a sense of music, a feeling of music and rhythm in me that sometimes wants to be expressed. Although I'm not a dancer, my body moves with its own sense of rhythm--may look a bit klutzy, but again, it's my klutz! And so I dream.

As for my fifth wish or dream--by no means my last--is to learn a bit of graphic design. For work I don't really need it because we have a graphic designer. But just for my own satisfaction, I'd like to know how. I'd like to be able to play with the design and to try different things with it. Who knows, maybe I could even design my own book of poetry--my poems and my design!

And so, as I write this 100th blog post--I keep dreaming and learning and and growing because for me that's living!
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Seeing Life With New Eyes!

Description unavailableImage by Cengiz.uskuplu via Flickr

Being Open To Surprise!

Our first two days of our Mini-Sabbath have been truly wonderful. Yesterday's orientation was like a retreat all in itself. Brother Michael Laratonda talked about the need to be open to surprise--God's surprises in our lives. This idea of surprise, of course, carries with it the challenge of allowing myself to be surprised, of being willing to see things with new eyes. I immediately thought about the quote from Marcel Proust that was in one of the high school literature books that I used in my class at Padua about the voyage of discovery being about more than just exploring the world but actually about seeing the world with new eyes. And of course God, with that divine sense of humor, was way ahead of me. Two seconds after I thought of it, Michael was reading the actual quote.

I have to keep in mind, of course, that if I really allow myself to see with new eyes, I have to be ready to do some shifting--to re-order and rebalance my life. For me, like for most of us, that can take some doing! Michael asked the question, "Am I ready to be ambushed by God? That is, indeed, a powerfully loaded question!

We also looked, individually, at what we are asking God for during this time of Sabbath. I know that for me I'm asking for the grace, not just to live in the moment, but to actually enjoy the moment, to relish the moment, rather than to spend so much time worrying about and trying to plan for future problems and situations over which I really have no control. That is one terrifically hard job. I think God might have a really hard time getting that one across to me!

Today we did journaling, which is something I can say I do in one way or another. Michael gave us some really helpful insights into journaling and the benefits it can have for us spiritually. I know for me, whether it's actually putting praying by journaling, using journaling as a way of reflecting on scripture, journaling with music, writing poetry, getting my thoughts out of my head and my heart and onto paper is a real revelation for me.

And tomorrow, a session on dreams! That should be interesing--and something that is new to me!
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Monday, July 6, 2009

Celebrating the Fourth of July...

A Fourth of July fireworks display at the Wash...Image via Wikipedia

...And Celebrating Community

Well, once again, the Fourth of July has come and gone. It was a great weekend--time for relaxing, sharing, having fun--and, of course, eating! All of us in our convent had off on Friday so that allowed for a long weekend.

On Friday Sr. Albertus and I went to the movies. We started out with lunch at Panera's. After deciding that lunch had, indeed, not "left room for more," we decided to postpone dessert until later in the afternoon. Since we still had a lot of time before the movie, we drove over to Rose Tree Park and found a bench in the shade. I was surprised to see how many people were there taking advantage of the both the shade and the sun or enjoying a walk. The movie, "The Proposal," was a light comedy and really funny. Once we left the theater, we decided that now was the perfect time for dessert. Checking out the near-by possibilities, we headed for the Dairy Cottage. We were both in the mood for ice cream and decided that, with a name like Dairy Cottage, ice cream must certainly have a slot on the menu. And indeed it did--with sundaes of various kinds. We both, unashamedly, ordered "S'mores Sundaes" and worked our way through ice cream, hot fudge sauce, marshmallows, whipped cream, and graham cracker crumbs!

On Saturday we had a Fourth of July celebration at our convent--a cook-out, eat-in kind. We invited one of the sisters from our retirement residence to join us and she arrived with her cane entwined with red, white, and blue decorations. We set up a table in the community room with some appetizers--shrimp, chips, dip, salsa, carrot and celery sticks--and start nibbling. Sr. Mary grilled hot dogs and hamburgers--delicious--and served them with potato salad and coleslaw, lettuce and tomatoes. I made corn on the cob. There was watermelon all set for dessert but somehow--can't imagine how--no one was hungry enough to enjoy it! It made a great treat for Sunday, however. Saturday night we watched the program from Washington, DC. Beautiful--the music, the fireworks, everything. There was one segment that honored the 40th "birthday" of the Muppets. Just watching the looks of awe and wonder on the faces of the children was a celebration in itself. We watched about the last 20 minutes of the fireworks display from New York City. It was the most extraordinary display. I can't even imagine what it would have been like in person. They seemed to be setting them off from the river and, of course, the length of the water gave added length to the size of the display. By this time mostly everyone had wondered off to bed and only Sr. Mary and I were there to watch the Boston Pops with Neil Diamond! I was only disappointed because he didn't sing as much as I would have liked!

Sunday was really a quiet day--time to rewind and relax. I nibbled at the left-over shrimp, salsa, and chips; packed for my Mini-Sabbath; and, when no one else was around, watch a DVD of Charlotte's Web. Someone had lent it to me, hoping that I'd be so enthralled with Charlotte that I'd overcome my fear of bugs. Not sure that actually happened but I did love Charlotte. In fact, I saw her as a Christ figure. I know--that old English teacher part of me lives on!

So here I am--finishing up work, grateful for such a wonderful weekend, and looking forward--with open heart--to the next three weeks. I'm certain that I will have plenty to reflect on--and to blog about!
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Mini-Sabbath: Here I Come!

A perfect summer day is when the sun is shinin...Image by *MizzEl* via Flickr

Looking for "Time Out"--Time to "Be"

I can't wait! On Monday I'll be beginning a three-week program at our spiritual center here in Aston. The theme of this "mini-sabbath" is "Living with Balance: Life in Abundance" and, as the description says "will explore the theme 'Bringing Balance Back' into our lives that can sometimes become lost in the many activities and responsibilities of active/living ministry." It promises to be a "time to rest, relax, receive input, spend time with (and be nurtured by) self/others/God in an emotionally safe and sacred environment and allow oneself to 'be.'" Some of the presentations will include: journaling, growing into harmony and balance of past/present selves, discernment as a way of life, being in "right relationship," mysticism for ordinary people.

The second week of the three-week program will be retreat. That theme sounds wonderful also--the passionate love of God.

The main presenter for the entire program is Brother Michael Laratonda, FMS. I made a weekend Advent retreat last year with Michael as the presenter and it was truly wonderful. He use the theme of "birthing" as the basis for the retreat. What I loved most was the creativity (a kind of birthing in its own right!) of presenting the retreat: art, music, poetry, film, photography--all were used to show some aspect of birthing.

So--with that as a precursor, I'm looking forward to and expecting great things from this mini-sabbath. Or--is the whole point of a "sabbath" to not go with a set of expectations but to simply let it happen? Whatever the approach, I'm up for it. I think I need a little sabbath in my life!
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...