Thursday, May 31, 2012

Holding God's People In Our Hearts!

Another of  my favorite hymns is "Here I Am, Lord." I think this video version of the hymn is particularly meaningful because it portrays the reality that each of us is called by God in some way to serve and care for God's people.  I think sometimes we feel that being called means doing extraordinary things. The older I get, however, I think I realize that God's call is as individual as each of us is. I know as a child and as a young woman I dreamed of doing great things. I remember as a child I prayed that I would be a martyr--then one day in the novitiate I realized what it was that I was praying for! I quickly "undid" that prayer!

I'm not, nor will I ever be, a Mother Teresa. I've been a teacher--both in elementary and secondary school-- for most of my life and now I work in communications as a writer and editor. It seems to me that in each of these ministries there are ways to care for and to hold God's people in my heart. I've also tried to serve in other ways over the years--working in one of our hospitals during school vacations, caring with a patient with HIV/AIDS, volunteering at a safe house for women who have been trafficked or in jail, volunteering in a clinic, teaching with literacy volunteers or ESL.

What about you. I know that most of my blog followers are caring for families, teaching, involved in healthcare, sharing their gifts through writing, studying, helping to share God's good news through your church relationships--so many different ways of caring and serving. I'd love to hear about some of the ways God has called you over the years to care for God's people!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Women Religious of Various Congregations Work Together to Abolish Human Trafficking

Our Sr. Betsy Goodwin recently attended the fifth annual anti-trafficking symposium offered by the women religious of  the Boston area. Sr. Joanne Gallagher, CSJ, director of communications for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston, kindly shared the press release and the photos with us. An article was also published in The Pilot, the newspaper from the Archdiocese of Boston.

On Saturday, May 5, over 225 participants gathered for a symposium on consumerism and the many faces of human trafficking. This was the fifth such event offered by the Boston Unit of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) Anti-Trafficking Coalition since 2008.  The Mission Statement of the coalition states its commitment to
          raise awareness through education,
          collaborate with others to ensure necessary services with compassion,
          advocate for justice,
          pray for victims and all affected by human trafficking. 
Topics have ranged from an introduction to human trafficking globally, nationally, and locally; to looking at what one person can do; to the latest topic of how our buying power as consumers can become a tool for addressing human trafficking. 

Most Americans wonder if there is really anything they can do to combat the crime of human trafficking.  This question was addressed as participants watched a brief YouTube video titled Where Am I Wearing? by Kelsey Timmerman. As the morning progressed, presenters continued to address the way all of us are inadvertently complicit in human trafficking by the products we use every day.

Fr. David Couturier, OFM Cap., past president of Franciscans International, a NGO at the United Nations. and former director of pastoral planning for the Archdiocese of Boston, was the first keynote speaker. Fr. David has written and lectured extensively on social forces impinging on contemporary secular and religious culture. In addressing the group on consumerism and the supply chains of human trafficking, he asked, “What can we do?” and offered a concrete action.
“We must,” he said, “undertake an examination of consciousness when it comes to corporate human trafficking:
          Do I care whether the products I buy or use are tainted with human slavery?
          Are the price, convenience, and availability of goods more important to me than the possibility that those goods might be the result of slave labor?
          How much time and effort am I willing to invest in determining whether a product is the result of trafficked labor?
          How willing am I to make this problem of human trafficking personal?
          How willing am I to work with others to eradicate slave labor from my home and dinner table?’

The second keynote presenter was Kate Price of the Jean Baker Miller Training Institute at Wellesley College (See photo at top of page). Kate, a social scientist specializing in the cultural constructions of childhood, brought a rich background to the symposium.  As a survivor of childhood sexual exploitation and a living example of resilience and strength, she now uses her personal experience to inform and educate others. Kate spoke about buying power and how consumerism and the sexualization of children put all children at risk. She offered very ordinary everyday examples of ways in which cultural images create a demand for goods and services connected to human trafficking.

Toward end of the symposium, Kathy McCluskey, CSJ, former executive director of the U.S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph, summarized the work of the collaborative efforts of the federation to address human trafficking as it exists in hotels throughout our country. Karen McLaughlin, a major architect of the Massachusetts Anti-Trafficking Law passed in November 2011, thanked the coalition for their advocacy and persistence in making this law a reality.

Women religious congregations in the greater Boston area have been offering educational opportunities on the issue of human trafficking since 2008. In May 2009 they issued a statement against human trafficking which in part states: Today women religious all over the world are addressing the crime of human trafficking. Our religious congregations have NGO representatives at the United Nations who address the issue at a global level. We women religious leaders in the greater Boston area are committed to speak out locally because we are human beings, because we are women, because we are women religious with a history of Catholic social teaching, and because we live and work in the Boston area where the trafficking trade is a real though hidden crime.
What the Boston Anti-Trafficking Coalition has learned over the past few years is that human trafficking is an evil that must be eradicated and despite the many challenges to achieve this, silence is not an option.

Sr. Betsy Goodwin addresses attendees at the Boston-area trafficking symposium.

Fr. Davis Couturier, OFM Cap., explained how consumerism supports the supply chains of trafficking.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Pentecost: Celebrating the Birthday of the Church!

Sisters and friends from the surrounding area joined the sisters at our motherhouse last Saturday evening for a special Eucharistic liturgy to celebrate the vigil of Pentecost. We had been invited to wear something red, yellow, or orange if we had them and, as a result, the chapel was a sea of red!  The liturgy was beautiful and somewhat reminiscent of the Easter Vigil with a series of Old Testament readings and responses before the New Testament reading and Gospel.

At the Universal Prayer, the intercessions were read by seven different sisters in seven languages--Gaelic, Italian, Spanish, Swahili, German, Hebrew, and English--definitely recognizing the universality of the Church. Of course, the music was wonderfully celebratory as usual--our sisters love to sing, even those like me who don't have very good voices! We also love to celebrate and after the liturgy, we gathered in our ABC Room (Assisi Room, Blessing Room, Copper Beech Room--which can be made into one large room for gatherings) and shared some delicious refreshments.

If ever you are in this area (we not too far outside of Philadelphia and also not far from Wilmington, DE), let me know. We'd love to have you drop by for a visit. I'll give you the grand tour of the house and the grounds!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Practice Makes Perfect--Picture Perfect, I Hope!

I recently bought myself a gift with money I received as jubilee gifts--a digital camera. Years ago when I was a yearbook moderator, I used to take fairly decent photos with a 35 millimeter camera. But a digital camera seems to have been beyond my ability to grasp. The constant motion on the screen baffles me and when I finally get up the courage to push the button, the result is usually a blurry photo. Several years before he died, my brother bought a digital camera and explained that it had what he called an image stabilization feature. So...when I decided to buy one, I knew that I wanted one with that feature. Actually I understand that the camera has a number of very nice features but I decided that until I get more comfortable with it, it's better to just use the basic Auto setting.

Yesterday afternoon I set out to do some practice shots. The plant to the right was one of my first efforts. It's the cactus plant in my office and as you can see, I seem to have beheaded it. Guess I'll need more practice.

The photos below are from the main corridor in our motherhouse. Around the time of our 150th anniversary (2005), we put up a wall display in the corridor using quotes from our foundress, from St. Francis, and from St. Clare of Assisi and added an array of photos that depicted our sisters and the various ministries in which we have served over the years. We also have a small "Heritage Room" (used to be part of the phone room) where we have a variety of of artifacts on display. There is also a mannequin wearing our original habit. When I first saw here, I wondered why we didn't get a better looking one but somehow she seems to have grown on me! I've even given her a name--Sister Bona Provindencia--which I think means something like "good providence or good care." Our mission statement ends with "Filled with trust in the goodness of God, we move forward." This is based on a quote from our foundress, Mother Francis Bachmann.

As you can see, there is a lot of room for improvement--but at least they're not  total blurs! And...they've given you a bit of a peek as to where I'm coming from and who this wonderful Franciscan family is that I belong to!

If it doesn't rain today, I'm going out to walk around the grounds at lunchtime and maybe get some practice out there. My big aim is to be able to take some photos during jubilee weekend. Our congregational celebration is the weekend of June 8-10. The jubilarians all come to spend the weekend here at the motherhouse. I understand that we all get together for snacks Friday evening and just sit around and talk about old times and what's happening in our lives now. There are 3 diamond jubilarians (not sure if all of thim will be able to come), 25 of us golden jubilarians, and one silver jubilarian. Saturday is kind of a free day--and knowing us we'll spend most of it talking and laughing-- and Saturday evening there is a special dinner just for the jubilarians. Sunday morning is the jubilee liturgy and our sisters come to the motherhouse from hither and yon to celebrate with us. Then we have a really nice lunch--usually set up in three different to accommodate the large number. Introvert that I am, I still love our special times together. As we have always said, "We are at our best when we're together."

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Red Hill Farm: Purple Martins Landlords!

Purple MartinPurple Martin (Photo credit: juvethski)
The following article by Brendan Stiteler  was originally published in the Red Hill Root, the newsletter from our CSA, Red Hill Farm. Brendan is one of our faithful farmers. Our new farm manager is Angela Kidder.

The other day I was ambling the farm and thinking about how early spring came this year. As the calendar told us one thing; the daffodils and forsythia were speaking a different truth. Having time to gaze about, I noticed a bird perched on a pole that in season holds the purple martin gourd-houses. I must have been projecting but he seemed to be saying “Hey, dude, where’s my house?”

“Angela, when do the purple martins come back?” I asked, realizing I couldn’t identify a martin from any other bird. Angela, perplexed, agreed that we should be expecting them. The question and conversation receded into the rhythm of the day’s tasks but the following week the gourds were up! Red Hill’s martin enthusiast Doris had been told that the martins had been sighted. Doris faithfully looks out for the martins and prepares and readies their gourds. 

Purple martins are the largest member of the swallow family—all voracious, migratory insectivores. Martins migrate yearly to Brazil. It turns out that with the gourd houses and our colony of martins, Red Hill Farm can be considered purple martin “landlords.” This would not be possible without Doris’s help in banding last year’s colony before they returned to their wintering grounds in Brazil.

The colony does not migrate together; in fact, what links them is their tendency to return to favored nest sites or sites where they hatched. The individuals of a colony actually compete for both nest sites and mates. They also compete for nests with house sparrows and European starlings (non-native species). Good landlords used to provide gourds for nesting, a practice that was passed on to European colonists. Thanks to this—and to competition with nonnative birds—eastern martins now nest only in housing we provide.

Martins are voracious insectivores and can help reduce some pests but their reputation as mosquito predators is overblown. The martins are beautiful—the adult males in their iridescent purple black and the females and fledglings with the white on their bellies. Their manner of flight is graceful, marked by a showy flutter of the forking tail and rapidly flapping wings. The martins also fill the farm with welcome chatter that makes their presence known.

Knowing this, I feel obligated to play my part with the martins, giving them shelter and protection from predators. Here at Red Hill, we are a community that includes them, blessed to have them grace our skies and eat surplus insects. I would encourage you as members to take notice of the martins this year before they return to Brazil.

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Thoughts for Inspiration and Reflection

I found this video on YouTube and thought it had such words of wisdom! The thoughts are both beautiful and very positive. I particularly liked the one that explains that God never gives us anything that we don't need and never takes away anything that we can't do without.  I found that particularly thought provoking. The more I thought about it, the more I think I came to realize that as life goes on my needs change. Maybe what I couldn't have lived without some years ago is something that is no longer quite as necessary to my life. I wonder if that is true when we lose someone we love. I knoow that that doesn't lessen the pain but maybe it is helpful to understand that we do have the strength to continue on.

Did any one of these thoughts resonate with you more than others? I'd love to hear your thoughts on them!

United in Praise: Living Out God’s Love With All Creation - Busted Halo

United in Praise: Living Out God’s Love With All Creation - Busted Halo

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Finding the God With--In Self and Others!

So often I've written about how music moves me to prayer. The two songs below are typical of that. When I first heard the song "You  Needed Me" I thought of St. Francis  and the way he was able to see God in people that others thought of as the "last, the least, and the lowest."  Francis came to realize that he did not have to "bring" God to people. God was already there. Francis had to help people discover the God who was already within each one of them.  I oftten think that if I could, in my lifetime, help just one person to discover the god within--to give that person a greater sense of self-worth and dignity, I would have done something worthwhile!

I think "You Raise Me Up" carries much the same message. Most certainly it is God who raises us up, who gives us strength to deal with difficult situations. But I also believe that God often comes to us to do these thing in the body, love, and support of other people. I know that I certainly experienced that this past year during my illness. The visits, the cards, the phone calls, the promise of prayers, sometimes just the gift of time for letting me voice my fears and frustrations were to me the words and love of God coming to strengthen me through the kindness of other people.

God definitely is within each of us--not so much because we deserve it--but because it is part of who we are as human persons. What a gift! What is sad is that each of us so often loses sight of that fact. Maybe that is our role as fellow human beings-- to remind one another of the God who is always there within each of us!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

What's Happening In Vocation Ministry?

Our vocation directors--both east and west--are always busy--visiting schools, holding retreats, setting up booths at diocesan gatherings--many avenues of helping young people to consider that just maybe God may be inviting them to consider religious life. I thought I share a bit of what Sr. Christine Still and Elaine Thaden are doing out on the west coast.

Sr. Christine share a few recent examples of how our sisters and companions supported vocation efforts.
  • At St. Ann’s Convent in Tacoma, several sisters gave up their “Bingo Day” to help create an activity for more than 600 sixth graders from the Archdiocese of Portland. It was a simple task, but one that would have taken me hours to complete by myself. The activity with the sixth graders was a huge success!
  • One Saturday at St. Ann’s, Sr. Jude Connelly hosted 10 students and a teacher from Bellarmine Preparatory High School in Tacoma. Upon their unexpected early arrival, Sr. Esther Anderson jumped in and helped get things started. Several sisters shared a Lenten activity and stories with the students. We spent time in chapel together connecting the activity with sacramentals and talking about our congregation as well as our connection with the Jesuits. The youth helped do some cleaning and then were off. They asked great questions and indicated that they had learned a lot and looked forward to coming again. Unfortunately Jude was not able to attend but everyone was “hands on deck” to make sure all went well.
  • Companion Pat St. Clair spent several hours sending out flyers for the “Come and See” here in Tacoma. She sent them via email to every parish in the Archdioceses of Seattle and Portland.
 Children are never too young to be introduced to the idea of vocations. Sr. Christine shared
 a few quotes from some thank you notes she received from the first graders after she went to St. Paul’s School in Seattle (spelling/grammar/etc. is theirs):
  • Thank you for all that wonderfull thing. I learned Good thing. My favorite thing was God.”
  • “Thank for all your help. My favorit thing was lerning abuto god. I like to learn about God.”
  • “Thank you for coming to St. I learned how to Praying My favorite Part wes the Bookmark.”
  • “thank you for the stuff. I learned a lot of stuff. My favorite is all of it.”
  • “Thank you for coming to are school. I leaned a new way to pray. My favorite part is when you told me your favorite sprot.”

The Bellarmine students found the statue of St. Francis outside St. Ann’s chapel the perfect site for a photo.


Sr. Christine showed off the congregation’s display at the sixth grade youth rally sponsored by the Archdiocese of Portland.

Both Sister Christine and Sr. Elaine accompanied three young women to a "Come and See" retreat at the Bay House at Gig Harbor, Washington. They explored together  Jesus’ poignant question to His first followers, “What are you looking for?” (John 1).

Sr. Elaine described week-end as a time that had a great impact on her. Sr. Christine and I were, in many ways, the ones being educated to the tremendous challenges that young women from diverse cultures face in considering their future paths in life. One young lady’s parents came from the Philippines and Guam. The parents of the other two (sisters) came from southern India. We worked our way—with much help of our congregation’s DVDs—through sharing on Francis’ and Clare’s lives and spirits; giving information on the our mission; viewing the history of our sisters, especially in the west; offering suggestions for Franciscan discernment, and spending wonderful time in reflection and drinking in the beauty of creation by the bay.  I realized yet again the treasure that is ours in all the great women who have gone before us. Their faith and courage flooded in on us as we realized what a privilege it is to work toward building our congregation’s future. 

As a fitting ending to our weekend, we took the women to St. Ann’s for Sunday morning liturgy and lunch. Sr.Jude Connelly, graciously gave a tour of the beautiful new chapel, noting the marvelous Franciscan art work designed by Sr. Monica Borden. Srs. Carmel Gregg and Nadine Bennett joined the group for lunch and a lively sharing of their own vocation stories.

Surprisingly, what moved me most were the times at the bay when Christine and I shared our own vocation stories. The women’s loving reception of our stories and their sincere, searching questions felt like such a blessed time. If you have ever told your story to young people, you probably realize what I mean. On this memorable weekend, I felt as if all of our sisters—past and present—were with us, sharing our mission and sisterhood and praying for vocations.

I'm grateful to Srs. Christine and Elaine for allowing me to share their experiences and to Sr. Mary Beth Antonelli who works so hard here on the east coast. Our two novices, Srs. Sara and Simona, will be returning from the Common Franciscan Novitiate in St. Louis soon and will be beginning their second year of novitiate in Philadelphia. We also have a candidate who will be soon entering the novitiate. We're grateful also for these young women who are so generously taking these years to study and to continue discerning God's call to them.  We are blessed!

I invite each of you also to pray for vocations to religious life and--if you know a young woman or man whom you think might have a religious vocation--please encourage them to think seriously about it! Don't hesitate to check out the vocation info on our website!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Caring for All Creation--Even Baby Owls!

A few weeks ago our sisters here at the motherhouse and some of our employees found a baby owl on the grounds. Apparently it had fallen out of the nest. The poor baby became quite an attraction--and from what I understand, was not at all frightened by the visitors. Some worried that a fox who also frequents the grounds might harm the owl. However, others felt that the fox, if it had spied the mother owl any place, would be too afraid of Mama to harm the baby.

I'm not really sure what eventually happened to the owl other than it's no longer there. Maybe Mama found it. Others say the Aston police came and took it to somewhere safe! While it was here, however, it received lots of visits. Marina, one of the employees in our food service department, took these photos. Another, Rosemarie, sliced down some raw chicken and actually got the baby owl to eat it.

St. Francis, I'm sure, would be pleased with the way Baby Brother Owl was treated during his brief sojourn with us.

In this photo, Brother Owl looks a bit more like Brother Lamb!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Finding St. Francis on Broadway

The Lion King (musical)The Lion King (musical) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Last night I watched The Lion King --a great favorite--on TV and was struck once again by the spirituality I find in the story. I thought I might share an article I'd written some years ago after I had the thrill of seeing The Lion King on Broadway. My original plan was to use the article for an essay contest. No luck! I submitted  it to several magazines. No luck there either. Last evening I thought, "Why not post it on my blog? Maybe someone will enjoy reading it. So--here goes!
Finding St. Francis on Broadway
St. Francis? Broadway? Finding the little poor man of Assisi amid the glamour and glitter of the “great white way”?

I had an opportunity to enjoy Broadway’s production of The Lion King. I was already quite familiar with the movie, having used it as a wonderful teaching resource for my ninth-grade English classes. So when the opportunity arose to join a bus tour going to see the stage production, I collected the money I had set aside for vacation, boarded the bus, and headed for Broadway. And there I found Francis.

The play, superb in staging, choreography, and musical grandeur, had reached the point where the old King Mufasa was dead, killed by the treachery of his brother Scar. The Pride Lands had become a wasteland under the rule of the nefarious Scar. The hero, Simba, self-exiled as a young cub because he was convinced he had caused his father’s death, was now a young adult lion. Together with his new-found friends, Timon and Pumbaa, Simba enjoyed a life of carefree abandon—no worries, no responsibilities, just “Hakuna Matata,” the “worry-free philosophy.” Left behind was the horror of his father’s death. Unfaced and unanswered were the questions of what was happening to those left behind in the Pride Lands. Beginning to sound familiar? Echoes of the carefree young Francis who partied and sang, seeking to erase the horrors of war and the cry of the beggars in the streets of Assisi? Yes, here again I found Francis.

Simba’s “Hakuna Matata” lifestyle is eventually put to the test when he is reunited with Nala, his childhood playmate. Forced by the stark devastation of the Pride Lands, Nala went to seek help. However, her attempt to convince Simba that he is that help, that he should return as rightful King of the Pride Lands, is met with fierce resistance. Additional encouragement by Rafiki, the ancient baboon-cum-medicine woman/man of the Pride Lands, appears equally futile. Simba is, however, forced to face the cause of his reluctance. In dream-like sequences, he relives one of his last conversations with his father. Mufasa had used the stars to teach his young son about the great leaders of the past and had promised that he would always be with the young Simba. Now, reaching into the depths of his anguish, Simba calls on his father in anger and accuses him of breaking that promise.

What happened next, as I sat in that theater, was somehow a blend of ingenious staging and heart-touching mysticism, creating one of those “Ah Ha!” moments that can only be ascribed to the goodness of a gift-giving God. Dancers swirled and swayed across the stage behind a filmy, backdrop and somehow the rhythmic gestures and swaying images appeared to take on the face of Mufasa. And to the young Simba—and to the old me—the vision spoke: “You have forgotten who you are. You have forgotten me!”

Although I knew the story, in the presence of the live motion on the stage and the magic of theatrical lighting, the message carried new meaning and impact. I actually felt tears welling up in my eyes and streaming down my face as I realized the implications of that statement, implications for me, implications for the Franciscan charism that I have tried to live, implications for the world and the society of which I am a part.

“You have forgotten who you are. You have forgotten me.” And there I found St. Francis!

“You have forgotten who you are. You have forgotten me.” And there I found my God!

If St. Francis knew and believed and lived only one thing, that was it. He knew who he was—the beloved child of a loving God! How often had he asked the question, “Who are You, O God, and who am I?” How often had he reaffirmed—to himself and to his followers—the belief that “what a person is before God, that he is and no more”?

Following Francis’ conversion, it was the living realization of that truth that lay beneath his loving care of beggars and lepers—that they, too, were the beloved children of a loving God. And by extension, they were also his sisters and brothers. It was that same lived awareness of who he was in relation to his God that allowed Francis to stand with ease before the nobles of Assisi, before a Sultan, before bishops, before cardinals, and before the pope and explain what it was that God was calling him to do—to live the Gospel. And it was this awareness and self-knowledge that allowed him to roam from town to town, through the Umbrian hills and valleys, proclaiming “I am the herald of the great King.” You can do that if you really remember—and believe in—who you are and who God is!

And what about Francis’ manner of addressing natural creation as “sister” and “brother”? Was this simply the poetic utterance of a true romantic? Indeed, St. Francis was by nature both poet and romantic. But he was more. He was a man who knew God, who was ever in process of discovering more about and being surprised by that God. And he was a man who knew who he was in relation to his God. It was the overwhelming depth of this realization that enabled him to see Jesus as “brother” and as “first-born of all creation” and to embrace all of creation as “sister” and “brother”—not just “Brother Bishop” or “Brother Leo” or “Sister Clare” but also “Brother Sun” and “Our Sister Mother Earth” and “Sister Water.
What about us today, here, now, in 2012? We’re pretty far removed from both the fictional world of the Pride Lands and from the thirteenth century world of Francis of Assisi. Our society has ways of dealing with individuals who might dance through the street singing “Hakuna Matata” or proclaiming “I am the Herald of the Great King.” Most of us don’t see visions or hear voices of deceased ancestors calling us to get our act together. And yet, there is in our society and in our world a desperate need for the kind of conversion experienced by both the fictional Simba and the real Francis. At times in our lives, we all need to be reminded that we have forgotten who we are. When we forget who we are, we then forget who God is in our lives. And it is in this forgetting that our world is torn and strafed by violence and our lives dominated by fear.

It is in forgetting who we are that we resort to war and to terrorism—and the God who is “the Fullness of Good, all good, every good, the true and supreme good” becomes a God in whose name we wreck vengeance and fight “holy wars.”

It is in forgetting who we are that we turn to violence and abuse—and the God who is “merciful and gentle, delectable and sweet” becomes a harsh taskmaster who rules and controls through fear and domination and abuse of power.

It is in forgetting who we are that we violate the natural resources of our Earth—and “Sister Water” is polluted with the filth of industrial waste; “Mother Earth” is scarred with pesticides and landmines; “BrotherWind” carries the toxic silent death emitted by nuclear test sites.

It is in forgetting who we are that we ascribe to corporate greed and to fraud—and the God who is  “moderation” and “all our riches” becomes the god of takeovers and tax games, of stock trading and Ponzi schemes. 

And on a more personal level? It is in forgetting who I am and who God is that causes me to respond with annoyance when my needs are not always met; that leads me to rationalize that the homeless woman on the corner and the inmate on death row are not as deserving of respect and reverence as our hard-working, law-abiding citizens. It is in forgetting who I am that allows me to dwell in apathy rather than to challenge unjust structures;  that makes me hesitate to use the gifts that my loving God has given me because they just might not measure up to someone else’s gifts.

So where do we find our reminders? Francis prayed before the crucifix: “Most High, glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my heart and give me true faith, certain hope, and perfect charity, sense and knowledge, Lord, that I may carry out Your holy and true command.” That same short prayer that asks for so much might serve as both request and reminder. Similarly, we might simply pray Francis’question, “Who are You, O God, and who am I?” And if we listen closely, our hearts will hear the whispered call, “You are the beloved child of a loving God.” And who knows? We might even hear it on Broadway!
Sister Ann Marie Slavin, OSF

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Friday, May 4, 2012

Welcoming Sister Maria!

On April 29 our sisters gathered in the chapel at Our Lady of Angels Convent for a special liturgy welcoming Sister Maria Orlandini as a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia. Sister Maria had previously made her perpetual profession of vows as a Cannossian Sister. Over the years she felt that God was calling her to a different way of living out that vowed commitment. She requested to transfer to the Sisters of St. Francis and for several years continued her discernment as she lived and worked with our sisters. During the liturgy on April 29, Sister Maria was officially received into the congregation and professed her vows for the first time as a Sister of St. Francis of Philadelphia. Our chaplain, Fr. Cyprian Rosen, OFM Cap., was the presider at the Eucharistic liturgy. Sister Esther Anderson, our congregational minister, received Maria's vows in the name of the congregation and Sister Marie Lucey shared a beautiful reflection about Maria--her life and ministry both before and after her relationship with our congregation.

Currently Sister Maria lives in Wilmington, Delaware. She ministers as program director at Anna’s Place in Chester, Pennsylvania. Anna's Place, one of our sponsored ministries, provides a safe place for the people of Chester by providing activities, programs, and a place to social. Read more about Anna's Place at and

Sister Maria professes her vows as a Sister of St. Francis of Philadelphia.

Sister Maria stops to chat with sisters at the luncheon.

Sister Maria's coworkers and friends from Anna's Place were on hand for the celebration.
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