Franciscan Footprints

St. Francis and Christmas

Altar at Greccio. Courtesy of Br. Bob Jones, SM"For I wish to do something that will recall to memory the little Child who was born in Bethlehem and set before our bodily eyes in some way the inconveniences of his infant needs, how he lay in a manager, how, with an ox and an ass standing by, he lay upon the hay where he had been placed."  This, from the First Life of St. Francis by Thomas of Celano, was St. Francis' intention when he had the first live nativity scene set up in Greccio.

It wasn't with expensive little ceramic figures sitting near a Christmas tree, but actual farm animals, and hay, and a feeding trough up on a hill in Greccio, Italy.  There, along with his friars and people from the surrounding area, they celebrated Christmas Midnight Mass.

They put before their eyes what they were having trouble imagining, to help them to meditate on the miracle of Christ's birth.  Sometimes we get too used to things, too familiar, to see them clearly anymore.  We can gain new perspective by looking outside of ourselves: seeing an image or icon, reading a book, listening to others, ...

St. Francis and those with him took the time and the effort to do that.  They made preparations, they hiked up the hill at night, the celebrated Mass at night in the cold, to try to get a feeling for how it would have been for the Holy Family that first Christmas night.

And their efforts were rewarded!  It was a time of consolation and renewed fervor.  At least one man saw a vision of the Infant Jesus.  The Lord worked miracles for mothers in child-birth and for animals through the straw that had been in the manger.

Perhaps if we made a similar effort, the Lord would work a miracle in our hearts.

Read more about St. Francis' Christmas at Greccio.

Read about and see pictures of Brother Bob's pilgrimage to Greccio.

St. Mary's New Chapel

Our OSF Saint Mary Medical Center in Galesburg, IL has been sorely in new of a bigger chapel for many years.  This year on November 18, with some renovations and an lot of department shuffling, they finally have their new chapel.  I took a few pictures of the dedication, but the ones they have on their Facebook page are much better, so I'll just send you over there to see them.

Chapel Dedication Photos

2014 Fall Bazaar

Thank you to everyone who made this year's Motherhouse Fall Bazaar such a success!  It is Friday and Saturday of the weekend before Thanksgiving every year.  On the first day, November 21, there was a large crowd waiting at the door to come in.  I got a few pictures as people were starting to come in and look around.  I was at the cash and really didn't even get a chance to look up again until about 11:30am.  We raised more money than we have in many years.  The proceeds go to our mission fund to support those in need.


The last picture is Sister Judith Ann reading at the Mass for the Diocesan opening of the Year of Consecrated Life.  We started a week earlier here. :)

Sr. Judith Ann's Feast Day 2014

Ever since Sister Judith Ann became our Major Superior we have a sort of double celebration on or around the Feast St. Jude. 

The Feast of St. Jude, October 28, has always been a rather important date for our religious community.  It is the day our founding sisters first arrived in Peoria back in 1876.  It is also the that that our foundress, Mother M. Frances Krasse, O.S.F., was born into eternal life in 1885.

We celebrate our Major Superior's feast day in a special way, because we look to her as our mother.  (For those of you who may not know, in our religious community as with many others, we generally celebrate the feast day of the saint we are named after, our feast day or name day, rather than our birthday.)  On that day we offer Mass for her intentions, as well as a spiritual bouquet, and gifts.  The gifts may be little things for her personally, things for the community, or hand made items that will most likely go in the annual bazaar.  (If you're interested in purchasing some of the crafts and needlework of the Sisters, come for the bazaar November 21-22.)  Sister Judith Ann's feast day is the Feast of the Apostle St. Jude. 

Hope you enjoy the pictures.


Events for the Year of Consecrated Life

So you may have heard about the Pope having declared 2015 the Year of Consecrated Life back in January.  And then, and then, and then.... well we finally have some actual details of what will be going on!

  • November 29, 2014: Opening Prayer Vigil (This is in Rome I believe.)
  • November 30, 2014: Opening Mass for the Year of Consecrated Life with Pope Francis (again in Rome)  Now you may want to check with your diocese to see if they have anything planned.  The Diocese of Peoria will have it's opening Mass on November 23.
  • January 22-24, 2015: Meeting of Catholic and non-Catholic consecrated men and women during Christian Unity week (in Rome)
  • February 8, 2015: Religious Open House. Events will include tours, open houses, receptions, family activities, and presentations on the history of religious communities at convents, abbeys, monasteries and religious houses. (individual religious communities throughout the US)
  • Second week of April, 2015: International conference on religious formation (Rome)
  • Summer 2015: Day of Mission and Service with Religious. Events will include joining religious in their apostolates or special service projects, such as assisting the elderly, ministering to the poor and homeless, and caring for the less fortunate. (individual religious communities throughout the US)
  • September 13, 2015: Day of Prayer with Religious. Events will include vespers, rosary or holy hours in convents, monasteries, religious houses, parishes and churches. (individual religious communities throughout the US)
  • September 18-19, 2015: Wake Up the World Conference, celebrating the joy of the consecrated life. (in Peoria, more info to follow at a later date)
  • September 23-26, 2015: Event for young men and women in discernment and in the process of joining religious orders up to ten years in vows (in Rome)
  • December 18-21, 2015: Separate meetings for members of monastic orders and of secular institutes. (in Rome)
  • January 28 - February 1, 2016: Theological symposium on religious life (in Rome)
  • February 2, 2016: Closing Mass with Pope Francis on World Day of Consecrated Life (in Rome)

These national and international events are being put on or organized by several different groups: the Vatican and CICLSAL, NRVC, USCCB

Now the CMSWR is also working on plans which they publicized yet, so you may want to keep an eye on their website.