Franciscan Footprints

2016 Blessing of the Animals

As we know, Saint Francis had a great love for all of God's creation and out of that has come the "Blessing of Animals" tradition!  Here at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, Father Small blessed our PAWS therapy dogs:

2016 Feast of Saint Francis

Feast of St Francis Table CenterpieceHappy Feast of Saint Francis!  As you know, for us Franciscans, October 4th is a BIG deal!

First of all, in the Catholic Church, we celebrate the day a person and/or saint begins their eternal life, rather than their birthday.  In the church calendar, Saint Francis’ feast day is October 4th, even though he passed onto eternal life the evening of October 3rd.  The death of Saint Francis is quite the story….FrancisCorps, in their 2012 blog, describes it as Saint Francis Embraces Sister Death.

In the Sisters of the Third Order of Saint Francis, how do we celebrate and prepare?

We began with a novena to St Francis, starting on September 25th.  Last Friday we held a “community” reconciliation service, with readings and prayers related to Saint Francis.  On October 3rd, we abstain from meat and fast and, on the evening of October 3rd, we celebrate the Transitus of St. Francis with a special service.  On October 4th, we celebrate!  Of course, the biggest celebration is the Mass, as a solemnity!  Then, there’s a festive meal at noon.  Furthermore, we decorate both our convent chapel and the main hospital chapel for the feast, and even our dining room table in honor of Saint Francis.  This year, we have a “St. Francis Statue Garden” theme (see image.  This was an early version of the centerpiece.  It kept evolving as each Sister added their own statues to the garden!)

Read more: 2016 Feast of Saint Francis

The Sixth Spiritual Work of Mercy: Bear Wrongs Patiently

First StationEach month, during this Jubilee year, our community decided to focus on & practice one particular work of mercy.  This month, September, is “To Bear Wrongs Patiently.”  As I thought about this, I began to think, well that’s an opportunity just waiting to be plucked here in community life!

When you live with other people, you learn their peculiarities.  Over time, you may notice annoying habits or irritating noises they make.  Maybe the other person is moody or seemingly ungrateful.  Or someone else feels you’re not doing your share of the work.  It’s an environment just asking for learning to bear wrongs patiently!

Since my name in religious life became Sister “JOY” Marie, as you’d expect, I find myself pondering “perfect joy,” and how to live this through my actions and life.  Remember Saint Francis’ story to Brother Leo about what is perfect joy?  For Saint Francis, according to Fr Bill Short, OFM, perfect joy is, “The ability to endure mistreatment & not to be disturbed; patiently & non-violent; based on love for the other who is mistreating you1.”

This is the merciful act of “bearing wrongs patiently,” is it not??

Read more: The Sixth Spiritual Work of Mercy: Bear Wrongs Patiently

Process of Formation for the Sisters of the Third Order of Saint Francis

Process of FormationBecoming who God meant us to be is a process and formation – a life-long journey!  Each day, each moment of our life, we are learning and growing.  Every activity we undertake or goal we strive to achieve requires a training or a learning period.  This is true also for someone entering religious life. The process of formation has several stages that incorporate you more deeply into what is expected in religious and community life.

The first step is the candidacy – getting to know the community.


The “candidate” stage has no set time limit. During this stage the candidate becomes more familiar with us by visiting and meeting with the Vocation Director to keep discerning God’s call. A candidate continues to live independently. When she and the Vocation Director feels she is has the needed qualifications, and is ready, she can begin the application process to enter the community.  My “candidate” stage was approximately 9 months between my first contact with our vocations director (a phone call) and submitting my application.

The Postulancy and Novitiate, the first stages in formation, begins the transformation of a young woman desiring to consecrate her life to God into a member of a religious community, living and giving her every moment, word, action and thought for God’s glory and honor.

Stage 1: Postulancy

Read more: Process of Formation for the Sisters of the Third Order of Saint Francis

Introducing Sister Joy Marie, O.S.F.!

Sister Joy Marie, O.S.F.On August 5th, I was blessed to take the next step in my journey as a religious in the Catholic Church.  Received into the Novitiate of the Sisters of the Third Order of Saint Francis, the private ceremony was held in the chapel at our motherhouse in East Peoria.  I have been given the name of Sister Joy Marie.  After I give you a little background, I’ll tell you how our community navigates this tradition and how I selected my preferred religious name.

Why do some Sisters and Nuns change their names?

What is the reasoning behind a nun or sister choosing a religious name? Where does the significance come from? How is a religious name determined?  These questions are answered very concisely on “A Nun’s Life” Ministry blog.  The second half of another, more scholarly article, from the Proceedings of the Western Society for French History, called Taking the Veil: Clothing and the Transformation of Identity on Names and Transformed Identities, really goes into the history and tradition of why religious change their names.

Sister Mary Fulgentia.  Mother Mary Conegunde.  Sister Hortulana.  Sister Mary Pelagia.  Sister Mary Blondina.  Sister Mary Dominic.  And my favorite, Sister Mary Hilaria.  These are all names of deceased Sisters of the Third Order of Saint Francis.  May they rest in peace.  But who are their patron saints?  As explained in A Nun’s Life blog, the names could be of a particular favorite or patron saint, or the name of a parent or the patron saint of their parish.  But let’s look at each of these, more unusual, names.  Their patron saints may have been:

Read more: Introducing Sister Joy Marie, O.S.F.!