Franciscan Footprints

Give your Best - Advent Reflection

Sister Josepha

I can remember when I was about 5 or 6 years old and it was Christmas morning.  I was so excited to wake up and explore all the new gifts under the Christmas tree for me.  While I was enjoying them with my younger brother, my Dad said to both of us.  “Now I want you to select one of your new toys and bring it to the family down the street that has a lot less than you have.”  That wasn’t easy to do, to give away something new I had just received, but down the street I went with my brother.  We knocked on the door and shared our gifts and the special feeling I had in my heart walking back home was something I will never forget.

When I was a young Sister in our Community I was very close to one of our older Sisters, Sister M. Josepha.  She had such a kind heart and the warmest smile.  I loved spending time with her.  One day while I was visiting with her, she opened a drawer in her bedroom and handed me a beautifully hand-knitted brown vest that her sister in Germany had made for her.  It felt so soft and new.  Right away, I said “No, this is too special and must mean so much to you.  You keep it!”  She smiled at me so gently and said, “Don’t you always give the best away?”  And she quickly went on to something else, taking for granted that I did the same.  Well, she wasn’t exactly right.  I still had lots to learn.

Often I would give what I had in excess, or what was extra and beyond what I needed.  Seemed generous to me at the time, but didn’t quite meet Sister’s standard.  I was giving, but not my BEST.  I’m getting better.

I was thinking about my personal time.  That is a precious gift God gives us each and every new day.  How I use that time can be my gift back to Him; it needs to be my BEST.  My questions to myself might be helpful to you as well.  How do I use that time?  Do I give my BEST to others, even when it challenges my own personal agenda?  I still have much to learn.  I believe so strongly that the more we give of ourselves, and give ourselves away in love and service to others, the more of EVERYTHING God sends our way.  That’s pretty hard to top!

Read more: Give your Best - Advent Reflection

Convent Life Spring and Summer 2018

Postulant Riding Bike

You may have been wondering where we've been lately.  Sorry.  The absence of blog posts isn't because we've all been on vacation, I just hadn't gotten around to posting things.  So this will be sort of a catch-all post of highlights of what's been going on with us at the convent.

We've had a lot of new wildlife at the convent this spring.  (Perhaps that's why we didn't get much our the garden this summer.)  There were thousands of tiny frogs, or toads perhaps, does with fawns, and a robin and an cardinal build nests right where we could watch them.  There has also been other strange animals rolling around the Motherhouse grounds.  We now have a couple bikes to use, and the sisters are having fun riding around the grounds.  (Pictures of Convent Wildlife)

May, 'tis the month of our Mother, so we always have special devotions to our Blessed Mother Mary.  These include a little reflection about Mary and a Marian hymn with our usual daily Rosary, and having a May Crowning.  May Crowning, in case you are not familiar with this practice, is a certain celebration to honor Our Lady.  In the Catholic Church we believe that Mary has been crowned queen of heaven and earth and our Mother. So in a May crowing, we symbolically crown a statue of our Blessed Mother with flowers and we sing hymns and pray the Litany of Loreto and other prayers, to show her our love.  (Pictures of May Crowning)

Read more: Convent Life Spring and Summer 2018

Lots Going on with OSF HealthCare this Year

As you probably know by now, health care is our primary apostolate, and our vehicle for this, if you want to call it that, is OSF HealthCare.

We recognize that the way we care for people's health today needs to change.  You know, when we started caring for the sick over 140 years ago, health care was a lot simpler.  There was a doctor, and a nurse, and a druggist or pharmacist or what ever they used to call them back then.  Diagnostics and treatments were rudimentary.  The structure of our modern health care delivery has been built on these bones, and over the years we've been tacking more and more things onto it.

  • New drugs developed
  • New diagnostic tests
  • New professions to do those tests
  • New treatments
  • New professions to deliver those treatments
  • Better medical science - new medical specialties
  • Medical insurance 
  • Government regulations

Read more: Lots Going on with OSF HealthCare this Year

New Novice - Patricia has a New Name

New Franciscan Novice Received

On August 6, 2018, Sister Mary Grace, O.S.F. was received into the novitiate of The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis.  The private ceremony was held in their chapel at the motherhouse.

Sister Mary Grace, formerly Postulant Patricia, was raised on the East Coast in New Jersey during her earliest years and then in Virginia during her adolescent years.  After earning her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration at Western Carolina University, she joined the U.S. Air Force and served in various administrative and healthcare management positions.  As a member of both active duty and reserve forces, Sister Mary Grace worked at different locations in the U.S. and overseas.  She also served as a special education teacher for children with severe disabilities. 

Coming to us from Colorado, she entered into the formation program of The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis as a postulant in January. During her postulancy, she served part-time as a volunteer at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Concierge/Registration, GI Lab, and Discharge Hospitality.

Read more: New Novice - Patricia has a New Name

Vocation Stories of the Saints - St. Therese - Part 2

It has been several months since I posted the last article in this series.  Sorry. :\

Many of you are trying to figure out what God wants you to do with your life.  You may be looking to know how St. Therese knew she should be a Carmelite nun.  Perhaps you get a little frustrated when you hear other peoples' vocation stories, because they aren't really clear on "How they knew".

First Seed Planted in the Call to be a Nun

Her very first thoughts of becoming a nun came as a very young age, about preschool age.  She was very attached to her sister, Pauline.  She heard people say that Pauline was certain to become a nun. So, not really knowing what that meant, she would tell herself, "I'll be a nun too." (Chapter 2)  That doesn't seem like good enough reason to enter religious life, but that is plenty reason enough for a preschooler.  Little children learn by imitation.  They copy the ones they love and follow them around.  God reached her where she was.  Although copying someone else isn't sufficient reason to enter religious life, it was God's way to to put the thought into little Therese's head.  More mature discernment would have to wait until she was mature enough to do it.

St. Therese tells of playing hermit as a child.  Sounds like it was one of her favorite games.  Little children learn by playing.  She was imagining a religious life and practicing living it.  This was probably helpful in both her discernment of the call and her formation.

She loved playing the hermit so much, she told her favorite sister, Pauline, that she wanted to be a hermit, and couldn't they both go off to some far-away desert together.  Pauline, playing along, said that was her desire too, but she'd have to wait till Therese was old enough.  She later over heard Pauline talking to Marie about leaving to enter Carmel.  She was heart-broken at the though of Pauline leaving her, and not waiting for her.

Pauline tried to console her and told her about life in Carmel.  It was at this point that Therese really felt the call to be a Carmelite.  It was more than just wanting to be with Pauline.  It was the desert the Lord was calling her to.  She wanted it for Him, not Pauline.  There was no shadow of a doubt in her mind.  She met with the Prioress and was disappointed to hear that they couldn't take nine year olds as postulants and that she would have to wait until she was sixteen.  At nine, that must have seemed like an eternity to wait.

St Therese at 15

By the age of fourteen, "God's call was so urgent that I would have passed thorough fire to prove my loyalty."  Here we see no obvious external motivation, but something that apparently comes from within.  The divine nature of the call shows itself in the acts of St. Therese.  It gives her a courage and a boldness she did not have before.  It gives her the courage to speak to priests and her bishop.  It gives her the boldness to speak to the pope, even when told to be silent.  This from one, who just a little earlier would cry at the drop of a hat.

Read more: Vocation Stories of the Saints - St. Therese - Part 2