Franciscan Footprints

2016 Feast of Saint Teresa of Jesus

St Teresa & piilgrimSince I attended Saint Teresa of Avila Catholic Church & School – which my parents are now parishioners – not to mention my baptismal name is “Tracy,” a derivative of the name “Teresa,” it is easy to understand the devotion I carry to this Carmelite Doctor of the Church.  From the church’s website, here’s a quick synopsis of this great saint:

Saint Teresa is among the most important figures of all time for Catholic spirituality. Her works - especially the four best known (The Life, The Way of Perfection, The Mansions and The Foundations) - together with her more historical works, contain a doctrine which encompasses the whole of the spiritual life, from the first steps right up to intimacy with God at the center of the Interior Castle.

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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!)

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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??

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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

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