Monthly Archives: March 2010

A Prayer for Holy Week: 2010

Peter remembered the word of the Lord,
how he had said to him,
“Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.”
He went out and began to weep bitterly. – Luke 21: 61-62

There are so many different ways that we may enter into the fullness of the Easter Triduum. Whether we choose to ready our hearts and minds through contemplation of scripture, meditating on certain aspects of Christ’s experience:

  • (Breaking bread with His disciples or washing their feet;
  • His time in the garden of Gethsemane;
  • carrying the cross to Calvary,
  • or feeling utterly abandoned and alone in His crucifixion);

or reveling in the joy and solemnity of this season through ritual meal preparations and family celebrations; or even finding some aspect of Christ’s passion alive and inside of a social justice or community service experience.  Some of us may get quiet, others more vocal and boisterous as we allow the mystery of these High Holy days to pierce our hearts and inform our faith in action.

As I move through this Holy week this year, and prepare for Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday liturgies,  I find myself held captive by one aspect of Christ’s passion: His friend Peter’s denial of their relationship. And I’m inspired to pray.  I feel sort of stuck in a sense, or inspired, as I meditate on what it was for this disciple to deny knowing Christ, to publicly disavow the Divine’s presence and identity in his midst. I can’t help but wonder about how this founding father of the Catholic church is alive and weeping still over his denial of the innocent and beloved Christ. I think about the root cause of Peter’s actions — possibly being his own fear of death and public persecution?– and find myself swimming in sea of compassion, and simultaneously:  equally impassioned by present day circumstances in our church.  I think of the ways that denial of the Divine and rejection of the innocent is playing out in Peter’s descendants. I think of this past week’s headlines around abused children and the church’s lack of public acknowledgment. I ache. I am angered. I am alive in my prayer.

I think of how I participate in any kind of rejection of Christ and His call, and I ask for insights – to be further stretched and humbled, softened and open to God’s love, mercy, passion and forgiveness.  I lean into the mystery of His resurrection and abundant love.

I pray:

  • For Peter – and for all disciples of Christ – who have denied His love and presence, and contributed to the suffering of the innocent, that all may know the power of Christ’s Love;
  • For all church leaders, as they wrestle with their callings and manners of being Life-giving and affirming servants of God, that humility and compassion from their lived experiences inform their ministries.
  • For the continued transformation of all hearts and minds as we grow in conscious awareness of our oneness through Christ’s love, death, and resurrection.
  • For all innocent beings whose lives and experiences of suffering are denied or dismissed, that they may know an identity aligned with a greater Love.

May the Paschal Mystery inform and inspire all the cells of our beings, and give way to the hope of our humble continuation serving and following this amazing Christ. May we claim the truth of our unification as an Easter people!

In peace, love, compassion, prayer,
Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde
Visitation Companion

Discernment Workshop: Session II Snapshots

The following photographs document the Wednesday, March 24, “Following the Spirit” discernment workshop. As the second one in the series, the sisters were blessed with returning participants as well as new friends from the Northside community and beyond! It’s amazing to see this group grow and to glean the relational network that extends such prayerful opportunities. The sisters are especially grateful to the young men and women of the Urban Homeworks community that are convening on these evenings, as well as friends through – and alumni from – Visitation School.  This session included guest facilitator,  Sr. Mary Virginia, as she took the participants through a discernment process. Sister  illustrated a discernment experience through the story of the Vis Sisters coming from St. Louis, Missouri, to found the new monastery in North Minneapolis.

Check out the pictures! Consider joining us on April 28 from 7pm – 8:30pm. All discerners are welcome!

St. Jane House: 1403 Emerson Avenue North

St. Jane House: 1403 Emerson Avenue North

Come on in!

Come on in!

Sr. Joanna welcomes us to pray

Sr. Joanna welcomes us to pray



Sr. Mary Virginia tells the Vis Sisters' story around discerning their move from St. Louis to North Minneapolis

Sr. Mary Virginia tells the Vis Sisters story around discerning their move from St. Louis to North Minneapolis

Corner of room

Recording a discernment question

The discernment process: Beginning by recording a prayerful question

What are the pros and cons to my question?

What are the pros and cons to my question?

What feedback do we hear or thoughts do we receive from others?

What feedback do we hear or thoughts do we receive from others?

Marking discernment through ritual action

Marking discernment through ritual action

Group shot

Reflecting on the Discernment process

Reflecting on the Discernment process

Collective prayers around discerned commitments

Collective prayers around discerned commitments

A New Deal

Another invigorating and intense week, as we close it out and look to the weekend, I thought a simple, but powerful prayer might inspire and encourage us that no matter wherever the post we choose there is much good work to be done. There are many people to advocate for and on behalf of whether it is your child, your aging parents, your neighbor, a difficult boss, a struggling co-worker, a brother,  a sister, or a friend. Even when it is most difficult let us find ways to respond with love, with authenticity, with humanity.

Eleanor Roosevelt’s Our Father Prayer

“Our Father, who has set a restlessness in our hearts and made us all seekers after that which we can never fully find, forbid us to be satisfied with what we make of life. Draw us from base content and set our eyes on far-off goals. Keep us at tasks too hard for us that we may be driven to Thee for strength. Deliver us from fretfulness and self-pitying; make us sure of the good we cannot see and of the hidden good in the world. Open our eyes to simple beauty all around us and our hearts to the loveliness men hide from us because we do not try to understand them. Save us from ourselves and show us a vision of a world made new.”

Eleanor Roosevelt’s nightly prayer, from Mother R. By Elliott Roosevelt and James Brough.

Eleanor Roosevelt at Gila River, Arizona, a Japanese-American Internment Center (April 23, 1943).

Eleanor Roosevelt at Gila River, Arizona, a Japanese-American Internment Center (April 23, 1943).

With Love and Admiration for all that you do,

Elizabeth Eilers Sullivan, Visitation Alumna ’93

The Conversion and Calling of Oscar Romero – Alive and Inviting us to North Minneapolis?

“I do not believe in death without resurrection. If they kill me, I will be resurrected in the Salvadoran people.”
-Archbishop Oscar Romero

Archbishop Romero among the people

Archbishop Romero among the people

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the martyrdom of Salvadorian Archbishop Oscar Romero. As I hold this man’s legacy and witness to the gospel in my prayers, I think about Romero’s story. I meditate on his conversion experience. I think about how he went from being a bookish sort of fellow, intentionally removed from any sort of gospel activism,  to one who became immersed in prayerful action for an oppressed and impoverished people, unpacking and applying the tenets of liberation theology. I am moved as I contemplate what transformed his heart, his spirit, his presence in the warring nation of El Salvador. I imagine the night, just three weeks into his appointment as archbishop,  that he traveled from the capitol to a country side church in Paisnal, where one of his priests had been murdered –  along with two other parishioners –  for standing with the peasant farmers in their desire to create farming cooperatives. I see the people gathered around Romero, quietly beseeching his support, and I ache fathoming what anger mixed with compassion must have started a fire in his own heart.

As I contemplate Romero’s presence among the terrorized people in this rural community, I wonder how any of his experience inspires or relates to my own – so far removed from Central America? How does his life and witness to Love inform my own call to live as a catholic in this global community? Where am I being invited to stand in solidarity?  What spaces of poverty or injustice am I called to witness first hand?  How am I being invited to recognize the struggle that calls for the immediacy of Christ’s presence?

“God needs the people themselves to save the world . . . The world of the poor teaches us that liberation will arrive only when the poor are not simply on the receiving end of hand-outs from governments or from the churches, but when they themselves are the masters and protagonists of their own struggle for liberation.” –  Archbishop Oscar Romero

Romero’s conversion hinges upon his knowledge and first hand experience with the poor. It’s his relationship with the victims of violence, his proximity to the peasants and priestly people struggling to live in peace, that informs his transformed ministry and leadership in El Salvador.

Aunt Mo and Sr. KatherineToday in North Minneapolis, the Visitation sisters are going about their daily lives of active prayer and communal ministry. They rise for early morning prayer at 7am, attend mass at 8am with neighbors and friends; go about their days with  a commitment to open the door to whoever rings the bell, inviting them to be their vocational calling and “Live Jesus!” They pray again at noon, 4:45pm and 8:15pm. In each internal experience of prayer, the sisters will tune into how they are experiencing Christ alive and calling to them through their neighborhood. They, not unlike Romero, are witnessing to the transformational power of relationship, of proximity to the poor and those living on the margins.  They are following in the footsteps of their founders, Francis and Jane, and finding alignment in the gospel narrative of Mary and Elizabeth: visiting and tending to the love wanting to get born in each of us.

In our urban ministry, the Visitation Sisters of North Minneapolis choose to reach out in a special way:

  1. to companion and affirm those who are impoverished and lonely — those living on the fringes of society.
  2. to support those committed to a ministry of peace and justice by sharing our Salesian spirituality with them.
  3. to educate and network with those who, in being materially secure, seek ways of growing in faith, hope and love by bridging with people in our multi-cultural community.
  4. to provide spiritual formation for those affiliated with us in a variety of ways.
    – From “Ministry of Prayer and Presence”
"What kinds of things are you discerning?"

"What kinds of things are you discerning?"

Tonight, a group of people ranging in age from 20-45 will convene under the auspices of the Visitation sisters in a space devoted to discernment. These young men and women will be dwelling inside the questions of calling, of vocation; they’ll be prayerfully focusing themselves, at least for two hours, on the invitation to live their gifts and honor their divine purposes. They will, not unlike Romero, be invited to “come and see” the love on fire within their own hearts for a ministry, career, calling — in possible proximity to the poor.

I hold all this information as I pray through my writing this day, marveling at the juxtaposition of the beloved Romero, the presence of the Visitation sisters in North Minneapolis and the way a whole host of men and women are entering into this space of intentional reflection.

Please join me in prayer for all that is at work on this day, and in the many to come,  as the spirit of Romero is felt alive and resurrected in the people of El Salavador, as well as those many miles beyond: in the hearts and minds and actions of the spiritual beings in North Minneapolis.

Peace and gratitude,
Melissa Borgmann Kiemde
Visitation Companion

On the Friendship of Neighbor, George Perez

Faithful snowblowing friend, George Perez

Faithful snowblowing friend, George Perez

By Sister Karen Mohan, VHM

I hadn’t planned to write about George on this blog, but our good  friend and neighbor died last Thursday, and I can’t get  George Perez  off my mind.  He was our community life-line into the ‘hood, and we couldn’t have hoped for a better “ connector,” straight-talker, storyteller,  handyman, and instructor in the art of manual labor, gardening, or life “in the ‘hood.”   He and his wife, Sharon lived just two houses away; they and their menagerie of indoor and outdoor pets, and garage full of every tool, saw, or electrical gadget imaginable!

We first encountered George snowblowing  our sidewalk the first month we moved into the neighborhood. That was November, 1989.  George had recently retired but was full of energy know-how.  We wondered who this kind person might be.  George made it clear:

“I’m snowblowing your place because my mother would be throwing rocks from heaven if I didn’t help the nuns!”

George continued snowblowing our extensive sidewalk for years, and when his health began to fail, Sharon would do this with him.

George wasn’t a churchgoer.  He was still upset over their home parish that had been closed and razed  to make way for the new interstate highway. This all happened right after the St. Joseph tower had been completed– a project for which George had donated hard earned money .  He may not have liked “church” time, but he embraced and lived the golden rule, and he loved his neighbors, the Sisters.

I saw George in church twice.  Once was at a family funeral.  The other time was when he and Sharon  had their marriage blessed.   At that time George purchased a handsome new suit.  He exclaimed,

“Look at this! This cost me $400!  You won’t see me in it again until my funeral!”  And his hearty laugh filled the air!

Helping us in the garden

Helping us in the garden

Humor was usually a part of George’s every conversation. He often regaled us with his fisherman tales, his northwoods’ deer hunting expeditions stories, or his “life lesson” talks.   Often, after helping us, he would scratch his head and say,

“I just don’t know why you all would do this—give up  marriage and join the convent.”

But of course he DID know.  He had already shown us that “actions speak louder than words”  and that  to have a friend like George was to know the truth of Sirach 6:14-15 :

“A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; those who find one find a treasure.  A faithful friend is beyond price. No sum can balance their worth.”

I saw George for the last time in their car driving down the back alley with Sharon. We waved.  I didn’t know it would be my last opportunity to greet the friend who had made my life so much fuller because of his friendship.   As our Catholic funeral liturgy proclaims: George, may the angels lead you into paradise and the saints welcome you to the holy city where you will see God face to face.  I will miss you.

I would encourage anyone who reads this to contact one of your friends and let them know what  their friendship means to you.

“Pick Your Post”-Gustavo Gutierrez

“Imagine the church if leaders could never escape seeing the world through the eyes of the destitute, the hungry, the illiterate. Maybe requiring a year of living on the edge to all who hold power would be the most sacred formation, the most enlightening prayer.” – Fr. Pat Malone, S.J. in his St. Patrick’s Day Caring Bridge journal entry.

What a week of inspiration at the Monastery: Mary Johnson’s story of forgiveness, Creighton Students on an Urban Plunge, to the Star Tribune Stories that highlights both the Sisters’ Monastery and St. Jane’s House! All of these experiences inform and inspire a reflection on how we are all called to “pick our post.”

Fr. Gustavo Gutierrez, Fatehr of Liberation Theology

Fr. Gustavo Gutierrez, Father of Liberation Theology

Liberation Theology invites us to understand the Bible, our Catholic Faith, and the Church through the perspective of the poor. Gustavo Gutierrez, the father of Liberation Theology, calls this approach “the preferential option for the poor.” Gutierrez continues about the importance of “picking a post,” that is, intentionally choosing where you stand in the world. When Gutierrez speaks of this important concept, he uses The Gospel of Mark 12:41-44 to illustrate how Jesus picks his post intentionally:

41“He sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. 42A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents. 43Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, “Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. 44For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.”

The Sisters of the Visitation of North Minneapolis have picked their post! The post they intentionally chose is in the dynamic  communities of North Minneapolis; as stated on their homepage: “We are present in the inner city to “Live Jesus” by being part of this multi-cultural community-to share prayer, hope and God’s blessings with the people in our neighborhood and to receive their blessedness. These [neighbors], our friends, are drawn into a circle of faith that brings us all to a clearer vision of the face of God.” The sisters left the monasteries of the schools – where they were initially called to serve through formal education, and choose a post they were being called toward. From their respective monastic communities in St. Louis, Missouri,  and Mendota Heights, Minnesota, they moved to North Minneapolis. In doing so, they have bought awareness and an invitation to the schools they served first: it’s an invitation to friendship, prayer, and action.

The importance of picking a post, the importance of where you stand in the world, will color your perspective and inform your actions and responses. Gustavo Gutierrez states in his interview in America Magazine by Dan Hartnett S.J.:

“The preferential option for the poor is ultimately a question of friendship. Without friendship, an option for the poor can easily become commitment to an abstraction (to a social class, a race, a culture, an idea). Aristotle emphasized the important place of friendship for the moral life, but we also find this clearly stated in John’s Gospel. Christ says, “I do not call you servants, but friends.” As Christians, we are called to reproduce this quality of friendship in our relationships with others. When we become friends with the poor, their presence leaves an indelible imprint on our lives, and we are much more likely to remain committed.”

  • What is your post? IMG_0114
  • Where do you stand in the world?
  • Because of where you stand, what do you see?
  • How does this affect your heart?
  • How does it affect your hands (what you do with them, your actions)?
  • How does it affect who you are in relationship with and who you advocate for?
  • What are you called to witness or be present to?
  • Might you be called to be a sister at the Visitation in North Minneapolis?
  • Or work with the Sisters as a Vis Companion?

And so I close with one of my favorite prayers, one that was read at my wedding, one that I think in particular speaks to the post you pick. Fr. Pedro Arrupe S.J. said:

“Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in a love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the mornings, what you will do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.”

Happy Lenten Days, as they grow longer and filled with more promise of hope this spring,

Elizabeth Eilers Sullivan,
Visitation Alumna ’93

Urban Immersion: Creighton Students come to St. Jane House

Creighton students arriving

Creighton students arriving

This past week at St. Jane House, the Vis Sister’s lay retreat space,  included another opportunity for young people to come and experience life in the inner city — witnessing first hand what calls the Visitation Sisters to be a prayerful presence in North Minneapolis.  Eight students from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska,  came for a second annual “immersion” week in this dynamic part of our Twin Cities community.  The experience, organized and facilitated in part by Ascension Catholic Church‘s pastoral Associate, Anne Atea, provided many service and learning opportunities for these eight co-eds. As students coming through Creighton’s Center for Service and Justice, their Spring Break time was spent honoring their goals, focusing especially on cross-cultural learning. Included in the week-long itinerary were opportunities to:

  • learn more about homelessness, spending a day at St. Stephen’s Shelter;
  • glimpse monastic life in this rich and culturally diverse setting, attending mass with the Visitation sisters;
  • hear Mary Johnson tell her  story about forgiving the murderer of her only son and her “From Death to Life” ministry;
  • pray with Muslim brothers and sisters at Masjid An-Nur mosque, and participate in an interfaith dialogue;
  • break bread with other young adult neighbors who came through Urban Homeworks and created their own Christian community living and prayer space; and
  • volunteer to serve a Lenten Supper at Ascension church.

What follows are images of these beautiful young people at St. Jane House.

Who will be next to “come and see,” learn and serve? Could it be you?

Welcome to St. Jane House!

Welcome to St. Jane House!

Students have much to discuss during this week long experience.

Students have much to discuss during this week long experience.

 Abundance and beauty in their midst

Abundance and beauty in their midst

Hearing Mary Johnson's story of forgiveness

Hearing Mary Johnson's story of forgiveness

Breaking bread with Mary Johnson and other Northside neighbors

Breaking bread with Mary Johnson and other Northside neighbors

Students learn more about hunger and what it means to feed and be fed

Students learn more about hunger, what it means to feed and be fed

Breaking bread with Northside neighbor and Peace Foundation volunteer, Kenny Scales

Breaking bread with Northside neighbor and Peace Foundation volunteer, Kenny Scales

Relaxing at St. Jane House

Relaxing at St. Jane House

The group says goodbye....

Creighton co-eds with Anne Attea, about to say, "Goodbye"....

but not without first leaving a "Thank  you" card for Vis Companion and SJH Host, Brian Mogren

but not without first leaving a "Thank you" card for Vis Companion and SJH Host, Brian Mogren

Who will be next to sign this Visitor's book? Are you being called to "Come and See"?

Who will be next to sign this Visitor's book? Are you being called to "Come and See"?

In peace, prayers,
Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde
Visitation Companion

Leaving Nothing Out

by Sr. Joanna O’Meara, VHM

Line of Light: Illumination in the darkness

"Line of Light:" Illumination in the darkness

As I clicked onto the Internet this morning, headlines from “The Daily Telegraph” newspaper took my attention: “Hadrian’s Wall lit by ‘line of light.'” 500 volunteers spanning 84 miles along the Roman wall – which is also a national walking trail in northern England – illuminated this expanse. Volunteers as far afield as Canada & Australia all were taking part.  This must have been a sight to behold!

As we reach just ‘beyond’ the mid-point of Lent we find ourselves reaching for the ‘line of light’ which awaits us as we celebrate Laetare (rejoice) Sunday.  Our eyes adjust to a splash of rose amidst the purple which has adorned worship spaces these weeks, and we are encouraged to see and experience the promise of joy which awaits us: Jesus’ risen life among us.

Wendell Berry in his poem ‘Like Snow’ calls us to leave nothing out:

‘Suppose we did our work

Like the snow, quietly, quietly,

Leaving nothing out.

Our ‘work’ these weeks may have surprised us in quiet ways.  Today, we are called to ‘Rejoice’ out loud, and to see within ourselves the ‘line of light’ which is leading us toward Easter. As our Lenten focus we have pondered the ‘visual’ image of a procession of all peoples : Christian, Jewish and Muslims all walking together. This past week we continue to experience the procession of forgiveness as witnessed by Mary Johnson, the commitment of young people from Creighton who stayed at The Jane House to immerse themselves in our neighborhood for a week,  our Feast of a Wednesday morning Eucharist shared with so many of our dear friends & neighbors, networking with long established community organizations such as Turning Point, and listening with a group of collaborative Churches on the north-side as a bridge to reconciliation.

Something special must have spurred 500 people on to volunteer and carry ‘light’ as a beacon for all to see across Hadrian’s Wall.   Let us see the work of rejoicing this Sunday – maybe not ‘quietly’,  but without any hesitation, ‘leaving nothing out.’ Let us be light for one another.

Encountering the Face of Forgiveness

Mary Johnson embracing Oshea Israel

Mary Johnson embracing Oshea Israel

“Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive him?
As many as seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.”  -Matthew 18: 21-22

Tuesday’s Gospel from Matthew inspired much fervent and passionate reflection at the monastery during 11am mass.  The topic of forgiveness was poured over as the sisters and present lay members reflected on a recent experience in the community — one Sr. Mary Virginia referred to as “encountering the face of forgiveness.”

Sunday afternoon at St. Jane House, the Visitation Sisters’ lay retreat center and house of hospitality located just blocks from their monastery, held such images of forgiveness, when a “Welcome Home” party was thrown for a young man named Oshea Israel. This was not a party for a returning college student, nor a young man coming back from military service; a backpacker making his way home after a European adventure, nor a returning Peace Corps volunteer. This was a “Welcome Home” of extreme, “Prodigal Son” proportions, when the youthful Oshea returned to his community after serving a seventeen year jail sentence for killing another young man. The thrower of this party was none other than the mother of the murdered son.  On Sunday, March 7, 2010, Mary Johnson received Oshea Israel with open arms at St. Jane House.

The Circle of Restorative Justice convening at St. Jane House

The Circle of Restorative Justice convening at St. Jane House

In open-forum-homiletic-reflection fashion, the sisters unpacked Tuesday’s scripture readings, bearing witness to Sunday’s experience. They described the community setting convening not only Mary and Oshea, but his fiance; board members from Mary’s organization: “From Death to Life”*; City Councilman Don Samuels; Peace Foundation President Sondra Samuels; former and current curious gang members; “Circle of Restorative Justice” facilitator, Gwen Chandler-Rhivers; Prayer Center Worker, Jariland Spence; and other family and supportive faith friends. The sisters took turns sharing snapshots from the day’s “Circle” experience. They did as Christ’s original disciples did: bore witness to the miracle of Love in their midst.

As an outsider to Sunday’s experience, I stood in awe. I know Mary’s story of forgiving Oshea first hand, having heard her share this tale on two separate, privileged occasions. It never ceases to amaze me, or boggle my mind with questions:

What does it mean to embrace another?

“What does it mean to forgive your only son’s murderer?
Who does such a thing?
Who is this Mary Johnson?
What exists in her heart?
What does she know?
What kind of faith does she possess?
What has shaped her life and heart and mind?
How does Oshea respond and relate to this kind of Love?”

My questions extend to the nuns in this community; I marvel:

“What is the role of a Visitation Sister in this setting?
What does each one bring to such circumstances?
What keeps them so close?
What calls them further in?”

Visitation Sisters surrounding Mary and Oshea

Visitation Sisters surrounding Mary, Oshea and his fiance

This story of forgiveness is staggering as it brings forward the gospel in such large proportions, I almost want to back away. In the Gospel according to Matthew, the parable Jesus delivers is one of debt forgiveness. I can wrap my head around this. But in this living room of the Visitation Monastery, on this particular Tuesday where mass is taking place, the story is about forgiving the person who took the life of your child. This seems way beyond forgiving borrowed money; we are talking about murder.  And this truth challenges every cell in my body. Images of people I know are present, looming, revealing this radical notion of love and mercy – alive, and in our midst. The nuns are in close proximity of all this.

As we journey through this Lenten season, as we hone in our own beloved humanity and draw closer to a Loving Creator that teaches us about radical compassion and ultimate forgiveness, I invite all of us to hold such experiences in our hearts; to examine the questions and capacity of our beings to encounter such stories, such “faces of forgiveness.”

What questions is Love placing in your mind?
What are you being called closer toward?
What role are you discerning in your life?
What circumstances of any magnitude are you being invited to witness?
How are you called to be a face of forgiveness?

In peace, prayers, loving contemplation,
Melissa Borgmann Kiemde
Visitation Companion


Mary Johnson, Founder of "From Death to Life: Two Mothers"

Mary Johnson, Founder of "From Death to Life: Two Mothers"

*Mary Johnson is the founder of “From Death to Life: Two Mothers” an organization that utilizes restorative justice practices to forgive and heal the wounds and losses from murder in Minneapolis. Her “Two Mothers” healing groups meet every other Saturday morning at St. Jane House. Mary’s  vision for the groups is to bring mothers of victims together with mothers of perpetrators for the purpose of leading the entire community in healing and reconciliation. To hear her story, or learn more, contact her at

She will  be speaking with Oshea at the Basilica of St. Mary on Sunday March 21 from 6-7:30pm

Are Our Questions Big Enough?

Expansive Ski

Expansive Sky

I ask you to learn to hold and, this lovely coordinating conjunction, that by definition holds two equal parts of a sentence together. After all, isn’t that what life invites us to do more often than not, hold more than one thing that is dear and near to us. I ask you this Lenten Season to hold two things in your heart: to not take yourself too seriously–choosing joy; AND to consider the questions of your heart that you do take seriously: are they big enough, worthy enough for your life?

St Francis de Sales wrote On Seeing Things in Perspective: “We will soon be in eternity, and then we will see how inconsequential all the things of this world are and how little it matters whether they turn out or not. At present, however, we apply ourselves to them as if they were great things. When we were little children with what eagerness we assembled little bits of tile, wood, and mud to make houses and small buildings! And if someone destroyed them, we were very sad and cried over it; now, though, we know well that it all mattered very little. One day it will be the same with us in heaven: we will see that our concerns in this world were really just child’s play. …Attend faithfully to your duties, but know that your most important business is to tend to your salvation and make progress on the saving path of true devotion. … Be patient with everyone, but especially with yourself. What I mean to say is don’t trouble yourself about your imperfections, and always have the courage to lift yourself out of them. I’m pleased that you begin again every day: there is no better way to live out the spiritual life than always to begin again and never to think you have done enough.”

Early morning Hot Air Balloon Launch in Albuquerque, NM

Early morning Hot Air Balloon Launch in Albuquerque, NM

Sharon Daloz Parks wrote the book Big Enough Questions, Worthy Dreams. Her book invites us to consider what we hold dear in our lives, and how we live out our lives to bless not only ourselves, AND others. So perhaps this Lenten Season, this time of liminal space, of being in the in-between space on the verge of becoming more authentically ourselves – we learn to hold both the joy of not taking ourselves too seriously and what we do take seriously;  we examine to see if those questions are “big enough” and our dreams worthy enough of our salvation.

From Sharon Daloz Parks, Big Questions, Worthy Dreams: Mentoring Young Adults in Their Search for Meaning, Purpose, and Faith, Jossey-Bass. 2000.

Big Enough Questions:

  • Who do I really want to become?
  • How do I work toward something when I don’t even know what it is?
  • Am I loveable?
  • Who will be there for me?
  • Why is suffering so pervasive?
  • What are the values and limitations of my culture?
  • Who am I as a sexual being?
  • Do my actions make any real difference in the bigger scheme of things?
  • Do I want friendship, partnership, marriage? If so, why? With whom?
  • What is my society, or life, or God, asking of me? Anything?
  • What is the meaning of money?  How much is enough?
  • Is there a master plan?
  • Am I wasting time I will regret later?
  • What constitutes meaningful work?
  • How have I been wounded? Will I ever really heal?
  • What do I want the future to look like—for me, for others, for my planet?
  • What is my religion? Do I need one?
  • What are my real talents, preferences, skills, and longings?
  • When do I feel most alive?
  • Where can I be creative?
  • What am I vulnerable to?
  • What are my fears?
  • How am I complicit in patterns of injustice?
  • Will I always be stereotyped?
  • What do I really want to learn?
  • Do I want to bring children into the world?
  • How do I discern what is trustworthy?
  • Why do they hate us? (added after 9/11)
  • Where do I want to put my stake in the ground and invest my life?

Worthy Dreams
From a 9/10/02 presentation by Sharon Daloz Parks at Loyola University Chicago
Criteria for assessment: Is it a Dream? (Versus a dream)

  1. Does the Dream enliven me?
  2. Does it align with my core values?
  3. Do I need help to make this Dream come true? (If not, the dream is only a goal.)
  4. Will the Dream require me to become my true self?
  5. Will the Dream bless others?