Monthly Archives: February 2011

Meet Sr. Katherine Mullin!

Sister Katherine

Sister Katherine

Hello! I am a native of Minnesota, born and raised in Minneapolis. Attending high school at Visitation in St. Paul gave me the best of both worlds! It was there, at Visitation that I met the best nuns in the world! After college at Marymount in New York, I entered the St. Paul Monastery and began a life of intentionally living the Gospel shaped by the spirit of Sts. Francis de Sales and Jane de Chantal, which invigorated me. I chose Visitation over other orders that I knew, because I found the nuns to prayerful, authentic and fun! Maybe I was hoping to be all those things too!

I believe I had a “call within a call,” when I discerned that I was being called to transfer to the Visitation Sisters of Minneapolis in 2001. – Sr. Katherine Mullin, VHM

"We must love to obey rather than fear to disobey."

I believe I had a “call within a call"

I spent many fine years teaching at Visitation in the middle school and later had many wonderful years doing admission work for the school.

I believe I had a “call within a call,” when I discerned that I was being called to transfer to the Visitation Sisters of Minneapolis in 2001. I am in relationship with our neighbors; tutoring children, helping with our teen group and various other groups, but you might say that my main engagement is to connect and visit with women all over the country as they discern their future in religious life or wherever God is leading them.

Peaceful Leadership

By Elizabeth Eilers Sullivan, Visitation Alumna

With Lent fast approaching and a month celebrating love and presidential leadership at a close, I have been contemplating ways of leadership that are not as widely celebrated or acknowledged. I offer this reflection in the context of the Sisters who are called to be a prayerful, peaceful presence in north Minneapolis. Their example of peaceful leadership that works actively toward change and healing calls to mind Peace Pilgrim, Daniel Berrigan, S.J., and Dorothy Day. So today for your prayer I offer three quotes from these wise people, people of peace, peace I hope for both myself and others; peace as a way of leadership as Jesus role models for us in Lent.

“This is the way of peace:
Overcome evil with good,
and falsehood with truth,
and hatred with love.”
….
Peace Pilgrim

Peace Pilgrim

Peace Pilgrim

“Sometime in your life, hope that you might see one starved man, the look on his face when the bread finally arrives. Hope that you might have baked it or bought or even kneaded it yourself. For that look on his face, for your meeting his eyes across a piece of bread, you might be willing to lose a lot, or suffer a lot, or die a little, even.”

….Daniel Berrigan

“What we would like to do is change the world–make it a little simpler for people to feed, clothe, and shelter themselves as God intended them to do. And, by fighting for better conditions, by crying out unceasingly for the rights of the workers, the poor, of the destitute–the rights of the worthy and the unworthy poor, in other words–we can, to a certain extent, change the world; we can work for the oasis, the little cell of joy and peace in a harried world. We can throw our pebble in the pond and be confident that its ever widening circle will reach around the world. We repeat, there is nothing we can do but love, and, dear God, please enlarge our hearts to love each other, to love our neighbor, to love our enemy as our friend.”
….Dorothy Day

Dorothy Day

Dorothy Day

Pray for peace within yourself first, and once it is attained and deepened in you, it radiates out in others you encounter. The Sisters show us peaceful leadership by their actions, their attitudes, and their hearts and we too are called to lead with peace. The Sisters have many lay companions working with them, inspired by them, and who inspire them. However, don’t just take my testament to the Sisters way of life if you are discerning religious life join them for their next Come & See weekend this Lent in March.

In peace.

Daily with De Sales: Patience, Please!

daily_with_desales

by Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, Visitation Companion

When, O Lord, will patience with our neighbor take possession of our hearts? This is the final and most excellent lesson of the teaching of the saints; happy that spirit who fully understands this! We are always anxious that others put up with our miseries, and that they tolerate us; yet the miseries and faults of our neighbor always seem so great and unsupportable! – St. Francis de Sales (Letters 1243; O. XVII, p. 289)

“Yes, St. Francis! When will patience take possession of my heart?!” Part of me wants to shout this question at the top of my lungs. “When will my heart, the whole of my disposition be sweeter, calmer, more compassionate toward my neighbor, toward anyone who inspires frustration, contempt, or angst?”

What is the state of affairs on the ground in Madison? ...How does patience and humility guide me in my prayer over this?

I wonder: Lord, who is my neighbor? Can you turn my eyes toward Christ and allow me to see love around me?

My mind today goes east to Minnesota’s neighboring state: Wisconsin. I think of headlines and e-blasts and bulletins that are announcing the upheaval in the state government, and my heart rate increases. What is the state of affairs on the ground in Madison? What is inspiring the heart and mind and leadership activity of the governor and elected officials? How is patience and humility guiding citizens enraged on any side of the current topic? (How does patience and humility guide me in my prayer over this?)

“Lord, will you grant me the ability to look within and recognize where I require humility, where I inspire contempt or anger in others? Can you help me turn compassionately outward and navigate in a slow, steady fashion?” – Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde

BBC HeadlinesMy mind races across the ocean to our global neighbors in Northern Africa and the Middle East. I take my pulse on topics of democracy, leadership, and human rights; I consider the unrest in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. I see Colonel Muammar Gaddafi with a raised fist denouncing anti-government protests, I wonder about  my role in this? What is my attitude? Does it have any impact on the potential for peace and gentleness, kindness, compassion, and civil discourse? I wonder.

I close my prayer and contemplation over today’s competing, soul-stirring headlines with more queries: Lord, will you grant me the ability to look within and recognize where I require humility, where I inspire contempt or anger in others? Can you help me turn compassionately outward and navigate in a slow, steady fashion?

I pray.


Meet Sr. Suzanne Homeyer!

Sr. Suzanne Homeyer, VHM

Sr. Suzanne Homeyer, VHM

My earliest contact with the Visitation Sisters was at a Newman Center in Michigan. As a lay person I served as a member of the Pastoral Team, devoting most of my time to liturgy, RCIA and peace and justice programming. The two priests on staff were Oblates of St. Francis de Sales. For me, these men exemplified Salesian Spirituality in many ways, and when given the opportunity to meet women who espoused this same spirituality, some deep bonds were formed. Their example of living a life of prayer and community and service to those living in the inner city of Minneapolis immediately resonated with the “more” I sought in my own life.  At the age of 46, I entered the Visitation Sisters of Minneapolis, becoming their first novice and new member.

“The [Visitation Sisters’] example of living a life of prayer and community and service to those living in the inner city of Minneapolis immediately resonated with the “more” I sought in my own life.  At the age of 46, I entered the Visitation Sisters of Minneapolis, becoming their first novice and new member.” – Sr. Suzanne Homeyer
Sr. Suzanne and collaborator at the NetWork for Better Futures

Sr. Suzanne and collaborator at The NetWork for Better Futures

I professed final vows in 2002. To honor our order’s 400th birthday, I served on the committee to celebrate this anniversary and was also part of a pilgrimage to our French monasteries to mark this special year. The power of seeing firsthand how others live our charism was tremendous and makes me realize that I have chosen the right place to live out my commitment as a Visitation Sister. I contribute to the community as bookkeeper and field trip organizer. Water color painting, visiting museums and reading mysteries are ways I like to relax. I have many friends around the world from my “life before Minneapolis” and am a practitioner of the lost art of handwritten letters! I admit to using e-mail as well, but prefer the old-fashioned pen and usually notebook paper.

“I lived in a tent in Prescott National Forest while working as a radio newscaster for an NBC affiliate. This was an exciting job and my ‘home life’ was really so dependent upon things like sudden rainstorms, campsite neighbors and late breaking news. I learned to rely on the grace and strength of God, my own gifts and creativity and an openness to new relationships in order to feel fulfilled.”
A Visitation Embrace: Sr. Suzanne and Jody Tigges

A Visitation Embrace: Sr. Suzanne and Vis Companion, Jody Tigges

I have always enjoyed meeting people and seeing different parts of the world. Immediately after graduate studies I packed up all my belongings and, with my dog and a good friend, and headed West.  I lived in a tent in Prescott National Forest while working as a radio newscaster for an NBC affiliate.  This was an exciting job and my “home life” was really so dependent upon things like sudden rainstorms, campsite neighbors and late breaking news. I learned to rely on the grace and strength of God, my own gifts and creativity and an openness to new relationships in order to feel fulfilled.

Working my way through college found me pulling second shift duties at a nursing home for sick and elderly nuns and running a women’s dorm switchboard on weekends. This was in the days before cell phones and when most religious groups had their own nursing facilities.

Part-time jobs were always part of my life while “working for the Church” as a campus minister. As a coffee shop manager responsible for opening in the early morning and a closing shift server in an ice-cream parlor, I had many opportunities to meet and greet others God has put in my life.

Persons who have inspired me at various stages in my life are the earth-friendly poets Wendel Berry and Jessica Powers, the very ecumenical and fun-loving Pope John XXIII, and Daniel Berrigan and Dorothy Day for their faith-filled witness to the Church from the inside.

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As part of our commitment to making the Visitation Sisters’ lives and stories visible and audible, we feature some of their biographical information here, including part of their discernment narrative in becoming a Visitation Sister of north Minneapolis. We welcome your responses and own stories: What has shaped you? What has lead you to the Visitation Monastery and Salesian charism?

Our Hearts

By Elizabeth Eilers Sullivan, Visitation Alumna ’93

“Put your heart back in the Lord’s hands and you will be healthier than before.” -St. Francis de Sales

monastic_communityThe Sisters of the Visitation invite us daily by their presence and relationship in north Minneapolis to offer our hearts over to the Lord so that we may better serve God, others, and ourselves. When we aim to live a life bigger than our own wishes, desires, and intents we move into a community of love, light, and service for others. When we do this our gifts that the Lord has granted us shine brighter, are used better, and the outcome is larger than we could have imagined had we kept them to ourselves for our own betterment. This allows us to be happier, freerer, healthier people. People with a heart that expands at the joy of others, a hand that receives what and who is before us, and eyes that can see God’s invitation in our everyday.

The Sisters, their lay companions, and those women who are actively discerning becoming part of the Visitation Order as a sister themselves, do this when they answer their doorbells in their urban monastery. With every ring they respond both to the needs and requests of their neighbors, and remain open to the gifts and talents that come to them daily through these encounters. The Visitation Order with its steeped tradition of praying the hours daily allows for these visits by their neighbors to become part of their fervent prayer, their reflection, and ultimately these interactions with their neighbors inform the Sisters own person–“to become who she is called to be and be that perfectly well.”

How are you being called to live your life to its fullest?

To put your heart back in the hands of the Lord?

On Sanctuary: A Poem by Nikki Giovanni

by Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, Visitation Companion

Nikki Giovanni

Nikki Giovanni

Art Sanctuary
by Nikki Giovanni

I would always choose to be the person running
rather than the mob chasing
I would prefer to be the person laughed at
rather than the teenagers laughing
I always admired the men and women who sat down
for their rights
And held in disdain the men and women who spat
on them
Everyone deserves Sanctuary a place to go where you are
safe
Art offers Sanctuary to everyone willing
to open their hearts as well as their eyes

“Art Sanctuary” by Nikki Giovanni, from Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea. © Harper Perennial, 2002. (buy now)

Today’s poem from The Writer’s Almanac speaks to me as prayer. In critical response fashion, I take note of lines, phrases, images that stand out:

person running
mob
laughing teenagers
sitting down for rights

spit
art
sanctuary
open hearts and eyes

I am reminded of the summer night I saw a man running out from behind the neighbor’s across from St. Jane House in north Minneapolis followed  by another person carrying a gun.  The poem takes me to stories of pre-1964 southern lunch counters where people with brown skin were not allowed to eat. Simultaneously, reading this, I recall being an awkward thirteen-year old in the seventh grade and feeling the jeers of 8th grade elders (Lisa, Mary, Steph, Jamie?). I can see movie stills in my mind’s eye of Harvey Milk being assassinated as San Francisco’s first openly gay city official. I sit and imagine a beleaguered and weary Christ on Good Friday. (He was spat upon, right?)  I note the way the poem provides a through-line of text for these anachronistic memories, moments.

I appreciate Ms. Giovanni’s words. I am thankful for the pride, sorrow, fear, anger and elation that her piece evokes.

I wonder how the author’s compassion was born? (It is compassion she shows in the poem, yes?) What did she see in her life or experience that inspired an alignment with the victim, the tortured, the other? What particular cruelties does she know first hand? I want to ask her how she makes sense of suffering. I want to know what art in particular has provided safety, sanctuary for her. Could she have been sitting in front of a painting that calmed her breathing, opened her heart? (Or listening to song?) I wonder if she’d let me sit alongside her? I want to know if she’s ever seen Brother Mickey’s “Windsock Visitation“? Has she ever contemplated the respite extended by Mary and Elizabeth?

I want to know a lot reading this poem. I am grateful for the places Nikki Giovanni takes me with her words. It is my prayer, today. This poem is a sanctuary.

Amen.

“A Clearer Vision of the Face of God:” Urban Encounters Breaking Bread

by Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, Visitation Companion

“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, our friends, are drawn into a circle of faith that brings us all to a clearer vision of the face of God.” – Mission of the Visitation Sisters of Minneapolis

Windsock Reunion: Sr. Karen and AlumniMy first year of teaching in the inner city of Minneapolis, I was invited to two birthday parties that occurred on the same evening hosted by my students’ families. My participation and presence at these two celebratory events still stands out in my mind. The experience in each of my pupils’ homes marks something in my heart — something that stays with me to this day and connects me in my faith and social justice practices alongside that of the Visitation Sisters’ of north Minneapolis.

On the birthday night in question, I traveled between Maria Gallardo’s* home in South Minneapolis, to the dwelling of Margaret Benning in St. Louis Park. The Gallardos were celebrating my sophomore student’s son’s birthday. (Enrique was turning two, and it was nothing short of a miracle, as the child had survived several surgeries addressing a hole in his heart. Maria was excited when she handed me the invitation to come and be part of her son’s life — and beaming when I accepted). At the Benning’s, on the other hand, we were toasting Margaret’s 16th birthday. As a pupil in my Pre-IB English class, I was equally honored to be invited into her home; I took note of the auspicious invitations extended on embossed ivory card stock.

“As a catholic steeped in the principles of social justice, I recognize that my work hinges upon such intimate and privileged encounters that allow me glimpses into the homes and foundations of those I serve, those I love.” -Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde
Windsock Reunion Smiling woman

What was I to see, learn, be privy to? Who was I going to encounter?

I marveled at the privilege I felt to be included in both of these festive occasions and noted the overlap and juxtaposition of the evening’s celebratory circumstances. As a first year teacher in this inner-city setting, I wondered what God was inviting me into? What was I to see, learn, be privy to?  Who was I going to encounter? Might I be changed in the process – and how?

In south Minneapolis,  I entered Maria’s parents’ place through a door off the alley, passing through a high chain linked fence gate and walking around a dog’s kennel. Inside, we were packed adult and children’s bodies in the kitchen flowing into the living room; the space was illuminated by neon beer signs. I walked by a giant pot of posolé and a keg of beer, with pitchers of  Kool-Aid alongside. At the dinner table, I was introduced as “maestra” and seated at the head. Spanish greetings and conversation filled my ears that early evening,  as I smiled and nodded, attempting to keep up with the tales told – translating as rapidly as possible in my head. Two year old Enrique crawled into my lap; Maria’s mom took a photo of us. After 90 minutes, the second seating for dinner began at Casa de Gallardo, and I made my way out, bidding “Gracias y hasta luego!” and then venturing across town to Ms. Margaret’s home.

“I was just lucky to be invited in, you know? What a joy to have an opportunity to break bread within each home, and inhabit, at least for a few short hours, the intimate space of family – outside my own- and witness the generosity, love, and devotion of parents and siblings connected to me through my vocation, my profession.”
DSC00015_1_0039

What relationships do you draw on that infuse your sense of social justice?

Entering the Benning residence, I was met by Margaret’s father (an elected public figure) extending a champagne flute filled with a bubbly concoction and inviting me to be seated next to the fire place where an array of cheeses and fruit were spread. The party of 12 moved from one room to another, from hearth to dining table where place cards marked our seats, and freshly cut roses and more delicious food adorned the space. The celebration was rounded out with champagne toasts, a few speeches reflecting on birth and rites of passage, followed by an elegant flourless chocolate torte.

Can you see these separate events? Can you imagine the smells, sights, sounds, and the feelings that might be awakened in your own spirit? Can you fathom the experience of my heart in each privileged space?

On a simplistic level, I could reduce the evening to separate, broad categories, labeling the family and respective experiences in each setting:

Rich. Poor.
Suburban. Urban.
Refined and elegant. Simple and casual.

But this naming dramatically misses the mark, and I step back to explore the more dynamic and complex nature of such an experience in close proximity to my students’ lives.

Former studentsI was just lucky to be invited in, you know? What a joy to have an opportunity to break bread within each home, and inhabit, at least for a few short hours, the intimate space of family – outside my own, and witness the generosity, love, and devotion of parents and siblings connected to me through my vocation, my profession. Beyond any marker of financial status or cultural notations, were the trappings of love and abundance. There was a spirit, fire, devotion present in each home that evoked the holy, that brought closer to me the Divine in our midst.

As a catholic steeped in the principles of social justice, I recognize that my work hinges upon such intimate and privileged encounters that allow me glimpses into the homes and foundations of those I serve, those I love. I know on many levels of my heart, spirit and mind that the education afforded me by such lived experiences is truly what creates the possibility for me to be my best self in action and service. It is these lessons with the seemingly poor and at once marginalized – coupled with the on-the-surface privileged, that inspires a transformational stance in the world, one that isn’t reductionary, but rather elevates compassion and fuels social justice action.

Are you called to visit or work alongside the Visitation Sisters of north Minneapolis?

Are you called to visit or work alongside the Visitation Sisters of north Minneapolis?

I recognize that years after this initial encounter in Maria’s and Margaret’s homes that when I met the Visitation Sisters of north Minneapolis –  their presence in the inner-city and first hand knowledge of the people in their community – echoed the encounters of my career and calling in urban education. I felt like I was at home with the sisters. I felt like I belonged. I felt like they got “it” – and “got” me: they understood and lived the very tenets of social justice teaching that anchored me in my vocational work.

I close this contemplative narration extending queries for you to ponder and pray with: What intimate experiences have you had that have informed your ministerial action? What relationships do you draw on that infuse your sense of social justice? What invitation or encounter do have do that brings you closer to the face of God? Are you called to visit or work alongside the Visitation Sisters of north Minneapolis?

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*Names changed.

Love in the Food!

by Sr. Suzanne Homeyer, VHM

"...be detached from things and instead 'aim,' as Jane de Chantal suggests, 'at union with God.'"

WHAT’S COOKIN’?
COOKIN’ UP A STORM!
SOMEONE’S IN THE KITCHEN WITH…
.
These could all be appropriate titles for this blogpost but I prefer:
LOVE IN THE FOOD.

As part of a 400 year old custom, Visitation Sisters exchange rooms (or cells) by drawing lots during our New Years’ Chapter.  This is in line with Francis de Sales’  wish that the Sisters be detached from things and instead “aim,” as Jane de Chantal suggests, “at union with God.”

Our monastery has practiced this custom over the years.  Sisters choose and open some sort of packet containing several items: a quote or two from our Founders, perhaps the name of a person or group to pray for during the coming year, a special symbol of our community life together at this time; (last year it was a piece of the stained glass used to make our ‘Window of Vision’ at the Girard House)  and also a ‘new’ profession cross  worn by one of us during the year just passed.  These surprise packages have also included the name of our new room.  In the Fremont House the bedrooms and novitiate are named for the archangels; at Girard for early women in our order.

“…this new arrangement gives us the opportunity to just be together and love each other in new ways from working together on the everyday ordinary task of preparing meals.’

Over the past few years this custom has become something besides the lovely custom it once was.  We no longer live in one building, so for a period of time – although we drew rooms during the snows of Minnesota winters – we actually moved in the early (hopefully still cool) days of summer.  Our community work, specific offices, files and dedicated computers were in one house and the Sisters who used certain materials needed to be living in proximity to these items.  Aging, physical limitations, and today’s building codes make our Girard House a more suitable place for some of us to call home.

LOVE IS IN THE FOOD!

After some honest sharing about personal needs, hard discussion and loving prayer, a decision was made not to exchange rooms this past New Years’. But how could we maintain in a visible way Francis’ wish that we be detached?  It was suggested that we change cooking partners. We have teams of two Sisters working together on a weekly basis. This seemed viable.

We embark upon this new adventure the first week of March and are excited about the opportunity to share new recipes, learn some helpful cooking hints, and a new partner  to hold the pan as you scoop.  More importantly this new arrangement gives us the opportunity to just be together and love each other in new ways from working together on the everyday ordinary task of preparing meals. LOVE (‘the Bond of Perfection’) IS IN THE FOOD!

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 follows I initially posted March 20, 2010. However, after being over at the Visitation Monastery twice this weekend, and holding in prayer the five women who came to this weekend’s Come & See, Gustavo Gutierrez’s words sprung forth again. The Visitation Sisters are models of what it means to pick a post and live the Gospel.

From March 20. 2010:

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 brought 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 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.”

Elizabeth Eilers Sullivan,
Visitation Alumna ’93

Meet Sr. Mary Frances Reis!

As part of our commitment to making the Visitation Sisters’ lives and stories visible and audible, we feature some of their biographical information here, alongside their discernment narrative in becoming a Visitation Sister of North Minneapolis. We welcome your responses and own stories: What has shaped you? What has lead you to the Visitation Monastery and Salesian charism?
Sr. Mary Frances

Sr. Mary Frances

Greetings! I am a native of St. Paul, MN, and one of six children. I was raised hearing my mother’s stories about boarding for twelve years at Convent of the Visitation School in the same city. When I was a sophomore at St. Catherine’s College, I discerned that I was being called to live a life of intimacy with God in the midst of this beloved community of sisters who had served as “family” to my mother.

I went on to earn my bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, (St. Kate’s); a certificate in Montessori Education, (Los Angeles Montessori Training Center); a master’s degree in Administration (St. Thomas University); and a master’s degree in Religious Studies (St. John’s University).

Sr. Mary Frances on the 400th Anniversary of the Visitation Order

I chose Visitation primarily because of the HUMAN qualities I found in the sisters, both through my mom’s boarding stories—she went to Vis for 12 years as a boarder—and through my own experience of their gentle, human, loving presence. I was attracted to the “down to earth” spirituality that allows one to “Be oneself and be that well,” as St. Francis de Sales says.  The Sisters were always available to me.

At Visitation Mendota Heights, I taught in grades Montessori through 12, did extensive work in liturgy (one of the loves of my life), founded the campus ministry program and chaired the religion department. I am grateful for the small role I played in the formation of young people.

“I have prepared a contemplative heart in you; now take it to the poor.”

Through the years, unknown to me at the time, I was being prepared for the Visitation Monastery of Minneapolis. This was powerfully revealed to me one day as I drank from the cup at Eucharist. “I have prepared a contemplative heart in you; now take it to the poor,” a voice seemed to say.

Marguerite Marie KIemde, Sr. Karen. Sr. Mary FrancesI am a founding member of this monastery and have been here since the beginning (1989). Sharing life and love in this urban community suits me very well, and I have found several niches in which to use my gifts—to share and to receive love from the people who are our neighbors.

Among my heroes are these greats: Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Theresa of Calcutta, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day and Sister Mary Regina McCabe, my high school religion teacher.