Monthly Archives: September 2011

Out of the Mouth of Babes: Provocative thoughts for Contemplative Prayer

by Sr. Suzanne Homeyer, VHM

“I rejoice to be little,
because only children and those
who are like them will be admitted
to the heavenly banquet.”
—- Saint Therese of the Child Jesus

I’m sure many of you have out of town guests, especially during the summer months. This year I had the delightful experience of welcoming my four year old great nephew and his grandma (my youngest sister) to the monastery. After introductions to all the Sisters he, of course, wanted to see my room. Children observe EVERYTHING and like to pick up and play with certain things that catch their fancy…what would a four year old find interesting in a nun’s bedroom…..he found a magnet stuck to the base of the reading lamp on my bedside table. Of course he removed it. It was a rock with only one word painted on it. After an amazingly short period of time he sounded out the word “GROW!”  What a smart child I noted….but then I saw his eyes light up and an impish grin begin to form…..he deliberately placed the magnet on the metal lampshade and turned toward me to boisterously declare “GROW LIGHT!”Grow light

“Jesus is the grow light of God’s Kingdom…germinating seeds of justice and peace and love in us.” — Sr. Suzanne

My sister and I exchanged glances, undoubtedly realizing he has his mother’s intelligence AND wit!

I recounted this experience to the Sisters later in the day and during my prayer time contemplated how Jesus is the light of the world. And it is “in Him that we live and move and have our being.” Jesus is the grow light of God’s Kingdom…germinating seeds of justice and peace and love in us. Encouraging us to grow tall in God’s ways and to bloom where we are planted….to bear fruit….to scatter more seed and to indeed grow the kingdom!

Out of the mouths of babes and into the hearts of contemplatives.

Engaging Young Adults for Church Vocations: Some Prayerful Questions

by Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, Visitation Companion

This Thursday and Friday, September 22-23, Sr. Katherine Mullin, VHM, and I have the pleasure of attending Catholics On Call’s Partner Conference entitled, Engaging Young Adults for Church Vocations.As we prepare for these two days, questions surface in my mind and heart.

Creighton Coeds SBST 2What is the face of the Catholic church these days?

Who makes up this demographic of young adults? What has shaped their individual and collective journeys as Catholics?

What does it mean to engage, authentically, young people within and without the church?

What inspires the heart, mind, spirit of any person and compels them to act, commit or enroll in the church in further ways?

When I think of my own vocational calling, and the impetus for intentional actions on my part to live a faith-filled life as a catholic, I return to the circumstances of my young adulthood and navigating giant questions of purpose and presence on this earth. I can point to the date that vocational questions  started surfacing in my life and gave rise to my discernment path: March 28, 1987.  This day marks two large events of my young adulthood: the suicide of my dear friend– just six weeks before we graduated from our catholic high school in Nebraska– and the occasion that I won a State Speech and Drama competition. Both events left an indelible print on my soul and inspired my ongoing formation as a person of faith. I began to really ponder, asking the God that I believe in:”Why am I here?” and “What do you want for me?” I coupled what I consider to be a  God-given gift to perform text and a passion for “the word” with a darkness and despair that was keenly known by my friend no longer wanting to live. I wondered if somehow my life was meant to be stepping into that void and mystery of life, loss, and suffering and be an agent of love and hope?

Elevating the conversation: "On Being" Radio Host, Krista Tippett

Elevating the conversation: "On Being" Radio Host, Krista Tippett

In her writing and reporting, author and NPR radio host Krista Tippett addresses the role of large questions and faith in the face of suffering. Her program “On Being” – formerly titled “Speaking of Faith” — shares tales and meaty interviews with religious leaders and spiritual beings on this topic weekly. Ms. Tippett’s extensive research has elevated this conversation, from my perspective, and taken it beyond our closed doors of separate faith traditions, into the mainstream, where we might together navigate responses to our many questions of life, faith, religion, engagement, purpose and action.

I hold all of these questions, stories and information as Sr. Katherine and I head to Chicago for Thursday’s Conference. I pray that I may humbly tune into this experience, the speakers we shall encounter, and the spirits and minds likewise engaged in questions of young adult vocations in the church. May our conversations be rich, and may we address what underlies (and prevents or hinders) the issues of hearts seeking meaning, purpose, and a path for authentic living!

Will you join us in prayer as we travel, learn, connect and work to elevate and engage in the questions and conversation of vocation?

Thank you.

Back to School calls for Salesian Virtue: Humility


"Humility is true knowledge." --St. Francis de Sales

Written by Visitation Alumna, Elizabeth Eilers Sullivan

These last few weeks have been marked by back to school rituals and a flurry of fall activities. With learners young and old returning to the classroom, I am reminded of St. Francis de Sales wisdom on the Salesian virtue, humility. He says, that “humility is true knowledge.” If humility is true knowledge then we need to immerse ourselves in learning about the world, our communities and ourselves to clothe ourselves in humility, which will bring us closer to God and others.

Just think if each of us employed this attitude of humility with our neighbors in the classroom and next door — what a gentler, kinder world this would be on our playgrounds, lunchrooms, and on our streets! — Elizabeth Eilers Sullivan

The Visitation Sisters say that the Visitation Spirit can best be found in St. Francis de Sales quote: “Great humility before God and great generosity with our neighbor.” Just think if each of us employed this attitude with our neighbors in the classroom and next door — what a gentler, kinder world this would be on our playgrounds, lunchrooms, and on our streets. So may the Visitation spirit of humility send you forth to seek further knowledge for greater humility and gentleness toward yourself and others bringing you closer to our loving God this school year. Blessings on your learnings wherever it may bring you.

How to Become a Sister

by Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, Visitation Companion

How does one become a nun?

How does someone become a nun?

“How does someone become a nun? What is the route for any young person or older adult to becoming a religious? What is the path to professed life with the Visitation Sisters of north Minneapolis?”

Excellent Questions! Let me tell you!

This past Spring, members of our Vocations team attended the National Evangelization Teams (NET) Ministries Lifeline Mass event in West St. Paul; it was here that these essential questions surfaced once again for our group in provocative ways (and inspired this post). On this particular cold Saturday night, where there were roughly 500 people gathered –of mostly teens and young adults — the pressing queries about vocation and calling felt palpable. With the auditorium space brimming with youth, the site was truly awe-inspiring. And the inquiry: “How does someone become a vowed member of an order?” was articulated for our glorious panel of professed sisters.

While there is a pretty direct and publicly known path for male religious – priests-  the journey for women is different; it’s not information as commonly held by discerning females.

For those seeking answers, here are some key words and stages* to familiarize yourself with:




First Profession

Permanent Profession/ Life Vows

*Excerpted from The Process” under the “Become a Sister” section on our website

For more details on this process, we have an entire section of our website devoted to these steps and stages of becoming a nun. We encourage your questions, invite your presence, and desire your prayers where religious life and vocations are concerned.

(Click to read inside...)

(Click to read inside...)

The most direct way to discern if the Visitation Sisters of Minneapolis are the community for you is: to visit us. The Sisters host “Come and See” Weekends throughout the year, but waiting to check us out via this venue is not necessary. Our doors are open to you. Our daily prayer  and meal and mass times are listed here on our calendar. We welcome you to join us!

If distance or time is prohibitive for an immediate visit, you can learn more about us and our charism through this website – as well as many published resources.**  Start by reading about our founders, Sts. Francis de Sales and Jane de Chantal.  I recommend their book, “Letters of Spiritual Direction”, (translated by Péronne Marie Thibert, VHM, with an introduction by Wendy Wright and Joseph S Powers, OSFS; and preface by Fr. Henri Nouwen) as a great starting point. It was this text that drew me into the Salesian charism and affirmed my calling with this order. Another resource to pray with is a copy of the Golden Counsels, or this slim volume of daily quotes and meditations: “Heart Speaks to Heart, Thoughts from St. Francis de Sales” compiled by Sister Margaret Ann Calcutta, ASCJ.
**For further texts and resources, check out these websites:
DeSales Resources and Ministries
Salesian Spirituality

The Commissioning of the Visitation Interns

Sr. Karen and Vis Companion Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde welcome Beth Anne Cooper and Kelly Schumacher

Sr. Karen and Vis Companion Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde welcome Beth Anne Cooper and Kelly Schumacher

by Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, Visitation Companion

On Sunday, September 4, 2011, the Visitation Sisters of north Minneapolis welcomed two new members into their community as lay women answering a call to live simply for one year immersed in their northside community and Salesian charism. What follows are photos documenting the commissioning of the inaugural class of the Visitation Internship Program, as well as a video of their statements of commitment. Join us in welcoming Kelly Schumacher and Beth Anne Cooper!

Click to see photo album.

VIDEO: Visitation Interns Share their Statements of Commitment


Why Contemplative Prayer? Why Urban Monastic Life? Come and See.


What is the role of a monastic community in the inner-city?

by Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, Visitation Companion

What is the role of a monastic community within the inner-city? What do religious sisters and brothers anywhere have to teach us?

I ask these questions as I pour through emails in my inbox, scan my facebook news feed, attempt a twitter check-in, all the while conscious of the vibrations coming from my cell phone informing me that I have new text messages. It’s a lot of information we sort, prioritize, process and respond to as technologically “plugged in” humans — don’t you think?

Time with the sisters “tuned in” through prayer, quiet, shared story, helps me “tune in” to others in my life in a more intentional, compassionate way. –Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, Visitation Companion

Why urban monastic life? Why contemplative prayer?

Why urban monastic life? Why contemplative prayer?

The levels we are called to communicate on in this 20th century, western-global civilization of technological advancement, gives me pause. Is this one of the reasons I crave time and prayer at the monastery? Every cell in my body jumps and down with a resounding, “YES!” to that question. I, personally, need the quiet, prayerful, reflective  time that anchors the Visitation Sisters’ daily life; I think that in order to stay “tuned in” to God, I have to “unplug” on a regular basis from the media stream that has my conscious and unconscious attention. Time with the sisters “tuned in” through prayer, quiet, shared story, then, helps me “tune in” to others in my life in a more intentional, compassionate way.   After quiet and prayer, family, friends and all the social concerns that inspire my contemplative presence in the world become more alive in my heart as I find the capacity to be authentically present to them. The nuns model this capacity beautifully for me as they open their door and greet the many challenges and gifts present to them in their northside community.


In public radio host Krista Tippett’s journal today, she discusses these questions of technology and “tuning in or out” in our communication.  As part of the ongoing Civil Conversations Project, which is devoted to ideas and tools healing our fractured civic spaces, Ms. Tippett shares the research and work of Sherry Turkle, director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self which studies how technology is shaping human relationships. As I read through Ms. Tippett’s notes on her guest, and respond in my own heart to her questions, I am moved deeply by the conversation she is convening. I think I’m only able to really “get” what Ms. Tippett and Ms. Turkle are talking about because of my relationship with the sisters, and what I’ve learned first hand through prayer with them.


On this early September day, I invite you into these questions: Why pray? Why unplug? Why reflect? Why participate in an urban monastic community? I urge you to tune into this latest series of Ms. Tippett’s and consider coming to be present at the Visitation Sisters’ urban monastery. It may just provide you with a way to live your way into answers!


For more information on the Visitation Sister’s next “Come and See” weekend, click here.
To join the sisters for daily prayer or mass, check out their schedule here.
To listen to the latest broadcast of Krista Tippett’s “On Being” with guest Sherry Turkle , click here.