Visitation Monastery of Minneapolis Launches New Internship Program, Welcomes First Two Participants to a Year of Service in north Minneapolis

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

Minneapolis, MN—24 October 2011– The Visitation Sisters of Minneapolis have successfully launched a new year-long internship program, the Visitation Internship Program, or VIP Program.   The Sisters are excited to welcome two young women as the inaugural participants to the VIP Program.  Kelly Schumacher, a Minnesota native and graduate of Augustana College in Illinois, and Beth Anne Cooper, a native of New York and graduate of Hope College in Michigan, are the first two participants to begin a year of service alongside the Visitation Sisters in north Minneapolis.

Schumacher and Cooper have already begun to make a difference on the north side.  They are involved in teaching English as Second Language (ESL) classes to immigrants and refugees, advocacy work, working with grade schoolers on both schoolwork and relationship building, coaching youth sports, learning more about restorative justice, service-learning planning for small groups that include urban immersion experiences, to name a few of their early involvements.

Beth Anne, Kelly and Northside friend at Valley Fair

Beth Anne, Kelly and Northside friend at Valley Fair

North Minneapolis is an economically challenged area of the Twin Cities, and the Visitation Sisters strive to create a prayerful presence in their neighborhood. Sister Karen Mohan, head of the Monastery, said that the Sisters are responding to a movement on behalf of young people who want to provide service in such a way: “The Sisters are excited to offer this opportunity for young adults to join us for a year of service to those who are often economically and socially challenged.”

Some additional information about the VIP Program:

  • Women and men between the ages of 20-35 are eligible to apply.
  • The VIPs live in an intentional VIP community and commit to community nights once a week with their house, and then also with the Sisters on a regular basis.
  • The VIPs serve in a ministry within the north Minneapolis community.
  • The VIPs learn Salesian spirituality through the Visitation Sisters, the Visitation Companions, north side neighbors, and through study and retreat opportunities.
  • The VIPs are offered spiritual direction, vocational discernment, and prayer opportunities through the Visitation Sisters.

To read more about Kelly and Beth Anne, click: Meet the VIP’ers.
For more information, click: Visitation Intern Program.


The Sisters of the Visitation of Minneapolis are centered in a dynamic, extended community in North Minneapolis where they strive to be a faith-filled and whole-hearted proclamation that “Jesus Lives!” They are committed to expressing their Salesian spirituality by offering neighbors peaceful presence, radical hospitality, and participation in regular, frequent prayer.  The Sisters live discerning lives in a community of mutual leadership responding to and expressing God’s love incarnated in a unique kind of urban monasticism.

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  1. It seems that Sister Karen and I may be walking along the same paths, although she is a bit ahead of me. Here is my update:
    MMR Update 2 for Family and Friends
    3 and 11 July 2014

    Dear Family and Friends,
    UPDATE: Chemo begins Wednesday July 16!

    As many of you know, after a mammogram at the Mercy Breast Clinic in May of this year, I was diagnosed with invasive lobular carcinoma.

    My shock at the initial diagnosis was followed by a round of consultations and examinations by the various specialists, — surgeon, plastic surgeon, radiation and medical oncologists, plus numerous tests including blood work, MRI, CT and PET scans. I am blessed to have so many wonderful folks in support, family, friends, health professionals, cat lovers. A very close friend, Bryan Miller, has walked the Breast Cancer paths, became my note-taker and sounding board through the initial stages.

    I made the decision to be very open about my breast cancer and the process that I would be going through. Some of you have kept up with the process on Facebook; others have gotten news by telephone calls and email. My decision was to have a double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction. Surgery was May 29.

    The initial pathology reports showed 1) the tumor was larger than expected; 2) the 4 lymph nodes were not involved 3) other predictors generally negative. So far, so good. I was in hopes of avoiding chemotherapy.

    Since the surgery I have been healing physically. The period was rather unremarkable. I am trying to get used to the new body sensations but have had few other physical restrictions. The breast surgeon has released me for a year. She described my range of motion, healing and other benchmarks as “textbook.”

    Through it all, I have tried to maintain a sense of humor. For instance, when I noted to some folks of the female persuasion that following surgery I had traded by boobs for balls (surgical drains) one friend sent me a carpenter’s apron with two pockets for ease in hauling my “balls” around.

    I am dismayed that a long-standing resource “the twin hills” bank has now disappeared. Found that out the other day when I tried to stash my folding bills in their usual place. No longer available 24-hours a day for deposits and withdrawals!

    Now it is time for another phase of this journey to begin. I have weighed this part of the journey carefully. It is one that literally scares me silly, but I know that I can count on your continued support. I am not sure is the proposed chemo will be a walk in the park or a slow journey through hell. My first injection is Wednesday, July 16 at about 10:00 AM!
    After discussion with the medication oncologist it was decided that my tumor would be examined with a specialized genetic test, Oncotype DX, which looks at the activity of certain genes within the tumor sample. The test provides a Recurrence Score, which assigns a numerical value to the likelihood that my invasive breast cancer would return (to liver or bone or other sites) and how likely I am to benefit from chemo. My scores were in the high range so the necessity to make the decision on chemo. (I had hoped to avoid this stage but NO!) The lobular cancer has the ability to break off cells and spread throughout the blood stream. The Oncotype DX is the only reliable test available at this time. Otherwise there is no blood test that can identify these little bugger cells sneaking around in my blood stream.

    Science is only part-way on the genetic frontier; there is so much more to learn about genes. I began thinking about something. While I am the first one in the immediate family to have breast cancer, both of my parents had some sort of cancer — Mom’s was ovarian and Dad’s was an astrocytoma (brain tumor). What bits of genetic material could I have inherited from these? Interesting to think about and gave me some more credence into the necessity of really looking at the information from the OncotypeDX test.

    Proposed chemo proposed will be a combination of two drugs, cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan) and docetaxel (Taxotere). The first name is the compound name and the second is the branded name. There will be four courses of therapy. Injection first week, followed by three weeks off. Then the cycle begins again. When this is done (and hopefully survived) I will be placed on an anti-estrogen product which will be in pill form that I will take every day for the next five years.

    There are newer products called Aromatase Inhibitors that are used for estrogen-positive breast cancer. There are three products that are available currently, 1) anastrazole (Arimidex); 2) letrozole (Femara) and 3) exemestane (Aromasin.) There are potentially numerous side-effects associated with these three. I have all the info but am not going to send it to you now because I am not sure which one the physician will use. One of the side effects of most all of these chemo drugs is osteoporosis. Fortunately I had a bone scan earlier this year so there is a baseline for also being treated with medications for that concurrently with these other meds.

    In any event, I am planning to get my buzz cut the week after the first injections, which will begin on July 16. I was surprised to read that the alopecia means ALL hair, not just head, but eyebrows, eyelashes — everything! My one hope is that the chemo will also take out the hair on my chinney-chinney chin!

    If you are survivor who has experienced therapy with either of these two drugs, I would appreciate your sharing information with me on how it went for you.

    Well, that’s the end of the update for now. One thing for sure, cancer therapy is one dynamic and exciting frontier in medicine. My head is still spinning from all the academic studies but I have found my time in doing so really informative.

    I cannot begin to thank each of you for your love, prayers, support, meals, cat-related activities, and everything else. I know I can count on you for continued love, prayers and support. I will provide another update as I get farther down this road.

    Mary-Margaret Richardson
    Every Day is a Gift. Live It That Way!

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