Monthly Archives: November 2011


By Deacon Dale from Ascension Church in north Minneapolis, and a friend of the Sisters

(Based on the First Sunday of Advent’s Readings)

First Candle of Advent

First Candle of Advent

I spent a lot of time with my grandparents when I was young.  One day, a neighbor came to the door with a Christmas gift.  Grandma opened it.  It was a box of chocolates.  The first thing Grandma did was offer her neighbor first choice of them.  Then she offered one to me and then she and Grandpa chose one.  Later, they shared the chocolates at a family gathering.  I don’t think they opened that box without sharing it.  It was a gift.  A gift was meant to be shared – especially with the giver – and then with others.  It was just the right thing to do.

Charlotte Bradford was a elderly neighbor who died two years ago.  She has a son, Mike, did the Charlotte’s outside work.  Mike is retired and has free time.  Since 2007, when he finishes shoveling Charlotte’s sidewalk, he still comes over and cleans ours because he knows I can’t.  One of his elderly neighbors has leukemia.  He takes him to doctor appointments and chemotherapy treatments.  Mike’s time is a gift.  For him, it’s a gift to be shared.  It’s just the right thing to do.

Geb was part of my Men’s Group in Forest Lake.  He and his wife have seven children.  With their large family, they really had to stretch every penny.  One evening, our Men’s Group was discussing tithing.  Someone asked, “Should we give 10% of our net income or should it be 10% of our gross income?”  I remember Geb’s response, “For me, there’s no question.  I just ask myself if I want a net blessing from the Lord or do I want a gross blessing from the Lord?”  No doubt – Geb saw his income as a gift to be shared.  It’s just the right thing to do.

Today, Isaiah reminds us to “rejoice heartily in the Lord” because God has “clothed us in a robe of salvation and wrapped us in a mantle of justice.”  Virtually all of us want to be clothed in that robe of salvation.  But, how many of us want to be wrapped in a mantle of justice?

A mantle is an outer garment, like a robe without sleeves.  Worn as a symbol, it was a sign of who the person was –a prophet, a priest, a leader, a merchant, a craftsman.  God wants us to wear a mantle of justice.  Justice is doing the just thing – just doing the right thing – sharing the gifts God gives us.  It is the mantle God wants us to be known by – a sign that tells the world, “This who I am!” So this Advent, let’s wrap ourselves in a mantle justice.  It’s what God wants.  It’s just the right thing to do!


What are the gifts God gave you, that you share? How do they help you do the right thing? Or whose gifts are you grateful for in your life? How have they provided a path of justice for you or others? Please share in the comments section!

The Annunciation: Advent Reflection based on Brother Mickey’s Art

The following is the first of six video blogs that we are offering here this Advent season, courtesy of Brother Mickey O’Neill McGrath, Oblate of St. Francis de Sales. Many of you will recognize Brother Mickey as our dear artist friend who painted our Windsock Visitation. We are grateful for his inspired work, especially this holiday season!

Advent Paintings

1st Sunday: The Annunciation
2nd Sunday: Mary’s Yes
3rd Sunday: Mystical Rose
4th Sunday: Joseph’s Dream
Christmas Eve/ Christmas: Madonna and Child
The Epiphany

Giving Thanks for Visitation’s Little Virtue of Generosity

Today a call for turkey’s went out. See the emails below, they say it all!

Both about the community able to respond and the community able to receive.

Turkeys Needed by 2:00 Today

Tuesday, November 22, 2011 10:45 AM

Message body

Dear Visitation Parents and Alumnae,

We hope you are having a blessed Thanksgiving week.  As you may know, our annual Thanksgiving food drive closes today, November 22.  We are still in need of at least 70 turkeys before we can make our deliveries to north Minneapolis this afternoon.

If you can, would you please consider delivering a turkey (or two) to school before 2:00?

Thank you and Happy Holidays!

Campus Ministry 2012

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The Turkeys Have Arrived!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011 2:06 PM

Message body

Before (11:00 a.m.)
After (2:00 p.m.)

Visitation people are the best!  Just three hours after putting out the call for 70 turkeys, they arrived or have been promised.

If you have purchased a turkey to donate, you can still drop it off; they will all find a good home.

Campus Ministry and the Visitation Sisters in Minneapolis thank you and send blessings for a happy Thanksgiving.

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Francis observed that the opportunity to do “great & heroic things” does not come along very often, but the chance to do ordinary things with love comes along all the time. He teaches the value of what he calls the “little virtues”. Gentleness, honest humility, patience, kindness, respect, thoughtfulness, and generosity are small things, but they have significant power to touch hearts and to make a real difference.”

And earlier last week, The Convent of the Visitation School participated in Give to the Max Day, again another living example of the Visitation’s generous spirit at work in the hearts of those they are in relationship. Note the letter of gratitude below!

generosity in action

generosity in action

“And So Begins Our Day” — An Invitation to Immerse Yourself in Prayer and Community

window“And So Begins Our Day”
–by Sr. Mary Virginia Schmidt

It is dark outside when we gather for Morning Prayer.
As I find my pages in the liturgy of the hours prayer book,
I am aware of the muted footsteps of the other sisters arriving  in the chapel.
A holy presence is there as I meet with such fidelity every morning.
I have done this for over 5o years.
Why is it so new to me each day?
The chanted psalms, the prayerful faith sharing never seems to grow old.
This is the place where our whole neighborhood worships.
Soon after the prayer time ends the door bell rings and we welcome the first of those for whom and on who’s behalf we have been praying.
And so begins our day.

I would love to have you come for a while and share this with us.

Are you called to immerse yourself in prayer and community?

Are you called to immerse yourself in prayer and community?

Are you called to immerse yourself in prayer and community?

Is Sr. Mary Virginia speaking to you? Are you called to a life of prayer and community? The Sisters of the Visitation of Minneapolis invite you to consider joining us for six to twelve months in a newly forming “Monastic Immersion Experience.”

As we listen to the Holy Spirit in the signs of the times, we discern a hunger for prayer and community among contemporary Christians. We know, too, that statistically the average person pursues several distinct directions in a lifetime. While commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ is paramount in the lives of many lay persons we know, we recognize that permanent commitment may be “down the road” for them. Having the opportunity for an in depth experience of our monastic way of life in an urban setting would, at the very least, give them an opportunity to “try on” monastic customs/ values. The monastic community’s engagement with temporary commitment participants will help to keep the Salesian charism fresh and alive while nurturing the desire for prayer and community.

For more information, contact Sr. Mary Frances Reis at 612-529-8215, or email her at

To Marry One’s Soul: On Vowed Life

Posted by Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, Visitation Companion

“If we are to live without silencing or numbing essential parts of who we are, a vow must be invoked and upheld within oneself.” — Mark Nepo

St. Francis de Sales: "Be who you are and be that well."

St. Francis de Sales: "Be who you are and be that well."

My yoga instructor read the following meditation at the opening of class last night. I came in, after spending some time thinking of the Sisters renewal of vows ceremony that takes place Monday, November 21. The following words from poet and philosopher, Mark Nepo, resonated deeply with me, especially thinking of what it means to commit oneself, over and over again to anything, anyone. I think St. Francis de Sales would also find a resonance here with Mr. Nepo’s words, as the Salesian mantra: “be who you are and be that well” seems to run through the following:

To Marry One’s Soul

If we are to live without silencing or numbing essential parts of who we are, a vow must be invoked and upheld within oneself. The same commitments we pronounce when embarking on a marriage can be understood internally as a devotion to the care of one´s soul: “to have and to hold…for better or for worse… in sickness and in health…to love and to cherish, till death do us part.”

Interweave the life of spirit and psychology; heart, mind; faith and truth with doubt and anxiety.

This means staying committed to your inner path. This means not separating from yourself when things get tough or confusing. This means accepting and embracing your faults and limitations. It means loving yourself no matter how others see you. It means cherishing the unchangeable radiance that lives within you, no matter the cuts and bruises along the way. It means binding your life with a solemn pledge to the truth of your soul.

It is interesting that the nautical definition of ‘marry’ is “to join two ropes end to end by interweaving their strands.” To marry one’s soul suggests that we interweave the life of our spirit with the life of our psychology; the life of our heart with the life of our mind; the life of our faith and truth with the life of our doubt and anxiety. And just as two ropes that are married create a tie that is twice as strong, when we marry our humanness to our spirit, we create a life that is doubly strong in the world.


Posted by Elizabeth Eilers Sullivan, Visitation Alumna

Self gift flows like a waterfall

"When we live our vocation we are invited into deeper simplicity. Deeper relationships with others, deeper authenticity, love, and joy, and deeper freedom."

To further our contemplation on discernment of our vocations, the Quaker song by Shaker Elder Joseph Brackett, Jr. in 1848 comes to mind. When we live our vocation we are invited into deeper simplicity. Deeper relationships with others, deeper authenticity, love, and joy, and deeper freedom. I invite your reflections of how by “turning, turning we come out right…”

“’Tis the gift to be simple,
’tis the gift to be free,
’tis the gift to come down where you ought to be,

And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
It will be in the valley of love and delight.


When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed.
To turn, turn will be our delight,
‘Til by turning, turning we come round right

‘Tis the gift to be loved and that love to return,
‘Tis the gift to be taught and a richer gift to learn,
And when we expect of others what we try to live each day,
Then we’ll all live together and we’ll all learn to say,


‘Tis the gift to have friends and a true friend to be,
‘Tis the gift to think of others not to only think of “me”,
And when we hear what others really think and really feel,
Then we’ll all live together with a love that is real.


Once a Teacher, Always a Teacher

Christ, the Teacher, by Brother Mickey McGrath. All Rights Reserved

"Christ, the Teacher" by Brother Mickey O'Neill McGrath, OSFS. All Rights Reserved

by Sr. Suzanne Homeyer, VHM

There is some truth in the saying, “Once a teacher, always a teacher,” don’t you think? Here’s a bit of my personal history that makes me believe this.

When I was in kindergarten (kindergarten, yes at age 5!) my report card bore the following prophetic word: “would make a great teacher!” I honestly don’t know if I believed that but my parents sure did and never let me forget it…..even when I was in graduate school and a part time campus minister my dad would still send me ads from the Chicago newspapers for teaching positions!

The truth is I have taught English, Speech, Journalism, Drama and even German to junior high, high school, and college students in addition to numerous religious education classes and several sessions of the RCIA….and I LOVE TEACHING!!!!!

Now, back to “once a teacher…”

The religion department at Visitation High School in Mendota Heights invited Sr. Mary Frances and me to speak to the members of the Senior Class about service opportunities in North Minneapolis that they could use to fulfill their class requirement.

What would a presentation to these students include to make them want to come to North Minneapolis in their free time to do ‘homework?’

Since I am the ‘field trip czarina’ in our community I thought how perfect the timing of this invitation was —- considering all of the pre-Christmas special events and the opportunity for work with families and children preparing during Advent. What would a presentation to these students include to make them want to come to North Minneapolis in their free time to do ‘homework?’

Elizabeth and Mary: Teachers, Students, Student, Teacher

Elizabeth and Mary: Teacher, Student; Student, Teacher

Sr. Mary Frances and I prepared a simple class outline, gathered materials and walked into the classroom just as the door was closing…no bells in this school!  As  I began to talk about the families and children of the neighborhood that would benefit from their actions I felt the teacher in me rise to the occasion…I had personal stories on the tip of my tongue and I felt my own relationship with our neighbors come alive as I spoke….AND the students were connecting….eye contact and appropriate laughter (always a good sign that your words are hitting home). The first class period just flew by…

The message had gotten through…the beauty of our ministry and the loving relationships our neighbors invite us into was now being passed to the next generation…Isn’t that what teaching is all about?

Then IT happened — every teacher’s nightmare — the AV equipment failed. In my previous years’ teaching it was a well known fact that I couldn’t thread a movie projector and if the students knew I was planning to show a film they just instantly developed an attitude that said ‘yeah, right.’

I had to wing it with my own verbal rendition of what I remembered of the DVD. The students laughed when the sound of the DVD did come on in the midst of my speaking and the screen behind me came to life and I was only momentarily stunned.

Less than 12 hours later we received a phone call from the first student to volunteer to chaperone a few children to a special Minnesota Orchestra holiday show…..and she had already asked her parents if it was OK. I was probably grinning from ear to ear at this news.  The message had gotten through… the beauty of our ministry and the loving relationships our neighbors invite us into was now being passed to the next generation…Isn’t that what teaching is all about?

Once a teacher, always a teacher!


If you are interested in tuning into the “teacher-energy” of Sr. Suzanne Homeyer, consider joining us at St. Lawrence Catholic Church and Newman Center on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 7:30pm for Theology on Tap.
Address: 1203 5 Street SE (Click for link to map)
Minneapolis, MN  55414


For more information on how you could accompany a northside family to the MN Orchestra or Children’s Theater, call Sr. Suzanne at 612-521-6113

Discerning Our Gifts

Written by Elizabeth Eilers Sullivan, Visitation Alumna

In Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians Chapter 12: 4-11 he writes how the Holy Spirit distributes our gifts that lead to our vocation.

He writes: “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit. To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom; to another the expression of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit; to another mighty deeds; to another prophecy; to another discernment of spirits; to another varieties of tongues; to another interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit produces all of these, distributing them individually to each person as he wishes.

Given Paul’s words, how has the Holy Spirit blessed you? With what gifts?
How do you give your gifts away to others?
How are they received?
Is it a good fit between what you have to offer and what your community needs of you?
I invite you to take some time and pray with the Holy Spirit alive in you, at work in you, and at work in your community, what does your prayer reveal to you?
What does it tell you about your vocation?

Lost and Found: Contemplating being a Sheep

by Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, Visitation Companion

“Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.”  Luke 15: 6

I’m telling you, there are days I wake up feeling like a lost sheep; all I crave is to be found. I want nothing more but for some shepherd to see me in my spot of isolation, amid the equivalent of rocky mountain terrain, facing the cruel elements, afraid, bleeting for help. In walks the staff-holding-vest-wearing-probably long-haired friend,  who scoops me up and returns me to my beloved fold. I am returned to a space among my community where it seems finding food is easier — and the elements are not quite as harsh as when I was lost — as I am reminded of who I am, and what I’m called to be in this blessed family of sheep.

I’m serious, I think like this.

On this day in early November, when holiday happenings seem to encroach upon my sanity, begging for time, attention, planning, and I lose sight of the glorious sun, trees, love at the center of my life, I am definitely this lost sheep. I wake up and pray for ways to be found, to not be anxious, afraid, unsure, and to find myself — the true center and soul that God made me to be.

I imagine myself being carried on shoulders, as Luke’s gospel describes the wayward lamb to be, and take stock of the perspective afforded me from this shepherds’ perch: The earth is a beautiful place! I am deeply cared for! My needs are not beyond this benevolent Creator! Amidst all that is going on, (thinking through November 20-January 5th logistics; work tasks, health goals, prayer time) there is a Love that desires nothing more but for my return to center, to being present. My only real job is to see where I am at,  and extend my animal-arm-of-vulnerability, celebrating all that is in this moment, knowing I am okay.

Are you with me?

The Veil is Thin-Discerning Voices

Written by Elizabeth Eilers Sullivan, Visitation Alumna

The crescent moon is stunning tonight, and the veil is thin this time of year between our world and the spirit world. Many traditions honor this time as holy and sacred; in our Catholic Church we do so by remembering the Saints today with All Saints Day, and our ancestors and friends who have passed before us tomorrow with All Souls day.

How many of you take the time to consider where you came from? And more aptly, who you came from and how that impacts your discernments? Do you ever take a moment to be mindful for how the generations before you set into action work that they have not finished, and because of your lineage you are privilege to it or possibly hindered by it?

Some call this our ancestral karma, others call it family history or lore. But the stories that are passed from one generation to the next impact you and how you come to view your choices and your decisions. Sometimes they even affect how you view your capabilities and your talents.

Perhaps, this all souls day you will take a moment to have a heart to heart with your ancestors and see what they are inviting you toward in your own life. What are they encouraging you to embrace? And what might they encourage you to let go of to further become your best self? Or as St. Francis de Sales invites you, “Be who you are and be it perfectly well.”

And so it is, we gather again,
The feast of our dead to begin.
Our Ancients, our Ancestors we invite, Come!
And follow the setting of the sun.

Whom do we call? We call them by name

The Ancients have come! Here with us stand
Where ever the country, where ever the land
They leave us not, to travel alone;
Flesh of our flesh, bone of our bone!

Grandmothers, Grandfathers, Great be their Power!
Past ones and present-at this very hour!

Welcome within are the dead who are kin,
Feast here with us and rest here within
Our hearth is your hearth and welcome to thee;
Old tales to tell and new visions to see!