Monthly Archives: March 2012

The Impossible

“Alice laughed: “There’s no use trying,” she said; “one can’t believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
Alice in Wonderland.

I share the above quote on the heals of the Feast of the Annunciation, to remind each of us to dream the impossible and remember as Gabriel proclaims, “For nothing will be impossible for God.”

Dream big, live big, expand! You do the world no great service by shrinking from your brillance.

Written by Elizabeth Eilers Sullivan, Visitation Alumna

“Invocation” — A Poem by Rachel Srubas on the Annunciation of the Lord

I was moved deeply in my prayer this morning reading the following poetic reflection on this Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. The following was published in “Give Us This Day: Daily Prayer for Today’s Catholic” by Liturgical Press.


Let it be the middle of nowhere,
at the heart of nothing but wheat fields.
Let there be farmers swinging their arms,
broadcasting seed.
Let us see the terrible boredom of oxen
and small-town girls. Let there be one girl
grinding grain in her father’s house,
her face bland with inexperience,
her heart expectant of little
but marriage, customarily arranged.

Into this everyday, female life,
let there enter a messenger,
praising her and telling wild stories
about God inside her body.

Let the message flourish in the girl,
and make of her a prophet, capable of seeing
beyond the milky tenderness
of her promised pregnancy and motherhood,
to her son’s ironic kingdom.
Let her envision him befriending prostitutes
and children,
enraging priests and governors,
dying between thieves.

Let the girl be wise and curious.
Let her ask, how can this be?
When the messenger is overwhelmed
by beauty,
and he can tell her only
that the shadow of the holy will fall
across her life,
let her receive
the God of fearsome possibilities.
Let her conceive the Christ.

Rachel Srubas

Rachel M. Srubas, a Presbyterian clergywoman and Benedictine Oblate, is the author of two books and numerous articles on the spiritual life. To buy “City of Prayer: Forty Days with Desert Christians” click here.
© 2012 by the Order of Saint Benedict, Collegeville, Minnesota

Join us for “The Way” at St. Jane House: Sunday, 3/25, 1pm!

Kelly Schumacher, Vis Intern

Kelly Schumacher, Vis Intern

An Invitation from Kelly Schumacher, Visitation Intern:

Join us this Sunday, 3/25, for a screening of Emilio Estevez’s powerful and inspiring film The Way. This is the next in our series, “Movies with Jane” featuring thought-provoking films that inspire and/or challenge us to become better people!

Movies with Jane

1:00pm – Door opens at St. Jane House; 1403 Emerson Ave N
1:30pm – Film begins, followed by discussion

Limited to 20 people. RSVP to
When we hit capacity we will start a waiting list.

About the film: THE WAY is a powerful and inspirational story about family, friends and the challenges we face while navigating this ever-changing and complicated world. Martin Sheen plays Tom, an irascible American doctor who comes to France to deal with the tragic loss of his son (played by Emilio Estevez). Rather than return home, Tom decides to embark on the historical pilgrimage “The Way of St. James” to honor his son’s desire to finish the journey. What Tom doesn’t plan on is the profound impact this trip will have on him. Through unexpected and oftentimes amusing experiences along “The Way,” Tom discovers the difference between “the life we live and the life we choose.”

St. Jane House
1403 Emerson Ave N
Minneapolis, MN 55411
(612) 965-9446

Visitation Monastery of Minneapolis Accepting Applications for Internship Program

by Brigid Ryan-Ling, Visitation Alumna

Internship Program is a Community-Living, Year-Long Volunteer Program for Young Adults

Are you called to a year of service?
Are you called to a year of service?

Minneapolis, MN—21 March 2012–The Visitation Sisters of Minneapolis are accepting applications for their Visitation Internship Program (VIP), a volunteer-based program that provides young adults the opportunity to live in community in North Minneapolis with other young adults, providing service and ministry in the neighborhood for one year.

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, leader of the community, noted how young adults are excited to challenge themselves, and this opportunity gives them a chance to do just that.

Sr. Karen Mohan, vhm

Sr. Karen Mohan

“Young adults can share in the ministry of the Visitation Sisters of Minneapolis by ‘Living Jesus’ in urban Minneapolis for one year among those who are often marginalized.  This program is a wonderful opportunity for young adults to discover and apply the legacy of Catholic social justice teaching and deepen their own spirituality, all while serving others,” said Sister Karen.

Kelly Schumacher, Vis Intern

Kelly Schumacher, VIP

VIP participant Kelly Schumacher said,

“My year as a VIP has been wonderful. I feel so blessed to have had this year to take a step back, live out my faith through service, explore questions of discernment and vocation, and learn from both my neighbors here in the North side and the Visitation Sisters.”

Some additional information:

  • Women and men between the ages of 21-35 eligible to apply.
  • The VIPs live in an intentional VIP community and commit to regular times together in their house and also with the Visitation Sisters
  • The VIPs serve in a ministry within the north Minneapolis community.
  • The VIPs learn Salesian spirituality through engaging with 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.

Applications are currently being accepted for the year beginning August 2012. For more information, please click here: Visitation Internship 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.


Vis Sisters Be The Change

"We -- the Sisters -- are engaged! We are committed."

by Sr. Suzanne Homeyer, VHM

“We’re engaged!!”  was the Facebook message from a friend of mine in Mexico. Announcing this to the world through the social media? Why not? Of course! Being engaged to someone or with something should be out there for all to see.

Commitment is nothing to be taken lightly…WE — the Sisters — are engaged. Yes, you read that correctly….We ARE engaged. We are committed…

We are engaged with many people and committed to sharing our Visitation/Salesian spirituality with others. We want to insure that the ministry and mission and our way of living the Visitation charism  continues here on the north side well into the future.  To this end we have been exploring, praying about, formulating and putting into place a five-faceted plan of engagement. There are several ways a person may become engaged with us in our presence and ministry.

Visitation Engagement Programs

cross-in-handsWe are willing to join hands with people who are searching for God’s will in their lives.  Following the Spirit is a series of evenings on discernment and sharing about how God calls and how we can listen to God’s direction. Young adult men and women, single or married can participate in this form of engagement with us.  Space is limited but future sessions have been planned  and interested people can see more info on our website for the series beginning in the fall…there is even a new gem added to this form of engagement!

Our first group of VIP’s (Visitation Internship Program) participants are winding down their time of service and we are currently recruiting young people who are interested in giving a year of service, either in the midst of studies or after college. Sharing prayer, meals and ministry at the monastery and in the northside community are a part of this engagement picture. Building intentional community and living together in a home near the Sisters is yet another important facet of this form of engagement. Young adults, men or women, age 21 — 35  may apply now for next fall. An application can be found on our website.

Our first applicant in our Monastic Immersion Experience spent some time with us this past week.  Women, who are interested in living our contemplative lifestyle at any point in their life may consider spending 6 months to a year living, praying and ministering with us while living in the monastery. Of course, sharing domestic life with the Sisters is involved!

The Visitation Companions are a group of men and women who are interested in studying our spirituality and making a commitment to live it in their own daily life — taking it to the marketplace and wherever they may be.  It is not necessary to live in north Minneapolis, but sharing prayer and ministry with the Sisters whenever possible  and meeting together to share experience and develop their own sense of community is a goal.  Current Companions act as mentors for people interested in this form of Visitation engagement.  Currently there are about 18 Companions…talk about an 18- carat gold band!

And as our identifier says “we are looking for more visionary women to be a prayerful presence in North Minneapolis”  as Vowed Members.

We are not writing our proposal to you in an airplane on a clear blue sky but  know that this sincere invitation is lovingly offered to you and others you may know with open hands….won’t you put yours in ours?

Visitation Has Style

Written by Elizabeth Eilers Sullivan, Visitation Alumna

Last Monday I went back to Visitation Mendota to witness another alumna, Liz Edwards Hewitt, tell the Visitation students her story of surviving breast cancer. A story which led to her deep conviction that it is imperative to advocate for your health. She wanted to catch their attention and decided a good way to do so was to cut her hair on stage for Locks of Love and Beautiful Lengths. As she planned this all-school convocation she invited others to participate. One hair cut on stage led to 33 haircuts of students, faculty, staff, and even parents contributing their hair for people who need wigs due to cancer, alopecia or other medical reasons.

I sat on the steps of the auditorium with my three younger boys and watched as my former teacher and basketball coach, Connie Colon Parsley, cut Liz’s pony tail, and listened to Liz say, “Look around you, the relationships you make here are important. They will carry you through your life. Take care of them.” As I sat in that auditorium, my coat still on, and a hat on my head because of my own alopecia my spirit swelled to be part of this community. To still be in relationship with Visitation through my own friends, through the sisters, and through the school in Mendota Heights and the Monastery in north Minneapolis.

Sr. Mary Paula, stood and shared how she is a breast cancer survivor and what it meant to be able to get a wig when she lost her hair so many years ago. As my boys and I took in the morning, I wanted to say to the students there:

Liz is right it is the relationships that carry you through the joyous and difficult moments of life. While I do not have cancer, but alopecia, I never realized how much hair, having it, losing it, giving it away can define you. But it doesn’t have to define you. You do not have to shrink away from the spot light because of an illness. Nor do you have to explain it. Your beauty comes from that deep reservoir of beauty inside of yourself, your spirit. My spirit is brighter having known the Visitation Sisters, having been steeped in the Salesian tradition, and having been sent out in the world to share the Visitation spirit and tradition with others.

My heart swelled that morning as I watched 33 women donate their hair and 33 stylists dedicate their time to cut and style them. At one point a friend of mine, who was on stage, held her cut locks in a bag and looked in my direction, and winked. Tears brimmed as I basked in her act of sweet solidarity.

I invite you into relationship with the Sisters of the Visitation, like so many of their relationships in north Minneapolis it can start by simply ringing their doorbell.

Haifa, Love, and This Lenten Journey

Embrace for the Journey

Embrace for the Journey

by Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, Visitation Companion

I keep thinking about Haifa*, a young woman who I met at church in north Minneapolis last Summer. Born in West Africa, abandoned by her mother at birth, raised by her Catholic grandmother and Muslim father in different periods of life, at 18 years of age she has had an incredible journey thus far.

Her story keeps bringing me into the mystery of my own Lenten journey, and how I hear God calling me in my life.

Last week Haifa text messaged me a note of distress.  At her “end,” she wrote she was “going crazy” and didn’t know where to turn.

Driving across town during rush hour to connect with Haifa, I found myself praying. I kept asking, “What do you want me to do here, God?” I kept seeing the Visitation Sisters answering their doorbell, open and present to the stories and circumstances of their neighbors who seek and find (and give) so much by knocking. I kept feeling washed over by grace, calm, a kind of surrendering energy that told me: All Shall Be Well.

Kicked out of her house four months ago, Haifa had gone off my radar, as she disappeared from our faith community at Sunday mass. I knew I had to call her or visit with her in person when the text message arrived on my phone. I heard her say she was out of work, about to be kicked out of her current residence if she didn’t come up with the rent, and in need of some resources to help bridge the gap between her needs and current resources. I got in my car to go to meet her, and thought of who else to call or how I could be of any service to this young woman.

It’s hard to describe what happens in my heart, mind, whole being when I encounter young people (any people) in such circumstances in their lives. Driving across town during rush hour to connect with Haifa, I found myself praying. I kept asking, “What do you want me to do here, God?” I kept seeing the Visitation Sisters answering their doorbell, open and present to the stories and circumstances of their neighbors who seek and find (and give) so much by knocking. I kept feeling washed over by grace, calm, a kind of surrendering energy that told me: All Shall Be Well.

I reached a friend employed at our parish who was familiar with Haifa’s situation, and I learned in short order that the church would be able to help Haifa with her rent. I breathed a deep sigh of relief and gratitude and turned the corner into downtown Minneapolis to connect with this dear woman.

Haifa came for dinner. We cooked together, prayed, laughed, ate and told one another stories. I had a chance to hear her tale about navigating life in the past few months outside the realm of her father’s home, and beyond the reach and full knowledge of her grandmother. And my heart cracked wide open in the process –with love, awe, hope, uncertainty, concern, the blessings and grace of God.

A week later, and Haifa has found a job, paid her rent, and is going about her life. And I think of her daily. And I wonder how this informs my walk toward Easter. I pray as I turn this relationship over to God, alongside my own notions of well-being, of Love, of resources, of how life should look for an 18 year old girl. I pray. And I ask to see Christ in my journey — His love, mercy, justice, hope, suffering, and redemption. I ask for your prayers, too, for Haifa, for me, for what’s next in any of our walks with Love.


*Name changed

A Meditation for Lent

Fast from judging others; feast on the Christ dwelling in them.
Fast from emphasis on differences; feast on the unity of life.
Fast from apparent darkness; feast on the reality of light.
Fast from thoughts of illness; feast on the healing power of God.

Fast from discontent; feast on gratitude.
Fast from anger; feast on patience.
Fast from pessimism; feast on optimism.
Fast from worry; feast on divine order.

Fast from complaining; feast on appreciation.
Fast from negatives; feast on affirmatives.
Fast from unrelenting pressures; feast on unceasing prayer.
Fast from hostility; feast on non-resistance.

Fast from bitterness; feast on forgiveness.
Fast from self-concern; feast on compassion for others.
Fast from discouragements; feast on hope.
Fast from lethargy; feast on enthusiasm.

Fast from thoughts that weaken; feast on promises that inspire.
Fast from shadows of sorrow; feast on the sunlight of serenity.
Fast from idle gossip; feast on purposeful silence.
Fast from problems that overwhelm; feast on prayer that sustains.

~ William Arthur Ward (1921-1994)