Monthly Archives: August 2012

“Discernment is Hard,” Sister Katherine shares a discernment story.

Today we commence the Fall Following the Spirit Discernment Series. What are you discerning? How does joy play a part in your discernment story? Sister Katherine reflects on joy in her own story by taking time to pray, reflect, and observe where she has basked in joy recently in her vowed life. Joy put another way can be an acronym J.O.Y. (just observe yourself). After reading Sister Katherine’s story, we invite you to note when you are deeply happy and engaged in something or someone…and share it with us in the comments section. Sister Katherine’s story grew out of the Writing Our Stories workshop held at St. Jane’s House in July, we will be sharing more stories from other discerners who gathered for the workshop throughout the fall. May we each learn from one another and our stories!

Written by Sister Katherine Mullin, VHM

Discernment is hard…but oh! the benefits if we stick with it!  One of my latest bout with it has to do with my 50th  anniversary of vows as a Vis nun.

Visitation May Day Joy! with the Sisters and community, north Minneapolis, MN

Sister Katherine Living her JOY on the north side! Visitation May Day Joy! with the Sisters and community, north Minneapolis, MN

I did not want to celebrate it in any way- except with just my family and community which could have been as small as 20 people.  But something inside me told me to broaden my invitation list and have a fitting celebration  of fifty years worth of loving my vocation. But inside me, I had this feeling of not wanting to be the center. (Believe me, I like being the center of attention but just not in this way!). I then ‘took it to prayer’  praying with the idea of CELBRATING IT BIG.  As I did that, over time, the feeling of wanting to limit it changed for me and  I realized that inviting many more was the authentic way for me to go.  My earlier thought of hardly having anybody come  was coming out of my ‘small self’, one that often puts limits on things, one that comes more out of self consciousness and fear. As my plans continued to grow and having all of the sisters, my family and others jump in to help me (my younger cousins offered to clean up/ rake the park area  that I had selected to have the mass ), everything was becoming  possible. There were other hurdles too that brought back those old feelings, but as I went step by step, and moved from one new idea to another in prayer, what was happening was I actually “saw” God’s hand working and I began to trust that understanding and my intuition and the ideas of others as I made decisions about details. Step by step I had a deep knowing of trust, trusting that God was transforming me in this process.

“…but as I went step by step, and moved from one new idea to another in prayer, what was happening was I actually “saw” God’s hand working and I began to trust that understanding and my intuition and the ideas of others….Step by step I had a deep knowing of trust, trusting that God was transforming me in this process.”

Now it has been exactly a year since that event, my Golden Jubilee. It is so clear to me that the satisfaction that I knew that day with what seemed like the gathering of hundreds of “my closest friends,” was a deep joy  in God’s providence. Today, as I observe it, that joy has taken the form of energy , energy to love in the ordinary things of my monastic life. I am not being ‘Pollyanna, I feel I am focused (graced?), to just carry out the day -to-day mission of Living Jesus on the north side as the door bell rings, as I empty the dishwasher, as I talk with a neighbor who has just been beaten by her significant other, as I clean the living room , as I am present in the alley with the young boys who found an injured squirrel. It doesn’t matter. And …it does matter a lot.

“…gathering of hundreds of “my closest friends,” was a deep joy  in God’s providence. Today, as I observe it, that joy has taken the form of energy , energy to love in the ordinary things of my monastic life.”

As the School Year Begins — Words from St. Francis de Sales

St. Francis de Sales, Co-Founder of the Visitation Sisters

St. Francis de Sales, Co-Founder of the Visitation Sisters

From Guest Blogger Claire Kranz, Vis Alumna, Student at St. Louis University

Have patience with all things.  But, first of all with yourself. ~St. Francis de Sales

A lot of us will begin a new school year tomorrow or later this week.  The first days of a new year can be stressful and full of uncertainties.  As I know I do every year, you too, may find yourself questioning if you even belong in the classes you are in.  Some of your classmates may seem smarter, more articulate, or better than you are, but do not think any less of yourself!  Remember that as we struggle through the first week of school, so too, are those around us.  Be patient with them.  Most of all, be patient with yourself.  When you allow yourself to be patient with YOU, you will have grace enough to be patient to those around you.  In the whirlwind that is the first week of school, remember to take time to find peace.  Be patient!  Let your heart and mind settle in to the new year.  Give it time to bring new and amazing things!

Claire Kranz, Vis Alumna

Claire Kranz, Vis Alumna

Peace and Prayers for a great week, whatever you may be doing!
V+J.

“In the whirlwind that is the first week of school, remember to take time to find peace.  Be patient!  Let your heart and mind settle in to the new year.  Give it time to bring new and amazing things!”

Discernment: Tuning into God’s Voice (when others are speaking?)

How do we tune in joyfully to God's voice?

How do we tune in to God's voice?

by Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, Visitation Companion

“How do we tune in and hear God’s voice when others are simultaneously having conversations that are within ear shot?”

This question came up in a recent exchange with a young woman discerning her life’s calling. I found it resonant then, and now — especially as our community turns toward the start of our Fall discernment series, entitled, “Following the Spirit.”

The question makes me giggle. (Read: I imagine trying to hear God speaking over the dull roar of a cocktail party;  or,  being at a family reunion and trying to share an ear of corn-on-the-cob with Jesus, only to have the butter and salt passers and burger consumers shove in on our space — and I miss Christ’s message.)

I return to the heart to of the question, and consider a litany of supporting queries for discerners: How do we hear? How do we tune in? What do we tune out? How do we know what is genuinely from God? How do we receive messages that perhaps aren’t all so life-giving or divinely-inspired and gently put them aside? Ah, the blessed process that listening is, eh!?

“I imagine trying to hear God speaking over the dull roar of a cocktail party;  or,  being at a family reunion and trying to share an ear of corn-on-the-cob with Jesus, only to have the butter and salt passers and burger consumers shove in on our space — and I miss Christ’s message.”

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I am remembering sitting in English class at Norfolk Catholic my senior year of high school. It was early Fall and Ms. Burkink, our guidance counselor, was making rounds to quiz us about our next steps academically-speaking. We were often pulled from this Senior Writing class for such interviews. Anne Dostal sat next to me, nudging me with questions, on the heels of Ms. Burkink’s loud-speaker pages bidding the next student to come to her office (at least those she thought were college bound).

Tuning in...

Tuning in...

“Where will you go to college?” Anne whispered. “I’m getting all of this information from St. Kate’s in St. Paul, MN; if I could go out of a state, to a private school, it would be there.”

Of course, when my own parents asked a similar question at the dinner table later that week, I said, “I’d like to check out St. Kate’s in St. Paul, MN.”

Yes, I was getting the same information that Anne Dostal was in the mail (we were targeted based on our grades and ACT/SAT scores, right?) But her clarity in looking elsewhere — beyond the borders of our state, or our full-ride offers from the U, gave me permission to do so as well. It was like a gift from God, her voice — an affirmation that my own college-seeking self so truly needed.

(Background: I’m the firstborn in our family of six children, and while my father got a 4-year degree — he ran away from home to do so;  my mom left Mount Marty College after three semesters to marry her high school sweetheart. Translation: college discernment processes were not uber-familiar ones for my mom and dad, and so my search was rather hap-hazard at first.)

I think back on that process of early academic and life discernment, and think of Anne’s voice as a gift to me in my own process of tuning in to the Spirit and next steps. “What is next? How will I know what’s right? Is what is right for her, also okay for me?”

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In today’s world, we have so many opportunities, resources, information, “voices,” if you will, at our fingertips — or drowning out our ears (not unlike the dull roar of voices at a cocktail party, or people nudging in on your sacred time tuning into Christ’s message for you). Just opening up your lap top, or turning on your phone or glancing toward the TV can bombard you with info that you need to process — pay attention to, or tune out. There are a billion messages for any one person looking for an indication on where to turn next in life….

So: how do we genuinely hear God’s call? What voices do we turn the volume up or down on? Who do we trust to process our deepest questions with? How do we hear God?

I close out this post today with nothing but a sincere prayer for each and every discerning individual out there. May you be anchored by the joy and love of God in your soul, may you have quiet space to tune in to Love’s voice; may you be shepherded by a wise, or kindred presence who will affirm and nurture you on your path. This is my prayer for you this day.

PEACE and BLESSINGS!

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For those craving more on the process of Listening, Silence, and Prayer in the discernment process, I highly recommend Fr. Richard Rohr’s current meditations under the title of “Silence” found at the Center for Action and Contemplation.

“Help One Another Find God” – Claire Kranz Reflects on words from St. Jane de Chantal

Claire Kranz, Vis Alumna

Claire Kranz, Vis Alumna

From Guest Blogger Claire Kranz, Vis Alumna, Student at St. Louis University

“We are companions on the journey, given to one another as helpers in doing God’s work.” ~St. Jane de Chantal.

During my senior year of high school at Visitation, I reflected on a Salesian quote or thought weekly and shared it with a few friends.  Now, three years later, I am bringing this practice back, and you are those with whom I have chosen to share it.  I am no where near an expert in Salesian Spirituality, but I have found that it is the strongest and truest force driving me in the way I live my life.  With this sharing, I hope that we all can take time to reflect and refocus on Sunday evenings before a busy week of classes and work begins allowing us to take a thought with us to strengthen us throughout this week.

“Salesian Spirituality… is the strongest and truest force driving me in the way I live my life.” — Claire Kranz

To the quote…

St. Jane de Chantal

St. Jane de Chantal

St. Jane de Chantal shares with us our truest and most important job here on earth, to be friends and walk with each other on our journey to find Jesus in our everyday lives.  Too often, I find myself overwhelmed with homework, activities, and just the daily grind of life.  I forget that my job is to simply to be present for other people as they do the same for me.  It is a simple and comforting idea.  If we can keep that in the forefront of our minds, our job is to help one another find God, and also remember that there are others who are doing the same for us, hopefully, we can find a little more peace and simplicity in all this chaos.

Peace and Prayers for a great week!

V+J.

Claire

Update: News from the Northside*

by Sr. Mary Frances Reis, VHM

“As we settle into a time of transition from a full and fruitful year to a season of planning and “planting” for the coming year, we are grateful for our Visitation way which calls us to live in the PRESENT MOMENT and to treasure the graces in the relationships.  Our daily rhythm of Eucharist, Liturgy of the Hours, personal prayer and door ministry keeps us centered on Living Jesus in a profoundly incarnational way in the midst of the city!”

A Few Highlight of  “the year that has been”:

The St. Jane House, our urban spirituality center, served as the gathering place for women’s retreats, men’s spirituality & centering prayer groups, several high school and college inner city immersion experiences, discernment evenings, leadership training, From Death to Life meetings, etc., etc. (We even had a baby shower there!)

  • What does the future of the Visitation Community look like?

    What does the future of the Visitation Community look like?

    Our Visitation Internship Program (VIP) was launched this year, and two lovely young women recently completed their year of community service and in-depth experience of our charism.

  • Children and their families enjoyed a myriad of activities: field trips as diverse as the Holidazzle parade, the Children’s Theatre, Minnesota Science Museum, & The Minnesota History Theatre, parties sponsored and run by Vicki Bailey and friends of Mendota Visitation, etc., etc.
  • Mendota Visitation seniors were pioneers during their community service weeks here from May 21st thru May 31st. Instead of going to Guatemala, they came to North Minneapolis!  It was a great Mission Trip right here in the city!!!  The school motto “Not for School but for Life” was in full swing.

A few Highlights of summer 2012:

  • Our dear Sister Karen recently completed six years of selfless and Spirit-filled leadership of our community.  Sister Mary Frances succeeds her and will endeavor to follow her example of empowering the gifts of each of our Sisters and lay counterparts.
  • CYC Campers at Send Off

    CYC Campers at Send Off

    Thanks to the generosity of many benefactors & volunteers, we were able to send 75 children and 7 teen “Counselors in Training” to Catholic Youth Camp in McGreggor, MN; 4 teens to St. Louis to participate in Vistory, a program which brings Visitation students from around the country together to serve and learn about Salesian spirituality; and 2 teens to an intensive program at St. John’s University:  YTM, Youth in Theology and Ministry . . . As Father Michael O’Connell often says, “Our youth are our future.”  We are grateful for opportunities to affirm and form them in positive ways.

A Few Highlight of “things to come”:

  • We recently welcomed the first participant into our Monastic Immersion experience, a 6-month stay in our monastery.  Not unlike St. Jane de Chantal, Marsha West, who hails from Forks, Washington, has had many life vocations as wife, mother, grandmother, widow, and on and on! She brings many gifts our way and we are happy to share our life with her.  Welcome Marsha!
  • We are in the process of interviewing New VIPs for the coming year.
  • Our dear Maryann Pearson has “retired” as coordinator of the Visitation Companions, our lay community.  Thanks to her untiring dedication, we have about 15-20 members!  Jody Johnson has accepted the role of coordinator and will work with Sr. Mary Frances and Linda Goynes to keep the movement growing.

*Published in our Summer Newsletter – which you can view in its entirety here.

Neighborhood Night of Peace-August 1, 2012

Sr. Mary Frances embraces two National Night of Peace Collaborators

Sr. Mary Frances embraces two Neighborhood Night of Peace Collaborators

by Sr. Mary Frances Reis, VHM

“There are so many wonderful initiatives in this community that never get media coverage;  that’s OK, but we want the world to know that the north side is comprised of so many beautiful people who can teach us all a lot about the value of relationship.” — Sr. Mary Frances

Neighborhood Night of Peace is an event the Sisters initiated some 20 years ago.  It grew out of National Night Out (a block by block event) and became a community wide celebration of peace and community.  In recent years this summertime gathering has drawn between 450 and 600 neighbors to Ascension Church’s  parking lot where there is free food, games and prizes for the children, door prizes for the family, and free school supplies for the first 200 children to arrive.  Community friends Eddie Brown and Tommy Williams MC’d the event, as they have done for the past several years.

NNOP2012.lThe most gratifying aspect of the Neighborhood Night of Peace is the partnerships it has generated.  ASCENSION CHURCH, VISITATION MONASTERY, MASJID ANUR, TURNING POINT, KEMPS, ASCESNION PLACE, BASILICA OF SAINT MARY, NEIGHBORS & FRIENDS FROM AROUND THE METRO come together to provide a spectacular evening!

This event could not have happened without the generous participation and support of the Our Lady of the Lakes Mission Group of 30 youth and adults from Spicer, Minnesota.  They arrived at 11:00 am on a huge bus, packed with door prizes, & kiddy games and prizes.  NNOP2012.mAfter a bus tour of the North side conducted by Don Samuels, they spent the entire day (in 90 degree temps) tirelessly setting up and preparing for the evening which began at 5:30.   This group served food, ran games, etc., until they boarded the bus at 7:30 to return to Spicer.  It is our prayer that this bridging experience planted a few seeds, especially in the young people, of the satisfaction of serving.  Like us Sisters, we hope that they received as much and more than they gave!

The NNOP was a great success!  There are so many wonderful initiatives in this community that never get media coverage;  that’s OK, but we want the world to know that the north side is comprised of so many beautiful people who can teach us all a lot about the value of relationship.

“Living in the Yes” — Marsha West’s Commitment to Monastic Immersion with the Visitation Sisters of north Minneapolis

Welcome MIE participant, Ms. Marsha West

Welcome MIE participant, Ms. Marsha West

by Sr. Mary Frances Reis, VHM and Marsha West, Monastic Immersion Participant

“When I came here last summer, I discovered that this is the place my heart has hungered for – a place where everyone lives every moment of every day oriented toward the presence of God, where all the activities and concerns of each day are infused with prayer.” — Marsha West, Monastic Immersion Participant

Recently, prompted by the Holy Spirit, we Sisters of the Visitation of Minneapolis, launched yet another initiative here in our little monastery: MONASTIC IMMERSION EXPERIENCE. The goal of this offering is to provide an opportunity for women desiring to deepen their spirituality in a monastic setting for a temporary period of time.  Each participant is invited to enter fully into our life of prayer, presence and ministry during her stay.

We are happy to report that we have a wonderful first participant!  MARSHA WEST is living with us for a period of six months; On Friday, August 3, 2012, we had a simple commitment ceremony in which Marsha expressed her desire and promise to share life with us for the next six months.

Rather than do any more explaining, I invited Marsha to elaborate on her hopes and desires for the coming months:

MARSHA:  I have been at Visitation Monastery here in N. Minneapolis for a month now. I visited here last summer for a week – came for a few days again last March – and now I’m here to stay for six months for what they call their “Monastic Immersion Experience” – a very apt phrase for what is happening here.

In my own blog, Marsha’s Musings, where I am keeping a chronicle of my journey, I wrote early in my stay:

When I made my other two visits here, I sat on the edge of the pool and wet my feet and watched. Maybe walked out ankle-deep in the pool. This time I’ve plunged in, gone in over my head, bobbed around, gasped for breath, floated briefly from time to time, splashed and rejoiced.

Now, a couple of weeks later, I would say that I have gotten my bearings and I am sinking more and more deeply into the life here, and I am loving it.

Marsha’s Statement of Commitment

Sr. Mary Frances embraces Marsha at her commitment ceremony

Sr. Mary Frances embraces Marsha at her commitment ceremony

The sisters asked me to write my own statement of commitment for our little ceremony last week. Here is a portion of it:

When I came here last summer, I discovered that this is the place my heart has hungered for – a place where everyone lives every moment of every day oriented toward the presence of God, where all the activities and concerns of each day are infused with prayer.

I remember asking Katherine, “What do I not know about you that makes you the way you are?” I know now what it is. It is the way you live these monastic rhythms, the way you have learned to be with each other and with the neighborhood.

That recognition awakened in me a fierce longing to live this way – I believe that longing was God’s call to me to leave what I have known and receive the gift I have so long sought.

I am deeply grateful to you for inviting me to share this way of living.

I commit to you that I will try to live out of the spirituality of Saints Francis and Jane. I will cultivate gentleness and quiet within myself. I will enter willingly and eagerly into the rhythm of your common and private prayer. I will try to be observant about what I can do to serve the needs of the community. I will try to set aside my own agendas to work wholeheartedly toward your goals. I will look for Jesus in the faces of the neighbors and friends who come to your houses. I will listen and value what you have to teach me about living this way.

. . . I will try to make each day of these next six months the fulfillment of that old longing – to live every day – all day – in conscious awareness of the Presence of God in prayer, service, and community. I can’t imagine any place where that might be more possible than right here.

I commit myself, with God’s help, to share your life in this way for the next six months.

The sisters had invited me to select a song for the service. I didn’t hesitate for a moment: I asked for “Here I am, LORD.” It says it all for me. I believe God called me here. I said Yes. And now I’m living in the Yes.

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

-Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks

Posted by Elizabeth Eilers Sullivan, Visitation Alumna ’93 with gratitude to Rob Brezsny for posting poem and image. bringing both to my attention.