Women of Prayer: An Invitation this Feast Day of St. Jane de Chantal!

St. Jane de Chantal

St. Jane de Chantal

Wife. Mother. Daughter. Widow. Sister. Friend. Leader. Contemplative Woman of Prayer.

Co-foundress of the Visitation Sisters, St. Jane Frances de Chantal embodied and lived many callings in her life. At the heart of her vocation to love and serve God was this ongoing commitment to prayer. Perhaps you find resonance with her and have a similar desire to have a life anchored by prayer? A desire to lead from within?

On this Feast day of St. Jane, we invite you to consider joining us for our fall discernment series, “Women of Prayer: Be who you are and be that well” — a five session course starting Monday, October 5,*  facilitated by S. Katherine Mullin, Visitation Companion Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, and Pastor Karen Wight Hoogheem.

Join other women seekers to explore the way prayer grounds our discernment and calls us forward in leadership — in our faith communities and beyond!

Whether you are Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist or Baptist; single or married; a Pentecostal preacher or hospital chaplain; birth-worker, grief counselor or “From Death to Life” leader; a stay-at-home mother or corporate executive; a woman from the suburbs or dwelling in the inner-city; one immersed in justice ministry or simply desiring more from your faith journey– you are welcome in this series!  Come and explore how contemplative rhythms in community inspire your listening and leadership in life.

 

Register online. Or for more information, contact:

Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde

Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde

Karen Wight Hoogheem

Karen Wight Hoogheem

Sr. Katherine Mullin, VHM

Sr. Katherine Mullin, VHM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde: melissa.kiemde@gmail.com

Karen Wight Hoogheem: kwhoog@gmail.com

S. Katherine Mullin: katherinefmullin@gmail.com

 

When: 7-9pm; Mondays, October 5, 19; November 2, 16, 30.

Where: St. Jane House, 1403 Emerson Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55411

Suggested donation: $50, payable at registration time.  We are happy to accept a sliding scale fee.

Hey Soul Sister: Visitation School Senior Video Reflects Service Immersion Experience

For the past 20+ years the Sisters have sponsored an INNER CITY IMMERSION EXPERIENCE* in North Minneapolis as one of the options for Visitation School’s Senior Project. It has been a wonderful opportunity for service in this community and to experience another part of town!

The following video, produced by Visitation School Senior Julia Sullivan, features images from the students’ experiences juxtaposed with the songs “Affirmation” — the Visitation School song;  and “Hey Soul Sister” by Plain White T’s. We hope you enjoy it!

*From May 26-June 4, 2015:

–Nine Vis Seniors had a more in depth experience of our neighborhood and the people who are our neighbors;
–They had many opportunities to serve the community, to interact with young children, other teens and senior citizens;
–They had opportunities to spread the Salesian spirit of gentle presence.
–They had an opportunity to build community with one another and with the Sisters.
–It was  lots of FUN and a great contribution to North Minneapolis!
-S. Mary Frances Reis, VHM

 

Nine Mendota Visitation High Seniors Encounter North Minneapolis Neighbors!

by S. Mary Frances Reis, VHM

Vis Seniors with some of our northside friends from Emerge and From Death to Life

Vis Seniors with some of our northside friends from Emerge and From Death to Life

For the past 20+ years the Sisters have sponsored an INNER CITY IMMERSION EXPERIENCE in North Minneapolis as one of the options for Senior Project. It has been a wonderful opportunity for service in this community and to experience another part of town!

The past three years we tried something new! We organized a mission trip right here North Minneapolis! Instead of going to Guatemala or Africa a group of 8 seniors discovered missionary territory right here in the city!

“Our prayer is that this will be an experience they can carry throughout their lives.” – S. Mary Frances

This year we have 9 Visitation women who will stay at our spirituality/retreat/meeting center in the neighborhood called the St. Jane House; a young adult Vis Alum will be staying with them and also and act as chaperone.

From May 26-June 4, 2015:

  • They will have a more in depth experience of our neighborhood and the people who are our neighbors;
  • They will have many opportunities to serve the community, to interact with young children, other teens and senior citizens;
  • They will have opportunities to spread the Salesian spirit of gentle presence.
  • They will have an opportunity to build community with one another and with the Sisters.
  • It will be lots of FUN & a great contribution to North Minneapolis!

Vis Seniors 2013 Service ImmersionGenerally, each day will begin with breakfast, prayer, and off to Northside Child Development Center for the morning where they will assist the teachers of 0-5 year olds. Over the lunch hour there will be speakers from the community to help them gain insight into the root causes of poverty, and also learn about many positive initiatives in place in our community. Afternoons include gardening, monastery jobs, help with computer skills at the local technology center, and maybe even Bingo at the Adult Day Care Center!

The students will prepare and serve their meals, have time to reflect on the day, and even go out on a police ride along! Visitation’s school motto is “NOT FOR SCHOOL BUT FOR LIFE.” Our prayer is that this will be an experience they can carry throughout their lives.

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Click to hear more from past Vis Seniors on their Service Immersion Experiences.

Click to hear more from past Vis Seniors on their Service Immersion Experiences.

Visit our Video page to hear more from past Vis seniors on their Apostolic Service Immersion experiences.

Heart to Heart: Reflections on a Women’s Retreat by Sr. Suzanne

by Sr. Suzanne Homeyer, VHM

Gathering Heart to Heart: Women’s Retreat at St. Jane House

!Hola! Me llama Hermana Susanna.

That is how I began the most recent Women’s Overnight Retreat at St. Jane House. Each year for Mothers’ Day we Sisters invite the women of our neighborhood to participate in an all day retreat in honor of their nurturing presence on the north side. As a follow up we host three overnight retreats during the year for groups of 5 – 7 women who had been part of the larger gathering.

The final follow-up overnight was Bi-Lingual. That’s right, I did say Bi-Lingual. Sr. Mary Virginia and I gathered the women together for reflection, sharing and prayer. This is the first time we hosted a bi-lingual retreat. Luckily Sr. Mary Virginia was born in Mexico and speaks fluent Spanish. I studied Spanish for two years when I was in high school— that was in the early 60’s and it is only by the grace of God that I could remember how to greet the retreatants in Spanish!

“We were not only able to converse and share stories, but to laugh and cry together. We admired the beauty of each others’ lives.”

The Holy Spirit is alive and well and was very present to those of us gathered: a mother and daughter from Peru, a mom from Guatemala, a French-speaking neighbor from Nigeria, two long-time African-American neighbors and the two gringas!’ We were not only able to converse and share stories, but to laugh and cry together. We admired the beauty of each others’ lives. We worked creatively alongside one another. As part of our retreat time tougher, we created mandalas as a way of getting deeper into our own hearts — where God’s spring of love meets each of us.

“Loving Ourselves Where We Are On Life’s Journey” was our theme. We are all in mid-life someplace and regardless of our chronological age it is an appropriate time to look at where we have been, where we are now on our life’s journey,  and to appreciate how God has worked with us along the path from then until now. Joyce Rupp’s Book Dear Heart, Come Home includes poetry and journal entries, as well as reflection questions, and it is well worth the read — or at least a serious look-see by anyone needing affirmation of God’s love for them at this point on their journey.

Our closing ritual of the retreat was an affirmation circle. Each woman spoke to every other participant — affirming a quality or strength she had come to learn over the past 24 hours.

My personal ‘take-away’ from the retreat was hearing and understanding (with my limited knowledge of Spanish) that I was appreciated by my Peruvian friend because our hearts spoke to each other during the entire retreat and we didn’t need words to communicate God’s presence and love in our lives! The language of the heart promises to enrich all of our future retreats and I look forward to my next retreat and the experience of cor ad cor loquitur.

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Engagement Resources:
To learn more about making a retreat at the monastery, click here.
For more about our ministry through St. Jane House, click here.

Following the Spirit Discernment Series is Back! Register Today….

Thinking about your career? Wondering how God is calling you in this new year? Contemplating your greatest gifts and passions? Longing to make a move?  Unpacking a season of change, struggle, or suffering? Or simply desiring quiet in a community to be still with the concept of vocation? Join us for this series.

Following the Spirit:

A small group at St. Jane House.

A small group at St. Jane House.

Following the Spirit is a five-part series led by Visitation Sister Katherine Mullin of north Minneapolis; Visitation Companion Melissa Borgmann-KiemdeFr. Ernie Martello of the Crosier Brothers and Fathers of Onamia, MN; Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Pastor, Rev. Karen Wight Hoogheem of Faith Lutheran in Coon Rapids; and Sister Jill Underdahl and Jennifer Tacheny, from the Sisters of St. Joseph/ Celeste’s Dream community in St. Paul.*

Anchored in the rich tradition of discernment resources, each session will offer a different form of prayer, feature a vocation story, and include time in small groups to unpack participants’ discernment journeys, focusing on vocation. Attendance at all five discernment evenings is strongly encouraged.

The Visitation Community is happy to partner with the Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research using their adapted curriculum material for the series.

For more information and to register today, click here.

 

*Collaborating Communities:

sisters_of_st_joseph_of_carondelet_logo crosier FaithLogo4Windsock Logo Resized

An Open Letter to the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales’ Novices

Oblates and Sr. Karen.  Top, L-R: Joe, Craig, Jordan, Chris, Jim; Seated, L-R: Joe, S. Karen, Fr. Mike

Oblates and Sr. Karen at St. Jane House
Top, L-R: Joe, Craig, Jordan, Chris, Jim; Seated, L-R: Joe, S. Karen, Fr. Mike

Dear Novices of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales,*

We love you.

On behalf of the Visitation Community, I extend gratitude for your visit and spirited presence among us for the week celebrating our 25th Anniversary in north Minneapolis. We are so lucky that Fr. Mike Newman, OSFS, was able to come for a week and tote all of you along! What a director you have for your novitiate! St. Jane House experienced a new level of Salesian presence with all of you in residence.

I try to imagine our founders, St. Jane de Chantal and St. Francis de Sales, moving about in the week of your visit; their smiles, laughter, sighs, and joy with our time together. Can you see this?

You are welcome back anytime. In the meantime, you remain in our prayers as you make your way through your novitiate year. We hold Fr. Mike, especially, in his role as Novice Master. Blessings as you pursue the vocation to “Be who we are and be that well!” as St. Francis de Sales counseled.

LIVE+JESUS!

Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, Visitation Companion

 

*For more on the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, visit their website.
**To see more photos of the Oblates’ visit to the Twin Cities, visit our Flickr Album, “Oblates Among Us”.

 

Weaving together Humility and Gentleness: An Invitation to Consider the Warp and Woof of Love

SMF warp woof

Weaving as Metaphor: S. Mary Frances shares a tapestry made by Mary Johnson at the SAORI Weaving Studio.

by Melissa Borgmann-KiemdeVisitation Companion

Through the slanted wood shades of the Girard House living room windows, morning light fell on the red, black, and white cotton and silk fibers woven together by our friend Mary Johnson.

As Visitation Minneapolis’ community leader Sr. Mary Frances Reis presented the tapestry to me, she spoke the following words:

“We are called to the practice of love, rather than austerity. Two virtues in particular form the warp through which the woof of love is woven. These are humility and gentleness.”

Quoting from the Companion to the Rule of Life of the Visitation Order, Sister traced her fingers along the color lines and weaving pattern, illustrating her metaphorical point.

According to wikipedia, woof and weft derive from the Old English word “wefan”  which means “to weave.” Warp is the lengthwise or longitudinal thread in a roll, while woof is the transverse thread. The warp and the woof ultimately form a fabric.  Figuratively, then these Salesian virtues of humility and gentleness, woven together become the fabric of love for our lives.

Can you imagine how humility and gentleness are threaded through love? Can you see the sisters in their urban monastery, “living Jesus” as consciously as possible: stitching together experiences at the door with neighbors in need or want of prayer – a meal, a bus token, warmth – all drawing on Christ’s love? Can you count the ways you practice living in such a manner — checking your ego, releasing anger or hostility in any given moment, and letting these virtuous acts knit you more closely with Love and Creator?

It’s not often that I get to meet one-on-one with Sr. Mary Frances. Convened to discuss themes emerging in our vocations and engagement work, our conversation took us to these Salesian elements that envelop the sisters’ ministry in Minneapolis, and inspire me in my own intentional, contemplative life.

Listening to “SMF” I am moved. I am reminded of how our co-founders Sts. Francis de Sales and Jane de Chantal believed we were all called to holiness. The Sisters. Our priests. Our bishops. You. Me. The neighbor. We can all live and practice these virtues that are part of the Rule of Religious life.

In my next breath, I imagine this metaphoric cloth of virtue being the cloth in front of me: all red, and black and white perfection and blemish in its unique beauty. I can jump then and fathom the ordinary gray pants and purple sweater I wear as equally made, as intentionally stitched, as that which I don with a full heart and desire to live with integrity. I imagine myself gentle, humble and eeking love as I encounter each member of creation.

And this conversation, this fabric, becomes my prayer for the day.

I invite you to hold this meditation and consider what the warp and woof of your heart is this day. May Love bless and guide us all.

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RESOURCES

For more on Salesian Virtues and Rule of Life:

Click here to learn about the Pop Up SAORI Weaving Studio at St. Jane House.

Zen Weaving Studio @ St. Jane House

Join us at St. Jane House for this Zen arts meditation experience!

Join us at St. Jane House for this Zen Arts Weaving Meditation experience!

by Brian Mogren, St. Jane House Director and Visitation Companion

February 14-18, 2014
St. Jane House, 1403 Emerson Ave. N., Minneapolis

For five days in February, the St. Jane House will become a Pop-Up SAORI Weaving StudioThe fun begins with a special Valentine’s Date Night event on February 14th, and includes a Zen meditation retreat as well as opportunities for parents and children to create unique works of art together. 

Certified SAORI weavers Chiaki and Dan O’Brien will lead sessions in this contemporary Japanese style of weaving that celebrates self-expression, sees beauty in “imperfection”, facilitates healing, and reveals the uniqueness and dignity of each person.

Nine looms and a variety of threads and textures will be made available. If you wish, you are invited to bring your own materials as well to incorporate into your creation: cut up strips of worn clothing/fabrics, unraveled yarn, heirloom jewelry, shells, twigs…anything you might like to work into your piece to make it your own.

All workshops and retreats are donation-based, “pay what you can” (with exception of the Valentine’s Day fundraising event). A portion of the proceeds from all sessions will support the acquisition of a SAORI loom for the St. Jane House.

Some of the events include:*
Feb. 14th: Valentine’s Date Night Dinner Event
Feb. 15th: Two Mothers and YO MAMA Art of Mothering retreats
Feb. 16th: Zen Meditation Weaving Retreat
Feb. 17th: Family Weaving Workshops
Feb. 18th: “Be Who You Are” Open Weaving Workshop

Space is limited. Click to learn about each of the 9 sessions being offered and to register.

Personal SAORI Weaving Retreats at the St. Jane House 
If you are unable to attend any of these events, but would like to contribute to the cause, a tax-deductible donation can be made to help acquire a loom for the St. Jane House. As an expression of our gratitude, those who contribute $50 or more will have an opportunity to enjoy a personal weaving retreat at the St. Jane House during 2014.

Check out photos and get updates on Facebook event page.

*SELECT EVENT INFO:

Share the Love” Valentine Date Night Event
Friday, February 14, 6pm – 9:30pm
St. Jane House
1403 Emerson Ave. N., Minneapolis’

The popular Zen Box Izakaya Pub and Kitchen is teaming up with the St. Jane House and SAORI Studio Fun to create the “Share the Love” Valentine’s Date Night Event on February 14, 2014, from 6pm – 9:30pm. Enjoy drinks and a candle-lit dinner for two, complements of this local Asian restaurant, followed by a 2-hour couples weaving session with certified SAORI weavers Chiaki & Dan O’Brien. Leave with a beautiful work of art you and your sweetheart create together. Wine, beer and other beverages included. $125 donation per couple. The proceeds from this fundraising event will help acquire a SAORI loom for the St. Jane House. Space is limited. RSVP today.

Zen Meditation Weaving Retreat
Sunday, February 16, 10am-3pm
St. Jane House
1403 Emerson Ave. N., Minneapolis

Certified SAORI instructor and meditation teacher Dan O’Brien will lead this retreat that incorporates weaving with awareness, as well as breaks for meditation and discussion. People of all spiritual traditions will find this a welcoming, ecumenical experience. Lunch provided. Participants will create a unique piece of woven art. In the Zen tradition, people donate based on their means. Space is limited. Reserve your spot today.

“Be Who You Are” Open Weaving Workshops
Sunday, February 16, 5pm – 8pm
Tuesday, February 18, 9am – noon
St. Jane House, 1403 Emerson Ave. N. MinneapolisEnjoy three hours of “weaving with a happy heart” with SAORI instructor Chiaki O’Brien. In this free-style form of weaving, there are no mistakes and beauty is seen in imperfection. Participants will create a unique piece of woven art that is an expression of their deepest self.Light snacks and beverages provided. OptionalCentering Prayer session at 8am precedes Tuesday morning workshop. Space is limited.Reserve your spot today.
Family Weaving Workshops 
Monday, February 17, 10am – 1pm, 2pm – 5pm
St. Jane House 1403 Emerson Ave. N., Minneapolis

These two special sessions on President’s Day provide an opportunity for parents and their children to weave together a variety of colors, threads and textures to create a unique piece of art that will become a family keepsake. Consider bringing meaningful textiles, fabrics, jewelry, etc. from your family’s history to incorporate into your creation. Also open to mentors and the young people in their lives. Space is limited. Sign up today.

Tonglen: A Meditation Tool to Transform Suffering

Vis Companions Heidi and Bianca practice centering prayer

Vis Companions Heidi and Bianca practice

by Melissa Borgmann-KiemdeVisitation Companion

Heidi’s dad died this week. Margaret lost her daughter to a long battle with cancer. Karen endures chemo, fighting a malignancy in her breast. Serena showed up at our door, seeking cold-weather clothing. Our local priests and church leaders continue to discern a course of leadership and healing in the face of more sexual abuse accusations.  Khalilah recalls the passing of her mother; and Francois and I hold the memory of our son who lived for one hour. These struggles or sadnesses all inform our prayers this week.

As humans, we suffer. We wonder; we ache; we seek understanding in the face of our illnesses and all that we endure. And we lean into a loving God to show us the way.

Then Jesus began to teach his disciples that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering,
 and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed,
and after three days rise again.  -Mark 8:31
What is the role of prayer or meditation in easing our suffering? How does leaning into the holy, the divine, the mysteries of this universe and our alignment with all of creation, help us transform our ills, and make a way through our seasons of struggle?
He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, 
“Get behind me, Satan!
For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” –Mark 8:32-33
In session four of our “Following the Spirit” discernment series, we focus on the role of suffering in our vocations. As we prepare for this course, we consider different “tools” for helping our discerners navigate difficulty and find a way to hear God’s voice in their present circumstances and their larger life callings.
He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, 
“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves
and take up their cross and follow me.
For those who want to save their life will lose it,
and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.” 
-Mark 8:34-35 
Tonglen meditation is one tool we draw on to teach the transformation of struggle and suffering.
In this Buddhist-meditation practice, we find the intersecting Christian teachings of compassion and forgiveness and the Salesian virtue of gentleness. In the process of this practice, we may experience deep consolation and healing.We invite you to try it.

TONGLEN MEDITATION

Here are the abbreviated steps of this meditation practice. For a lengthier explanation and teaching, see American Zen Buddhist Joan Halifax’s “Meditation: Tonglen or Giving and Receiving: A Practice of Great Mercy”  

Find a comfortable posture, palms up, eyes closed, feet on the ground. This work takes great courage. Trust your ability to do it, as you align with your heart’s deepest wells of love and the mercy and kindness you possess.

1) Identify a source of suffering or struggle within your own life. How have you experienced hurt? Fear? Resistance? Doubt? Shame? Breathe in the experience, imagining it as hot, heavy air or smoke, including the feelings that accompany your hurt. Let them touch every part of your being. Exhale loving kindness and mercy. Imagine this as light, loving air.

2) Consider the suffering or hurt of a beloved friend or family member. Breathe in their pain, recognizing you are not alone in your struggle. See how they hurt in their circumstances and invite the mercy and kindness of your heart to transform this woe. Exhale loving kindness.

3) Recognize the hurt or pain in an acquaintance – someone you see on the street, driving in a car, in your place of work, or at the gym or grocery store. Breathe in their pain, and exhale loving kindness.

4) See your would-be enemy, and envision how they hurt. Let their struggle enter your imagination, and trust your heart’s ability to be softened and hold their pain. Inhale deeply and exhale loving kindness and mercy.

5) Consider your pain, that of your beloved, what ails the acquaintance or stranger, and that of your would-be enemy as one: inhale the collective hurt of all and exhale loving-kindness. Recognize how connected all suffering is, and your power to send love and light, joy and kindness to all.

Relax in Prayer: “Don’t try too Hard”

SFDS quoteby Melissa Borgmann-KiemdeVisitation Companion

I hyper-extended my knee during prayer this past week. The experience has left me wanting, wondering, and takes me to the center of my reflections on what it means to pray well.

I was off to a rocky start Tuesday morning. Was I running late? Was I anxious about the flow of the morning? Concerned about my responsibilities in attending to – or providing for- some festive, post-prayer-party atmosphere? Who knows. I just know I was a bit off in my rhythms.

We were celebrating five years of Centering Prayer at St. Jane House on Tuesday, along with Director Brian Mogren’s recent Human Services Award. It was a party — a joyous occasion.

I wore a short skirt, and taking my place in the circle of 17 or so other festive-centering-prayer warriors, I all of a sudden got self-conscious.

“What if I flashed someone across the circle?” Ugh. The thought of it took me outside myself, and then inspired a conscious physical correction. “I”ll just cross my legs and all shall be well.”

More easily thought and said than done.

When we pray at Centering Prayer, there’s a universal invitation to position yourself in an open stance. You take a seat. You relax. You soften your gaze. You open your palms and plant your feet firmly on the ground. You take a deep breathe. You let Love pour through you in each inhale and exhale. You take up your sacred word and let this guide you in clearing your mind completely, and letting God have all your thoughts. If you are in a really blissed-out place, or lucky, you have more than 3 seconds of an awareness that Love permeates all things and is the author of all that is good and true and is in charge in this world. You are forgiven and held and know compassion and calm.

But if you cross your legs, and hyper-extend your knee during centering prayer, this bliss is not easily yours.

Sometimes, I think this sort of hyper-extension is true for all of us. We are simply working too hard at prayer;  we are getting too self-conscious of what may be exposed; we are afraid to be truly vulnerable with God. And so we protect ourselves. We cross our legs, so to speak, and avoid all openness with our Creator.

Or not. Maybe some of us are more perfected in the art of prayer — more relaxed in age, experience, development, or practice. I think the sisters are pretty good at prayer, actually. They are my role models. But I know that they would resent this sort of praise or idolizing to a point. They would attest, “Ah, Melissa, we are all human. We all have times of darkness or difficulty in prayer.”

My point is: How do you pray? What is your prayer life like these days? Where do you find yourself in the art of relaxing, giving yourself over to the divine, offering up words of thanks or request or praise? Or simply showing up, presenting your heart to God? 

I’ll close with these sage words from our co-founder, St. Francis de Sales:

“When you come before the Lord, talk to Him if you can. If you can’t, just stay there, let yourself be seen. Don’t try too hard to do anything else.”