Linda Goynes: Our sister and friend*

Linda Goynes

Linda Goynes

by Dave Nimmer, Guest Blogger

Linda Goynes* is a colorful, consistent and continuous thread in the life fabric of the Visitation Sisters of North Minneapolis. For 12 years she was their next door neighbor. Today she proudly wears their Cross of Affiliation, in effect making her an honorary sister.

Over the years, Linda has eaten at their table, shared in their prayers, joined their church (Ascension), cleaned their house, packed their gift baskets and greeted their guests.

In her 63 years, Linda Goynes has suffered enough reversals to relish the recoveries, weathered enough storms to enjoy the sunshine and survived the trials to appreciate the triumphs. So it’s probably not surprising when asked how she’s doing, her answer has always been the same, whether it’s Tuesday or Friday, January or June. “I am blessed,” she says, with a smile on her face.

“It was such a joy to get the Cross of Affiliation from the Sisters. To me it represents the face of the nuns and the work they are doing. I feel what I am doing is taking their spirit out to the world.”-– Linda Goynes

Her journey includes some rough and rocky travelling. She married her first husband in 1984 and they had three children. Two years later she discovered her husband abused the oldest daughter. He was arrested and eventually sent to prison. Linda felt she was partly responsible for her daughter’s abuse and turned to crack cocaine.

It didn’t take long for the drug to control her life and cause a heart attack. She quit – cold turkey. She was clean and sober for six to seven months, until she began getting threatening letters from her now ex-husband, still in prison. She turned again to the cocaine and in 1990 suffered a second heart attack.

This time she lapsed into a three-month coma and doctors warned continued drug use would kill her. She prayed to God to restore her health, promising she would devote her life to serving Him. She recovered. In 1996, she met Robert White, who would become her second husband. They moved next door to the Sisters on Girard Avenue and continued their life together.

Linda stayed clean but Robert was using, and occasionally, selling drugs. “You know,” she said, “he was a good man but he just couldn’t stay away from heroin. He was using until his last days on earth.” (Robert died in 2015).

In service: Linda working at the Church of the Ascension Food shelf

In service: Linda working at the Church of the Ascension Food shelf

“I never knew what was going to happen. One day I would be on the ground in handcuffs after a police raid. And another we’d be robbed by somebody looking for the drug stash or the money. But I always had the Sisters to talk to, and I never felt alone.”

Ironically, Robert also loved the Sisters. He shoveled their walk in the winter, went to some of their neighborhood meetings and even put up their Christmas tree from year to year. But the chaos from his heroin habit eventually got too much for Goynes and she moved out of the house in 2008, to an apartment on Plymouth Avenue.

“Linda is one of the most courageous women I know,” says Sister Katherine Mullin. “She knew she had to leave Robert after all the years of his heavy addiction. She made her decision, found an apartment and kept it together. And then one day (with help from the Sisters) she quietly moved out. But in the years that followed, she also took him to the hospital for his cancer treatments.”

The Salesian spirit has truly penetrated her heart. If we ever needed help with some event, some celebration some project, Linda has been there.”  — S. Katherine Mullin

In 2010, she joined Ascension Church and became a pastor outreach assistant, organizing committee luncheons, setting up for funerals, arranging the food shelf, changing the candles and opening the church.

A few months ago Linda was dealing with a lung problem, making it difficult for her to take long, deep breaths. But she was at the Monday night Salesian gathering, sitting at the table, eating with the others, picking up the trash and staying for the night prayer.

On my way out, I asked her how she was doing. She said she’d be glad to get home and on the inhalation machine that delivered soothing vapor to her lungs. Then she smiled. “You know,” she said, as if to dispel any complaint, “I am still blessed.”

Yes, Linda, we know. And so are those of us who are to be counted among your friends.

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Tune into YouTube video interview here: Vis Companion Linda Goynes Interviewed

* This is the fifth in a series of profiles by journalist Dave Nimmer featuring Visitation 
Companions and northside neighbors. We hope you enjoy these stories of our dear friends -- 
as they reflect the blessed community that surrounds the monastery and sustains us
 in our ministry of mutuality. 
LIVE + JESUS! 


 

 

Peace on Plymouth: An Advent Response

The Catholic Spirit

In this season of Advent, of awe and wonder, we tune into this sacred and holy birth, marveling at God becoming one of us. It’s from this place of the Incarnation, buoyed by our faith, that we pray and act in solidarity,

Click to read the article in The Catholic Spirit

Click to read the article in The Catholic Spirit

in our unity and oneness.

This article in The Catholic Spirit highlights this faith that we are living in the face of the recent upheaval in north Minneapolis. Perhaps it will speak to you, in your own wonder, prayer, and unique call to act?

Click to read The Catholic Spirit article, Peace on Plymouth, by Jessica Trygstad.

Please note the companion piece to this article, featuring Visitation friend and Companion, Bob Briscoe, also published by the Catholic Spirit:  In sharing experiences, Ascension parishioner hopes to initiate change

 

Fed by God’s abundance –A Holiday Outreach letter from S. Mary Frances

In Thanksgiving!

A tradition bridging and feeding communities

Greetings and Blessings to faithful visitors to our website, Facebook, Twitter, and on and on!

We are on the threshold of that time of year when we celebrate cherished holiday traditions with family and friends— a time to hold close the relationships we treasure. Over the years we and our neighbors here in North Minneapolis have ‘grown’ a cycle of traditions that have bound us together as community.

“Gain hearts by kindness.” — St. Jane de Chantal

Many years ago, as campus minister at Visitation Grade and High School in Mendota Heights, I coordinated many holiday outreach projects and was constantly amazed by the generosity of these young people and their families.

I will never forget the wise words of Archbishop John R. Roach at our all school Mass. Standing before the vast array of food that had been collected, he said,

“Young People, this is great, but I want you to know that while this abundance represents an act of charity and love, it is also a work of justice— an opportunity to see that all will be fed with God’s abundance.

Turkey Tuesday Abundance

Turkey Tuesday Abundance

When I moved to North Minneapolis to found an urban monastery with three other Sisters from St. Louis, Mendota Visitation followed us. My ‘guestimate’ is that roughly 80 percent of Mendota Vis outreach takes place here. This sharing of abundance continues to this day, and we and our neighbors in North Minneapolis are the grateful recipients of this outpouring of love as a bridge is built between our two communities.

For the past 25 years, Visitation has partnered with our neighbors carrying out a wonderful annual tradition to deliver about 125 Thanksgiving baskets to people in need of a good holiday family meal. Students pair off with neighbors, go to the homes and share a prayer along with a basket with groceries, a turkey and a baking pan. This tradition has brought folks together who might not otherwise have met.

After the turkey and trimmings have been enjoyed, the Sisters are still here to companion and affirm our neighbors in their goodness and love.

Several other community building traditions have grown up. As the holidays progress, we hope to share photos of some the activities as they unfold.

St. Jane de Chantal has a maxim that applies here: “Gain hearts by kindness.” Many relationships have grown and deepened through the years because of simple acts of kindness on the part of Mendota Visitation and many others. After the turkey and trimmings have been enjoyed, the Sisters are still here to companion and affirm our neighbors in their goodness and love. That is the joy of living here.

I want to thank ahead of time the hundreds (thousands?) of people who have helped us develop cherished holiday traditions with our neighbors! We call it HOPE! We call it JUSTICE! We call it LOVE!

Happy Holidays!

Mary Frances Reis, VHM

Bridges Across the City: The Story behind the Invitation to Connect

Click for details or to register

Click for details or to register

“I think most of us have stories that break us open. The challenge is to find places that offer healing.”

– Maura Schnorbach, Social Justice Coordinator at St. Patrick’s Church, Edina

On Thursday, October 29, the Visitation Sisters and several northside neighborhood friends will travel to St. Patricks’ Church in Edina to share a meal, swap stories and spend a few hours together in prayer. If you are reading this, and are in the area, you are invited to come and be part of this evening!

***

The following reflection comes from Maura Schnorbach, the Social Justice Coordinator who has lead the collaboration between St. Patricks, the Sisters and neighborhood friends in bringing this Fall Forum evening together. We share this with her permission.

maura-schnorbach

Maura Schnorbach

“Spending time with the sisters and neighbors has been a great blessing to all of us. We have felt privileged to have a glimpse of their lives in North Minneapolis.

Someone said at one of our gatherings at the Monastery, “it all starts with conversations”… The Pope has called us to, “encounter” one another. I feel that our gatherings at the Visitation Sisters’ Monastery have created a space to experience the sacred. This experience was only possible by the decades of work– [of prayer and presence]– by the sisters.

MAURA’S STORY

Part of my motivation to meet the sisters was dealing with an old friend’s daughter’s death. She was murdered last spring in St. Paul by her boyfriend. She was a year younger than my daughter (21). Although they didn’t grow up together, I am struck by how different their lives were. My daughter just graduated from UW Madison and is working on a Master’s Degree in Accounting. Michelle was an only child and left a baby behind. Her boyfriend will spend his life incarcerated. The death haunted me for several months, because I thought of the unimaginable loss…. Gun violence has become so routine in the US that I don’t think many of us realize that in some communities it is part of the landscape.

I was trying to find a way to hold a community conversation about violence and the intersection of hope and faith. At the same time, we wanted to focus on the Gospel, and not get into the, “left vs. right” political arguments. St. Patrick’s has a long tradition of holding respectful community conversations about important issues. We want to engage, challenge and invite people of faith to get involved. I also believe in the power of sharing stories and faith… Inviting the sisters to share their work seemed like the perfect fit. The sisters wanted to include their neighbors. We had several conversations to see if this could be a collaborative event that we could all create together.

HISTORY of FALL FORUM SERIES:

Last year, we focused on elder issues on two evenings. One night focused on Homeless Youth and Affordable Housing. The previous year, we invited Fr. Larry Snyder. Our focus that year was pathways out of poverty. We featured:  Catholic Charities, Risen Christ, Cristo Rey, The Lift Garage and Finnegan’s Beer. Our goal is to focus on transformational justice work.

BRIDGES ACROSS THE CITY INFORMATION: (Click to download Flyer)

Date: Thursday, October 29, 2015Time: 6-8:00 p.m., Registration begins at 5:30 p.m.Location: St. Martin’s Hall, Church of St. Patrick-Edina, 6820 St. Patrick’s Lane, Edina, MN 55439

To register go to St. Patrick’s website at www.stpatrick-edina.org. or call Maura Schnorbach in Social Justice at 952-941-3164. There is no cost, but reservations are requested by October 26.

==>Please feel free to circulate with colleagues, friends and neighbors.<==

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.

Welcome! To the founding of our Resident Visitation Lay Community

By S. Mary Margaret McKenzie

Heidi shares in Phase II resident lay community conversations

Heidi shares in Phase II resident lay community conversations

If the following characteristics gathered during Phase II discussions of the Resident Visitation Lay Community Invitation inspire and call you, think about, pray about commitment:

  • Relational, by being residential and in the midst of the neighborhood;
  • Mutual, in living as well as in decision-making;
  • Dedicated, to Gospel living through the lens of love inspired by Salesian spirituality;
  • Stable, through the stability of a life lived by “being where you are and being there well”;
  • Prayerful, in personal prayer and solitude to “know who you are and be that well”;
  • Prayerful, in communal prayer with faith sharing for support in laying down life in the dailiness and ordinariness;
  • Diverse, by living into and learning that diversity is our most valuable resource for moving us into the oneness into which we are baptized;
  • Inclusive, in respecting all others by affirming their dignity and creating a place for their belonging in the oneness with which God gifts us.
Untitled

S. Mary Frances shares during a Phase II conversation

Possible ways the Sisters might support the common good could include providing a facilitator for communication; installing a security system; forming a 501c3; exploring medical insurance; funding community educational opportunities. Community members would be responsible for funding their own lifestyle, housing, utilities, transportation, and insurance. The lay community’s presence in the neighborhood would require ongoing study of resources and learning from the neighbors in order to facilitate connectedness in north Minneapolis. In living near to us, they would join us for prayer when possible, enjoy an occasional dinner, participate in Salesian studies and other related topics along with reviewing the Sisters’ call to affirm the place of the laity.

The call gleaned by the Sisters from the Phase I listening sessions added depth to the vision of a residential Visitation Lay Community and is very specific:

  1. To strengthen their legacy from Francis de Sales that “all are called to holiness;”
  2. To support the laity in a way of evangelization for our time;
  3. To affirm the moral authority of the laity;
  4. To be with the laity in their leavening-living of the Kingdom in the church and in the world;
  5. To be and to model conversion from separation to communion;
  6. To pass on to others their faith in the future of the church.

Phase II closed with a bonded community, all its own, creating a clear pathway to founding a residential Visitation Lay Community while holding the vision with heart and hope.

 

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This is reprinted from our Summer 2015 newsletter. To read the initial invitation and proposal, click here.

Youth in Theology and Ministry Summer Institute 2015

 

YTM logo

Join us in celebrating the young people and their mentors in this summer’s 2015 Youth in Theology and Ministry (YTM) Institute. We are thrilled to be able to support our friends Alma, Eiler and Jessica as participants in this two year program.

The 2015 Summer Institute crew!

The 2015 Summer Institute crew!

YTM’s mission is to engage and develop Catholic young people and their adult mentors to be vibrant leaders in their faith journey and vocational call.

S. Katherine Mullin says about this program: “The Catholic theology that these young people hear is straight out of the book of Pope Francis!  I can attest to the fact that, at least the ones who I know, are excited about their faith -and living it!”

She also speaks of how impressive the young people’s service projects have been. She writes enthusiastically on our Facebook page: “Now Ascension Church has a renewed teen group! A shout out to Alma, Elier and Jessica!”

To read more about the mission and program of Youth in Theology and Ministry, visit their webpage at St. John’s School of Theology website.

Seek First to Love: Companion Anna Reflects

Anna Dourgarian, Vis Companion

Anna Dourgarian, Vis Companion

By Anna Dourgarian, Visitation Companion

Salesian service finds its wholeness and its joy in embracing the present moment. It speaks to my heart because I am very short-sighted and, when facing service goals, I see only obstacles.

Great feats of service rouse great doubts in my heart. World problems are overwhelming: racism, rebellions, resource depletion, lack of healthcare, lack of shelter, lack of food. Which will I choose? Then, even if I choose, the problems proliferate. Feed a community, and it becomes dependent on international aid. Revitalize urban slums and destroy hundreds of homes. Promote national security and threaten personal freedom. Defend a people and start a war. What hope is there for a better world?

There is hope in Salesian spirituality. With Salesian spirituality, we begin not by confronting the world’s evils but by treasuring its preciousness.

I have heard that the worst way to enter a romantic relationship is with the intention of changing the partner. The irony in service is the same: often we set forth to help the world and insist on changing it—a poor start to any relationship. Who are we, mere humans, to judge the world and the great schemes that have influenced its present state? A more loving soul would accept our world in all of its beautiful brokenness. This is what Salesian spirituality teaches us: seek first to love.

We recognize that each moment is a gift from God, perfect as it is. In this peace of mind, we open our hearts to the people around us and support them and are supported by them. This is Salesian service.

The Visitation Sisters of Minneapolis live this spirituality so fully that everyone feels at home in their monastery. I have witnessed strangers feel so safe and secure there that they cry. The Sisters are not a homeless shelter, a food shelf, or a school; they are simply friends. As friends, they inspire love in others through the power of their present-mindedness and appreciation for life.

Anna and service friends volunteering at the phone bank.

Anna and service friends volunteering at the phone bank.

Before I adopted Salesian Spirituality, service never captured my heart. Now, in Salesian service, my heart is all that is involved; everything else follows as needed.

I serve small. I serve with what I know. I serve at Ascension Church because there I have a friend burdened by her passionate work for immigration reform, so I show up with the hope of making her burden lighter. Mass and the meetings are in Spanish, so I barely understand them. My only role is to show up: I do not have the political or cultural expertise to do more. Slowly, as the weeks go by, the parishioners who are most comfortable with English approach to ask what on Earth I am doing there. They are joyful and welcoming, just a little confused. I am frustrated by my plodding advances in Spanish; I wish I could wake up tomorrow perfectly fluent. And I bet they wish the same about English.

I feel like I am doing nothing, but according to Salesian spirituality, I am doing the most important service possible: I am present. I celebrate Baptisms, First Communions, birthdays, and anniversaries with these people ignored by society. I get to meet the people living in the shadows, and I get to bond with them and work at their side. Before I can fight for any rights or instigate any change, I must embrace this step.

The risk is huge. Crises are desolating our world, and here I am stuttering to say, “hello.”

Yet, it is the love from saying, “hello” that saves the world.

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