Love Bridges: Valentines Party at the Monastery

 

Bean Bag Tods

Bean Bag Tods

Dear Friends of Visitation,

Our family Valentine Party,* hosted and organized by our dear friend Vicki Bailey, was a huge success again this year. What was especially gratifying was seeing our families having such a great time together! Secondly, we had a diverse array of volunteers: teens from the neighborhood, Visitation students, lay residential community members, students from St. Thomas University, etc. The latter group are members of the University choir, and their spring concert theme is “Solidarity with All Peoples.” Our party gave them an opportunity to meet parents and children from north Minneapolis. This group will be back in the spring to help our campers do neighborhood pick up to earn a week at camp. Go, St. Thomas!!!

We are so grateful to have gatherings that build bridges across our Metro area and bring folk together. Happy Valentines Day, One and All!

Sr. Mary Frances, Community and “Crew”

 

*For more photos, click: Facebook Album

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

Vis Companion Profile: Bob Briscoe*

Bob Briscoe, Vis Companion

Bob Briscoe, Vis Companion

by Dave Nimmer, Guest Blogger

Bob Briscoe is a regular at the monthly, Monday-night Salesian Spirituality Meetings at the Visitation Monastery. He is one of a handful of men among a roomful of women and, along with his wife Khalilah, the former Chicago cop seems to fit right in with conversations about love, understanding and gentleness.

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

“These monthly meetings lift my soul,” Briscoe said. “What is really good is to see the young people there, who are genuinely trying to help others in the community. That makes an old man feel good about the younger generation.”

The 73-year-old has nurtured his softer side but he is no pushover.  Briscoe defines what a good man is and what a good man does. He and his wife have been raising his 14-year-old grandson, Kameron, since his mother (Bob’s daughter Kontente) died. Briscoe and Khalilah have five grown daughters and two sons from previous marriages.

Bob and his wife Khalilah

Bob and his wife Khalilah

The wisdom he’s imparting to Kameron includes some of those “little virtues” that are the basis of Salesian thought and spirit: patience, humility, honesty.

“I’m also trying to teach him the lessons that the sisters give to me,” Briscoe said. “I tell Kameron that you have to give back. And you can’t get discouraged in the bad or tough times. You can always give your troubles to God.”

Briscoe has known some tough times and good times in his life. He joined the National Guard after graduating from Corpus Christi High School in Chicago. After his discharge, he was a motorman on the “L” in Chicago. And in 1971 he was sworn in to the Chicago Police Department, working the streets for ten years as a patrolman.

He left the force in 1981 and spent several years as a construction laborer. He came to Minneapolis in 2006 and it was no accident that Bob discovered the Visitation sisters. He went to Catholic schools in Chicago and married Khalilah in Ascension Church in north Minneapolis.   That’s where he met Sister Mary Frances.

“She came right up and introduced herself to me,” he said. “And that was the beginning. Being around the sisters remind me of the first women in my life. They live those virtues they preach, right out in the community every day. And they do it for everyone they meet.”

Bob and grandson Cameron

Bob and grandson Kameron

Briscoe’s also serving the community as a member of the Minneapolis Police Conduct Review Panel since 2012.  The panel investigates complaints of misconduct and brutality and makes recommendations to the chief. The former cop sees the issues from both sides of the badge and he passes that perspective along to Kameron. “Be polite. Do not resist. Do not run,” he said. “And call me as soon as possible.”

The Vis sisters appreciate Briscoe’s presence at their functions, and what he has done for them personally. “He fills his day with meaningful activities,” said Sister Karen Mohan. “He took me to chemotherapy (for breast cancer) a couple of times and sat with me.

“He is simply a willing spirit, ready to do anything. He’ll come to help us put labels on our newsletters.   And he’ll be a surrogate father to his grandson.”

For Briscoe, the gain for his soul is worth any pain to his body. “Kameron helps keep me young,” he said. “His curiosity, the questions he asks, always keep me looking for answers. I am always telling him to pray and that helps me to remember to pray.”

* This is the first 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! 

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.<==

Operation: Easter Basket Delivery