Summer Reflections from the Monastery

S. Mary Frances and Ben; CYC

S. Mary Frances and Ben; CYC camp

Sr. Mary Frances Reis, VHM

Greeting to our Faithful web site and Facebook readers!

As I compose this overview of our summer on the Northside, we are grieving and praying with families all over who have known the tragedy and horror of violence these past weeks. Our prayers go across the river to Falcon Heights and St. Paul, down to Baton Rouge and over to Dallas, and now across the Atlantic to Nice, France; we lift the world over.

Here at the monastery, I characterize our summer days as “gently alive” — filled with “Hello’s” and “How are you’s?” on our front porch, from neighbors, and as we walk to and from the Girard and Fremont Houses of our Monastery.  Children often need a little help with their bikes, these days, hoping for a treat or drink to go with it when they stop by. Neighbors are tending to their yards and we, to our gardens.  Summer is a perfect time to bond with our families here!

And, yes, there is a spike in violent crime across the Twin Cities; our North Minneapolis community is no exception. While a very small percentage of Northsiders are responsible for the headlines you are reading, many neighbors carry the pain and sorrow of recent killings. On the heels of Jamar Clark’s death last Fall, our community has also experienced the murder of a grandmother shot in crossfire while sitting in a van at a stop sign, and a young man shot to death in the parking lot behind the Cookie Cart. Last week, on the heels of Alton Sterling’s and Philando Castile’s deaths at the hands of police, came the shooting of two toddlers seventeen blocks away. Too often in the coverage of these crimes we read: “No suspects in these cases.”

Pope FrancisAs I ponder the suffering of the survivors, I find some consolation in the words of Pope Francis:

 “I don’t know what to say to you, but the Lord does know what to say to you…All I can do is keep silence and walk with you all with my silent heart.” – Pope Francis

We trust that our prayerful presence and unconditional welcome helps to ease the pain while families and friends tell their Sacred Stories and seek justice for their loved ones.

We speak the victim’s names. We lift survivor’s stories. We open our hearts to all who grieve and hope. We pray.

Sr. Karen and her mom

Sr. Karen and her mom

Here are a few musings on our summer days, that extend our prayer and hope for the world:

  • Visitation High School Seniors helped us kick off the summer through their Immersion experience of two weeks. (See photo albums: Welcome Visitation School: Service Project at NAZ )

  • Sister Karen’s Golden Jubilee of Vows brought family and friends from near and far! What an opportunity to ‘showcase’ our beloved community here. (FB Photo Album.)

  • Our dear friend and mentor Sister Jean (of Cookie Cart fame and lots more) went Home to God in early June. People loved by her ‘came out of the woodwork’ to sing her praises and express their gratitude for her outpoured life, spanning over 35 years of tireless ministry. (Read more: “Madonna of the Streets”.)

  • YTM friends and Emily

    YTM friends and Emily

    We rejoiced in the opportunity to sponsor and send off young people to a variety of camps: Catholic Youth Camp in McGreggor, MN; Salesian Leadership Camp in Michigan; and Youth in Theology and Ministry Camp at St.John’s University in Collegeville, MN. The youth, vitality and energy of ‘our kids’ keeps us young! Thanks to the many benefactors that made these camps possible. (See pictures of: CYC Send Off; YTM presenters;; and #SLC2016 on Twitter.)

  • Bryce Johnson, husband of Jody , (Vis Companion team), retired after a rich and fruitful ministry in the Methodist tradition. Congrats, Bryce, and thanks for inviting us to celebrate in such a memorable way with you, your family and friends.

  • We hosted the celebration of a very special Quinceanera. Jennifer Meraz’ family and the Sisters planned a beautiful Mass and Fiesta to give her that extra ‘boost’ into womanhood. We love you, Jennifer! (FB pix.)

  • We had our very own version of Summer Olympics for our families! Vicki Bailey outdid herself once again with fun, games, prizes in the form of household goods and summer toys, complete with an Olympic medal for each participant and a door prize for each family! Kudos, Vicki !!! You are the best! Thanks for helping our kids to be kids! (FB pix.)

  • Juste and neighborhood children

    Juste and neighborhood children

    Juste Siauciunaite, our summer guest from Lithuania, brings joy to our community and to our Somalian children as she teaches them English 3 times each week. She and Sister Karen even took them to their first ever 4th of July Fireworks display! (FB Pix.)

  • Sisters Mary Margaret and Brenda attended the Monastic Institute at St. John’s University focusing on Monastic Profession. Sister Silvie from our Georgetown Visitation joined them.

  • In all of this summertime activity, we continue to make pilgrimage with Heidi Schleif, our resident lay community co-founder, and her friend Monica, as they make the Via de Compestela (FB pix.)

  • Of course summer will not be complete without a family outing to Como park and our annual Back to School party!

  • Within the next few weeks, Sr. Karen will be traveling to Annecy, France for a special conference on the Treatise on the Love of God by St.Francis de Sales. Bon Voyage, Karen!

We’ll cap off our summer with an intensive community day to reflect on the quality of our Visitation way of life in this urban setting. (Read more about this in our latest newsletter.)

May Jesus Live in each of your hearts and those of our families and loved ones!

 

Catholic Youth Camp 2015

Saying goodbye for camp.

Saying goodbye for camp.

Our Catholic Youth Campers had a fantastic week from June 21-26! On the last day, families went to McGregor, where Catholic Youth Camp- Minnesota​ is located to see the camp, and to enjoy a special end of camp program. We Sisters continue to be unconditionally committed to this campership program, which give our city kids a fun, fun camp experience!

 

Thank you, CYC sponsors one and all!!!

-S. Mary Frances Reis, VHM

 

*Click to see photos from the send off at our Flickr Photo Album.
**To learn more about Catholic Youth Camp, visit their website: http://www.cycamp.org 

Catholic Youth Camp-Place of Beauty, Love, Faith and Fun!

by Sr. Mary Frances Reis, VHM

In the past few days I began reading Brother Mickey McGrath’s (of Windsock Visitation painting fame!) most recent book.  It is a spiritual Journey in images and text depicting the life of Dorothy Day entitled Saved by Beauty.

As I pondered and prayed with Brother Mickey’s book, I was mindful of our neighborhood kids that we  sent off to camp earlier this week to bask in the beauty of our Minnesota lakes and God’s creation.  Thanks to the amazing generosity of many benefactors and friends, we were able to send 75 children and seven teens (who will train to be counselors) to Catholic Youth Camp for a whole week. Located midway between here and Duluth, our children were in the midst of storms and rainy days.  The excellent camp director Natalie King was so proud of her counselors and cooks who managed to make it a great week for the children in spite of the weather!   She had only praise for the children who were such ‘good sports’ and did not lose their enthusiasm for one minute.

CYC Campers at Send Off

CYC Campers at Send Off

In her June 20 blog post updating parents and readers of the campers’ activities, Ms. King writes,
“We started the day with morning Holy Ground (and prayed that the power outage would be over quickly!) and then moved into some exciting indoor activities. Groups rotated from  paper airplane making to water trivia, to board games and then to relay races that had campers going from one pile of goofy clothes and hats to the next, trying to be the first in full costume to complete the race.”

Later, after the power outage and flood warnings, Camp Director King relays, “We are not just a community that PLAYS together, we are a community that PRAYS together!”

Having been a counselor and water safety instructor for many years, I am committed to providing this experience for inner city children and youth.  Without the generosity and care of so many, this would not have been possible.  So a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone!  And children, we are proud of you that you ‘hung in there’ through wind and rain and storm, and that you managed to have a great time!

Ah, yes, we are all SAVED BY BEAUTY if we have the eyes and hearts to see it!  Happy Summer!

(Be sure to check out the camp website:  www.cycamp.org)