ROAD TRIP TO ST. LOUIS: Sr. Suzanne Reflects on Summer Service

by Sr. Suzanne Homeyer, VHM

Painting: A Corporal Work of Mercy. Doing Little Things with Great Love.

What would summer be like without a road trip? I know what part of my summer was like with a road trip. This year I took a road trip with a Visitation Companion and 11 high school girls, another Visitation Sister and a high school counselor! It was fun, Fun, FUN!!!

VISTORY is an annual service trip for students from Visitation High Schools around the country. For about a week each year 30 – 50 students from St. Louis, Washington, DC and the Twin Cities travel to a host city for a time of getting to know each other, learning more about Salesian spirituality and serving the elderly, homeless, those on the margins and those in the streets.

I have been part of VISTORY since 2004 and I have always enjoyed traveling and working with a variety of adult chaperones. Sometimes I invite the mom of a participant to help; sometimes another sister and sometimes a former participant. This year I advertised to members of our Visitation Companion group and Nancy Timmerman stepped forward.

I was immediately excited because Nancy had organized many service trips before when she and her husband served as the deacon couple at a church in Forest Lake. They participated in a service trip to Guatemala with a group from St. Philip Church. There will always be glitches on such a trip but Nancy was a seasoned chaperone and able to go with the flow.

We were not exactly Thelma and Louise riding in a top-down convertible…two adults curled up with several sweaters in an air-conditioned coach bus complete with bathroom on board! Getting there was half the fun. It gave the opportunity to connect with the Vis contingent from Mendota Heights.

Corporal Works of Mercy as Service Theme

Sharing a meal during the Special Olympics Gametime

Every Eucharist is a rehearsal for the heavenly banquet. Students and volunteers share a meal.

The Corporal Works of Mercy was the overall theme focused on by the student/faculty planners from St. Louis Viz. Of course, feeding the hungry at soup kitchens or sorting clothing to be distributed to new admissions at a home for troubled youth or cleaning and organizing school classrooms at an inner city parish school with no maintenance budget are in line with what someone would list as the corporal works of mercy. Taking care of infants and children of working parents at a combination pre-school/day care is a modern version of caring for orphans and widows perhaps. Planting a memorial garden was certainly a way for caring for the dead and painting a mural as a way to beautify the surroundings for homeless city dwellers.

One service opportunity was definitely based on an understanding of the theology of the works of mercy…if not actually Jesus’ words. Several hours were spent by all of the students and chaperones together with a group of 18 to 30 year old Special Olympians and their parents. After a few anxious moments by all, the margins disappeared…in fact, at one point there were more outfielders than spectators. A surprise storm forced everyone inside for the game but spirits weren’t dampened. Everyone was close together and the Visitor’s team definitely had the advantage —- some of them had been playing together with the same volunteer coaches for 15 years and their team had won some Special Olympic awards in baseball!

The pictures below show the entire the VISTORY team with the St. Louis Special Olympians in the gym, an after dinner water balloon game on the soggy grass, and the pot luck meal with our new friends and their families and coaches, cooks and a myriad of other folks. Looking around the dining room I was reminded of a friend who says that every Eucharist is like a rehearsal for the heavenly banquet…and this really was a heavenly banquet here on earth!

Vistory 2017

For more pictures of VISTORY and other summer activities, visit us at our, Instagram and Flickr pages.

Giving Thanks for 25 Years

"We the church of the People of God -- need to be standing in the near north." --Archbishop Roach, October 2, 1989

“We the church of the People of God — need to be standing in the near north.” –Archbishop Roach, October 2, 1989

So we had a party. Or rather, a WEEK of parties: merry-making, reflecting, celebrating, giving thanks, and marking our call to found a monastic community in the heart of north Minneapolis twenty-five years ago. From Monday to Sunday, our Salesian friends, family, neighbors, collaborators, and benefactors descended on our little corner of the northside, and together, we gave thanks for one another, and the Spirit at work in all of our lives calling us to “LIVE + JESUS!”

Week Overview:

  • Monday 9/29: Brenda Lisenby arrived for Monastic Immersion Experience. Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, Fr. Mike Newman, and six novices arrived to spend the week, staying at St. Jane House. 
  • Tuesday 9/30: Fr. Mike and the guys spent the day with us, hearing our history and doing service around the monastery.
  • Wednesday 10/1:  Sr. Mary Mao returned from New York.  The novices spent the entire day at Visitation School and Convent in Mendota.
  • Thursday, 10/2:  Foundation Day — Liturgy of Hours, Mass, Festive luncheon with representatives from each of our monasteries (Georgetown, Brooklyn, St. Louis) and Mendota Heights Visitation school, our Companions, Intern and the Oblates.
  • Friday, 10/3:   The novices and Fr. Mike joined us for Morning Prayer, meals, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Mass.
  • Saturday, 10/4 the BIG DAY: Celebration at Capri Theater with emcee Fr. Michael O’Connell, a slideshow by former Vis Neighbor, Jenny Larson,  and keynote by Fr. Mike Newman; dancers from Lundstrum Center of Performing Arts; followed by an intimate pizza party at Girard and Brother Mickey presenting us with a new painting. The Novices and Mike joined us for Morning Prayer/Communion Service and were on deck the entire day to help in countless ways. 
  • Sunday, 10/5: Church of the Ascension went all out to celebrate us!  Mass, gifts, reception.The Novices prepared our evening meal and farewell party/prayer; and the Sisters shared vocation stories with the novices in their own discernment. 

For those unable to be physically present with us, we invite you to visit any of the above links to photos of our guests, and video of our speakers, story-sharing, and reflecting. We are grateful for the work of so many hands, and the faith that has brought us to this moment. We don’t stand alone.

Cheers!

If the above links are too much to navigate, you can view documentation at:

LIVE + JESUS!