Brian Mogren: Being Who He is and Being That Well

Brian Mogren: Vis Companion, Director of St. Jane House

by Dave Nimmer,* Guest Blogger

“Be who you are and be that well.” St. Francis de Sales

It’s been a decade since Brian Mogren quit a long-held job at Target Stores to heed the call of St. Francis de Sales to “Be Who You are and Be That Well.” In that time, what Mogren has been is the provider of shelter to the temporarily homeless, the purveyor of a quiet space for spiritual seekers and a persistent, insistent, consistent friend of the Visitation Sisters, his neighbors in North Minneapolis. His work won him the Virginia McKnight Binger Award in Human Service from the esteemed McKnight Foundation, given to those who “give their time to improve the lives of people in their communities.” He’s done that all right and along the way served as an unofficial counselor, coordinator, gardener, director and caretaker for those who use his home on Emerson Avenue North. “This opened up a world of possibility for me and my life,” Mogren writes on his website, “that I could not have imagined: bringing my unique gifts, creativity and connections to contribute to the transformation of North Minneapolis.”

A Call to the Northside

With Two Marys: Brian and FDTL Founder Mary Johnson Roy and Sr. Mary Margaret McKenzie

Mogren’s transformation began, in part, when he met the Sisters. Since 2008, the Sisters have leased his home (The St. Jane House) for retreats to women seeking empowerment, students wanting enlightenment and mothers shedding resentment. A grass-roots group, From Death to Life, counts the St. Jane House as its home. Its founder is Mary Johnson, a mother who sought out, and forgave, the man who killed her only son. Mogren serves on the board.

“This is what it’s all about – connecting across difference and discovering our common humanity.” — Brian Mogren

His journey owes something to an epiphany moment years ago when he was leaving a parish council meeting at St. Philips Catholic Church on 26th and Bryant Ave. N.   He noticed a woman frantically trying to pick up papers strewn about the street; she’d left them on top of her car as she pulled away. Now she was scurrying to pick up the papers and sheet music and Mogren gave her a hand. They walked back to the church arm in arm. The moon was out. The evening was quiet. And Mogren felt at peace. Suddenly a car with dark-tinted windows pulled alongside, rap music pounding as the back window began to roll down. Mogren’s moment of bliss turned to terror, fearing they could get hustled, hassled or hurt. Just then, a teenage boy stuck his head out the window, smiled and said, “Hi, Miss Muggs.” This was a teenager talking to a 70-year-old Irish Catholic.

Role model and friends.

“They had love and affinity for one another,” Mogren recalls. “Later I wept. I thought, ‘Oh, my Gosh.’ This is what it’s all about – connecting across difference and discovering our common humanity. I felt called to move to the Northside.” He did, building what would become the St. Jane House in 2003. .He moved in and became an official North Minneapolis resident, still holding on to his creative job at Target. He decided to quit, after 24 1/2 years, following another epiphany experience – this time while listening to a tape of students’ spoken-word poetry.

“[Brian] has mentored a few young people who look on him as a role model and friend. He loves North Minneapolis and it shows.” Sr. Karen Mohan,VHM

I remember hearing the urgency in their voices,” he says, “and in that moment my heart was burning. I needed to do what I could to ease the pain and provide a path for those who needed it. I wanted to make a difference.” A big part of the difference began when the Sisters and Mogren got together with the St. Jane House. He had the space. They had the plans. They’d bring the people. He’d be the director.

St. Jane House Ministry

St. Jane House: A Place of Rest and Delight

In the years that followed, the St. Jane house has provided guest rooms for overnight visitors, hosted a weekly centering prayer group, offered retreats for healing and support groups and served as home base for students – high school and college – seeking an “immersion experience” in the flow of neighborhood life.

“I feel loved and celebrated by the Sisters….They embody the God of my understanding, and they define the notion of inclusion. I am able to give to others what I receive from them.”

It doesn’t surprise Sister Karen Mohan that Mogren can handle such varied groups with finesse, grace and hospitality. It was modeled by his parents, Jerry and Arlene, who were quick to welcome others to the Molgren family. He’s had a lot of practice. “When we became ‘family and friends’ with Brian,” she recalls, “we inherited all his brothers – 11 brothers and no sisters. When our community went to his mom’s home for one of the family get-together suppers, we were welcomed by a big sign outside on the lawn. “’WELCOME SISTERS. WE ALWAYS WANTED SISTERS. And now we have them. YOU.’ We love the Mogren boys and we loved Arlene, their mother. After her funeral a few years ago, the 10 living brothers all carried her casket singing, ‘She’s ain’t heavy. She’s our mother.’ There wasn’t a dry eye around.”

Loved and Celebrated by the Sisters

Family and Friends: The Mogren Brothers, Mother, and Visitation Sisters

“It’s wonderful to be in the presence of the [Sisters’] non-judgmental, joyful spirit. They have helped me to be gentle with myself and that helps me to be gentle with others.” 

Mogren remembers first meeting the Sisters at St. Philips where he started attending mass because of his respect for Father Greg Tolaas. He met them there, but he really got to know them after he moved to North Minneapolis. “I feel loved and celebrated by the Sisters,” Mogren says, “ever since I met them. It’s wonderful to be in the presence of their non-judgmental, joyful spirit. They have helped me to be gentle with myself and that helps me to be gentle with others. They embody the God of my understanding, and they define the notion of inclusion.

“I don’t see any other than the life I’m living,” he says. “I get to be who I am and to be that well.”

“I am able to give to others what I receive from them. They have entrusted me with their platform and space.” He’s been a fine defender and caretaker of that Salesian spirituality, in the opinion of Jeff Pearson, a long-time friend and benefactor of the Sisters. “Brian can weather the storms,” Pearson says. “If it doesn’t work one way, he’ll figure out a different way. He’s got the kind of compassion that keeps him coming back.”

Brian with Alafia Foundation Members

Sister Karen notes that Mogren, now 51 years old, is something of a Renaissance man, who’s an artist, a graphic designer, a photographer and a fun-loving guy with a sense of humor. Mogren, who lives in the basement of the St, Jane House, prefers to think of it as “the garden level.” “Brian was inspired to begin the Alafia Foundation to encourage leaders from the neighborhood,” Mohan says. “He has mentored a few young people who look on him as a role model and friend. He loves North Minneapolis and it shows.” Mogren would smile at that description. He’s a man who loves where he is: in his city, in his heart, in his life.   “I don’t see any other than the life I’m living,” he says. “I get to be who I am and to be that well.” That’s why the welcome mat is out at the St. Jane House.

* This is the thirteenth 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! 

From our Summer Newsletter

A Contemplative Perspective from the Northside

S. Brenda shares contemplative insights on issues of social justice and advocacy.

by S. Brenda Lisenby

This past year, our community has been engaged in a strategic process. One of the ways in which we have felt led is to increase our awareness of and participation in social justice and advocacy. What does this mean for us as Visitation Sisters in an urban monastic setting? The following is Sister Brenda’s reflections on what contemplative action looks like for a community dedicated to prayer and presence in north Minneapolis.

Our Visitation charism has been described as “prayer and presence” or “prayer and community.” When we are present to one another we receive the gift of community. Community life is a place to grow in love and humility. And just perhaps, the lessons we learn as we live community can help us as a society, so I share with you what it has meant to me to be a part of this Visitation community at this time in our country’s journey…. (click to continue reading.)

Door Ministry Changes Lives: OURS, 26 Years ago!

Turning Point Friends: Sr. Mary Frances, Marsha, Dr. Peter Hayden

by Sr. Mary Frances Reis, VHM

Twenty six years ago, on our one-year anniversary in the neighbhorhood, a gentleman by the name of Peter Hayden came to our door with a gift of individual filet mignon steaks for each of us. He also had a request. He told us he had a volunteer opportunity open. We could not imagine what four Caucasian Catholic Sisters could offer Turning Point, a culturally specific African American drug treatment program.

Dr. Hayden’s answer: PRAYER.

Without prayer and spirituality there is no recovery. If you make a commitment to pray daily for my Turning Point Family, we will mow your grass, shovel your walks, move your furniture, load your wood. You name it.”

Thus began a relationship with Turning Point that has lasted twenty six years.   We pray daily for the grace of sobriety for each client, and our brothers answer our calls for help on a regular basis. One of the most humorous was when we accidently landed our car in a snow bank; with one swift lift, three guys freed our vehicle!

(For me, personally, this initial encounter with Peter was a confirmation from the Holy Spirit that we are exactly where She wants us to be.)

Receiving this gift...

Receiving this gift…*

Each year Turning Point honors us Sisters with a gift in appreciation for our prayerful presence. This year it was presented at the Alumni Celebration held at the Urban League*. The beautiful rug we received is a loving and gentle reminder of where we all began: answering the door, welcoming in Jesus. Isn’t it a beautiful marker that might serve as a “welcome mat” for the most seeking among us?

Please join us in prayer for Turning Point — this wonderful organization in our community, that reaches and welcomes and affirms all those in our community desiring transformation, recovery!

 

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*Click to see more pictures from this Turning Point event.

Praying Exodus: Reflections on God leading Community

Exodus Prayers: The sea of red and blue light along Interstate 94

Exodus Prayers: The sea of red and blue light along closed Westbound Interstate 94

by Melissa Borgmann-KiemdeVisitation Companion 

“Exodus is a story of a people, not a person – that God leads in community.” – Amy Long, Women of Prayer discernment participant

With the whirring sounds of a helicopter overhead and the flashing lights of emergency vehicles passing outside our windows along Emerson Avenue North in Minneapolis, we convened a community of prayer, story, reflection, and song.  Our community of discerning women gathered at St. Jane House last night for session 4 of the vocation series entitled, “The Prepositions of Call: Reframing Suffering and Vocation.”

Against this backdrop of protest sounds and justice-seeking circumstances surrounding the shooting of Jamar Clark by a local police officer, we began our evening ringing the singing bowl and moving into silence.

“What path is God leading us on? How do we know the wilderness in our journeys? Where are our pillars of cloud and fire? How is this journey, that we are all on, a communal experience toward freedom?”

As facilitators for the series, S. Katherine Mullin, Karen Wight Hoogheem and I gave voice to our distraction, marking the reality outside our doors. In honor of Jamar Clark’s life, we had a candle burning for him and his family — and by extension, our human family the world over – from North Minneapolis to other communities knowing upheaval from violence –including Paris, Beirut, Russia, Libya, Afghanistan, Syria, Palestine, Yemen.

We entered into prayer.

As part of every session, a member of our series facilitation team leads the participants in a form of prayer — meant to inspire and support women in their “listening and leading from within.”  Last night’s experience of Lectio Divina was led by Karen, who took us through Exodus 13:17-22. In this Old Testament passage, we heard the story of Moses and the Israelites being lead out of Egypt. God takes them on a circuitous route through the desert, into the wilderness, revealing himself in a pillar of cloud by day – and fire by night.

Pillars of Fire, photo from protester camp on Plymouth

Pillars of Fire, photo from protester camp on Plymouth

As Karen lead, she invited us to see ourselves in the flight of the Israelites and immerse ourselves in the literal and imagined details of the scripture. She invited us to listen for resonant lines in the text and for God’s invitation to each of us in our present circumstances. She asked us to consider the ways we know suffering, and the way God is faithful to us in leading us along the road to freedom.

As the scripture was repeated, the darkness of the Israelites path at night came alive in my mind. And too, was this flicker of light from fire, the smell of smoke in close proximity, the palpable feeling of anxiety that comes with uncertainty and next steps, and this potent question, “Will you follow me into this wilderness, into freedom, Melissa?”

The whole time, the whirring of the very real helicopters overhead buzzed in my ears; the faces of men, women, and children, who were marching along Plymouth Avenue when I made my way in traffic an hour earlier, came into my mind’s eye.

Together, in prayer, we asked, “What path is God leading us on? How do we know wilderness in our journeys? Where are our pillars of cloud and fire? Where is liberation? How is this journey, that we are all on, a communal experience toward freedom?”

***

This Saturday, Visitation Sisters all around the world will renew their vows. As they make their way toward this feast day, they remind me, and all of us, of our commitments before God. And too, of God’s faithfulness to us.

Join me, the Women of Prayer, the Visitation Sisters, Jamar’s family, and people grieving life lost to violence all over the world, in the prayer of Exodus. Together, let us recall that our journey toward liberation is bound up in God’s love and promises for all of us.

The Doorbell Rings: A note on our ministry of prayer and presence

Sister Katherine

Sister Katherine

by S. Katherine Mullin, VHM

Recently the door bell rang. As I neared the door, I saw it was a person who looked somewhat like “B” –a young man from the streets who roamed around, day after day, without much purpose.

“We hold a treasure, not made of gold, in earthen vessels, wealth untold.”

As I opened the door, I had to ask, “Are you ‘B’– the man I know?”

He said, “Yes. I know I look different because I am different. Sr. Katherine, I am in school now, only two semesters left.” And with a big smile he continued, ” I have my own place, too -an efficiency apartment.”

As we talked, I learned how and why he made the change.

“God is able” — as our neighbors tell us and show us in their lives. 

“One morning I woke up and I said to myself that I just can’t do this anymore. It made no sense. And I stopped cold turkey.”

***

As people come to our door and leave, it does not end there for us. We hold them up in prayer from day to day. God’s work is powerful and “God is able” — as our neighbors tell us and show us in their lives. We know it too from scripture, “We hold a treasure, not made of gold, in earthen vessels, wealth untold.”

 

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.

On Monastic Immersion Experience

From our Winter 2015 Newsletter...

MIE participant, Brenda Lisenby, helps facilitate a listening session.

by Brenda Lisenby, MIE Participant

“It has been exciting to experience this commitment to prayer and presence in fresh ways as I am immersed in the daily life of the Visitation Monastery in north Minneapolis.” – Brenda Lisenby

Immersion in the daily life and mission of the Visitation Sisters in this north Minneapolis neighborhood is a joy, yet not without its challenges! The Monastic Immersion Experience (MIE) is designed by the Visitation Sisters to be a mutually enriching experience. Women of any Christian faith tradition are welcomed into their community for six to twelve months to experience the monastic way of life, to join in daily prayer and faith sharing, and to learn more about Salesian spirituality, a spirituality that I feel is particularly suited to lay people in all walks of life. The Sisters in turn are excited to experience the revitalization of Salesian spirituality as it is shared with women who join them in community and participate in their mission of prayer and presence in north Minneapolis.

My journey with the Visitation began in the spring of 2014 when I was exploring options for a continuing sabbatical. I am attracted to monastic life and I discovered the blog of a previous MIE and resonated with the experiences she was sharing. So I contacted the community to begin a time of mutual discernment about participating in the Monastic Immersion Experience. After several visits to get to know the community, I arrived in September to begin my experience. After a few weeks of prayer and reflection, I was formally welcomed into the community with a simple commitment ceremony. In my commitment statement, I wrote:

Brenda’s Statement of Commitment

I am very much aware of the precious gift you are giving by inviting me to participate in the Monastic Immersion Experience of the Visitation Monastery of Minneapolis. You are gifting me by:

  • welcoming me into the intimate spaces of your community life
  • providing a safe environment for me to discern my next step
  • sharing your lifetime of lived Salesian spirituality

I wish to acknowledge this precious gift. In return, I honor it with my own commitment to live and learn and love in light of the seven practices identified by the community as essential to their mission as I am immersed in the monastic life of the Visitation Sisters for the coming six months. 

Recently, I had a mid-point check-in with the community. We went back to my commitment statement to evaluate the experience thus far. Both the community and I have found this to be a mutually enriching experience. I have had a positive experience of vibrant community life, received much prayer and support as I discern next steps for my life, and been excited by the things I am learning in my Salesian studies.

As for the dailyness of my life as a MIE participant, I have found the monastic rhythm of prayer and work to be nourishing. In addition to prayer, I help in the kitchen, answer the door as a part of our “Door Ministry,” provide administrative support for monastery outreach events, etc. The challenge for me has been to find and maintain this balance, to find my place and personal rhythm within the community. This is a monastery, but not the monastery of traditional cloistered sisters. The “cloister” is the neighborhood and the community of communities that have emerged from the Sisters’ commitment to prayer and presence. It has been exciting to experience this commitment to prayer and presence in fresh ways as I am immersed in the daily life of the Visitation Monastery in north Minneapolis.

Christ among us, or, a Lenten Lunch with David

by Melissa Borgmann-KiemdeVisitation Companion

“May we, like God, never tire of forgiving, of accompanying those who need forgiveness on a path to dignity and wholeness.”Rev. Denis J. Madden, Baltimore Archdiocese*

On this Lenten journey together…

I think it was Sister Karen who answered the door. We had all just finished noon prayer and convened in the dining room of Fremont House to have lunch, when Sister appeared and, beside her, a man in his early to mid-fifties, sporting a fleece jacket and a bright smile.

“This is David. He’s joining us for lunch.”

Our table, surrounded by white community members who were pausing to enjoy a Friday lenten meal of vegetable soup, cheese and bread, was now rounded out by a brown guest who was, save for his name, a stranger among us.

“How did you find us?” Katherine asked, making way for him to be seated at the table.

David told us of a mutual friend on the northside who pointed him our direction, and there was an immediate, collective nod — a knowing.

It’s good when friends point Jesus our way. It’s part of our ministry of prayer and presence to feed the hungry. To see Christ in our midst. To offer Jesus a bit to eat and a warm place to rest his feet.  

Mary Frances went to make him a grilled cheese, and Suzanne dished up a bowl of the last serving of her homemade soup. We listened and learned from the spoken words – and the silence – of our Lenten guest’s journey.

“I just got out of prison two weeks ago, after a three year stint. I’m trying to find my family.” David told us where he was staying; he confided that his mother had died while he was in jail, and shared his desire to re-connect with his people. He wanted us to pray for him, for his courage to stay strong, stay out of trouble. He seemed grateful for the hot food.

I sat at the opposite end of the room and was in awe. Who was this man? Where did he come from? How could he trust us? Were I in his shoes, would I be able to confide in a room of strangers, to disclose such vulnerable truths?

At Mary Frances’ instigation, (or was it the Holy Spirit’s nudging?) we circled around him. We laid our hands on him. And we prayed. We prayed the spontaneous prayer of God’s love, of salvation, of grace, of our Lord’s mercy. We prayed for David. We prayed for ourselves. We gave thanks for his presence and the reminder of Christ’s forgiveness, of His promise of dignity and wholeness. We spoke words, we whispered intentions to ourselves. I thought of David’s mother, her soul in Heaven; his family, in whatever far reaches of this city or world they lived. I imagined, for a split second this formerly incarcerated man, this returning citizen, and his family, all in one embrace.

I touched his shirt sleeve and the back of his hand, and thought, “This is Jesus. He’s right here in the room.”

Lent is a time of of acknowledging our humanity, of seeing the way we sin – or separate ourselves from God. It’s a time of walking humbly together on this path of reconciliation and new life. As we pray for David, this day,  we pray for ourselves and for the world; we pray for the ways our Christian journeys are bound up in one another and our salvation seeks to recognize and live our communion with God. We pray for our restored reunions to each other and the Loving God that made us all.

 

 

***

*From “Prison Addiction” published by America Magazine.

To read more on our ministry of prayer and presence, click here.

 

In the News: Star Tribune Article on the Visitation Monastery Minneapolis

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Click to read the full article at the Star Tribune.

On Saturday, October 25, 2014, the Star Tribune ran an  about our religious community’s presence in the heart of the city — spanning 25 years and leaning into the next two and half decades.

“Every neighborhood should have nuns in the hood!”

Journalists Joy Powell and photographer Leila Navidi captured our neighborhood and Sisters in a way that honors and reveals hope, love and reality. We are grateful for their narrative gifts and photographic eye. Their storytelling conveys our circumstances in a way that we are often not able to communicate by virtue of our commitment to anonymity and the “hidden” nature of our charism. We commend them for their journalistic integrity and again, say,
“thank you.”

Check out the article here: Nuns in the Hood: 25 years of doing good

See Leila’s pictures: Photo Gallery

Video: Nuns in the Hood: 25 years of doing good

A Ministry of Warmth

12 year old Cemya enjoying the fire

12 year old Cemya enjoying the fire

by Melissa Borgmann-KiemdeVisitation Companion

I imagine his hands. The gloved fingers wielding a chain saw that rattles and buzzes as a pine tree is leveled in the acreage outside his homestead. In my mind’s eye, I see the ax or mechanical splitter that he operates, separating the logs into firewood.

I can see her hands complicit in the intricate dance that is knitting choreography: moving her fingers and guiding needles that move wool strands – back and forth. Knit one, pearl two, in the creation of a warm, winter hat or scarf.

“Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours…
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.”
– 
Teresa of Avila (1515–1582)

We have an unspoken ministry that is part of our presence in north Minneapolis. It is a ministry of warmth — of fire, of gloves and hats and coats that, in our deepest hearts, extends God’s love and care to each of our northside friends and neighbors. It is a literal ministry that has grown organically from our prayer and presence in the heart of the city; one that invites each of us into deeper union and fellowship with one another, by virtue of tending to the temperature.

When the cold sets in, you may find Sr. Mary Margaret or Sr. Katherine at the hearth’s edge, stacking logs in the Fremont House living room fireplace, placing kindling in precise igniting points under the wood. Later, you may stumble upon any one of the Sisters poking the burning timber, stoking the fire to keep the living area bright and warm.

Christ’s hands: Vince Waldock delivers firewood to Monastery porch

Twenty five years ago, when our founding Sisters first arrived in north Minneapolis, they began these cold weather rituals. Living their Visitation charism, they invited those knocking at the door to come inside— to be their guest before the fire. Not unlike extending a glass of cold water in the summer’s heat, extending a seat by the fire in the monastery living room became a practice of their monastic hospitality and Salesian ministry in the winter.

Joe Neumier was tuned in to a Channel 4 news story about the Visitation Sisters’ ministry to children some twenty years ago, and was inspired seeing a child happy and warm sitting next to the Sisters’ living room hearth. He decided to send a truck load of firewood to the northside nuns. This Visitation friend was moved to contribute in this small way to the winter warmth ministry and presence of the Visitandines.

Sitting in the chapel last Saturday morning for prayer, I heard the sound of repetitive footsteps on the front porch of Fremont followed by an exclamation from S. Mary Frances: “The firewood is here!”

Punctuating our prayer was this delightful tale of how the firewood began to be delivered by Vince Waldock and Lawrence James — “Mr. Neumier’s firewood men from Little Falls.”

Pointing to the laborers, S. Mary Frances’ said, “This is just an example of the behind-the-scenes folks that make our lives so warm and inviting.” In addition, of course, we have the countless Visitation friends who provide warm coats and those knitting hats and scarves for our winter clothing give-away.

With Sister’s words, my imagination and prayer has taken off to visualize how intricate this web of charitable giving and heart-felt labor occurs.

Where do your hands take you? What ways do you work to make your community warmer? How is Love’s presence revealed through your small action this day? To echo Teresa of Avila: how are you Christ’s hands and feet?

LIVE + JESUS!