We are taking Visitation Volunteer Applications!

VIP Promo VistoryAre you a young adult considering life after graduation? Does the idea of service and prayer, in the heart of the city, bring something alive in you? Are you called to explore your spirituality and be part of a social justice movement? Consider joining us, the Visitation Sisters, for a year of service, study and prayer as a Visitation Intern in north Minneapolis. We are taking applications now for September, 2017.

 

To hear more about the program, tune in to VIP Anna Dourgarian reflecting on her year with the Visitation Sisters in north Minneapolis.

Answering the Door: Some Thoughts on Planning and the Present Moment…

Mary Marg and Demetrius

Who is showing up in our lives? How are we embracing each being at the door?

by Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, Visitation Companion

“‘And when the door bell rings, you will get your agenda,’ says the Lord.” — Sr. Mary Frances Reis, vhm on the doorbell ministry at the Visitation Monastery north Minneapolis

I’m a planner. I like to plan things. Maybe you are like me? You take stock in naming dates and times and creating agendas that spell out tasks and goals. Perhaps you take comfort in plugging information into your smart phone calendars that informs your next step in the day?  In this world and life that seems so out of our control, perhaps planning provides a bit of security?  As a classroom teacher, we had protocols for such planning where we would think ahead in time and work backwards — identifying outcomes and naming “what success will look like” or “sound like” — and again, planning accordingly for it all.

You know the old adage, though: “if you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans.” I think, “Indeed!”

I’m reflecting on this compulsion or desire to plan in the face of all that I have been navigating, personally, in the recent months.  I am committed to honoring the lessons that have shown up in birthing our son Xavi, experiencing his brief life, and looking for ways that God has been present in and through it all.  I find the lessons of letting go (of outcomes/ agendas/ life itself) — such a gift — and I recognize that this is part of what the dear Visitation Sisters have been teaching me, us, the world, day in and out for years…(centuries, even, right?)

It’s a lesson about living in the present moment.

The sisters pray the divine office four times a day, and they answer the door.  In and through it all, is their ministry. They are an urban monastery of prayer and presence.

***

When Jane, the ultrasound technician, was moving her sonographic wand over my expanded mid-section at our 21 week ultrasound, I couldn’t go anywhere but that room. When she reported that Xavi’s cerebellum wasn’t intact, that he had fluid around his kidneys, stomach and heart, and that there were several holes in this central blood-pumping organ, I didn’t think I could continue breathing.  I wanted nothing more but to disappear from that room, to dissolve into the air, seep out of that space and avoid the shattering news that my son was not going to live a long life. But in that room were a whole host of prayerful beings, a communion of holy men and women convened in my heart and present in the touch of my husband’s hand.  I kept hearing, “Be still and know that I am God….Be still and know.” Those words were balm as I tried to catch my breathe and be present to life as it was –and is– unfolding.

Life is not all neat and pretty and according to how we want it, eh? It’s not how we plan for it. Enter the embrace of the present moment.

***

Sr. Katherine and MoWhen the Visitation Sisters came up from St. Louis and over from Mendota to found the Minneapolis monastery, they were given this directive about their daily life: to answer the door. Sr. Mary Frances explains this in the following words, “when the door bell rings, you will get your agenda,’ says the Lord.” The sisters pray the divine office four times a day, and they answer the door.  In and through it all, is their ministry. They are an urban monastery of prayer and presence. They, like their co-founders Jane and Francis, are “Living Jesus!” in the ways they are each called to respond to the divine life in their midst. And we are all invited to do the same.

How do we answer our doors? Who is showing up in our lives? How are we embracing the being on the other side of that front-porch-knocking in all of his or her fullness? How do we receive the news born out by each messenger? How do we say, “yes” to the incredible uncertainties that life presents us with from moment to moment? What happens when the present moment makes us want to run and hide?

On this day, I hold these questions prayerfully in my heart. I pray, along with the Visitation Sisters, for the courage to answer the door, to rest in the present moment and be okay with the plans that God has for my life — and for all of ours’. I am glad you are here with me.

Once a Teacher, Always a Teacher

Christ, the Teacher, by Brother Mickey McGrath. All Rights Reserved

"Christ, the Teacher" by Brother Mickey O'Neill McGrath, OSFS. All Rights Reserved

by Sr. Suzanne Homeyer, VHM

There is some truth in the saying, “Once a teacher, always a teacher,” don’t you think? Here’s a bit of my personal history that makes me believe this.

When I was in kindergarten (kindergarten, yes at age 5!) my report card bore the following prophetic word: “would make a great teacher!” I honestly don’t know if I believed that but my parents sure did and never let me forget it…..even when I was in graduate school and a part time campus minister my dad would still send me ads from the Chicago newspapers for teaching positions!

The truth is I have taught English, Speech, Journalism, Drama and even German to junior high, high school, and college students in addition to numerous religious education classes and several sessions of the RCIA….and I LOVE TEACHING!!!!!

Now, back to “once a teacher…”

The religion department at Visitation High School in Mendota Heights invited Sr. Mary Frances and me to speak to the members of the Senior Class about service opportunities in North Minneapolis that they could use to fulfill their class requirement.

What would a presentation to these students include to make them want to come to North Minneapolis in their free time to do ‘homework?’

Since I am the ‘field trip czarina’ in our community I thought how perfect the timing of this invitation was —- considering all of the pre-Christmas special events and the opportunity for work with families and children preparing during Advent. What would a presentation to these students include to make them want to come to North Minneapolis in their free time to do ‘homework?’

Elizabeth and Mary: Teachers, Students, Student, Teacher

Elizabeth and Mary: Teacher, Student; Student, Teacher

Sr. Mary Frances and I prepared a simple class outline, gathered materials and walked into the classroom just as the door was closing…no bells in this school!  As  I began to talk about the families and children of the neighborhood that would benefit from their actions I felt the teacher in me rise to the occasion…I had personal stories on the tip of my tongue and I felt my own relationship with our neighbors come alive as I spoke….AND the students were connecting….eye contact and appropriate laughter (always a good sign that your words are hitting home). The first class period just flew by…

The message had gotten through…the beauty of our ministry and the loving relationships our neighbors invite us into was now being passed to the next generation…Isn’t that what teaching is all about?

Then IT happened — every teacher’s nightmare — the AV equipment failed. In my previous years’ teaching it was a well known fact that I couldn’t thread a movie projector and if the students knew I was planning to show a film they just instantly developed an attitude that said ‘yeah, right.’

I had to wing it with my own verbal rendition of what I remembered of the DVD. The students laughed when the sound of the DVD did come on in the midst of my speaking and the screen behind me came to life and I was only momentarily stunned.

Less than 12 hours later we received a phone call from the first student to volunteer to chaperone a few children to a special Minnesota Orchestra holiday show…..and she had already asked her parents if it was OK. I was probably grinning from ear to ear at this news.  The message had gotten through… the beauty of our ministry and the loving relationships our neighbors invite us into was now being passed to the next generation…Isn’t that what teaching is all about?

Once a teacher, always a teacher!

***

If you are interested in tuning into the “teacher-energy” of Sr. Suzanne Homeyer, consider joining us at St. Lawrence Catholic Church and Newman Center on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 7:30pm for Theology on Tap.
Address: 1203 5 Street SE (Click for link to map)
Minneapolis, MN  55414

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For more information on how you could accompany a northside family to the MN Orchestra or Children’s Theater, call Sr. Suzanne at 612-521-6113