Celebrating National Catholic Sisters Week

by Sr. Karen Mohan, VHM

Sister Karen as a novice in St. Louis with her sisters

When my youngest sister, Colleen, e-mailed me this photo a few days ago, she didn’t know that she was sending it during a week designated as “National Catholic Sisters Week,” March 8-14. This picture shows me as a novice with my three sisters visiting at the St. Louis Visitation Monastery. I spent the first 24 years of my religious life in that beautiful community before moving to north Minneapolis to begin our urban monastery.

One glance at this picture makes it clear that times have changed! The Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) with its theme of the “universal call to holiness” has encouraged all Catholics to realize that it is each Christian’s baptismal commitment that shapes her/his response to living the Gospel. For Religious Women and Men, that response comes by making public vows that express our desire to “live our baptismal commitment out loud” for Jesus Christ, in community, and with a particular “spirit” or “charism” guiding us.

In the Visitation Order, that charism comes through the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane de Chantal, the founders of our Order in 1610. As we strive to live our motto, “Live Jesus,” we hope to become more like Jesus and to embody the words of St. Francis de Sales, “I am as human as can be.”  By embracing our humanity, I hear echoes of these words of the early Church father St. Irenaeus: “The glory of God is a person fully alive.” I have been drawn to this quote for many years because it encourages me to become more like Jesus by “being who you are and being that well” (St. Francis de Sales). It takes a lifetime to attain such wholeness/holiness. I’m “in it” for the long haul!

Living the way of love expressed in the vows of poverty (simple living), celibacy (a prophetic, countercultural way of loving), and obedience (listening to the Spirit in community) has a goal: to become ever freer interiorly and so give witness to the freedom that will be ours when we see God face to face.

Sister Brenda as a novice in Minneapolis with her sisters

I’m including a second photo in this blog. This one is of our current novice, Sister Brenda Lisenby, at her Grandmother’s 90th birthday party last July! Sr. Brenda looks a little different than my novice “look” of 1965, and she is bringing a very different background and life experience to the Visitation than most of us who are “born and bred” Catholics.  Brenda’s 20 years as a Baptist missionary in China led her into the Catholic Church and eventually to the Minneapolis Visitation. How grateful we are for her attentiveness to God’s Spirit leading her! Sr. Brenda will make her first profession of vows on May 12, 2018.  She – and all of us Religious Women– give God the promise of our present and the trust of our future as we live our lives as Sisters.

I love my life of prayer, community, and service through the lens of the Visitation. May other women listening to the call of the Gospel in their lives respond generously, becoming more fully alive in the process! Our community welcomes you to consider joining us either in our monastic community or through one of our engagements: as a Vis Companion, as a VIP, or in our Monastic Immersion Program.

National Catholic Sisters Week: Trolley Ride!

Srs Karen & Katherine join other religious for this NCWS activity organized by the SSNDs.

by Sr. Katherine Mullin, VHM

Sister Karen and I participated in this past weekend’s Twin Cities trolley ride event as part of National Catholic Sisters Week. Our hope was to bring awareness to Sisterhood and our common work for Peace and Justice. We had fun riding the trolley with 40 other Catholic Sisters from different religious communities. Check out our pictures below, and see how we were “all in”!

“Our hope was to bring awareness to Sisterhood and our common work for Peace and Justice.”

The trolley traveled to Lumen Christi parish, Ascension, Assumption, and even Mickey’s Diner. We “quietly” entered the St. Kate’s library and University of St. Thomastoo-handing out candy, wishing the students our best in their studies. The co-eds looked up and smiled at the fun and then went back to work. We ended the day with 4:30pm mass at the Basilica, givng out some material and a prayer for our world. As a follow up, food bags are also being delivered to the Dorothy Day Center. All this was quite cleverly planned by the SSND Sisters (School Sisters of Notre Dame). 

Live+Jesus! 

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To see more photos, visit our Flickr Album: NCWS: Nuns on a Trolley! 

S. Karen Reflects: An Irish Nun in this Month of March

S Karen Mohan, VHM

S Karen Mohan, VHM

by Sr. Karen Mohan, VHM

March, once primarily known to this Irish “lass” as the “month of St. Patrick,” now includes an awareness of “Women’s History Month“, “National Catholic Sisters’ Week” (March 8-14), and even “Nutrition Month.” These themes: being Irish, being a woman, and a religious Sister who values the “balance” of healthy eating and living, come together in a unique way for me as I reflect on being a Visitation Sister for 50 years.

On my bookcase, I keep a hand-crafted card with a quote attributed to St. Patrick, which reads,

“I am certain in my heart that all that I am I have received from God.“ I love that message. It reminds me that each of us is born with a heritage, a history, and choices to make which will contribute –or not – to the building up of our global community in the reign of God.

imageWomen in my family and beyond my family helped me to understand how God’s love and the Gospel can be lived in a variety of ways. One of those “beyond”, my teacher, and eventually community member and friend, Sister Marie Therese Ruthmann from the Visitation Monastery of St. Louis, is one of those influential women in my life. I’m writing this on March 4, the 64th anniversary of her religious vows. Sr. M.Therese was the first person I told that I was considering religious life. At that time I was not really considering the Sisters of the Visitation. They were always there for me, and I was seeking a vocational call that was further from my immediate view.  What was “certain in my heart” was that the invitation to dedicate my life entirely to God was there, and that before I went on to college I needed and wanted to give that invitation some attention.

S. Marie Therese

Joyful Sisters: S. Karen next to S. Marie Therese

Sr. M. Therese listened. She prayed with me. She let me be, never saying, “What about the Visitation?” She was wise enough even then at her young age in the community, that if the Holy Spirit was at work, that was good enough!   Gradually I became aware that the Visitation Sisters, real people who could identify with the needs and concerns of others, had the components of the balanced life I could see myself espousing: they had a genuine prayer life; they had a strong community; they had a meaningful ministry; they were happy women. In those days there was little talk about “Salesian spirituality” as such, but those around the Sisters imbibed it just by being with them.

During this “Irish” month of women, Sisters, and nutrition, in our Church’s “Jubilee Year of Mercy”, take time to consider the spirituality that nourishes you, the women and Sisters who support your faith journey, and what adjustments you might be called to make so that prayer, community and service may lead you to a joyful “ balance” as the Holy Spirit leads.

Once I came to the realization that the Visitation Sisters’ way of life was one that I might be called to try, I started down that path, enriched by many women who became my “Sisters” and mentors and co-workers, and friends. And in the spirit of this “Women’s month”, the rest is history!