World Youth Day Pilgrimage 2016

WYD Pilgrim: Aimee Fritsch

WYD Pilgrim: Aimee Fritsch

By Aimee Fritsch, Visitation Resident Lay Community

I can’t believe the day is finally here; I’m writing this blog post from 20,000 feet, on my way to Germany. I’ll be there for a few days before traveling on to Krakow, Poland, meeting up with a friend from college as well as 2 million of my new best friends, including Pope Francis!

World Youth Day, held every 2 or 3 years is a gathering of 16-35 year-old Catholics from all around the globe. It’s a week of chatecesis, community, and celebration. I had the privilege to go in 2011 when it was held in Madrid, and I can attest to how pilgrims take over an entire major city- it’s beautiful chaos.

This year, I’m so looking forward to that energy and community. Grad school, while a worthwhile endeavor, took a lot out of me this year. Studying systems of inequality and injustice while working in the field, like I do at Listening House, is a lot to carry. I’m looking forward to being rejuvenated by the enthusiasm that everyone brings to this gathering.

In a special way, I’m also looking forward to reuniting with friends from Italy and France I met in Madrid at WYD 2011- thanks to the power of social media we’ve stayed in touch, and plan on meeting up once we’re all in Krakow. Also, like most Millennials, especially Catholics, I’m a huge Pope Francis fan! With so many people I probably won’t even get close to him, but just to hear him speak in person, to celebrate Mass with him and the millions of others outdoors Sunday morning after an all-night vigil, and to get his blessing, I’m thrilled. It feels like history in the making.

Pray for me, as I go, as I’ll pray for you. And look for a follow-up post- I promise to share stories and photos once I’m back in the States!

On Pilgrimage: Reflections on Seeing Pope Francis

Pope Hopeby S. Karen Mohan, VHM

Until going to Philadelphia in late September,*  I had only seen one other Pope, and that was Pope (now Saint) John XXIII. I was 14 years old, with my Mom, my Aunt Ann and my Aunt Paddy on a special trip to Rome! We were all so excited! This took place before Pope John had “opened the window” of the Catholic Church to the modern world by convening the Second Vatican Council. The Holy Spirit was at work then and now, and we were travelling east to be a part of the energy and love surrounding Pope Francis’ presence.

 “[I]n the people, the care, the palpable faith “in the air”, I saw the power of the Spirit through this man of God and through the thousands of people standing in line with me.” — S. Karen

Driving straight through from Minneapolis to Philadelphia is a feat in itself– a 20 hour one! Travelling with three wonderful women and having the support of community, family, friends and fellow pilgrims – -all this added to our joy!   Our brother Oblates of St. Francis de Sales were offering us hospitality and we had our walking shoes and “regulation size” back packs ready.

“Life means getting our feet dirty from the dust-filled roads of life and history. All of us need to be cleansed, to be washed. All of us are being sought out by the Teacher who wants to help us resume our journey …   May this knowledge inspire us to live in solidarity, to support one another, and see the best for others.“  — Pope Francis

When I returned, people kept asking me, “Did you see Pope Francis?”   Well, I did see the Pope-mobile go by, and he must have been waving at me! However, in the people, the care, the palpable faith “in the air”, I saw the power of the Spirit through this man of God and through the thousands of people standing in line with me.

SKaren Mohan 1966 crop

S. Karen Mohan, circa, 1971


This unique moment in the life of the Church and of the world is converging with my own personal history.
When I made my first vows as a Visitation Sister at the St. Louis Monastery on June 6, 1966, the Church’s windows were being opened, the II Vatican Council was in session, and a young Jesuit in Argentina was living his commitment, preparing (though he did not know it) for this moment in history.

As Pope Francis said in Philadelphia to the Inmates of the Curran-Fromhold Prison, “Life means getting our feet dirty from the dust-filled roads of life and history. All of us need to be cleansed, to be washed. All of us are being sought out by the Teacher who wants to help us resume our journey …   May this knowledge inspire us to live in solidarity, to support one another, and see the best for others.“

May we do just that as we live our commitments, one day at a time.

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*Click to see photos from S. Karen’s trip to Philadelphia to see Pope Francis

Bridges Across the City: The Story behind the Invitation to Connect

Click for details or to register

Click for details or to register

“I think most of us have stories that break us open. The challenge is to find places that offer healing.”

– Maura Schnorbach, Social Justice Coordinator at St. Patrick’s Church, Edina

On Thursday, October 29, the Visitation Sisters and several northside neighborhood friends will travel to St. Patricks’ Church in Edina to share a meal, swap stories and spend a few hours together in prayer. If you are reading this, and are in the area, you are invited to come and be part of this evening!

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The following reflection comes from Maura Schnorbach, the Social Justice Coordinator who has lead the collaboration between St. Patricks, the Sisters and neighborhood friends in bringing this Fall Forum evening together. We share this with her permission.

maura-schnorbach

Maura Schnorbach

“Spending time with the sisters and neighbors has been a great blessing to all of us. We have felt privileged to have a glimpse of their lives in North Minneapolis.

Someone said at one of our gatherings at the Monastery, “it all starts with conversations”… The Pope has called us to, “encounter” one another. I feel that our gatherings at the Visitation Sisters’ Monastery have created a space to experience the sacred. This experience was only possible by the decades of work– [of prayer and presence]– by the sisters.

MAURA’S STORY

Part of my motivation to meet the sisters was dealing with an old friend’s daughter’s death. She was murdered last spring in St. Paul by her boyfriend. She was a year younger than my daughter (21). Although they didn’t grow up together, I am struck by how different their lives were. My daughter just graduated from UW Madison and is working on a Master’s Degree in Accounting. Michelle was an only child and left a baby behind. Her boyfriend will spend his life incarcerated. The death haunted me for several months, because I thought of the unimaginable loss…. Gun violence has become so routine in the US that I don’t think many of us realize that in some communities it is part of the landscape.

I was trying to find a way to hold a community conversation about violence and the intersection of hope and faith. At the same time, we wanted to focus on the Gospel, and not get into the, “left vs. right” political arguments. St. Patrick’s has a long tradition of holding respectful community conversations about important issues. We want to engage, challenge and invite people of faith to get involved. I also believe in the power of sharing stories and faith… Inviting the sisters to share their work seemed like the perfect fit. The sisters wanted to include their neighbors. We had several conversations to see if this could be a collaborative event that we could all create together.

HISTORY of FALL FORUM SERIES:

Last year, we focused on elder issues on two evenings. One night focused on Homeless Youth and Affordable Housing. The previous year, we invited Fr. Larry Snyder. Our focus that year was pathways out of poverty. We featured:  Catholic Charities, Risen Christ, Cristo Rey, The Lift Garage and Finnegan’s Beer. Our goal is to focus on transformational justice work.

BRIDGES ACROSS THE CITY INFORMATION: (Click to download Flyer)

Date: Thursday, October 29, 2015Time: 6-8:00 p.m., Registration begins at 5:30 p.m.Location: St. Martin’s Hall, Church of St. Patrick-Edina, 6820 St. Patrick’s Lane, Edina, MN 55439

To register go to St. Patrick’s website at www.stpatrick-edina.org. or call Maura Schnorbach in Social Justice at 952-941-3164. There is no cost, but reservations are requested by October 26.

==>Please feel free to circulate with colleagues, friends and neighbors.<==

The Francis Effect: Guiding Us to Bright Years Ahead!

Pope Francis smiles during the weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Pope Francis (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

by Anna Dourgarian, Vis Companion, Guest blogger

The Francis Effect presents Pope Francis as an inspiring child of God, ready to guide us from the dark years behind us to bright years ahead.”

As a relatively young student with a Catholic school education, I can tell you about the state of the Church today and about the state of the Church 500 years ago, but I would be hard-pressed to tell you about its state 10 years ago. We didn’t study Pope John Paul II or Pope Benedict XVI in our history books, so the little I knew came from the scandals reported in secular newspapers. I knew very little about the context in which Pope Francis first came to lead our world.

The Francis Effect, shown in our “Movies with Jane” series at St. Jane House, was an enlightening experience about just how profoundly Pope Francis is transforming the papacy. I got to learn about Pope Benedict XVI, about why he retired, and about how the pope no one expected to be elected came out of the conclave to the people in St. Peter’s Square and, kicking off his radical departure from tradition, bowed to them for their blessing on him. I learned how he communicated with the media and with the world far beyond what his predecessors had, not only in quantity but also in quality: he said things that no one had said before. Now I understand what he is doing and why it is so shocking.

Others who watching the movie with me—Sister Karen, Sister Mary Margaret, Brian Mogren, and Aimiee Fritsch—were much more deeply acquainted with Pope Francis than I was, and from them I heard murmurs of appreciation and tears. To them, the documentary was a testimony to a trusted shepherd.

Anna Dourgarian, Vis Companion

Anna Dourgarian, Vis Companion

The Francis Effect presents Pope Francis as an inspiring child of God, ready to guide us from the dark years behind us to bright years ahead.

 

Anna is a Visitation Companion and is currently studying Civil Engineering at the University of Minnesota.

The Francis Effect – Reflection

Aimee Fritsch, Visitation Resident Lay Community

Aimee Fritsch, Visitation Resident Lay Community

by Guest Blogger Aimee Fritsch*

Oh my goodness, why does the Pope make me cry?

That crossed my mind more than once as my eyes watered up, sitting in the St. Jane House, watching the documentary “The Francis Effect”. The eyes of the world are on him, and I think what keeps us entranced, what fills my heart and my tear ducts, is the love with which he moves through the world.

Pope Francis has the heart of Christ, bringing love and tenderness to people around the world, especially those who are typically unloved. He is living the story of the Gospel, light breaking through into darkness, in a fresh, new 21st century way.

It is so beautiful, and so needed, so to see this loving light, well, it brings me to tears.

 

*Meet Aimee Fritsch

My name is Aimee Fritsch, I’m a graduate student at U of M in the Masters of Urban & Regional Planning Program, and a founding member of the Visitation Lay Residential Community. I first met the sisters when they showed up on my doorstep with peaches & brownie mix when I was a Jesuit Volunteer.

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Join the Visitation Sisters and Lay community for this Fall’s Salesian Monday series focusing on Catholic Social Teaching and the Two Francises: Pope Francis and St. Francis de Sales!

Youth in Theology and Ministry Summer Institute 2015

 

YTM logo

Join us in celebrating the young people and their mentors in this summer’s 2015 Youth in Theology and Ministry (YTM) Institute. We are thrilled to be able to support our friends Alma, Eiler and Jessica as participants in this two year program.

The 2015 Summer Institute crew!

The 2015 Summer Institute crew!

YTM’s mission is to engage and develop Catholic young people and their adult mentors to be vibrant leaders in their faith journey and vocational call.

S. Katherine Mullin says about this program: “The Catholic theology that these young people hear is straight out of the book of Pope Francis!  I can attest to the fact that, at least the ones who I know, are excited about their faith -and living it!”

She also speaks of how impressive the young people’s service projects have been. She writes enthusiastically on our Facebook page: “Now Ascension Church has a renewed teen group! A shout out to Alma, Elier and Jessica!”

To read more about the mission and program of Youth in Theology and Ministry, visit their webpage at St. John’s School of Theology website.

Our New Pope: Washing the Feet of Young Inmates on Holy Thursday

by Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, Visitation Companion

We have a new pope. His name is Francisco, or Francis. The Argentinian Jesuit took his name after St. Francis of Assisi, and St. Francis Xavier, one of his founding Jesuit predecessors.  (And might I stretch his Francis’ inspirations to include – *ahem* – our co-founder, St. Francis de Sales?) I think of these saints as a “trifecta of Francises,” if you will, who all exemplify and inspire a kind of humility and gentleness in the world.

I’ve been moved almost daily since the announcement of Pope Francis’ papacy by information characterizing his way of being as a priestly leader. “He rides the bus; he cooks for himself; he wears old shoes; he elected to forgo his cardinal apartment for a more modest dwelling;” and “the day of his introduction to the world, he elected not to stand on a box above his peers, as he wanted to convey that he is one of us.” These tidbits have all rolled around in my heart and mind, providing a delightful electrical charge to my prayer — my hopes for our church and its new leadership.

Today, I learned that one week from today, on Holy Thursday, Pope Francis will be washing the feet of young inmates in a juvenile detention center on the outskirts of Rome. And this information gives me one more jolt of inspiration. In lieu of a mass at the Basilica of St. Peter, where he would wash the feet of his peers, our new pope has taken a page out of the St. Francis of Assisi playbook — or perhaps the Jesuit or Salesian life texts — and is tending to the feet of those behind bars. Not unlike Christ’s invitation, he is taking his bread to the poor, his service to those on the margins — as he literally goes to feed those in prison.

It moves me, this break in tradition. Holy Week. The re-enactment of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet. The last supper. The pope. These young men of Casal del Marmo prison for minors.  Amen.

Where are you spending your Holy Thursday? What rituals are you participating in? Whose feet will you wash? Who will touch your soles? What bread will you consume? What will you offer to those around you? How might any one of our dear saint Francises inspire your living of the gospel in this day and age?

Blessings as we mark this holy season of the liturgical year!