Marking our 25th Year in North Minneapolis

A "Bonding experience" in their first year, perhaps different than St. Francis or St. Jane every imagined?

1989: In their first year, the Founding Four Sisters on a police ride-along in north Minneapolis. A “bonding” experience– perhaps different than St. Francis de Sales or St. Jane de Chantal ever imagined?

Greetings Friend of Visitation Monastery of Mineapolis far and near!

We are embarking on a special time in the history of the Visitation Monastery as the Sisters and their neighbors and friends  mark the 25th year of this community!

On September 29, 1989, Sisters Mary Margaret, Karen and Mary Virginia said tearful good byes to their beloved St. Louis Visitation to come to establish, with Sr. Mary Frances, the Visitation Monastery of Minneapolis.

On October 2, 1989, Feast of the Guardian Angels,  Archbishop John R. Roach commissioned the Sisters to bring the gentle, non-violent charism of their founders to this inner city community. In his words, “I am happy I am sending the angels with you!.”

There is much to celebrate and mark in the coming months of the Lord’s amazing grace, right here!

S. Mary Frances in our fall newsletter writes about the founding of the monastery:

“Directed by the Holy Spirit through the ten years of discernment that preceded this foundation, we came with no other plan than to be faithful to our monastic way of life, which is centered on prayer and community, and to welcome and listen to those who came to our door. (Jesus promised us he would be there!) By faithfully listening to our neighbors, our agenda began to gradually unfold.”

 Click here to read more from the fall newsletter. Fall 2013 Newsletter

On Silence: Thoughts from VIP Anna D. on one of the seven Essentials of Monastic Life

Anna Dourgarian, VIP 2012-2013

Anna Dourgarian, VIP 2012-2013

by Guest blogger Anna Dourgarian, Visitation Intern Volunteer

The 2012-2013 Salesian Monday Night series focuses on the 7 Essentials of Monastic Life that the Vis Sisters have outlined for their community. The following post is part one of VIP Anna Dourgarian’s co-presentation with Sr. Karen on Silence.

I am really new to the concept of silence, but in the short time that I have known about it, I have fallen in love with it. As a Vis Intern volunteering on North Side, one of my main goals has been to serve my community, and silence has helped me do it.

“Silence is not a goal in and of itself; it is a process, a stepping stone—but for what? For me, it’s about being more useful in this world. It forces me to be attentive. I want to serve my community according to its needs, so I need to be attentive to and aware of its needs.”

I was first introduced to silence last February, at a winter campout hosted by REI. There, I met a man named Donnie who was very knowledgeable about the outdoors: he knew about medicinal herbs, tracking, and respecting nature. I wanted to know about the outdoors, so I asked if he could take me for a hike. Hikes for me were about getting outside and ambling about and getting away from electronics—exercising and chatting. But within minutes of hitting the trail, Donnie said, “Anna, you’re walking too fast, and you need to stop talking.” In other words, “Slow down and shut up.” Hikes for Donnie were about being attentive to the wilderness. On that slow, silent hike, we saw two red-winged black birds get into a territorial fight, we heard a robin get surprised by a hawk, and we spied two chickadees building a secret nest.

Over the summer I learned that the most productive hike is one where I sat still, for a whole hour, watching my surroundings. It was PAINFUL. I got restless, I got weird looks from hikers who walked by me, and I could never focus—my brain was always thinking really hard about something else. But the effect was wondrous. I got to know the birds in my area: white-breasted nuthatches in this tree, and these are the songs of a cardinal and a catbird. I noticed that the ground was just crawling with bugs. One time a coyote walked right past me. A few minutes later, a few talkative hikers walked past too and had no idea what they had just missed.

At the end of the summer, I became a VIP and stopped doing my silent sitting hikes. The skills I learned from them were not applicable to my normal life. No one wanted me to slow down; I was supposed to speed up, show enthusiasm, and make a difference in the world! Until Sr. Suzanne asked me one day, “Anna, could you please be quiet?” And I said, “Oh, is someone sleeping?” And she said, “No, you’re LOUD!”

Apparently the skills for spotting a coyote in the woods are still relevant in a monastery.

Silence is not a goal in and of itself; it is a process, a stepping stone—but for what? For me, it’s about being more useful in this world. It forces me to be attentive. I want to serve my community according to its needs, so I need to be attentive to and aware of its needs. In the case of hiking with Donnie, I wanted to serve the environment, so first I had to observe the environment.

Visitation Monastery of Minneapolis Launches New Internship Program, Welcomes First Two Participants to a Year of Service in north Minneapolis

Sr. Karen and Vis Companion Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde welcome Beth Anne Cooper and Kelly Schumacher

Sr. Karen and Vis Companion Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde welcome Beth Anne Cooper and Kelly Schumacher

Minneapolis, MN—24 October 2011– The Visitation Sisters of Minneapolis have successfully launched a new year-long internship program, the Visitation Internship Program, or VIP Program.   The Sisters are excited to welcome two young women as the inaugural participants to the VIP Program.  Kelly Schumacher, a Minnesota native and graduate of Augustana College in Illinois, and Beth Anne Cooper, a native of New York and graduate of Hope College in Michigan, are the first two participants to begin a year of service alongside the Visitation Sisters in north Minneapolis.

Schumacher and Cooper have already begun to make a difference on the north side.  They are involved in teaching English as Second Language (ESL) classes to immigrants and refugees, advocacy work, working with grade schoolers on both schoolwork and relationship building, coaching youth sports, learning more about restorative justice, service-learning planning for small groups that include urban immersion experiences, to name a few of their early involvements.

Beth Anne, Kelly and Northside friend at Valley Fair

Beth Anne, Kelly and Northside friend at Valley Fair

North Minneapolis is an economically challenged area of the Twin Cities, and the Visitation Sisters strive to create a prayerful presence in their neighborhood. Sister Karen Mohan, head of the Monastery, said that the Sisters are responding to a movement on behalf of young people who want to provide service in such a way: “The Sisters are excited to offer this opportunity for young adults to join us for a year of service to those who are often economically and socially challenged.”

Some additional information about the VIP Program:

  • Women and men between the ages of 20-35 are eligible to apply.
  • The VIPs live in an intentional VIP community and commit to community nights once a week with their house, and then also with the Sisters on a regular basis.
  • The VIPs serve in a ministry within the north Minneapolis community.
  • The VIPs learn Salesian spirituality through the Visitation Sisters, the Visitation Companions, north side neighbors, and through study and retreat opportunities.
  • The VIPs are offered spiritual direction, vocational discernment, and prayer opportunities through the Visitation Sisters.

To read more about Kelly and Beth Anne, click: Meet the VIP’ers.
For more information, click: Visitation Intern Program.

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The Sisters of the Visitation of Minneapolis are centered in a dynamic, extended community in North Minneapolis where they strive to be a faith-filled and whole-hearted proclamation that “Jesus Lives!” They are committed to expressing their Salesian spirituality by offering neighbors peaceful presence, radical hospitality, and participation in regular, frequent prayer.  The Sisters live discerning lives in a community of mutual leadership responding to and expressing God’s love incarnated in a unique kind of urban monasticism.