Salesian Monday Night: Divine Hospitality

Welcome to the Monastery!

Please join us for 2nd Salesian Monday night on May 8th. Our topic is Divine Hospitality, featuring Dave Nimmer and Sr. Mary Frances.

This year’s Salesian Spirituality series is entitled, “LIVING JESUS AS WE MOVE THROUGH OUR DAILY LIFE.” We invite you to join us for food and fellowship, input and reflection, before closing our evening with prayer.
SALESIAN SECOND MONDAY
Monday, May 8, 2017
6pm: Dinner
6:45pm-8pm: Presentation and PrayerCome for either part, as you are able!
Visitation Monastery — Girard House
1619 Girard Avenue North

Minneapolis, MN 55411

Questions? or to RSVP: Call Sr. Suzanne at 612-501-5096.

Earth Day Honoring

Hello, All you Earth Lovers!

Today, about 40 children and adults participated in an Earth Day event cleaning up our North Minneapolis neighborhood. After teams of children and volunteers worked for about two hours, we gathered in our Fremont back yard for an Earth Day Party. We tossed an inflated ‘earth ball’ around the circles and each person shared one part of Mother Earth he or she is grateful for….Some examples: Rivers, National and State Parks, worms, grass, Family…It went on and on! We then enjoyed a treat of cupcakes with blue frosting (for the water) and gummy fish, courtesy of Anna Dourgarian.

All in all it was a wonderful way to celebrate God’s Creation. The perfectly blue sky, sunny weather, and awakening lilacs and tulips made it a day to remember! May our children, as well as ourselves, learn a greater reverence for all of Creation….God’s gift to us….

Peace! Sr. Mary Frances and Crew

Earth Day Album

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PHOTO ALBUM on FLICKR:

To see more photos from today’s party,

visit our photo album on Flickr.

 

 

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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.

Wisdom’s Elbows…

Sr. Katherine reads from the Wisdom of St. Jane

Sr. Katherine reads from the Wisdom of St. Jane

by Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, Visitation Companion

“Send Wisdom from heaven to be my companion, to teach me your will.”

These words, chanted during morning prayer, inspired our communities’ intentions this morning. As Sr. Mary Frances underscored their personal resonance, she named a universal condition that invites our care and attention, asking: How do we let the spirit of Wisdom in? In Frances’ reflections, I heard:

Certainly Wisdom companions us daily, but how do we acknowledge her? What prayerful patterns do we practice that invoke Wisdom’s presence and guidance in our lives?

Sitting next to Sr. Mary Frances on the bench in the chapel, eyes closed, I tuned into her spoken reflections and had this flash of Wisdom come into my mind’s eye. She was a fully formed woman with elbows. She appeared as a buxom female — draped in gleaning white fabric, like a choir robe — maneuvering into my heart space. “Let me speak!” she said, “Listen!”

***

At the breakfast table, following morning prayer, I heard Wisdom coming through the words of St. Jane de Chantal.

On this day following Jane’s feast, Sr. Katherine and I were reflecting on our co-foundress’ spiritual life, her grief and dryness in prayer, as well as her qualities as a leader: her compassion, empathy, and encouragement of others.  Over a plate of sliced mango and a cup of coffee, Sr. Katherine read to me from our founders’  Letters of Spiritual Direction.

St. Jane de Chantal

St. Jane de Chantal

In a letter dated July 22, 1619, Jane wrote from Paris to Mother Péronne-Marie de Châtel, the Superior at Grenoble:

“Don’t worry about your way. I see it and I know better than you do that it is a very good one. Trust me in this, I beg you, for God has given me enough light on the matter. Wasn’t His infinite goodness our only aim and rest? What further assurance do we need? Dearest, let us stay right there in complete self-effacement. We ought to be content to go on blindly, without knowing anything; it is enough for us that God is our God, our hope, our desire.” 

As Sr. Katherine gave life to Jane’s words, I saw Wisdom’s elbows make her way to us at the table. “Take note!” The spirit of Love poured forth through this letter from across the centuries.  Over fresh fruit and  a caffeinated beverage, I heard Wisdom’s guidance echoing through these compassionate and affirming words of our Co-foundress. “Be gentle with yourself. Trust. Listen. Don’t worry.”

***

For whatever perplexes you this day, challenges your heart or mind, I invite you to pause, and take note of the spirit of Wisdom companioning you. How do you notice her gentle encouragment showing up?  Anchored by the rhythms of prayer from our monastery to the cloister of your own heart, we invite you to be still and know that that you are companioned by God. That Wisdom, like our co-founder Jane, has elbows making their way into our contemplative hearts. We can trust that the spirit of Love, Hope, and Wisdom surrounds our deepest desires in doing God’s will.

Live+Jesus!

Q & A with a Sister: On Vow Renewal

S Mary Frances first profession

Sr. Mary Frances Reis, 1957

On Friday, November 21, the Visitation Sisters will renew their vows publicly at a mass and celebration. In preparation for this event, blogger and Companion Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde had an opportunity to ask Sister Mary Frances Reis about this process of  of vow renewal. What follow is their Q and A.

Q: Sister Mary Frances, what year did you enter the Visitation Monastery?

SMF: I entered in 1957.

Q: In a sentence or two, how would you characterize that period in the Catholic church?

SMF: This time of 1957-62 was a time of sensing that the Holy Spirit was in the air. The churches were pretty into the ‘way we’ve always done it’ and then ‘whoosh’!!!  the Holy Spirit took over and John XXIII opened the windows of the Church and let in lots of fresh air!  So I would say that I and my confreres were precursors of the Renewal…kind of on the threshold of big changes in the Church.  Things changed radically in the next few years.

Sr. Mary Frances Reis, 1962

Sr. Mary Frances Reis, 1962

Q: When did you profess final vows?

SMF: I professed my final vows in 1962.  This was preceded by a year of postulancy, and year of novitiate, and 3 years of temporary vows.  These years were a sort of “engagement time” with lots of formation in the life and discernment along the way.

Q:  Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience are the vows that Visitation Sisters profess when they commit their lives to the Order.  Can you give us simple definitions, in your own words?

SMF: Poverty-Having all things in common as in the early Church.  Simplicity of life.  Sharing what we have.  

Chastity-this is the vow to LOVE.  I have always observed this vow as a call to relationship….I have had thousands of children as an educator, and in this neighborhood.   Sexuality is a precious gift, and through the many celibate relationships that I have had with both sexes, I have learned to love well.

Obedience-Root word is listening.  Listening to the Spirit in my deepest center, in that of the community and my superiors assists me in becoming who I am and becoming that well.

Q: When Francis de Sales and Jane de Chantal first established the Visitandines, they wanted only one vow, the vow of love. How do you embrace this vow and the ultimate shift to Poverty, Chastity and Obedience?

 SMF: As I ‘mature’ in my vowed life it becomes quite simple.  LOVE covers all the vows.  The three vows simply particularize ways to LOVE.

Q: I have heard stories about the ritual of having a burial cloth placed over you when a woman professed final vows as a religious — indicating a sort of death to your old individual self and identity. Can you tell me about this?

SMF: I loved the ritual of going under the pall. This is the way it worked:  on the day of vows, various Sisters gave me their prayer intentions on little slips of paper.  I put them in my big habit pocket.  It was a profound experience of community at its deepest level with all those intentions in my pockets-a reminder that WE are in this together.  Yes, it was a ritual of ‘death’ to self, but also a commitment to community.  I’m kind of a romantic at heart, but I did love the drama of this!

Q: Can you describe any private or public ritual you participate in now?

SMF: Ritual for Vows…We renew our vows once a month in community and once a year publicly.

Q: Tell me about the significance of  November 21st  as your annual date of public vow renewal.

SMF: The 21st of November is the Feast of the Presentation of Mary in the Temple;  it is a Memorial and not a Feast in the universal Church, but Jane and Francis chose this in its littleness…We make it a Feast!

Vis Sisters Cropped Capri

The Visitation Sisters, 2014. (Sr. Mary Frances is second from left.)

Q: How have the circumstances of living your vows changed as you made your way to this year of re-commitment?

As I renew my vows this year, I am more and more aware that I am one of the BAPTIZED — as is every baptized person.  We are all living out our Baptismal promises to be “Priest, Prophet and Queen.”  I love that I share this will all women, men and children…..

Q: What do you do to prepare for vow renewal?

Preparation takes place 3 days prior…We call it a ‘little retreat.’  It is a time to reflect more deeply on our lived experience and listen to the Spirit’s promptings in this life She has chosen for us.  To me the vows in any walk of life are expressions of God’s fidelity to US!

Q: What advice or thoughts do you have for other women and men who have professed promises or vows, for renewing them? Why do this?

Anniversaries are important……Taking time to reflect on our promises and how we have chosen to make life’s journey is essential.  We have ONLY ONE LIFE!!!  Live it well!

Q: As you invite people to “come as they are to live community in north Minneapolis” and found a Resident Lay Community alongside the Visitation Sisters, what would you say about vows, or commitments,  to inspire someone in their listening and discernment?

SMF: Francis and Jane would applaud our endeavors to found a resident lay Visitation Community!!!  They are excited and so are we!

Weaving together Humility and Gentleness: An Invitation to Consider the Warp and Woof of Love

SMF warp woof

Weaving as Metaphor: S. Mary Frances shares a tapestry made by Mary Johnson at the SAORI Weaving Studio.

by Melissa Borgmann-KiemdeVisitation Companion

Through the slanted wood shades of the Girard House living room windows, morning light fell on the red, black, and white cotton and silk fibers woven together by our friend Mary Johnson.

As Visitation Minneapolis’ community leader Sr. Mary Frances Reis presented the tapestry to me, she spoke the following words:

“We are called to the practice of love, rather than austerity. Two virtues in particular form the warp through which the woof of love is woven. These are humility and gentleness.”

Quoting from the Companion to the Rule of Life of the Visitation Order, Sister traced her fingers along the color lines and weaving pattern, illustrating her metaphorical point.

According to wikipedia, woof and weft derive from the Old English word “wefan”  which means “to weave.” Warp is the lengthwise or longitudinal thread in a roll, while woof is the transverse thread. The warp and the woof ultimately form a fabric.  Figuratively, then these Salesian virtues of humility and gentleness, woven together become the fabric of love for our lives.

Can you imagine how humility and gentleness are threaded through love? Can you see the sisters in their urban monastery, “living Jesus” as consciously as possible: stitching together experiences at the door with neighbors in need or want of prayer – a meal, a bus token, warmth – all drawing on Christ’s love? Can you count the ways you practice living in such a manner — checking your ego, releasing anger or hostility in any given moment, and letting these virtuous acts knit you more closely with Love and Creator?

It’s not often that I get to meet one-on-one with Sr. Mary Frances. Convened to discuss themes emerging in our vocations and engagement work, our conversation took us to these Salesian elements that envelop the sisters’ ministry in Minneapolis, and inspire me in my own intentional, contemplative life.

Listening to “SMF” I am moved. I am reminded of how our co-founders Sts. Francis de Sales and Jane de Chantal believed we were all called to holiness. The Sisters. Our priests. Our bishops. You. Me. The neighbor. We can all live and practice these virtues that are part of the Rule of Religious life.

In my next breath, I imagine this metaphoric cloth of virtue being the cloth in front of me: all red, and black and white perfection and blemish in its unique beauty. I can jump then and fathom the ordinary gray pants and purple sweater I wear as equally made, as intentionally stitched, as that which I don with a full heart and desire to live with integrity. I imagine myself gentle, humble and eeking love as I encounter each member of creation.

And this conversation, this fabric, becomes my prayer for the day.

I invite you to hold this meditation and consider what the warp and woof of your heart is this day. May Love bless and guide us all.

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RESOURCES

For more on Salesian Virtues and Rule of Life:

Click here to learn about the Pop Up SAORI Weaving Studio at St. Jane House.

Building Bridges from Suburb to City

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From L to R: Julie Fitzgerald, the organizer, embracing Sr. Karen; Father Tim Wozniak, pastor of St. Thomas Becket parish; Sr. Mary Frances, and one of our dear neighbors

by Sr. Mary Frances Reis, VHM

Here are a few photos from our absolutely graced time with the Families of St. Thomas Becket parish family in Eagan and our North Minneapolis  families. They arrived Sunday, March 10, 2013,  with a U-Haul truck filled with 75 family Easter baskets for our families.  Some baskets were delivered by Vis Companions, our relatives  and our neighbors to homes in the community; some to Turning Point….  Some were delivered to Girard House where families from both communities shared in a prayer service that included breaking of bread, Word  and fellowship.  The From Death to Life Mothers hosted our ‘party’ at Girard.

All in all it was a wonderful experience of bridging and bonding families from near and far. The pictures were taken, first, at St.Thomas Becket Church–with students shown here loading the U-Haul…..The baskets were unloaded at the monastery by teens from the neighborhood and the St.Thomas Becket folks.  The second picture is of Julie Fitzgerald, the organizer, and Father Tim Wozniak, pastor of their parish.  This project is a 15-20 year tradition at St. Thomas Becket and for our neighbors.

LIVE + JESUS!

At St. Thomas Becket: Loading the U-Haul

At St. Thomas Becket: Loading the U-Haul

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Unloading at the Monastery

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So many helpers!

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The Easter Bunny in a U-Haul?

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More basekts!

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Abundance!

“Daughters of Prayer” — On the Anniversary of the Founding of Visitation Monastery north Minneapolis

Video by Sr. Katherine Mullin, VHM

Tuesday, October 2, 2012 marks the start of the 24th year of the Visitation Sisters in north Minneapolis. On this day, the Sisters marked the occasion with mass at the Girard Avenue monastery.

In this informal video of Sr. Mary Frances Reis, she shares part of the founding stories of both the Visitation communities in Minnesota. Sr. Mary Frances tells about the four Visitation Sisters from St. Louis, MO, who got on a steamboat in 1873 to come up the Mississippi to St. Paul to found the monastic community and school  — at the request of railroad businessman James Jay Hill. (“He wanted a good school for his daughters.”)

Sr. Mary Frances goes on to describe the second monastic founding in Minneapolis in 1989 after a ten year discernment period lead again by three sisters in St. Louis: Sr. Mary Margaret, Sr. Mary Virginia and Sr. Karen. In their prayer, these nuns heard their call to “take the Visitation to the poor.”

Family Valentine Party

Sr. Mary Frances embracing a child

Sr. Mary Frances embracing a childby Sr. Mary Frances Reis, VHM

by Sr. Mary Frances Reis, VHM

On Saturday, January 28th, our friend Vicki Bailey hosted the 17th annual Valentine Party! This year had a new twist! Since families have requested more opportunities to enjoy quality time together, we decided to make this a FAMILY FRIENDLY party. Ten of our wonderful families came together and made Valentine’s cards, played games, had treats and went home with a basket overflowing with household items as well as goodies for the children. Two neighborhood ‘helper families’ welcomed the chance to ‘give back’ by running games, etc. It was a great opportunity to bridge with friends from city and suburb…..Sr. Mary Frances’ family even got into the act!

For more photos, click on our photo gallery page.
Coming up: FAMILY SUMMER OLYMPICS!!! Stay tuned…