Someone’s Calling…..Someone’s Following…

DoYouHaveTheRightSoul30x40

“Somehow, this Sister reminds me of ME.” –Sr. Suzanne (Art with permission of Anne Goetze)

by Sr. Suzanne Homeyer, VHM

As I got my first look at Anne Goetze’s signature piece for the exhibit, Pray to Love: The Annecy France Nun Series, I was immediately caught up into the quiet calm of an old town French street scape. What was it down the road that was calling? Who was the woman on the right? The habited nun carrying a red satchel walks determinedly away from the viewer. Where has she come from? Where is she being called? Thinking she might be an ‘out sister’, one who is charged with doing errands on behalf of a strictly-cloistered religious community, I assume she is on her way to shop or gather pharmacy goods or something like that. But what is already in the red bag? Where is she headed next? I think about this for a minute …

Somehow this Sister reminds me of me.  She is traveling the road alone, by herself. She walks with determination; head held high; eyes forward; solidly moving along. “Walk simply and you will walk confidently” as our foundress Jane de Chantal says. She does not seem alone.

When I entered the Visitation Monastery of Minneapolis over 20 years ago I was traveling alone. I was the first new member in our community and did not have a class of others to companion me in what was down my road.

As I follow her down the road toward ‘new town’ Annecy at the picture’s horizon,  I feel the movement of time from the Annecy of Francis deSales and Jane deChantal to the present moment. The woman with the red bag and I travel this road together….we are companions….I will never pass ahead of her….we will walk together,  if only for a time…and I will forever follow her – we are each only one in the long line of women to become Visitandines and walk the streets of Annecy.

Stepping back out of the picture, I return to this present moment where our lives are ever united as Visitation Sisters in the world.

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About this Reflection/ Instillation

Meeting up with old friends: Sr. Suzanne with Anne and Nathan

Meeting up with old friends: Sr. Suzanne with Anne and Nathan

I first saw Anne Goetze’s work in the video entitled Pray to Love in early 2015. It spoke to me about the life of Visitation Sisters, my life, the life of our community here in North Minneapolis. It speaks of the life of Visitandines through our 400 plus year history. This story needs to be shared. I wanted to share this art with people who I see; people who support our community in so many ways. I hope my family and friends can see the exhibit because it shows who we are in a way that is different from the way they may be used to seeing us or knowing us. Seeing with new eyes and a new heart, not only what is on the canvas but what is beyond it.

Knowing of the Basilica of St. Mary’s commitment to the liturgical arts I made my first contact with Kathy Dhaemers, who is the person responsible for shows at the John XXIII Gallery on the basilica’s lower level. As time passed I came to know Anne Goetze personally, meeting her in Rome and becoming traveling companions for a brief while. When Anne brought the art to Minneapolis I was welcoming her and her son as as old friends — as well as encountering the woman in the picture with the red satchel for the very first time. I could hardly wait for the uncrating to begin…the secure wrappings seemed to take forever to be undone. I wanted to see this painting first of all and as soon as possible… This was an experience not unlike opening the door for someone you know is on the other side, but have never seen in person.

I invite you to view Pray to Love: The Annecy France Nun Series at the Basilica of St. Mary’s lower level John the XXIII Gallery and Teresa of Calcutta Hall, Hennepin at North Sixteenth Street in Minneapolis. Anne will be here on May 22 at 4:30 pm to share the experience with us!

 

Praying with Art: An Invitation to Encounter Love

by Melissa Borgmann-KiemdeVisitation Companion

Inspiration by Anne Goetze

“Inspiration” by Anne Goetze

I’ve never been to Annecy, France.  But I can imagine it. Cobblestone streets. Turquoise winding river. Stone arches bridging water. That pristine lake.  The Alps. The 14th, 15th, 16th century architecture: stucco and brick exterior walls, some vine-covered in my mind’s eye.  A red door here. Tiled roof tops.  All buildings close-pressed to one another. If I squeeze my eyes closed tightly, I imagine hearing the buzz of cafe chatter; I feel the Lake Annecy breeze on my face and note the click of heels on narrow paved walks. Perhaps an echo of chapel bells rings off of the mountains. There is a calling to this city, to this landscape, that I know in my own prayerful meditation.

Artist Anne Goetze knows this calling. She has made it part of her life’s work to bring the beauty of not only this place, but of a particular community of people, to all of us.

In her mixed media art form, combining photography, ash and oil paint, Ms. Goetze brings alive this landscape of our founders, St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane de Chantal. In addition, she has captured the community of Visitation Sisters living there cloistered in our Order’s first monastery.

Praying with Art:  ‘Confering’ /’S’entretenir’ by Anne Goetze

"Confering" by Anne Goetze Annecy Nun Series (with permission)

“Confering” by Anne Goetze Annecy Nun Series (with permission)

When I look on this particular photographic art piece, ‘Confering’ /’S’entretenir,’ by Anne Goetze, I’m struck by the two central figures, clad in all black. Their back sides to me, they are shrouded by veils and near-floor-length skirts. They seem to be leaning in, and as the title suggests: conferring.  I notice my own impulse to lean in. I want to hear them.

On either side of this path, I note the grey and brown hues that frame them, flecks of blue and green pepper the wall and walkway. A stone building with high windows is ahead. The burnt orange of fall foliage appears, too, dusty, cloud-like in the background. My eyes return to the central figures.

Two Visitation Sisters conferring.

For a split second, I think about my mom, in Nebraska, standing at her sink, perhaps contemplating the fullness of the day. My mind darts back to north Minneapolis, to S. Mary Margaret McKenzie and the last time I saw her at Girard House monastery. A fleeting smile on her lips, her downward gaze as she chimed the bell announcing the start of Salesian Monday night. I see S. Mary Frances, then, in the Fremont chapel, it’s Saturday morning prayer and we share raised-eyebrow-smirks, and suppress giggles –some line catching each of us during the chanting and reflection on psalms.

Images of each of these north side Visitation Sisters rush into my mind. S. Katherine, in her swivel chair in the basement office, ever intent and sweet-spirited, as we review engagement efforts and our social media work. S. Karen, post-prayer, coming into close proximity to whisper or share her own fervent noticing of Love at work. Sister Suzanne on a shut-down Thursday, breaking bread with me at the north Minneapolis cafe that goes by this same name, and detailing a moment from her winter journey to Rome. I can see S. Mary Virginia in my mind’s eye, smiling as she comes in to kiss my cheek and offer her ever ready embrace of me, my daughter, husband, following mass at Ascension. And there’s my new friend, Brenda, walking me to the door after a visit to the community, to hug me out, and bid me a warm good bye until we meet again.

Ms. Goetze’s image depicts our religious counterparts an ocean and continent away, but the Sisters’ activity connects here, in the intimacy of my own heart and lived experience – locally. I know this encounter of conferring,  of being companioned and companioning. Despite their faceless presentations, these Sisters come to me fully imaged, featured, in my own holy encounters with northside nuns — with members of my family and local community.

As I pray with this image this day, I invite you into this kind of contemplative stance. I encourage your own close encounter, conferring with the art, taking note of what it stirs in you. How does this Visitation depiction speak to you? What does it say to your longing, to your own lived experience encountering Love?

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See this work at the Basilica of St. Mary.

Pray to Love: The Annecy France Nun Series

Photographic Paintings by Anne Goetze
Exhibit:  April 9—May 22, 2016
Reception: Sunday May 22, 4:30pm with talk at 5:30pm
For more information: Basilica of St. Mary event listing

Pray to Love: The Annecy, France Nun Exhibit Opens at the Basilica

Pray to Love: The Annecy, France/ Nun Series

Pray to Love from Anne Goetze on Vimeo.

In her video, Pray to Love: The Annecy, France/ Nun Series, Artist Anne Goetze shares with the viewers the story of her journeys to France, her love for the community of Visitation Sisters that her Aunt Helen/ Soeur Margarite Marie was a part of; and the ensuing call to create this series of photographic art depicting this holy place.

Pray to Love: The Annecy France Nun Series Opens Today

Photographic Paintings by Anne Goetze
Exhibit:  April 9—May 22, 2016
Reception: Sunday May 22, 4:30pm with talk at 5:30pm
For more information: Basilica of St. Mary event listing

The Visitation Sisters of Minneapolis is happy to partner with the Basilica of St. Mary in bringing this collection of artwork to the Twin Cities.


 

Out of the Stillness…

Jody Johnson on retreat

Jody Johnson on retreat

by Jody Johnson, Visitation Companion

“Lord, what else hast thou said to me by placing me in this holy monastery, but ‘My daughter, walk always in my presence, think of me in all thy ways, and I will direct thy steps?’ “–St. Jane de Chantal

Out of the stillness, time unfurls herself before me like a red carpet, and I am royalty, the Beloved. I walk through a garden of delights. As I practice letting go of thoughts by tuning into my sensory experience, the sounds, smells, and sights of the desert open themselves to me: the lush green of the plants and trees after rain, the smell of the creosote bushes, the trill of birdsong. I observe the constant shifting of light and shadow.

“In calm all becomes sensible and my soul is desirous of experiencing even the lightest breath of Thy grace.” –St. Francis de Sales

Jody_Meal_Blog

“When you are eating, eat.” — Buddhist saying

At silent meals, it is a pleasure to taste my food again. For months I’ve been eating hurriedly and distractedly, reading the newspaper or, worse, checking my cellphone for messages. I’ve come to anticipate the next bite before I’ve finished the one in my mouth. The Buddhists say, “When you’re eating, eat.” So I pause, enjoying the flavor, noting the texture, chewing fully before swallowing. When I do this, I know which kinds of food I need more of, which less of, and when to stop eating.

Could this be a way of living? Jesus says, “Yes!” “I have come that you may have life and have it abundantly.” The kingdom of heaven is compared to a great banquet because it is realized through the lived, embodied experience that begins with our senses. In stillness, we open to the present moment, the only place we can meet God. There is joy. And, we can trust that, if we are fully present and anchored in God in this moment, this event, this decision, then the next will take care of itself.

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To read more of Jody Johnson’s contemplative blogs from the desert, click here.

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!

On Service: Q & A with Vis Companion Heidi Akpaette

The following is the first in a series of interviews with Visitation Companions -- a lay 
community committed to the ministry of the Visitation through prayer, Salesian study and service.

The Call to Companionship

Heidi Akpaette, Vis Companion

Heidi Akpaette, Vis Companion

Q: In a few words, what inspired your call to become a Companion to the Visitation Sisters of Minneapolis? 

Heidi: I love the vision and mission of the Visitation Sisters and wanted
a tangible way to be involved.

Being a Companion offered me a way
to
invest in the community of North Minneapolis, grow in Salesian Spirituality, and be mentored
by the Visitation Sisters’ life.

Q: What is your favorite saying or teaching of St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane de Chantal?

Heidi: I am inspired by the concept of gentleness-gentleness towards self and gentleness towards others.

On Service

Q: What does the word, “service” mean to you?

Heidi: Service is giving of myself to other people, causes, and missions. It is intentionally moving beyond my own agenda into the agenda of others.

Q: What images of your service come to mind?

Heidi: Learning from the Sister’s wisdom and being in their presence. Advocating for North Minneapolis and the Visitation’s vision of presence to the neighborhood. Bringing ideas and a listening to others on the St Jane House committee. Celebrating Mass with the Sister’s. Planting sunflower seeds. Really seeing people who have their lives on the Northside.

Q: What is the setting for a recent experience of your service?

Heidi: I am at the St Jane house with two other Vis Companions and one of the sisters, we are sitting around a table. We are relaxed in the shared knowledge of the Salesian charisms and our ideas for the St Jane house and it’s mission.

Gifts, Challenges, and Salesian Aspects of Service.

Q: What gifts do you bring to your service?

Heidi: A different generation of experience, a wide variety of connections, networking abilities, and joy in meeting together.

Q: What challenges have you encountered while serving?

Heidi: Not always having the energy to bring more the table and not always having enough space in my personal life from which to give.

Q: What gifts do you receive from serving?

Heidi: Relationships with people that I would otherwise not encounter-hands down that is the best gift.

Q: Where have you found God in your experience of serving?

Heidi: In others-I encounter the living God working and breathing in other people’s lives, sometimes by their actions and sometimes by their words.

Q: What aspects of Salesian spirituality were reflected or manifested in this service experience?

Heidi: Humility in learning from others, seeing the innate dignity in other people, being present with who I am with others doing the same, enjoying a sense of humor with others, and having grace for self in judgment-and challenging myself to grow in my weakness.

Nine Mendota Visitation High Seniors Encounter North Minneapolis Neighbors!

by S. Mary Frances Reis, VHM

Vis Seniors with some of our northside friends from Emerge and From Death to Life

Vis Seniors with some of our northside friends from Emerge and From Death to Life

For the past 20+ years the Sisters have sponsored an INNER CITY IMMERSION EXPERIENCE in North Minneapolis as one of the options for Senior Project. It has been a wonderful opportunity for service in this community and to experience another part of town!

The past three years we tried something new! We organized a mission trip right here North Minneapolis! Instead of going to Guatemala or Africa a group of 8 seniors discovered missionary territory right here in the city!

“Our prayer is that this will be an experience they can carry throughout their lives.” – S. Mary Frances

This year we have 9 Visitation women who will stay at our spirituality/retreat/meeting center in the neighborhood called the St. Jane House; a young adult Vis Alum will be staying with them and also and act as chaperone.

From May 26-June 4, 2015:

  • They will have a more in depth experience of our neighborhood and the people who are our neighbors;
  • They will have many opportunities to serve the community, to interact with young children, other teens and senior citizens;
  • They will have opportunities to spread the Salesian spirit of gentle presence.
  • They will have an opportunity to build community with one another and with the Sisters.
  • It will be lots of FUN & a great contribution to North Minneapolis!

Vis Seniors 2013 Service ImmersionGenerally, each day will begin with breakfast, prayer, and off to Northside Child Development Center for the morning where they will assist the teachers of 0-5 year olds. Over the lunch hour there will be speakers from the community to help them gain insight into the root causes of poverty, and also learn about many positive initiatives in place in our community. Afternoons include gardening, monastery jobs, help with computer skills at the local technology center, and maybe even Bingo at the Adult Day Care Center!

The students will prepare and serve their meals, have time to reflect on the day, and even go out on a police ride along! Visitation’s school motto is “NOT FOR SCHOOL BUT FOR LIFE.” Our prayer is that this will be an experience they can carry throughout their lives.

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Click to hear more from past Vis Seniors on their Service Immersion Experiences.

Click to hear more from past Vis Seniors on their Service Immersion Experiences.

Visit our Video page to hear more from past Vis seniors on their Apostolic Service Immersion experiences.