Welcome! To the founding of our Resident Visitation Lay Community

By S. Mary Margaret McKenzie

Heidi shares in Phase II resident lay community conversations

Heidi shares in Phase II resident lay community conversations

If the following characteristics gathered during Phase II discussions of the Resident Visitation Lay Community Invitation inspire and call you, think about, pray about commitment:

  • Relational, by being residential and in the midst of the neighborhood;
  • Mutual, in living as well as in decision-making;
  • Dedicated, to Gospel living through the lens of love inspired by Salesian spirituality;
  • Stable, through the stability of a life lived by “being where you are and being there well”;
  • Prayerful, in personal prayer and solitude to “know who you are and be that well”;
  • Prayerful, in communal prayer with faith sharing for support in laying down life in the dailiness and ordinariness;
  • Diverse, by living into and learning that diversity is our most valuable resource for moving us into the oneness into which we are baptized;
  • Inclusive, in respecting all others by affirming their dignity and creating a place for their belonging in the oneness with which God gifts us.
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S. Mary Frances shares during a Phase II conversation

Possible ways the Sisters might support the common good could include providing a facilitator for communication; installing a security system; forming a 501c3; exploring medical insurance; funding community educational opportunities. Community members would be responsible for funding their own lifestyle, housing, utilities, transportation, and insurance. The lay community’s presence in the neighborhood would require ongoing study of resources and learning from the neighbors in order to facilitate connectedness in north Minneapolis. In living near to us, they would join us for prayer when possible, enjoy an occasional dinner, participate in Salesian studies and other related topics along with reviewing the Sisters’ call to affirm the place of the laity.

The call gleaned by the Sisters from the Phase I listening sessions added depth to the vision of a residential Visitation Lay Community and is very specific:

  1. To strengthen their legacy from Francis de Sales that “all are called to holiness;”
  2. To support the laity in a way of evangelization for our time;
  3. To affirm the moral authority of the laity;
  4. To be with the laity in their leavening-living of the Kingdom in the church and in the world;
  5. To be and to model conversion from separation to communion;
  6. To pass on to others their faith in the future of the church.

Phase II closed with a bonded community, all its own, creating a clear pathway to founding a residential Visitation Lay Community while holding the vision with heart and hope.

 

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This is reprinted from our Summer 2015 newsletter. To read the initial invitation and proposal, click here.

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.