“All in the Family”

by Sr. Karen Mohan, VHM

Sr. Karen and Sr. Susan Marie

“In the footsteps of St. Francis de Sales”: Sr. Karen and Sr. Susan Marie on the Old Town Annecy Bridge

Trips to special places are not complete until a photo is taken at a memorable location.

Two of the photos shown here are from a favorite “photo op” site in Annecy, France, birthplace of the Visitation Order.   Sr. Susan Marie from our Visitation Monastery in Brooklyn, my brother Michael, a faculty member at the St. Louis Visitation, and I are standing on the bridge in front of the once -used prison built in the canal in old town Annecy. St. Francis de Sales visited prisoners there, we are told. The three of us had spent this hot summer afternoon  “in the footsteps of St. Francis de Sales”, and we even took a cruise on Lake Annecy. My joy expanded as we explored our Salesian family roots together before beginning a workshop on the Treatise on the Love of God.

Michael and Sr. Susan Marie

Michael and Sr. Susan Marie

Being there with Michael, Sr. Susan Marie, three other Visitation Sisters and other “Salesians” made it feel like my own version of “All in the Family”!

We spent a week of study and prayer with lay and religious members of this “family”. Our “household” included a retired professor from Ireland, sisters from Madagascar, lay women and men belonging to the Society of St. Francis de Sales, priests and brothers from S. Africa, India, Brazil and even a bishop from the Philippines! All of us were hoping to deepen our understanding of this 400 hundred-year-old masterpiece on love. Thanks to the efforts of several American

"All in the family."

“All in the family:” our global Visitation “household”! 

Oblate of St. Francis de Sales scholars and the generosity of their superior general, Fr. Aldino, this hope was realized.

The week included prayer, input and small discussion groups, and opportunities to explore the town.

This “All in the Family” study week offered me a unique way of appreciating the Spirit alive and active through my broader Salesian family….and that was a blessing.

 

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To read other blogs by Sr. Karen Mohan, and other community members on their pilgrimage experiences, click here.

 

Visitation Has Style

Written by Elizabeth Eilers Sullivan, Visitation Alumna

Last Monday I went back to Visitation Mendota to witness another alumna, Liz Edwards Hewitt, tell the Visitation students her story of surviving breast cancer. A story which led to her deep conviction that it is imperative to advocate for your health. She wanted to catch their attention and decided a good way to do so was to cut her hair on stage for Locks of Love and Beautiful Lengths. As she planned this all-school convocation she invited others to participate. One hair cut on stage led to 33 haircuts of students, faculty, staff, and even parents contributing their hair for people who need wigs due to cancer, alopecia or other medical reasons.

I sat on the steps of the auditorium with my three younger boys and watched as my former teacher and basketball coach, Connie Colon Parsley, cut Liz’s pony tail, and listened to Liz say, “Look around you, the relationships you make here are important. They will carry you through your life. Take care of them.” As I sat in that auditorium, my coat still on, and a hat on my head because of my own alopecia my spirit swelled to be part of this community. To still be in relationship with Visitation through my own friends, through the sisters, and through the school in Mendota Heights and the Monastery in north Minneapolis.

Sr. Mary Paula, stood and shared how she is a breast cancer survivor and what it meant to be able to get a wig when she lost her hair so many years ago. As my boys and I took in the morning, I wanted to say to the students there:

Liz is right it is the relationships that carry you through the joyous and difficult moments of life. While I do not have cancer, but alopecia, I never realized how much hair, having it, losing it, giving it away can define you. But it doesn’t have to define you. You do not have to shrink away from the spot light because of an illness. Nor do you have to explain it. Your beauty comes from that deep reservoir of beauty inside of yourself, your spirit. My spirit is brighter having known the Visitation Sisters, having been steeped in the Salesian tradition, and having been sent out in the world to share the Visitation spirit and tradition with others.

My heart swelled that morning as I watched 33 women donate their hair and 33 stylists dedicate their time to cut and style them. At one point a friend of mine, who was on stage, held her cut locks in a bag and looked in my direction, and winked. Tears brimmed as I basked in her act of sweet solidarity.

I invite you into relationship with the Sisters of the Visitation, like so many of their relationships in north Minneapolis it can start by simply ringing their doorbell.

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…

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.