Fed by God’s abundance –A Holiday Outreach letter from S. Mary Frances

In Thanksgiving!

A tradition bridging and feeding communities

Greetings and Blessings to faithful visitors to our website, Facebook, Twitter, and on and on!

We are on the threshold of that time of year when we celebrate cherished holiday traditions with family and friends— a time to hold close the relationships we treasure. Over the years we and our neighbors here in North Minneapolis have ‘grown’ a cycle of traditions that have bound us together as community.

“Gain hearts by kindness.” — St. Jane de Chantal

Many years ago, as campus minister at Visitation Grade and High School in Mendota Heights, I coordinated many holiday outreach projects and was constantly amazed by the generosity of these young people and their families.

I will never forget the wise words of Archbishop John R. Roach at our all school Mass. Standing before the vast array of food that had been collected, he said,

“Young People, this is great, but I want you to know that while this abundance represents an act of charity and love, it is also a work of justice— an opportunity to see that all will be fed with God’s abundance.

Turkey Tuesday Abundance

Turkey Tuesday Abundance

When I moved to North Minneapolis to found an urban monastery with three other Sisters from St. Louis, Mendota Visitation followed us. My ‘guestimate’ is that roughly 80 percent of Mendota Vis outreach takes place here. This sharing of abundance continues to this day, and we and our neighbors in North Minneapolis are the grateful recipients of this outpouring of love as a bridge is built between our two communities.

For the past 25 years, Visitation has partnered with our neighbors carrying out a wonderful annual tradition to deliver about 125 Thanksgiving baskets to people in need of a good holiday family meal. Students pair off with neighbors, go to the homes and share a prayer along with a basket with groceries, a turkey and a baking pan. This tradition has brought folks together who might not otherwise have met.

After the turkey and trimmings have been enjoyed, the Sisters are still here to companion and affirm our neighbors in their goodness and love.

Several other community building traditions have grown up. As the holidays progress, we hope to share photos of some the activities as they unfold.

St. Jane de Chantal has a maxim that applies here: “Gain hearts by kindness.” Many relationships have grown and deepened through the years because of simple acts of kindness on the part of Mendota Visitation and many others. After the turkey and trimmings have been enjoyed, the Sisters are still here to companion and affirm our neighbors in their goodness and love. That is the joy of living here.

I want to thank ahead of time the hundreds (thousands?) of people who have helped us develop cherished holiday traditions with our neighbors! We call it HOPE! We call it JUSTICE! We call it LOVE!

Happy Holidays!

Mary Frances Reis, VHM