ROAD TRIP TO ST. LOUIS: Sr. Suzanne Reflects on Summer Service

by Sr. Suzanne Homeyer, VHM

Painting: A Corporal Work of Mercy. Doing Little Things with Great Love.

What would summer be like without a road trip? I know what part of my summer was like with a road trip. This year I took a road trip with a Visitation Companion and 11 high school girls, another Visitation Sister and a high school counselor! It was fun, Fun, FUN!!!

VISTORY is an annual service trip for students from Visitation High Schools around the country. For about a week each year 30 – 50 students from St. Louis, Washington, DC and the Twin Cities travel to a host city for a time of getting to know each other, learning more about Salesian spirituality and serving the elderly, homeless, those on the margins and those in the streets.

I have been part of VISTORY since 2004 and I have always enjoyed traveling and working with a variety of adult chaperones. Sometimes I invite the mom of a participant to help; sometimes another sister and sometimes a former participant. This year I advertised to members of our Visitation Companion group and Nancy Timmerman stepped forward.

I was immediately excited because Nancy had organized many service trips before when she and her husband served as the deacon couple at a church in Forest Lake. They participated in a service trip to Guatemala with a group from St. Philip Church. There will always be glitches on such a trip but Nancy was a seasoned chaperone and able to go with the flow.

We were not exactly Thelma and Louise riding in a top-down convertible…two adults curled up with several sweaters in an air-conditioned coach bus complete with bathroom on board! Getting there was half the fun. It gave the opportunity to connect with the Vis contingent from Mendota Heights.

Corporal Works of Mercy as Service Theme

Sharing a meal during the Special Olympics Gametime

Every Eucharist is a rehearsal for the heavenly banquet. Students and volunteers share a meal.

The Corporal Works of Mercy was the overall theme focused on by the student/faculty planners from St. Louis Viz. Of course, feeding the hungry at soup kitchens or sorting clothing to be distributed to new admissions at a home for troubled youth or cleaning and organizing school classrooms at an inner city parish school with no maintenance budget are in line with what someone would list as the corporal works of mercy. Taking care of infants and children of working parents at a combination pre-school/day care is a modern version of caring for orphans and widows perhaps. Planting a memorial garden was certainly a way for caring for the dead and painting a mural as a way to beautify the surroundings for homeless city dwellers.

One service opportunity was definitely based on an understanding of the theology of the works of mercy…if not actually Jesus’ words. Several hours were spent by all of the students and chaperones together with a group of 18 to 30 year old Special Olympians and their parents. After a few anxious moments by all, the margins disappeared…in fact, at one point there were more outfielders than spectators. A surprise storm forced everyone inside for the game but spirits weren’t dampened. Everyone was close together and the Visitor’s team definitely had the advantage —- some of them had been playing together with the same volunteer coaches for 15 years and their team had won some Special Olympic awards in baseball!

The pictures below show the entire the VISTORY team with the St. Louis Special Olympians in the gym, an after dinner water balloon game on the soggy grass, and the pot luck meal with our new friends and their families and coaches, cooks and a myriad of other folks. Looking around the dining room I was reminded of a friend who says that every Eucharist is like a rehearsal for the heavenly banquet…and this really was a heavenly banquet here on earth!

Vistory 2017

For more pictures of VISTORY and other summer activities, visit us at our, Instagram and Flickr pages.

In Preparation for the Greatest Birthday Ever Celebrated…

Facebook Alert! Twitter Alert! Flickr Alert!

Brenda and S Mary Frances bake cinnamon buns and julekaga bread

Brenda and S Mary Frances bake cinnamon buns and julekaga bread

A blessed Gaudete Sunday! In Sunday’s Gospel, John the Baptist gives a few pointers for our immediate preparation for the greatest Birthday ever celebrated:

  • Open your closet and share;
  • Open your pantry and share;
  • Open your heart to the Great Mystery of the Incarnation and share.

Here at Visitation, our upcoming week is chock full of opportunities that will help us all prepare body, mind and spirit —

  • We kicked off the week with a baking Julekaga spree; (see the results!)
  • We anticipate the delivery of many items to fill Christmas bags for our families; (see FB photo album; Watch VIDEO).
  • We look forward to a lovely prayer service with our children and a visit from Santa and his Visitation helpers; (see FB photo album; Watch Video.)
  • We will welcome children to select and wrap Christmas gifts for Mom Dad, Granma and Grandpa. (See FB photo album)

The wonderful gift of living here is that neighbors near, & family and friends from afar come together to volunteer to bring the true spirit of Christmas to one another and to those we serve.

The Giving Tree at Shriner's Hospital

The Giving Tree at Shriner’s Hospital

So….Keep posted on our social media channels!* We hope to give you a pictorial experience of our week.

LIVE + JESUS!

We are grateful to our many contributors:

  • Visitation School, John Dols,
  • Jeannie Geisler and the kids at Holy Family High School in Victoria, St. Thomas Becket Catholic Church,
  • Sponsor a Family Minnesota,
  • Shriner’s Hospital for Children,
  • Tempworks,
  • Mel Hatman and TLC Toys,
  • Highland Catholic School,
  • and many individuals who donated gifts and gift and grocery cards

The list goes on and on!

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Social Media channels:

*Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/VisitationMonasteryMpls/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MinneMonastery

Flickr photo albums: https://www.flickr.com/photos/46292937@N02/albums

YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/VisitationMonastery/

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.

Snapshots from the Sisters: Advent Edition

Advent and Incarnation Blessings! We are so blessed at this time of the year with the prayerful presence of so many friends, families, and volunteers, as we go about our Merry-Christmas-Peace-making-Prayer, that remind us of the journey to Christ’s birth and God among us.

Advent at the Monastery. Anna and Laura Presents

Photo #2: Anna and Laura Dourgarian dropping off Christmas presents from the staff at TempWorks Software. (Two friends from countless organizations and community networks that generously donate to our community at this time of year.)

Here are a couple photos highlighting our Advent to date. We invite you to write a creative caption for any of these photos below in our comment section.

 

Advent Christmas Cookies with SS

Photo #1: Sr. Suzanne Making Christmas Cookies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Prayer and Santa Party

Photo#3: Sr. Karen leading prayer in the chapel at the Christmas prayer and Santa Party.

 

Christmas Story Vis Seniors

Photo #4: Vis School Seniors read from the Christmas story as Sr. Katherine and children look on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

***Visit our Facebook page and Flickr albums for more pics from this season.

Bridging Diversity & Abundance: Mutual Gifts Mendota Heights Visitation (1873) and North Minneapolis Visitation (1989)

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

Bridging Communities: Vis Seniors, Sisters, our VIP with some of our northside friends from “Emerge” and “From Death to Life”.

by S. Mary Frances Reis, VHM*

North Minneapolis is a culturally diverse and spiritually rich part of the metro area; it is home to the second Visitation Monastery in Minnesota founded in 1989.  The Salesian heritage of inclusivity and diversity which four Sisters brought here 25 years ago complements and affirms what is already present.  Perhaps that is why we were so warmly welcomed when we came to make this neighborhood our home.

Over the years, Mendota Visitation students and their families, faculty and staff, have made a bridge to our monastery, building relationships and performing various outreach services with our neighbors.  Not only do they bring hope to our families, especially at holiday times; they bring themselves and are eager to enter into relationship with our neighbors.  They help make our spirituality thrive here, carrying Salesian values of gentlenessnonviolencecommunity and presence.  In turn, our neighbors share inclusivity and diversity with them.

The highlight of this bridging happens in the spring each year when eight Visitation Seniors come to live here for two weeks of immersion and service.  Every agency where they serve wants them back the next year!

St. Francis de Sales often used images from creation to illustrate the concepts he was emphasizing.

Image from “Grimm’s Gardens.”

In his greatest work, the Treatise on the Love of God, he describes the diversity of the Church, that is, the People of God:

“The church is a garden with countless flowers It is necessary that they should be of various sizes, various colors, various scents and to sum up, various perfections.  All of them have their value, their charm, and their color, and in the assemblage of their differences all of them produce a beauty most pleasing and perfect.“

When we left our home monasteries in Mendota Heights and St. Louis to begin a new Visitation in north Minneapolis, we did not leave those who have for those who have not, but rather to build a Bridge between people who may not otherwise meet.    The results have been astounding!  We have all discovered that we have more in common than we have differences.  Together we form a beautiful garden enhanced by its diversity and inclusivity!  Surely that is the Spirit of the Visitation! 

 

 

 *Sister Mary Frances Reis is a founding member of the Visitation Monastery of Minneapolis.

Snapshots from the Sisters: Title this!

Photo by Sr. Katherine Mullin, vhm

Care to provide a creative caption?

Care to provide a creative caption? Share one in the comment section below!

This past weekend our neighborhood kids were taken by Visitation School students to Holidazzle! They all came back to the monastery for cocoa, cookies and Christmas carols around the fire. Some entertained, some were entertained. All had fun! –SK2

To see more photos from our Advent gatherings, visit us on Facebook.

“COURAGE!” — Inspiration from St. Francis de Sales and Claire Kranz

Claire Kranz, Vis Alumna

Claire Kranz, Vis Alumna

The following post comes from Vis Alumna and St. Louis University student Claire Kranz. We are fortunate to share it here with you:

St. Francis de Sales, Co-Founder of the Visitation Sisters

St. Francis de Sales, Co-Founder of the Visitation Sisters

“Go courageously to do whatever
you are called to do.
If you have any fears, say to your soul:
”The Lord will provide for us.”
If your weakness troubles you,
cast yourselves on God, and trust in him.
Trust in him, depend on his providence;
fear nothing.

~St. Francis de Sales

God calls us to do many things.  Eventually, he has an occupation for us.  Maybe he is calling us to have a family or allow a monastic community to become our family.  Maybe he is calling us to volunteer or pray more deeply for someone who is struggling.  Right now, God may be calling us in simpler ways.  As students, we must write papers, study for tests, and participate in all that the college life may have to offer us.  Some of these callings, no matter how small, can seem so daunting. St. Francis de Sales reminds us tonight to face these with courage. Trust that God will provide for all that we are incapable of doing ourselves.

V+J.

Peace and Prayers,
Claire

“Help One Another Find God” – Claire Kranz Reflects on words from St. Jane de Chantal

Claire Kranz, Vis Alumna

Claire Kranz, Vis Alumna

From Guest Blogger Claire Kranz, Vis Alumna, Student at St. Louis University

“We are companions on the journey, given to one another as helpers in doing God’s work.” ~St. Jane de Chantal.

During my senior year of high school at Visitation, I reflected on a Salesian quote or thought weekly and shared it with a few friends.  Now, three years later, I am bringing this practice back, and you are those with whom I have chosen to share it.  I am no where near an expert in Salesian Spirituality, but I have found that it is the strongest and truest force driving me in the way I live my life.  With this sharing, I hope that we all can take time to reflect and refocus on Sunday evenings before a busy week of classes and work begins allowing us to take a thought with us to strengthen us throughout this week.

“Salesian Spirituality… is the strongest and truest force driving me in the way I live my life.” — Claire Kranz

To the quote…

St. Jane de Chantal

St. Jane de Chantal

St. Jane de Chantal shares with us our truest and most important job here on earth, to be friends and walk with each other on our journey to find Jesus in our everyday lives.  Too often, I find myself overwhelmed with homework, activities, and just the daily grind of life.  I forget that my job is to simply to be present for other people as they do the same for me.  It is a simple and comforting idea.  If we can keep that in the forefront of our minds, our job is to help one another find God, and also remember that there are others who are doing the same for us, hopefully, we can find a little more peace and simplicity in all this chaos.

Peace and Prayers for a great week!

V+J.

Claire