Few laypeople can compare to the Visitation Sisters in joy, peace, and hospitality, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try. In fact, if we’re aiming for Heaven, Salesian spirituality is a good place to start. Who can find God without simplicity or humility?
Sadly, embracing Salesian spirituality is no easy feat. I was raised in an amazing Catholic family, received a solid foundation of Salesian spirituality at Visitation High School (Class of 2008), and studied Psychology at the University of Minnesota (’11), so you would think that I’d have gotten the hang of being kind and everything. Unfortunately, I didn’t. As I entered the corporate world, I was still struggling to reconcile God with my materialistic life. And where do you go when you can’t find God? To your local saints on earth, of course: 1527
Fremont Ave N, Minneapolis, Visitation Monastery.
There, the Sisters got me all hooked up with the perfect job: volunteer work, forty hours per week, living two blocks away from the monastery so that they can keep an eye on me. Here on the Northside, I get to tutor children, visit seniors, and facilitate office operations (phone calls at a non-profit donation organization, etc.). I also get to study Salesian spirituality from the women who know it best, and Sister Mary Virginia is even going to teach me Spanish. What do the Sisters get in return? (I clearly get the better half of the deal, but don’t tell them that!) While they manage the house and provide reliable hospitality to their neighbors, I go spread the word that their gracious household exists. I get to be the “Out Sister,” going where the Sisters cannot go and witnessing to those who would not otherwise see. In the likeness of Saint Francis’ favorite animal, the Visitation Sisters are the queen bee, loving and blessing those who come to their door, while I am the worker bee, gathering those to be loved and blessed.
Organizations on the North Side have been blessedly welcoming. Of the six where I volunteer, four were eager to turn an acquaintance with the Sisters into a fuller partnership, and the other two were excited and generous in their response “No, I don’t know the Sisters, but bring them here; I want to meet them and show them around!” Through these organizations, I get to care for the community just as the Sisters would if they had an extra forty hours each week.
Sometimes this vocation involves simply greeting people on the street. Sometimes it’s a subtle suggestion, like when children ask about the faces on my necklace and I get to introduce them to Saints Francis and Jane. Sometimes it’s a loud and clear announcement that I’m with the Monastery and you should come check us out!
In the year to come, I’ll get to hang out with the Sisters, help them, and learn from them. I’m relieved to be serving instead of earning money. I’m excited to adopt a lifestyle steeped in Salesian spirituality. I, a layperson, get to live life to the holiest.
Beth Anne Cooper
Beth Anne Cooper joins the VIP program following a year with Urban Homeworks, where she, along with six other girls, lived in an intentional urban community in the Frogtown neighborhood of St. Paul, MN. Beth Anne listened to the Spirit within her as she evaluated her next steps, and, as Beth Anne says, “The peace and joy that I found in the presence of the Visitation Sisters led me to apply to the program and has brought me here! I am so grateful.”
Beth Anne is originally from Woodlawn, a neighborhood in the Bronx, New York. She is very close to her parents and her older sister, all of whom still reside in NY. Beth attended Hope College in Holland, Michigan, where she studied pre-med, pre-physical therapy and social work.
Beth Anne is very excited to be joining the VIP program and is looking forward to a year of spiritual growth. She intends to spend time in studying Salesian spirituality and in prayer. She also looks forward to listening to where God is calling her to be. “As my Mom so wisely said, ‘If you grow just one step closer to God during this year, it will have been a success.’ So I guess that is what I am striving for, just a baby step closer to God, “ said Beth Anne.
Although she is a New York native, Beth Anne loves her new Minnesota home. Beth Anne loves all of the outdoor activities that Minnesota has to offer, especially running, hiking, camping, and rock climbing, and she has even learned to cross country ski. Beth Anne says, “I’m looking forward to sharing my love of the outdoors and sports with kids in the north Minneapolis neighborhood!”
Please join us in welcoming Beth Anne to the Visitation community!
Kelly Schumacher brings bountiful experience in social justice ministry to the VIP program. Prior to joining the VIP program, Kelly worked with AmeriCorps VISTA at Project for Pride in Living (PPL) in South Minneapolis. Her other experiences include working as a volunteer ESL teacher in Central Asia, working as a case manager within the state welfare system, serving as a children & family ministries coordinator within a parish, and volunteering in a small, rural South African community. She was drawn to the VIP program following a weekend spent with the Visitation Sisters. Kelly says, “Once you meet these wonderful women, it’s hard to imagine not wanting to spend more time with them!”
Kelly is originally from Chaska, MN. Her parents have been married for over 35 years and still live in Chaska, and Kelly has a brother and a sister-in-law who reside in Fort Collins, CO. Kelly attended Augustana College in Rock Island, IL where she obtained a degree in Political Science & Sociology, with minors in Social Welfare and Psychology.
Kelly is looking forward to living and working in the north Minneapolis community, developing more of a connection to her spirituality and what calls her to serve, while working on issues of social justice. She feels so fortunate that this program gives her the opportunity to this, “alongside the support of the Vis Sisters and the amazing community that surrounds them.” At the conclusion of the program, Kelly hopes to, “walk away with a feeling of community and relationship; and a feeling that I offered my skills, gifts, and talents to this community in an authentic and mutually beneficial way.”
After spending years living outside of Minnesota, Kelly is happy to be back here, as she says, “in the land of Lake Wobegon, hotdish, and food-on-a-stick!” Kelly recently became engaged to a Luther Seminarian student named Aaron, and is already enjoying wedding planning and preparing to be a pastor’s wife. Kelly loves to travel and has traveled extensively throughout the world. Kelly is passionate about working with immigrants and refugees, and enjoys hobbies such as reading, crafting, knitting, exploring new places in the Twin Cities, being outside, and trying to keep in touch with friends around the world. Kelly says, “I love learning about different, equally valid and equally beautiful ways to ‘do life.’”
Please join us in welcoming Kelly to the Visitation community!