Post 25 Years — Thinking Ahead

The following article comes from our Winter 2014 Newsletter: Number 75
"What will our future community look like?"

“What will our future community look like?”

What will our future community look like?

We are aware that more and more lay people are deeply committed to the values and virtues of Visitation/ Salesian Spirituality but not necessarily to the vows.

For 25 years we have lived, deepened, evolved by continued reflection and discernment where we find the will of God. Our first endeavor to meet the above mentioned awareness we called The Visitation Neighbors, a group of men and women, living in community in our neighborhood and participating in our life as far as possible. That group evolved into The Visitation Companions, a broader based group of people now numbering about twenty, not necessarily residing in the neighborhood, but connected to the Monastery.

SK2 Sonny SMVThe “engagements” that were added two years ago now include: The Monastic Immersion Experience, when women can come to live the monastic life with the Sisters for up to one year; The Visitation Internship Program when women or men can volunteer for one year to live and serve in the neighborhood.

Now we envision a Visitation community of laity alongside the monastic community of vowed religious who would embrace the will of God by living Jesus in the midst of our immediate neighborhood. They would have a life of prayer; would extend hospitality, embrace diversity, become self-sufficient, practice mutuality in

"We envision a Visitation Community of laity alongside the monastic..."

leadership as they minister and serve; all done in LOVE. This group would enter into the ministry and activities the Sisters now have, join in the monastic prayer at times and share in the mission to be a prayerful presence in North Minneapolis.

The members could be single men or women, married, families with children, living in north Minneapolis, building on relationships established by the sisters the past 25 years.

So what will our community look like in the future?


By Mary Virginia Schmidt, originally from the St. Louis Visitation Monastery, is one of the founding members of the Minneapolis Monastery. 




Our Ever-Expanding Community!

Anna Dourgarian, 2012 -2013 VIP

Anna Dourgarian, 2012 -2013 VIP

From our Fall Newsletter:

Over four hundred years ago St. Francis de Sales, Bishop and Doctor of the Church and Founder with St. Jane de Chantal of the Order of the Visitation, wrote The Introduction to the Devout Life, a classic which has never been out of print over these hundreds of years!  In the quaint language of his day he wrote in the introduction:  “ …My intention (in this book)  is to instruct (in the devout life) such as live in towns and families and at court, and who by their condition are obliged to lead, as to the exterior, a common life.” It is often commented that Francis was a Vatican II man.  His strong conviction that every person is called to union with God was articulated for posterity in two basic tenets of the Council: The Universal Call to Holiness & The Age of the Laity.

Jody Johnson, VC Coordinator

Jody Johnson, VC Coordinator

As the Church celebrates the 50th anniversary of Vatican Council II, we, the Visitation Sisters of North Minneapolis, dedicate this issue of our newsletter to the hundreds of lay women, men and children who have partnered with us to root the gentle, peaceful, loving presence of the Heart of Jesus in the City.  Let us continue to “build the City of God!”  We invite you to hear from a few of our lay friends….

To read more about Engaged Lay Members:

Marsha West 2012 MIE Participant

Marsha West, 2012 MIE Participant

Introducing Anna Dourgarian,
Visitation Internship Program  (VIP) (Click to read…)

Introducing Jody Johnson,
Coordinator of Visitation Companions (VC)
(Click to read…)

Introducing Marsha West,
Monastic Immersion Experience (MIE) Participant
(Click to read…)

Snapshots from the Sisters: Title This!

On Tuesday, September 4, 2012  the Sisters commissioned their latest Visitation Intern, Anna Dourgarian, in her year of service to their northside community. Here’s one of many snapshots taken that day. We invite you to provide a caption or comment below.

Care to provide a creative caption? Record one below in the comments section!

Care to provide a creative caption? Record one below in the comments section!

Marsha’s Musings….Insights to Monastic Life

Ms. Marsha West, MIE participant

Ms. Marsha West, MIE participant

The following post by Marsha West, Monastic Immersion Participant, was excerpted from her blog, “Marsha’s Musings.” Click here to read this in its entirety and see her photo documentation of life at Visitation Monastery north Minneapolis.

Saturday morning in the neighborhood-North Minneapolis

Sr. Mary Frances calls the group to prayer before starting distributing door prizes at the conclusion of our party.

Sr. Mary Frances calls the group to prayer before starting distributing door prizes at the conclusion of our party.

August, 2012

Visitation Monastery follows a regular schedule: we gather together four times every day to pray the Divine Office. Morning prayer on weekdays is at 7. On Saturdays it’s at 8, and on Sundays 8:30. We either have a mass celebrated here at the Monastery or we go out to a neighboring parish. On Saturday mornings we generally have a Communion Service. Dinner is at 6:15. But in and around those regularly scheduled practices, all sorts of other things happen. THIS Saturday, August 25, was one such day!

So this Saturday morning, we gathered at 8, and several neighbors and friends joined us. We had a busy morning planned since the annual Back-to-School party was scheduled to begin at 1 PM.

But there was more! The Urban League sponsored a community parade which came down Girard Street where I am living. It was a great little community parade – with lots of young people from drum groups, dance companies, politicians leafleting the neighborhood as their supporters marched in their support. A couple of car clubs drove their cool cars, filled with family members and friends, past our house.


Update: News from the Northside*

by Sr. Mary Frances Reis, VHM

“As we settle into a time of transition from a full and fruitful year to a season of planning and “planting” for the coming year, we are grateful for our Visitation way which calls us to live in the PRESENT MOMENT and to treasure the graces in the relationships.  Our daily rhythm of Eucharist, Liturgy of the Hours, personal prayer and door ministry keeps us centered on Living Jesus in a profoundly incarnational way in the midst of the city!”

A Few Highlight of  “the year that has been”:

The St. Jane House, our urban spirituality center, served as the gathering place for women’s retreats, men’s spirituality & centering prayer groups, several high school and college inner city immersion experiences, discernment evenings, leadership training, From Death to Life meetings, etc., etc. (We even had a baby shower there!)

  • What does the future of the Visitation Community look like?

    What does the future of the Visitation Community look like?

    Our Visitation Internship Program (VIP) was launched this year, and two lovely young women recently completed their year of community service and in-depth experience of our charism.

  • Children and their families enjoyed a myriad of activities: field trips as diverse as the Holidazzle parade, the Children’s Theatre, Minnesota Science Museum, & The Minnesota History Theatre, parties sponsored and run by Vicki Bailey and friends of Mendota Visitation, etc., etc.
  • Mendota Visitation seniors were pioneers during their community service weeks here from May 21st thru May 31st. Instead of going to Guatemala, they came to North Minneapolis!  It was a great Mission Trip right here in the city!!!  The school motto “Not for School but for Life” was in full swing.

A few Highlights of summer 2012:

  • Our dear Sister Karen recently completed six years of selfless and Spirit-filled leadership of our community.  Sister Mary Frances succeeds her and will endeavor to follow her example of empowering the gifts of each of our Sisters and lay counterparts.
  • CYC Campers at Send Off

    CYC Campers at Send Off

    Thanks to the generosity of many benefactors & volunteers, we were able to send 75 children and 7 teen “Counselors in Training” to Catholic Youth Camp in McGreggor, MN; 4 teens to St. Louis to participate in Vistory, a program which brings Visitation students from around the country together to serve and learn about Salesian spirituality; and 2 teens to an intensive program at St. John’s University:  YTM, Youth in Theology and Ministry . . . As Father Michael O’Connell often says, “Our youth are our future.”  We are grateful for opportunities to affirm and form them in positive ways.

A Few Highlight of “things to come”:

  • We recently welcomed the first participant into our Monastic Immersion experience, a 6-month stay in our monastery.  Not unlike St. Jane de Chantal, Marsha West, who hails from Forks, Washington, has had many life vocations as wife, mother, grandmother, widow, and on and on! She brings many gifts our way and we are happy to share our life with her.  Welcome Marsha!
  • We are in the process of interviewing New VIPs for the coming year.
  • Our dear Maryann Pearson has “retired” as coordinator of the Visitation Companions, our lay community.  Thanks to her untiring dedication, we have about 15-20 members!  Jody Johnson has accepted the role of coordinator and will work with Sr. Mary Frances and Linda Goynes to keep the movement growing.

*Published in our Summer Newsletter – which you can view in its entirety here.

“Living in the Yes” — Marsha West’s Commitment to Monastic Immersion with the Visitation Sisters of north Minneapolis

Welcome MIE participant, Ms. Marsha West

Welcome MIE participant, Ms. Marsha West

by Sr. Mary Frances Reis, VHM and Marsha West, Monastic Immersion Participant

“When I came here last summer, I discovered that this is the place my heart has hungered for – a place where everyone lives every moment of every day oriented toward the presence of God, where all the activities and concerns of each day are infused with prayer.” — Marsha West, Monastic Immersion Participant

Recently, prompted by the Holy Spirit, we Sisters of the Visitation of Minneapolis, launched yet another initiative here in our little monastery: MONASTIC IMMERSION EXPERIENCE. The goal of this offering is to provide an opportunity for women desiring to deepen their spirituality in a monastic setting for a temporary period of time.  Each participant is invited to enter fully into our life of prayer, presence and ministry during her stay.

We are happy to report that we have a wonderful first participant!  MARSHA WEST is living with us for a period of six months; On Friday, August 3, 2012, we had a simple commitment ceremony in which Marsha expressed her desire and promise to share life with us for the next six months.

Rather than do any more explaining, I invited Marsha to elaborate on her hopes and desires for the coming months:

MARSHA:  I have been at Visitation Monastery here in N. Minneapolis for a month now. I visited here last summer for a week – came for a few days again last March – and now I’m here to stay for six months for what they call their “Monastic Immersion Experience” – a very apt phrase for what is happening here.

In my own blog, Marsha’s Musings, where I am keeping a chronicle of my journey, I wrote early in my stay:

When I made my other two visits here, I sat on the edge of the pool and wet my feet and watched. Maybe walked out ankle-deep in the pool. This time I’ve plunged in, gone in over my head, bobbed around, gasped for breath, floated briefly from time to time, splashed and rejoiced.

Now, a couple of weeks later, I would say that I have gotten my bearings and I am sinking more and more deeply into the life here, and I am loving it.

Marsha’s Statement of Commitment

Sr. Mary Frances embraces Marsha at her commitment ceremony

Sr. Mary Frances embraces Marsha at her commitment ceremony

The sisters asked me to write my own statement of commitment for our little ceremony last week. Here is a portion of it:

When I came here last summer, I discovered that this is the place my heart has hungered for – a place where everyone lives every moment of every day oriented toward the presence of God, where all the activities and concerns of each day are infused with prayer.

I remember asking Katherine, “What do I not know about you that makes you the way you are?” I know now what it is. It is the way you live these monastic rhythms, the way you have learned to be with each other and with the neighborhood.

That recognition awakened in me a fierce longing to live this way – I believe that longing was God’s call to me to leave what I have known and receive the gift I have so long sought.

I am deeply grateful to you for inviting me to share this way of living.

I commit to you that I will try to live out of the spirituality of Saints Francis and Jane. I will cultivate gentleness and quiet within myself. I will enter willingly and eagerly into the rhythm of your common and private prayer. I will try to be observant about what I can do to serve the needs of the community. I will try to set aside my own agendas to work wholeheartedly toward your goals. I will look for Jesus in the faces of the neighbors and friends who come to your houses. I will listen and value what you have to teach me about living this way.

. . . I will try to make each day of these next six months the fulfillment of that old longing – to live every day – all day – in conscious awareness of the Presence of God in prayer, service, and community. I can’t imagine any place where that might be more possible than right here.

I commit myself, with God’s help, to share your life in this way for the next six months.

The sisters had invited me to select a song for the service. I didn’t hesitate for a moment: I asked for “Here I am, LORD.” It says it all for me. I believe God called me here. I said Yes. And now I’m living in the Yes.

She’s here! Welcome to our new Monastic Immersion Experience Participant: Marsha West!

Welcome MIE participant, Ms. Marsha West

Welcome MIE participant, Ms. Marsha West

We want to issue a warm welcome to our first Monastic Immersion Experience (MIE) participant, Ms. Marsha West!

Marsha arrived Thursday, July 5,  2012, from her home in Forks, Washington, and plans to be with us for a six month period —  immersing herself  in our northside monastic community of prayer and presence.

More information shall follow, but join me in the warmest Visitation embrace of Marsha, will you?