Engage with Us: Summer Volunteer Opportunities

Service Immersion: Welcome to the Class of 2013 Visitation School Seniors!

Service Immersion: Welcome to the Class of 2013 Visitation School Seniors!

Come and pray with us! Come and serve!
Come and join us!

As we welcome the Visitation School students – here for their Senior Apostolic Service experience and urban plunge – and with Memorial Day rapidly approaching,  we know summer is right around the corner! The Visitation Sisters of Minneapolis would like to invite you to prayerfully consider ways that you might engage with us these warm weather summer months.


  • Join the Sisters for Prayer and/or Masses: The Sisters pray four times a day at the monastery; Centering Prayer is every Tuesday morning at 8am at St. Jane House. Call ahead if possible. Contact: Sr. Mary Frances Reis: maryfranreis@aol.com, 612.521.6113.
  • First Friday Adoration and Mass:    10:30 a.m. the first Friday of each of each month. Call ahead if possible.
  • Cursillo Men Prayer Time: 7:00 a.m. the first Tuesday of each month: Time of prayer and fellowship. Call ahead if possible.
  • Code Red: Join with the mother’s of From Death to Life and others (MAD Dads) to pray for peace and be a silent witness: Second Saturday of each month. Prayer 1⁄2 hour, stand near Broadway 1 hr. Contact: Sr. Mary Margaret.
  • Movies with Jane: Join with others at St. Jane House to watch a selected movie and then discuss. See the St. Jane House Facebook Events page  for more information or contact Brian Mogren at:
  • Books with Jane: Join with others at St. Jane House to discuss a selected book. See St. Jane House Facebook Events page for more information or contact Brian Mogren.
  • Mentor a Neighborhood Individual or Family: Establish an ongoing relationship with a neighborhood individual or family. Examples: Teach how to clean house gutters, make small repairs; Teach how to budget or make meals from scratch; tutoring, etc.    Contact: Sr. Suzanne.
  • Sisters Garden: Help plant and weed the gardens at Fremont House. Contact: Sr. Suzanne.
  • Door Ministry: Greet visitors to the monastery; Hand out tokens or cub cards; Pray with visitors; Training provided. Contact: Sr. Suzanne.
  • Library Assistant: Help with dewy decimal labels; Record new books on spreadsheet; Help shelve returned books/dvds/cds/vhs. Contact: Sr. Mary Virginia.
  • Family River Cook outs: Invite a neighborhood family to join you at a cook out down by the river. Purchase and make food; Plan some games. Contact: Sr. Suzanne.


The sisters have a whole list of events that require volunteers this summer. Please see our calendar as we update it. Here’s a sampling of upcoming activities:

  • Friday, May 24, 1pm: Women’s Retreat Set Up Contact Sr. Suzanne.
  • Saturday, June 8, Neighborhood Mothers March for Peace Contact: Sr. Mary Margaret
  • Sunday, June 9, St. Jane House 5th Anniversary Party Contact: Sr. Karen Mohan
  • June 15-21,  Camp de Sales Contact Sr. Karen Mohan
  • June 16 and 29: Provide rides for Youth in Theology and Ministry to St. John’s University
    Contact: Sr. Katherine Mullin
  • Heart to Heart Ministry: Visitation Co-founders Sts Francis de Sales and Jane de Chantal

    Heart to Heart Ministry: Visitation Co-founders Sts Francis de Sales and Jane de Chantal

    June (date to be determined) Catholic Youth Camp Send-off Contact: Sr. Mary Frances

  • June (date to be determined): Back to Summer Party! Contact: Sr. Mary Frances
  • Water Park Chaperone Contact Sr. Karen Mohan
  • August (2nd week) Neighborhood Night of Peace Contact: Sr. Mary Frances
  • August (date to be determined): Valley Fair Family Fun Day Contact: Sr. Mary Frances
  • August (date to be determined): Back to School Party! Contact: Sr. Mary Frances

“An action of small value performed with much love of God is far more excellent than one of a higher virtue, done with less love of God.” – St. Francis de Sales

Snapshots from the Sisters: Title This!

Photo by Brian Mogren, Visitation Companion

On Saturday,  November 10, 2012, the Visitation Sisters held their annual “Winter Weather Clothing Giveaway” –sponsored by the Mendota Heights Visitation Campus Ministry. Over 600 gently used coats were collected by girls from Visitation School and handed out at the Girard Avenue Monastery. (Thank you girls!) Here Lenzel, Sister Mary Frances, Vis Companion Christi, and Vis student don some funny hats. Care to provide a caption below?

Care to provide a creative caption?

Care to provide a creative caption?

To see more pictures from this day, check out the “Coat Giveaway Preparation” album at our facebook page.

Thresholds: On the Theology of Letting Go

Written by Elizabeth Eilers Sullivan, Visitation Alumna

Whew, talk about thresholds, nothing seems so cyclical as the start of the school year to give a gentle and stunning reminder of the sacred walk of liminal space. When you are no longer on one side of the bridge and are yet to reach the other end, you my friend are indeed in the glorious and troublesome in-between space of becoming. Some argue this is a constant if you are to truly live out your vocation of being authentically human and real.

NNOP2012.lChildren in north Minneapolis mark this threshold by attending the back to school party the Sisters host where supplies are given to prepare them for the doorways they are about to cross. We give children not only school supplies, but also we hope, coping supplies to handle the nervouseness, the anxiety, the anticipation, the excitement, the dread, the unknown of what will this next year at this school hold for me? Will I be loved? Will I be recognized? Will I have friends? Will I find familiar faces in my classroom? On my playground? In my neighborhood? Will my teacher like me? Can I go from getting into trouble a lot to no longer? Will people recognize the change, the growth, the maturity that the bounty of summer has graced me with as green leaves give way to fall colors? Will my reputation proceed me? Or my brother or sister’s reputation light the path for me or cause me to work extra hard to change perceptions laid? Will my mom and dad be ok without me? What will after school feel like when I have worked hard all day to hold it together for my new teacher? My new classmates? My new environment? Will my gifts of bug catching, noticing colors, recognizing faces, making friends, be honored and encouraged? Will my teacher, my principal, my school be a nice place to spend a lot of my time? Will I feel safe and loved enough to be authentically myself?

St. Francis de Sales instructs how to calm the anxious nervous energies of our little ones by role modeling inner peace for them, we invite them into the calm:

Finding Inner Peace

“Do not anticipate the events of this life with anxiety, but await them with a sure hope that as they occur, God to whom we belong will deliver you from them. God has protected you up to now, just hold on securely to the hands of Divine Providence which will help you in every circumstances, carrying you when you cannot walk. So do not think what would happen tomorrow, for the same eternal Father who takes care of you today will look out for you tomorrow and every day, either protecting you from evil or giving you invincible courage to bear it. Remain at peace then, and remove from your imagination whatever could trouble you.

Belong totally to God, think of God who will be thinking of you. God has drawn you to Himself so that you may belong to Him and God will take care of you. Do not be afraid, for as little chicks feel perfectly safe when they are under their mother’s wings, how secure should the children of God feel under His maternal protection, so be at peace, since you are one of His little children, and let your weary restless heart rest against this sacred loving breast of your Savior, who by His providence is a Father to His children and by gentle tender love is a Mother to them.

First thing in the morning, prepare your heart to be at peace and take great care throughout the day to call it back to that peace frequently, so to speak to take your heart back in your hand. If you happen to do something that you regret, you need not be astonished nor upset, but having acknowledge to your failing, humble yourself gently before God and try to regain your composure. Say to yourself, “there we have made a mistake, but let’s go on now and be more careful”. Every time you fall do the same.

When you innerly peaceful, don’t miss the opportunity to act as gently as you can and as frequently as you can, no matter how insignificant the occassion may be, for as our Lord says: “To the person who is faithflul in little things, greater one will be given”.Often says in the midst trials: This is the way to heaven, I see the port ahead and I’m sure that storms cannot prevent me from reaching it.

“My eyes are always on the Lord who frees my feet from the trap”. If you’ve been caught in the trap of life’s difficulties, well, you must not look at your own situation nor the trap that holds you, look at God, let God act and take care of you, cast your burden on the Lord who will nurse you. Why get involved in the pros and cons of things that happening in your life that is out of your control? You don’t really know what is ultimately the best. And God will manage quite well without You putting yourself to a trouble. SO with your mind at peace, await whatever happens. Let the Divine Will be enough for you, since it is always very good.

As God directed St. Catherine of Siena: “Think of me, and I will think of you”.

So as our children begin school, assure them that our bonds defy distance. That God’s love for them shown through our love ofNNOP2012.m them protects and surrounds them with light, love and the courage to learn and grow. That sharing their gifts makes them authentically who they are called to be on earth. That the thread attached to our hearts unravels outward with them as they join their wider community where they share what makes them shine with others. We can watch in amazement, gratitude, and excitement that what was once will never be again. And trust with inner peace that what they are becoming will become again even more beautiful, fiercely dear, and wildly wonderful. We walk in faith with our children’s growth of becoming. It is a walk into the holy liminal space of inner peace. Cultivate inner peace. Pray for it. Share it with our children.

“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!



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.

How does this garden grow? Putting down roots in north Minneapolis

"bloom in the garden..."

"bloom in the garden where He has planted..us..."

by Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, Visitation Companion

“Truly charity has no limit; for the love of God has been poured into our hearts by His Spirit dwelling in each one of us, calling us to a life of devotion and inviting us to bloom in the garden where He has planted and directing us to radiate the beauty and spread the fragrance of His Providence.” –St. Francis de Sales

I’ve been doing a fair amount of gardening lately. Last weekend, I rented a sod cutter and took up a 6′ x 20′ stretch of grass and clover with the intention of putting in a perennial garden. The goal of having plants return each spring, enlivens me; the labor necessary to make this happen is staggering and also invigorating. I have to really work the soil and tend to the roots I put down  if I really want things to grow — if I’m invested in the future of this garden. The garden’s sustainability, tender beauty now and in days to come,  requires not only my diligence, but the support of knowledgeable beings, ongoing attention, and faith.

“I feel like one of the Sisters’ tender shoots that has blossomed, in many ways, by virtue of their love and special care.” — Melissa, Vis Companion

This process takes me closer to my beloved Visitation Community. I think of how their presence in north Minneapolis is akin to that of a gardener’s. For the last twenty three years, the Visitation Sisters have been putting down roots, cultivating soil, tending to young seedlings, nurturing mature plants, and celebrating the harvests of their labor. They have done all this work quite literally in their back yard gardens, as well as figuratively, in their ministry of prayer and presence — living the Visitation charism. And the Sisters, not unlike their soil, many landscapes and neighbors, have been transformed by the process.

What does the future of the Visitation Community look like?

Visitation Senior Service Immersion Project, Class of 2012

They take my breath away, these gardening nuns. I ache with awe, wonder, love, joy —  such deep appreciation for how they have nurtured me, personally,  over the past decade or so. I feel like one of their tender shoots that has blossomed, in many ways, by virtue of their love and special care. I know I am one among many, hundreds, thousands, millions? of people that has felt touched by this community, inspired to return time and again, not unlike a perennial plant or being.

This gardening analogy takes me into the heart of my contemplative prayer today. As I think of soil, sun, seed, questions rise up in my soul:

  • What does the future of this monastery in north Minneapolis look like?
  • What seeds have been planted that are deeply rooted after twenty three years?
  • What perennial plants exist on a literal level, and how do they manifest in a figurative way?
  • Who are the community members, friends, lay associates, companions, discerning individuals that feel called to return and thrive in this spiritual setting?
  • What does God’s garden look like at 16th and Fremont and 17th and Girard?
  • How do other literal and spiritual gardeners join the ranks of these sisters to continue to plant and nurture life, and in turn, be nurtured, even transformed, by it?

Everywhere I turn in the Visitation Community, I feel like I can point to other “seedlings”, if you will….

  • The countless seniors from Visitation School in Mendota Heights who come each spring and spend two weeks in service…
  • The Vistory women who travel from all over the US to participate in Salesian Camp and are involved in the sisters’ urban ministry of prayer and presence…
  • The Salesian Leaders who have been cultivated by the sisters as they  nurture their visions for the northside…
  • The hundreds of children and teens who have been sent by the nuns to Catholic Youth Camp…
  • All of the windsock ministry children and their families…
  • The Visitation Intern Volunteers…
  • The former Visitation Neighbors…
  • The new Monastic Immersion women…
  • The list goes on and on…..

Will you join me in prayer this day as we hold images of a thriving garden, a peaceful, beautiful kingdom where Love may reign and the divine may be known — all in the space of north Minneapolis and beyond — extending the Visitation charism to “Live Jesus!”

Visitation Snapshots: Preparing for our Feast Day

How do you celebrate the Feast of the Visitation?

How do you celebrate the Feast of the Visitation?

by Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, Visitation Companion

“…blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”,–Luke 1:42

This Thursday we celebrate the Feast of the Visitation, the story that is our order’s namesake, that anchors our charism and presence in communities all over the world — especially in north Minneapolis. This feast remembering Mary’s visit to her older cousin Elizabeth, who is six months pregnant, holds the beautiful tenants of our communities’ faith: for as members of the Visitation, we all work to tune into one another as vibrant, life-bearing, divinely-inspired creatures; we look for the Elizabeth in all who come to our door; we seek to be Mary, emulating her in relationship with each other — we look to receive the gifts of Our Lady and her cousin in how we are counseled, mentored, visited by all who knock and enter.

"Windsock Visitation" by Brother Mickey O'Neill McGrath, OSFS

"Windsock Visitation" by Brother Mickey O'Neill McGrath, OSFS

“…as members of the Visitation, we all work to tune into one another as vibrant, life-bearing, divinely-inspired creatures…”

In preparation for this feast, I offer a few snapshots of our Thursday Feast Day calendar that speak to me of the Visitation narrative:

–Thursday marks the Visitation Senior Students’ last day of service on the northside; we will have a ceremony honoring and acknowledging the way these young women have been among us for two weeks. Can you imagine the faces of Mary and Elizabeth as we convene at St. Jane House and reflect on our time together?

–Thursday evening we bury our longtime friend and prayer companion, Deacon Dale Timmerman, who passed away on the eve of Pentecost. Will you join us in celebrating Dale’s northside presence to us, along with his wife Nancy’s, as a Visitation one?

As we literally mark this feast day in our community, squeezing in a ritual of sorts in our afternoon prayer, we are joined by our newest community member, who comes to us from another religious Order altogether and creates for us another opportunity to be the Visitation. Sr. Mary Mao, our housemate and dear Maryknoll sister from China, who lives with our community while she completes her graduate coursework, allows us to breathe and receive Mary/ Elizabeth energy as women religious all over the world do. May we continue to grow in our relationship and be nurturing of life-giving love and witness to our Lord!

How do you see Mary and Elizabeth alive in your world, work, home? Join us in prayer, as we pause to thank God for all the ways that divine “Visitations” are a part of our daily lives.

Pentecost Prayers

Visitation Seniors and Sisters at St. Jane House for Service Learning 2012

Visitation Seniors and Sisters at St. Jane House for Service Learning 2012

by Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, Visitation Companion

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
and began to speak in diffe
rent tongues,
as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim. Acts 2:4

As we approach Pentecost Sunday and celebrate the birthday of our Church, let’s keep in prayer the gifts of the Spirit that each of us possesses. Whether that be to speak, literally, many languages and proclaim the Gospel in different tongues; or to serve in small, kind and humble ways, those in our immediate vicinity; or to lead largely in a post within or beyond the walls of church, carrying Christ’s example in our hearts, let’s be mindful of how Love and Spirit are at work.

On this Sunday, I will invite you each to pray especially, too, for those called into community with the Visitation Sisters as a way to live out the Divine’s Calling and the Spirit’s nudge in our lives. We are still seeking young women and men for the Visitation Internship Volunteer Program for this next year; we are grateful for your prayers this Pentecost Sunday!

holy_spirit_closeupThere are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone.
To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit. To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom; to another the expression of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit; to another mighty deeds; to another prophecy; to another discernment of spirits; to another varieties of tongues; to another interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit produces all of these, distributing them individually to each person as he wishes. –1 Cor 12: 4-11

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.