Women Religious Lead Ohio Catholic School In-Service

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity serving at Christ our Light Parish responded to a need for a in-service presentation at St. Sylvester’s School, Woodsfield, Ohio. Some of our Sisters call Woodsfield home. Our Sisters once served here and we were happy to serve again.

Woodsfield, Ohio was revisited by the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity on August 15th., 2018. Sisters Jan Villemure, Carol Juckem, Helen Marie Paul and June Smith presented an in-service for the St. Sylvester Catholic School teachers. The topic was the Corporal Works of Mercy.

This presentation was the initial step for the school in their 6 year accreditation process for the Steubenville Diocese. The faculty and staff will use the background information, scripture, prayers, songs, U-tube clips, activities, electronic resources & ideas presented by the Sisters to set a plan for the next 6 years. The Cambridge Sisters were approached by Robyn Guiler, the Principal at the school, to do the in-service. Jane Rush, the former Principal at Cambridge, St. Benedict’s, said she thought the Sisters would be happy to help St. Sylvester.

The in-service day for the 14 teachers and staff was appreciated by both the St. Sylvester group and the Sisters. Sharing the passion for Catholic Education, commitment to student growth in the Faith and love for the teaching of the Church was very evident in the discussions. What a great way to spend the feast of the Assumption.

Franciscan Gospel Reflection: Twentieth Sunday of Ordinary Time

As we continue to share Eucharistic Scripture texts on this Twentieth Sunday of Ordinary Time, we share a Franciscan Gospel reflection and questions written by Fr. Paul Gallagher, OFM. They are edited by Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Anne Marie Lom and Joe Thiel. The excerpts from the Sunday readings are prepared by Joe Thiel. To read or download the complete pdf with excerpts for your prayer, please click here: Franciscan Gospel Reflection August 19 2018. Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner. Please include this information when printing.

Photo: St. Edward Church, Mackville, Wisconsin

John 6:51-58

[Jesus said to the crowds:] I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat?”

Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

Background

Four weeks ago the Gospel text told of the feeding of 5,000 (John 6:1-13). That event led directly to the start of Jesus’ instruction centering on the bread of life theme. Last week’s text ended with Jesus telling them that he himself is the living bread that comes down from heaven. This is also the first line in today’s gospel. Next week the gospel text will be the last verses of this 6th Chapter of John’s gospel. In that reading, some of the disciples tell Jesus to his face that this teaching is just too hard to accept, and they will no longer count themselves among his disciples. The attention John has taken to unfold Jesus’ bread of life teaching, and the fact that John tells us that some of the disciples departed because they could not accept this teaching, should indicate how important and difficult this teaching was for the early disciples of Jesus to understand and accept.

In the opening verse here, Jesus identifies himself as the bread from heaven. In the next verse he states that whoever eats his flesh and drinks his blood has life eternal. The fact that the Jews quarreled among themselves at this statement should not be a surprise. The word that Jesus used (translated here as “eats”) would carry a sense of gnawing, as a dog with a bone. Drinking blood was prohibited within the Jewish community and perhaps among the early Christians as well. It should not be surprising that some of the Jews who heard this questioned his teaching. In John’s gospel, a question or misunderstanding usually presents the opportunity for Jesus to further explain his teaching.

Jesus explains, “… unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.” (John 6:51) In case they missed the point, Jesus restates this point three more times (verses 53, 54, and 55). The expression “flesh and blood” would be a way to describe a human person. For those in the crowd that Jesus is addressing, the term “flesh and blood” would also call to mind the animals that were ritually slaughtered as offerings to God. Such offerings were made throughout the year, but especially as part of the Passover observance. Jesus is describing himself as the lamb that was killed and had its blood drained so that it could be used as the sacrificial offering. This same connection will be made later in John’s gospel when John places the hour of Jesus’ death at about the same time that lambs were being killed to be used as part of the Passover. (John 19:17-37)

For John’s community, Jesus is their food and drink. Because John’s gospel is the last of the four gospels to be written, the community has had the opportunity to reflect on the significance of the Jewish traditions in Jesus’ life and teaching for many decades. The experience of God feeding the Jews in the desert was a springboard to help the early Christians understand God’s new revelation in Jesus. It was not enough to believe in Jesus, or even to engage in ritual participation in the new customs of the Christian community. They were seeking to understand how God was continuing to nourish with God’s real presence on this new journey.

Reflection Questions

1. What images would you use to describe the human person?
2. How would the experience of making bread be different in the days when Jesus lived than it would be for you?
3. When they heard Jesus tell them that he was the bread of life, what layers of meaning would those people have had that would missing from most today as we hear these same words?
4. What comes to mind when you think of true food?
5. What comes to mind when you think of true drink?
6. When you hear in today’s gospel that the Jews quarreled among themselves…
7. Do you experience yourself as “being what you eat?” How would that be different for the people of Jesus’ day?
8. Can you take some time now to talk with God about whatever came to mind as you heard Jesus teaching that he is the bread of life, or that whoever eats his flesh will have eternal life?

Franciscan Calendar: Saint Roch

Our Franciscan Calendar for August highlights Saint Roch who was born an only child and whose family governed the town of Montpellier, France. A patron saint of dog lovers, bachelors, contagious diseases and those in need of healing for knees, to name a few of his often called upon areas of intercession, he was a man marked from birth with a red cross on his breast that inspired him and his devout family to grow in faith.

Why specifically is Saint Roch on the Franciscan Calendar?

At age 20, Roch’s both parents died. He was inspired to join the Third Order of St. Francis after selling all his inheritance and giving it to the poor, thus transferring ownership of the property to his uncle. This change of life indeed mirrored the Poverello. Like St. Francis who made many a pilgrimage to Rome, Roch next walked to the tombs of the Apostles.

As he arrived at Acquapendente in northern Italy about the year 1315, he found that an epidemic had broken out. Roch was quick to go to the hospital of St John and individual homes offering to help those in need. Many ill were cured at the mere Sign of the Cross which the saint made over them.

The epidemic followed him as he continued on his way. Besides visiting the holy places in Rome, Roch continued this ministry in other towns of Italy until he arrived in Piacenza. Here he became ill. Not welcome in the hospitals he once served, he found refuge in a hut outside the town. God provided food and healing through his creatures, a raven, a dog, and the dog’s owner. He recovered, returning to his home.

On arrival, his own uncle thought him a spy and did not recognize him in his current condition. Roch was imprisoned until his death. Only at this time did his family identify him and celebrate his holiness.
St. Roch, pray for us.

Blood Sisters Prepared Franciscan Sister for Religious Life

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Community Director Sister Natalie Binversie reflects on the life of Sister Joanne Plain. Just like St. Clare, she was blessed with blood sisters who supported her call to religious life. To read the entire sharing, click here: Franciscan Sister Joanne Plain Reflection .

Margaret Mary Plain was born on August 23, 1932 to Frank and Gladys (Cleary) Plain in Oconto Falls, Wisconsin. Margaret Mary was baptized at Saint Anthony Church in Oconto Falls on August 28, 1932 and confirmed there on April 18, 1945 by Bishop Bona. All of her siblings were girls. The oldest girls in the family were twins. Jean died when she was 4 months old and Joan died when she was two months old. Margaret Mary was the fourth of nine children. As she wrote in a Jubilee reflection, the name Margaret Mary was never used unless she was in trouble. Her nick name was Momie.

Momie attended St. Anthony School which was staffed by the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity. She was impressed that a group of Sisters were always on the playground during recess playing baseball and volleyball. Momie and her sisters would help carry the Sisters’ things to the Convent in their wagon. Momie found school studies challenging. Since the students were usually in double grades her sisters would report back to her parents. The Sisters and her parents supported her as best that they could. This impressed Momie deeply.

When Momie told her Mom that she wanted to be a Sister, her Mom was reluctant. In a reflection on her vocation story, she wrote:
My mom was just like so many other moms – she didn’t want to see her little girl grow up. When still in eighth grade, I told her that I wanted to go to the Convent with my classmates, she thought I was too young. If she lived in the era of the TV hit, “Who Wants to Be A Millionaire,” I would say that she used one of her lifelines. Mom contacted her Reverend Brother who worked in the Southern Missions. He gave the decision that became my “final answer.” If I didn’t like it, he said, I could always come home.

 

Franciscan Gospel Reflection: Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

For your prayer and contemplation, we share a Franciscan Gospel reflection and questions written by Fr. Paul Gallagher, OFM for the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. They are edited by Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Anne Marie Lom and Joe Thiel. The excerpts from the Sunday readings are prepared by Joe Thiel. To read or download the complete pdf with excerpts for your prayer, please click here: Franciscan Gospel Reflection August 12 2018. Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner. Please include this information when printing.

Photos:  beginning of Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, St. Mary Church Clarks Mills, Wisconsin

Franciscan Sisters were founded in Clarks Mills in 1869

 

John 6:41-51

The Jews murmured about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven,” and they said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph? Do we not know his father and mother? Then how can he say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Stop murmuring among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him on the last day. It is written in the prophets: ‘They shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

Background

The gospel text from last Sunday concluded with Jesus making the assertion that “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” (John 6:35) In the verses between last week’s text and the gospel for this week, Jesus also makes a number of other bold statements, the last of which is “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day.” (John 6:40)

The text for this week opens with the Jews murmuring against Jesus because he has made the claim that “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They seem to have taken issue with the part of Jesus’ statement that he has “come from heaven.” Some of them knew his father and mother. To them, Jesus is claiming that he is more important than they know him to be. In the United States, to come from humble beginnings and to rise to greatness is consistent with the United States being a place of opportunity for everyone. Anyone can rise from a humble beginning to be a great success in government, business, entertainment, sports, etc. The very opposite is true for the culture in which Jesus lived, where one’s family determined one’s personal worth and honor. To strive to rise above one’s birth status was looked down upon. It threatened the social fabric on which a fragile system of survival was based. The Jews’ response to Jesus’ claim was a familiar form of public debate in their time.

In the gospel text for today John connects the incident with the Exodus experience of the Jewish people by using the word “murmur.” It is the same word used in Exodus to describe the Jews complaining to God. That led to their being fed with manna. Jesus’ response to their complaint meets their challenge in a way that will either enhance his honor or that of his challengers. He too uses the word “murmur,” he reinforces the connection to Exodus, and he will draw on that Exodus experience in verse 49 to further unfold his teaching to them.

Jesus’ claims in verses 44-45 draw on the prophets who stated that it is God who must initiate the people coming to him. Therefore, if they have difficulties with Jesus, then it must be that they have a difficulty with God. They are not accepting “the one whom God has sent.” Only those whom God draws will be drawn to Jesus. Jesus has come down from heaven, and he will draw those whom God has sent to him back to God on the last day. As the text continues, Jesus makes the further claims, in verse 46, that he is the only one who has seen the Father, and finally, in verses 48-51, that he is the bread of life. Unlike the Jews in the Exodus who ate the bread that came from the sky and merely avoided starvation, anyone who eats this bread will live forever.

Those who hear this text today might assume that Jesus’ statements about being the “bread of life” are references to Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist. Those that would have heard this interchange between the Jews and Jesus would not have heard these statements in that light. They would have been familiar with other places in their tradition where the Wisdom of God is presented as food or bread. (Proverbs 9:5, Sirach15: 3) Those present could have understood Jesus’ statement, in verse 51, that the living bread God gives is “my flesh for the life of the world” would mean the human body of the person of Jesus.

Reflection Questions

1. When I hear the argument between Jesus and the crowd in today’s gospel I…
2. When I think of bread, some of the things that come to mind are…
3. Do you recall people making claims of success or experiences that you found just too much to believe? How did you respond to their claims?
4. What do you hear Jesus telling you when he says “I am the living bread come down from heaven?” How do you respond?
5. What is it that you hunger for?
6. How is God nourishing to you?
7. Can you take some time to talk with God about his desire to be the bread of life for your hungers, or for the hungers of the world?

Franciscan Sisters Assist in St. Gregory Vacation Bible School

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity participated in the St. Gregory Vacation Bible School, July 28 – Aug 3, 2018, at St. Gregory Community building, St. Nazianz, Wisconsin. It was a week of growing in community and growing in faith together.

Invited for the activities, Sister Veronica Schad, Novices Sister Colleen, Sister Clare Rose and Sister Cecilia Joy entered in the theme Shipwrecked – Rescued be Jesus.

 

23 young people and volunteer leaders traveled  to different learning stations which invited everyone to enter Jesus’ everlasting love, filling them with excitement, awe, and laughter.

The hope is that the children will know Jesus and keep Him close always.

 

Franciscan Sisters Save Monarchs

Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Caritas Strodthoff shares on how the Franciscan Sisters are saving monarch butterflies.

Recent articles fill newspapers about saving the monarch population. Here at Holy Family Convent a large aquarium comes in handy every year…in our efforts to “Save the Monarchs!!” Milkweed abounds along the lake and in the gardens. Undersurface of leaves are checked for tiny eggs and baby caterpillars once the monarch is seen flitting around the garden.

This year has been a true bumper crop for butterflies. Thus far 39 butterflies have survived the journey from egg to chrysalis to butterfly. The miracles of life are so evident watching the growing caterpillar go thru all the stages of change. Today has been the best day: Five new monarchs have flown off to repopulate the world!!

Names are given to each caterpillar along with dates: birth, chrysalis, butterfly!!

Two of 6 caterpillars can be seen munching away on the milkweed provided daily. You can do this, too. Any jar, vase, cup can hold milkweed leaves for feeding with lid on top for a place to hang when time to become a chrysalis.

Monarch butterfly at convent garden in Manitowoc Wisconsin

It’s amazing to watch this miracle of life take place…and one never tires of watching the caterpillar grow large and larger, munching and munching and, of course, “pooping, too”! Cleanup never ends. But ‘Saving the Monarchs’ is worth every bit of the work put into them. God’s beauty..so evident.

Franciscan Sisters save monarch butterflies garden photo

 

Franciscan Gospel Reflection: Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time and the first Sunday in August is here. We share a Franciscan Gospel reflection and questions written by Fr. Paul Gallagher, OFM. They are edited by Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Anne Marie Lom and Joe Thiel. The excerpts from the Sunday readings are prepared by Joe Thiel. To read or download the complete pdf with excerpts for your prayer, please click here: Franciscan Gospel Reflection August 5 2018. Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner. Please include this information when printing.

Photos: Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral, Raleigh, North Carolina

John 6:24-35

When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into boats and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus. And when they found him across the sea they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” Jesus answered them and said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.”

So they said to him, “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.”

So they said to him, “What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do? Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'” So Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” So they said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.

Background

Last Sunday’s Gospel text was the first in a series of six gospel texts taken from John’s Gospel. Last week’s text recalled Jesus feeding the multitude with the bread and fish provided by a young boy in the crowd. (John 6:1-15) At the end of that text, John states that because Jesus knew that the crowd wanted to carry him off and make him their king, he withdrew to the mountain to be alone.

In the verses between last week’s Gospel and the text for this week, John describes the disciples’ encounter with Jesus walking on water. Jesus leaves them to go to the mountain alone, and the disciples decide to go to Capernaum in their boats. They encounter rough seas. After rowing for several miles they see Jesus walking on the water and they become afraid. Jesus reassures them that it is not a ghost but he himself. They then invite him to come into their boat. Instead of getting into the boat, Jesus goes to the shore, and they arrive there as well. (John 6:16-21) The following day the crowd returns and discovers that the disciples have left and there is only one boat missing. The question is raised about how Jesus has made the crossing. The crowd decides to travel to Capernaum in boats that have arrived from Tiberias. (John 6:22-23) This is where the gospel text for this Sunday begins.

When the crowds find Jesus, they call him Rabbi. Jesus teaches them as a Rabbi, quoting from the scriptures, “He gave them bread from heaven.” (Verse 31) Then he explains each word of the text. The three themes of this text are bread, sign, and work. Jesus is aware that they have come seeking more free bread. The typical person of the day had to labor a great deal for their daily nourishment. The day before, Jesus had supplied free bread to the vast crowd, so much free bread that the crowd could not eat it all, and perhaps they even carry away all that was left – twelve baskets full.

When they encounter Jesus again, they seem to be looking for more free bread. Jesus exhorts them not to work for bread that perishes, but for bread that the Son of Man will give them, bread that will last for a lifetime. This shifts the conversation from bread to work. “What kind of work is it that is required for this kind of bread?” the crowd asks. The response from Jesus is: “believe in the One that God has sent.”

This is not the belief that is a faculty of the intellect, like the belief in one God who is three persons. Rather, it is a kind of fidelity to another as an essential part of how one lives their life. This compares to believing in your spouse or a trusted friend.

The crowd asks for a sign to know that what Jesus is saying is indeed accurate. Jesus uses their request to teach them that it was not Moses but God who gave their ancestors the bread in the desert. It is also God who gives bread that gives life to the world. They ask for this bread. Then Jesus reveals that it is he who is the bread of life. In the typical style of Jesus’ teaching in John’s gospel, Jesus has used misunderstanding to draw the crowd further into what it is Jesus is trying to teach them. There is no sense that Jesus is trying to teach them about the nature of his presence in the Eucharist here.

 

Reflection Questions

1. If you were asked to list the things that you have worked the hardest for, your list would include…
2. When Jesus exhorts in the gospel not to work for the things that perish, you would like to respond…
3. Where in the last week would you see yourself as striving to accomplish the work of God?
4. Would you lean more toward believing that the Kingdom of God is God’s gift or that God has given us the tools to create the Kingdom by living the gospel values?
5. When you reflect on how Jesus used the people’s desire for bread to a deeper understanding of their relationship to God…
6. Can you talk with God about your desire for the Bread of Life, or what that phrase means for you, or how you see God proving life for you?

Franciscan Moment: St. Francis School Greenwood, Mississippi

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity share a link of the current issue of St. Anthony Messenger featuring our Sisters and Franciscan Friars of the Assumption BVM Province serving at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Greenwood, Mississippi as our Franciscan Moment. Because of this coverage, we step away from the typical question and answer format that we use for this Franciscan Feature. Enter into the story of this precious place of God.

 

Click here to subscribe to the St. Anthony Messenger or to read the article on St. Francis of Assisi School, Greenwood, Mississippi.

Franciscan Sister Shares Nepal Chapel Progress

Last February, Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Doris Jurgenson shared about the building of a Catholic chapel in Tulachan, Nepal. St. Andrew the Apostle Parish, Sierra Vista, Arizona was collaborating with Father Silas Bogati to build the St. Andrew Chapel.

Monies pledged in the name of Father Greg Adolf, pastor of St. Andrew the Apostle Church, Sierra Vista, Arizona and Sister Doris who serves in this faith community, are making this worship place possible. Here is an updated photo of this house of God. Compare the progress with this original image.