Franciscan Calendar: Blessed Giles of Lorenzana

During the month of January, Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity highlight on the Franciscan Calendar Blessed Giles of Lorenzana. Born in a faith-filled family in Italy, Blessed Giles of Lorenzana received the name of Bernardine at the time of his baptism. He eventually became a lay brother at the convent of the Friars Minor. He was happily given the name Giles after one of the first companions of St Francis of Assisi.

If you ever hear bells pealing, without a person actually pulling the ropes (and the bells are not automatic), this happened when Blessed Giles died in 1518. He was known to be a very holy friar, living in a hermitage close to the main convent. His body was later said to also be incorrupt though buried in very damp ground. Learn more.

Knowing blessed Giles modeled his life after one of the first members of the Franciscan Order, these words by the first Brother Giles when speaking of the words and deeds of St. Francis seem appropriate today as well: “Our religion is like a fisherman who casts his nets into the water catching a great number of fish. Seeing the number of fish, he puts the big ones in his baskets, leaving the small ones in the water.” We pray, through the intercession of Blessed Giles of Lorenzana, for an abundance of young women to join us in serving God’s people and living the Gospel life.

Franciscan Sisters Charism Introduction Part I Podcast

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity offer a series of brief reflections on our Community’s Franciscan charism. We hope you find learning about our life enjoyable and enlightening.

Click here to view the first youtube video.

To learn more about our life and how we serve in the Arch/Dioceses of Green Bay, Marquette, Lincoln, Columbus, Steubenville, St. Louis, Jackson MS, Tucson and Phoenix, contact us here.

Franciscan Sisters Arizona Website Launched

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity serving in Arizona have launched a simple website. We invite you to click here and check it out. Why begin this initiative? It truly is meant to be a tool to  make life ‘simple’ for someone seeking to find us and God willing, called to be one of us. It is that simple.

Our love for Arizona began in 1931 when a parish priest invited us to come and help teach children. Since then we continue to be involved in education, but other ministries as well. We are blessed to work with a diversity of people: in Catholic schools and parishes, on the Gila River and Tohono O’odham Reservations, missions and diocesan offices.

How do you know God calls you? It is a discernment question many young women are asking. We say “contact us” – for a discernment retreat, to join a vocation event, or simply for a discerning and helpful conversation.

“At the end of our lives, all that matters is how we served our God and others, faithful to our call, and how well we respond generously to the inheritance that has been given to us.” Sr. Leonette Kochan, OSF

Franciscan Gospel Reflection: Feast of the Baptism of the Lord 2019

This is the day we are grateful for our own baptism! As we anticipate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, 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 January 13 2019. Excerpts are 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: Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Somerton, AZ and St. John Neumann, Yuma, AZ

Luke 3:15-16, 21-22

Now the people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Messiah. John answered them all, saying, “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

Background

Throughout their history, the Jews looked for the coming of a Messiah who would establish the Reign of God. There were those who thought that perhaps John the Baptist was God’s anointed who had finally come. In the first line of the gospel text, Luke acknowledges that fact. Luke then quotes John’s denial of being the “anointed one.” The Baptist, without naming Jesus, then points to one who is to come, and compares his own standing to that of the true Messiah. (“I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.”) Washing the feet of another was the task of the very lowest servants. It was also a gesture of respect, that of a student for his master. John uses this image in comparing himself to the one who is truly God’s anointed. John is saying that he is not even worthy to be the student of the Messiah.

In the last two verses of the text, Luke first describes the Holy Spirit coming upon Jesus, and then the Father confirming that Jesus is indeed His son. Luke’s description of these events is different from the other Gospels, in that Luke presents these events as happening after John had finished baptizing. Luke describes Jesus as being at prayer when he experiences the appearance of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove, and the voice from heaven. These are experiences that happen to him, not things that happen by him or through him. Luke’s description also removes any sense of John’s involvement in the experience.

Luke’s recording that the Father’s voice confirmed that Jesus was his son was very significant for the people of the day. Their limited understanding of reproduction made it impossible for them to know who the actual father of any child was. Therefore, the father had to publicly state that he was the father of a child. By doing this, he was giving the child legitimacy, status in the community, and the right to an inheritance, and he was taking on the responsibility of being the child’s father. This was a critical part of the social structure of the day. Using this social institution, Luke presents God as claiming that Jesus is His Son.

Reflection Questions

1. Can you recall a time when your parents let you know that they were pleased with you? What do you remember about that day?
2. Can you recall a time when you were filled with expectation?
3. What are your expectations for God’s involvement in your life, or in the world?
4. When you think of the Jewish people waiting for generations and generations for a Messiah…
5. Imagine that you were one of the others that came that day to be baptized by John, and you witnessed in some way Jesus’ experience. What thoughts and feelings would be going through you?
6. Do you sense that God looks on you as God’s beloved son/daughter?
7. Can you talk to God now about your own sense of being beloved, your hopes and expectations for God, the ways you would like to point to the presence of God in the world, or some other feeling that might have arisen in this gospel text?

Franciscan Postulant Experiences Ohio Mission Experience

What does a Franciscan Postulant do after spending Christmas with her family? Yazmin Martinez Lopez visited the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity at St. Benedict’s Convent in Cambridge, Ohio. She arrived in time to celebrate her own festive Epiphany with the Sisters.

Yazmin was happily immersed in the work of the Community. She visited St. Benedict’s School and Christ Our Light Parish Religion Classes, as well as Countryview Nursing Home, Lore City.

The Sisters thought it important to share with her other significant places where our Sisters currently serve and served in Zanesville, Ohio.

Yazmin also had the opportunity to share her gifts and talents. She prepared delicious quesadillas for the Sisters. She was introduced to many people who the Sisters are blessed to know.

She met the Staff of St. Benedict’s School while the Cambridge Sisters hosted the Christmas Party at the Convent. On the Feast of the Epiphany she met many parishioners at the Parish Feastday Dinner prepared by Shirley’s Catering Service.

The Sisters enjoyed hosting Yazmin and wish her God’s blessings as she continues learning what it means to be a Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity.

Historical Countdown of Franciscan Sisters’ Founding

Anticipating the 150th Anniversary of the founding of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, Sister Caritas Strodthoff, Archivist, started a 352 day historical count down to lead up to the celebration on November 9, 2019. Our Epiphany gift to you is an invitation to read about our precious history. We are confident that you, too, will see evidence of God’s enduring love and care for us.
To view these daily posts click here.

Here are two samples.

17 Sisters left Gieboldehausen, Germany traveling by wagon , then by train to Munich and onto Rotterdam, Netherlands—a distance of about 750 miles. Above is the passenger list of the first 17 Sisters to leave. Mother Augustine heads the list. They arrived in Manitowoc, WI October 8, 1875.

Take time to catch up on other interesting facts on our Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity facebook page.

Franciscan Gospel Reflection: Solemnity of the Feast of the Ephiphany 2019

As we contemplate the Feast of the Epiphany, we offer in service our own personal gifts to our Lord and his people. 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 January 6 2019 You will find both the Fourth Sunday of Advent and various Christmas excerpts. Excerpts are 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:  King figures from the Archives of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity

Matthew 2:1-12

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, Magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.”

When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel.'” Then Herod called the Magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage.”

After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.

Background

The first chapter of Matthew’s gospel ends with Joseph carrying out the instructions he had received in a dream. “When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. He had no relations with her until she bore a son, and he named him Jesus.” (Matthew 1:24-25) Matthew omits from his gospel such things as the birth of Jesus in a manger, and angels announcing the birth to the shepherds. The next event that Matthew describes is the arrival of the magi in Jerusalem that opens the text for today’s gospel. Many of us who are familiar with stories of the birth of Jesus might be tempted to fill in other details that Matthew has omitted. Another approach would be to spend some time considering what Matthew wants his community to focus on by his unfolding of the story of the birth of Jesus.

Matthew’s unique presentation of the birth of Jesus includes details like Joseph accepting Mary into his home as his wife, which spared Mary of the possibility of being sent away in quiet disgrace, or even the possibility of being stoned to death. He also reports that it is Joseph who gives the child the name Jesus, the name Luke reports was given to Mary at the annunciation. “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.” (Luke 1:31) Matthew has also skipped over such events as the census, not finding room in the city and therefore seeking shelter in a manger, the angels declaring the birth, and the shepherds’ experience of the scene. Matthew does not even name Mary in telling us of the birth of Jesus. Despite not having relations with Mary, Joseph takes on the responsibility of the child as if he were his son, and gives him the name Jesus. But Matthew provides other details that will help his audience understand how God has been unfolding God’s plan in the birth of this child. Some of Matthew’s details are present in today’s gospel text.

The Magi were part of the gentile world into which Jesus was born. The Magi studied the heavens for clues to the meaning of life. They functioned as political and religious advisers to the rulers of the Median and later the Persian empires. At one point in Persian history, the Magi revolted and replaced their king, demonstrating their importance within their culture. Given that they were looking for a person of significance, it is no surprise that they would first go to Jerusalem, the center of the religious and political world of Judea.

But Jesus is an entirely different kind of king, and therefore not to be found in Jerusalem but rather in the small isolated community of Bethlehem. When the Magi arrived there and entered the house, they first saw the child with his mother, and then prostrated themselves before the infant. Matthew has described this encounter between the Magi and the child Jesus in such a way that his audience recognizes that even those without the benefit of their sacred tradition are able to recognize the hand of God at work here. Creation itself is revealing the way, so that those who are open and seek the ways of God can recognize what has taken place. Who these Magi were, their names, how many there were–the details that have been added later are not described by Matthew. The Magi are important because they help establish that the whole world was affected by what God had done, and now they can fade into history. Having discovered the child, they pay him homage, offer their gifts, and then step aside so that God can unravel God’s divine plan. The magi are much like Simeon and Anna in Luke’s gospel, who have waited faithfully most of their lives. Once the magi have seen the hand of God at work in the child Jesus, they praise God and depart by another route. “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in the sight of all the people, a light for revelations to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.” (Luke 2:29-32)

The Magi’s response to the birth of Jesus is in sharp contrast to that of King Herod, the living and reigning King of Judea. Herod knows that he has not fathered an heir. Therefore, the news that there exists a newborn heir is not welcome. Herod is also different from the Magi in that he is merely a puppet ruler for Rome, while the Magi have esteem and authority in their society. While the Magi have nothing but a star that signals the birth of a person of importance, Herod has advisors who know of the prophecies about the birth of the messiah, but they seem to be oblivious to the fact that the child has arrived. Herod’s reaction is one of distress. He is not moved to personal action. Rather, with a deceitful claim for his motive, he directs the Magi to bring him the information he needs. The Magi have taken on the difficult and dangerous task of leaving their homeland to track down the person whom the star’s appearance signifies. They have brought precious gifts that indicate his importance and they bow before him. Herod keeps his intention secret, and in secret he asks the Magi to supply him with information he will need.

The Magi and Herod represent two very different responses to the presence of Jesus. Those who have the advantage of being familiar with the religious traditions are unable to identify who Jesus is. They respond with fear, and, as we know the story, even murder of the innocent. Those without the benefit of being familiar with the religious tradition are willing take on personal risk. They recognize the significance of this infant’s birth: God’s love is powerful and pervasive–it will not be thwarted. They offer the gifts that they have, bow reverently, and take their leave.

Reflection Questions

1. Some of my most precious interactions with children include…
2. When I think of the responsibility of caring for a newborn…
3. My experience of people from other worlds and cultures is….
4. Who in your family are the first in line to hold the babies at family gatherings? Are there also members in your family who seem to feel very awkward in the presence of newborns?
5. When I reflect on the role of Joseph in the birth and life of Jesus…
6. The Magi were men who were comfortable enough with the darkness to study changes in the night sky. What are the areas of darkness in your own life today?
7. Imagine yourself arriving with the Magi in Bethlehem. What would you like to offer?
8. When has your response to situations in your life been like the magi? Has your response to a situation ever resembled the response of Herod?
9. Can you take some time to talk with God about the role of Joseph, the magi, and Herod in the birth of Jesus, or about God choosing to become present among us at this point in history, or about any other thought or feeling that arose within you from this gospel?

Just Gospel: A Closing Thought for 2018

Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Kathleen Murphy offers a reflection based on Pope Francis’ December prayer intention.

While still in this season of gift-giving and receiving, we consider a story by Alice Gray.
The cheerful girl with bouncy golden curls was almost five. Waiting with her mother at the checkout stand, she saw them: a circle of glistening white pearls in a pink foil box. “Oh please, Mommy. Can I have them? Please, Mommy, please!”
“If you really want them, you can save enough money to buy them for yourself.” Mother replied. “Your birthday’s only a week away and you might get another crisp dollar bill from Grandma.”
After counting the pennies in her bank and doing many extra chores to earn money, Grandma did give her another new dollar bill, and at last she had enough to buy the necklace.
Jenny loved her pearls. She wore them everywhere—Sunday school, kindergarten, even to bed. Jenny had a very loving daddy and every night he would come upstairs to read her a story. One night when he finished the story, he asked Jenny, “Do you love me?” Oh yes, Daddy. You know that I love you.” “Then give me your pearls.” “Oh, Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have Princess—the white horse from my collection. She’s my favorite.” “That’s okay, Honey. Daddy loves you. Good night.” And he brushed her cheek with a kiss. About a week later, after the story time, Jenny’s daddy asked again, “Do you love me?” “Daddy, you know I love you.” “Then give me your pearls.” “Oh Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have my baby doll. The brand new one I got for my birthday.” “That’s okay. Sleep well. God bless you, little one. Daddy loves you.” And as always, he brushed her cheek with a gentle kiss.
A few nights later when her daddy came in, Jenny was sitting on her bed. He noticed her chin was trembling and one silent tear rolled down her cheek. “What is it, Jenny? What’s the matter?”
Jenny just lifted her little hand up to her daddy. And when she opened it, there was her little pearl necklace. With a little quiver, she finally said, “Here, Daddy. It’s for you.”
With tears gathering in his own eyes, Jenny’s kind daddy reached out with one hand to take the dime-store necklace, and with the other hand he reached into his pocket and pulled out a blue velvet case with a stand of genuine pearls and gave them to Jenny. He had had them all the time. He was just waiting for her to give up the dime-store stuff so he could give her genuine treasure.


Pope Francis’ intention for this month is: “that people, who are involved in the service and transmission of faith may find, in their dialogue with culture, a language suited to the conditions of the present time.”
Since we are all involved in the transmission of the faith in some way, this is a challenge for us all. We have a great treasure to transmit. We have an incalculable gift to bestow. God, the Giver of all Gifts entrusts us with the privilege of giving this gift that truly is His to give. It is ours to help those we meet and touch to loosen their grip on the lesser objects that fill their thoughts and cross their thresholds. The Pope not only calls us to challenge our hearers to carve out an empty space in which to welcome the faith. He asks us to dialogue with culture in a way that is effective both to that unique way of life, but also to our own time. This implies that we will take the time and effort to learn about other cultures and the ways to touch their hearts.


This seems to be quite a daunting project! In Gaudete et Exsultate Pope Francis gives us encouragement and direction as he writes: Look at Jesus. His deep compassion reached out to others. It did not make him hesitant, timid or self-conscious, as often happens with us. Quite the opposite. His compassion made him go out actively to preach and to send others on a mission of healing and liberation. Let us acknowledge our weakness, but allow Jesus to lay hold of it and send us too on mission. We are weak, yet we hold a treasure that can enlarge us and make those who receive it better and happier. Boldness and apostolic courage are an essential part of mission.”
We surely have the “pearl of great price” to share with the world. Let us pray for the words and ways to bring this great gift to the People of God everywhere

Franciscan Sister’s Call includes Serving in Michigan Parishes

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Sister Natalie Binversie reflects on the life of Sister Colleen Sweeting. Here’s a snippet of her reflection. For the entire sharing, click here: Franciscan Sister Colleen Sweeting Reflection

Sister Colleen loved her years as an educator. In eleven years she taught every elementary grade except First Grade. Sister Colleen was a principal for 21 years. As the years went by, Sister Colleen’s love for Scripture and Theology deepened. She became more interested in adult faith formation and wanted to minister in a different capacity in a Parish setting. Sister Colleen was granted the permission to attend Loyola University in Chicago. In 1990 she earned a Master’s Degree in Pastoral Studies.

After her studies were completed, there was an opening for a Pastoral Administrator in DeTour, Michigan. Sister Colleen ministered for ten years in the small towns of DeTour and Drummond Island. In 1999 Bishop James Garland appointed Sister Colleen to St. Christopher’s Parish in Marquette, Michigan. This is where Sister Colleen ministered for 18 years. In an interview at the time of being missioned to St. Francis Convent for the 2017-2018 year, Sister Colleen told the U.P. Catholic reporter, “I most liked being with people in all of my assignments. I’ve liked being part of their lives, not just when they’re sick and dying, but the good parts, too. I’ve worked with people of all ages, ministering to their spiritual and physical needs. It has been a wonderful opportunity, especially to live in Marquette, a college town. I will miss the spirit of the people. I will also miss being close to the water. I love water.”

Sister Colleen enjoyed cross country skiing, camping, being outside in nature, reading, listening to music, cooking, watching Packer football games and visiting people to up-lift their spirits.

At the time of her Jubilee Sister Colleen wrote, “The Lord’s Spirit is very evident in my everyday life. I thank the Lord for the gift of my vocation and the many people I worked side by side with as teacher, principal and pastoral coordinator. I have been given so many wonderful opportunities and I am grateful for each one. All is gift and my life has been deeply enriched by all of them. St. Paul expresses it so well in his letter to the Corinthians: I give thanks to my God for the grace of God, bestowed on you in Christ Jesus, that in Him you were enriched in every way.

 

Christmas Podcast: Discerning a Religious Calling and Violin Part II

Two Franciscan Sisters reflect on discernment, drawing on learning the violin as an analogy to prayerful understanding. Merry Christmas! Enjoy our violin performance!

Click here to listen.

May the Lord bless you this Christmas Season! As we listen for the voice of our own vocation, may we trust that God calls us all to come and be ever near to Him.