Women of Consecrated Life Hosted by Omaha Serrans

Recently, the Serra Club of West Omaha held the Annual Brunch for Women of Consecrated Life. Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity serving in West Point, Nebraska were present among the group grateful to serve the Catholic Church in this area of the country, and in turn to serve all the faithful of this archdiocese.

Archbishop George J. Lucas and Fr. Andrew Roza celebrated the Mass at St. Robert’s and were invited for the Brunch as well.

The keynote speaker was Sr. Celeste Wobeter, ND, who talked about how we can help fight local human and sex trafficking. There were a total of 92 attendees. We pray for vocations to consecrated life from this local Church.

 

Living Franciscan Gospel Life: Imperial, Nebraska

Franciscan Sister Monica Mary DeQuardo shares on Gospel life in a new mission in Imperial, Nebraska, Diocese of Lincoln.

Two months have passed since Sister Rochelle Kerkhof and Sister Monica Mary DeQuardo arrived in Imperial, Nebraska, and the Grant Deanery. Our friends and Sisters-in-Community have written – asking what our lives are like serving in the everyday roles assigned to us by the four Pastors of the nine Parishes – in six Counties of western Nebraska. We are approximately twenty-five miles from Colorado and a forty-five minute drive from Kansas.

Southwestern Nebraska differs greatly in appearance from eastern Nebraska – e. g. West Point, where our Sisters have served for more that 125 years – and where the primary occupation is on the agricultural growing of corn, wheat, and soy beans – along with the raising of some cattle and hogs. The terrain of western Nebraska is terraced landscapes and beautiful, small canyon-creations formed from the wind and by the more extreme weather conditions. Most of the ‘farming’ is given to ‘open-pasture ranching’ and feed-lot productions. The air, at this time of year, is crisp, dry, and clear …

Our lovely small ‘Convent Home’ – called ‘St. Clare of Assisi Convent’ – is located at 640 Wellington Street. Immediately after settling in, Sister Rochelle and Sister Monica Mary had to ‘establish themselves’ via their respective applications for Nebraska Drivers’ Licenses, bank verifications, and voting registration. We have been warmly welcomed within our town of 2,000 people and at St. Patrick Parish – located kitty-corner across from the Convent.

Franciscan Gospel Reflection: Twenty-eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Anticipating the Twenty-eighth 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 for October 14 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: St. Charles Borromeo Church, Burlington, Wisconsin

Mark 10:17-30

As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; honor your father and your mother.'” He replied and said to him, “Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” At that statement his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” The disciples were amazed at his words. So Jesus again said to them in reply, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.”

Peter began to say to him, “We have given up everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come.

Background

The gospel text from last Sunday ended with Jesus telling the disciples that only those who accept the Kingdom of God like a little child will enter it. After that, Jesus embraced the children about him. (Mark 10:15-16) The gospel text for this week follows directly after that one.

The man who approaches Jesus with his questions is described as having many possessions, and he would have been considered wealthy by people of the day. The people held two contradictory assumptions about those who were wealthy. The first is that those with wealth had gotten it by taking advantage of others. The attitude found in the scriptures that people had toward tax collectors would be an example. In contrast to this outlook is the sense that wealth could also be understood as a sign of being favored by God. Job’s status in the beginning of the book of Job would represent that basis. But we also might think of the scribes, who notice the contributions of the wealthy but are blind to the poor widows’ contributions as they enter the temple.

Mark recounts the young man running up to Jesus with his question about eternal life. Normally, public compliments, i.e. “good teacher,” are given as a setup to challenge one’s character or reputation. But this young man does not seem to be setting Jesus up for an embarrassing question with his compliment. He comes instead with a question that is important to him, and he seeks out Jesus for his wisdom. He may be wealthy, but he is also a person who is sincere in his effort to be counted among God’s faithful. His sincerity is also manifested in the fact that he takes Jesus’ response to his question seriously, and goes away sad because he has discovered that he is not as willing to do what is required as he had anticipated.

Jesus’ dialogue with the disciples indicates his awareness that his teaching is difficult for even his most faithful disciples to hear. His teaching goes against the presumption of the day that wealth is a sign of blessing. And it goes against the presumption that one earns eternal life by what one does, whether that is keeping the law and traditions, or leaving the security of home and family to become a disciple of a holy one like Jesus. The problem with wealth is that it can hinder one from living in a way that develops a real sense of trusting the goodness of God. Wealth is not the issue. The young man was seeking to take possession of eternal life in the same manner that he had inherited his wealth.

Peter’s response to Jesus’ teaching could be expected from those who had chosen to become his disciples. This kind of radical dependency is not natural, especially for men of the day. Jesus seeks to reassure them that their efforts are recognized and blessed. But he also seems to indicate that eternal life, sharing in the very life of God, is not something anyone earns or is entitled to receive. It is always God’s gift, and it must always be received as a gift.

Reflection Questions

1. What is your attitude toward wealth?
2. When I consider my experience of my interaction with people of wealth I…
3. When I think of my own possessions…
4. When I hear this man asking, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” I want to respond…
5. When you think of Jesus looking at the man with love…
6. How do you think God is looking upon you?
7. When the text stated that the man’s face fell and he went away sad, I felt…
8. Can you talk to God now about your own concerns, hopes, or fears regarding eternal life, or about anything else that arose while praying with this gospel?

Ohio Franciscan Sisters Celebrate St. Francis Month

Franciscan Sister Mary Ann Nugent continues St. Francis Month coverage from Zanesville, Ohio with special celebrations and blessings.

The Sisters located in Zanesville (Bernadette, Laura, Mary Ann, and Maureen Anne) celebrated the Eve and Feast of St. Francis with parish members, hospital administrators and the Bishop of Columbus.

On October 3rd they joined members of St. Mary’s Mattingly Settlement Parish at Mass and in a beautiful Transitus Service prepared by Father Don Franks.

 

At noon on Saint Francis Day they shared a luncheon held at Genesis Hospital with Bishop Fredrick Campell, Father Don Franks, Deacon David Lozowski and members of the Genesis administrative team.

Later in the afternoon they journeyed back to Mattingly Settlement to take part in the Bishop’s formal blessing and dedication of the new St. Francis Chapel, parish center and surrounding grounds. Windows and sacred furnishings from the former Good Samaritan Hospital were donated for use in the new Mattingly Settlement Chapel and Parish Center.

 

Franciscan Gospel Reflection: Twenty-seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time

Following our celebration of the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, 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 October 7 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: St Joseph the Worker Cathedral, La Crosse, Wisconsin

Mark 10:2-16

The Pharisees approached [Jesus] and asked, “Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?” They were testing him. He said to them in reply, “What did Moses command you?” They replied, “Moses permitted him to write a bill of divorce and dismiss her.” But Jesus told them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.
For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother (and be joined to his wife), and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.”

In the house the disciples again questioned him about this. He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

And people were bringing children to him that he might touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this he became indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.” Then he embraced them and blessed them, placing his hands on them.

Background

Last Sunday the gospel text ended with Jesus’ exhortation to get rid of those areas that lead one to sin. The gospel for this week almost directly follows last Sunday’s text. In between are the following three verses: “Everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if salt becomes insipid, with what will you restore its flavor? Keep salt in yourselves and you will have peace with one another. He set out from there and went into the district of Judea and across the Jordan. Again crowds gathered around him and, as was his custom, he again taught them.” (Mark 9:49-10:1)

Mark’s community would have recognized that Jesus is in the location that was governed by Herod, the one who had John the Baptist imprisoned and beheaded for speaking out against Herod’s marriage to his brother’s wife. They would also recognize that the Pharisees’ question regarding divorce is not a simple request to hear Jesus’ teaching on the matter, but an attempt to diminish Jesus’ status and increase their own.

The question and Jesus’ response focus on the disparity between what is permitted and the ideal that God intends. Jesus states that God’s intent from the beginning of creation is that husband and wife should be one. What God brings together as one is incapable of being divided. What Moses permitted was quite different. People of the day would have understood that it was God who was acting in nature and in their cultural practices too. Just as children did not choose their parents, they of marrying age did not choose their spouse. They understood that through parents God was responsible for bringing children into the world, and again through parents God was acting to bring two people together in marriage.

In verses 10-12 Jesus continues his reflection with his disciples, away from the crowd and the Pharisees. Here he raises the possibility for a woman to divorce her husband, at least in theory. This would have been quite shocking for his disciples, because the Jewish culture would not have considered this a possibility. Women were more like property, and had value because of their reproductive potential. If a husband divorced his wife, shame was cast on the men of her family. The male relatives were expected to make the situation right even if that meant bloodshed. If a couple was found to be in an adulterous relationship, the husband of the woman was shamed. A woman did not have enough status in this culture to be shamed. This male-dominated way of thinking could not conceive of adultery by a husband as a sin against his wife. Jesus’ teaching in verse 11 would be a totally new perspective for the Jewish community.

However, Roman law at the time did allow for a woman to divorce her husband. With this Roman perspective incorporated into Jesus’ teaching on divorce, it leaves scholars uncertain whether this adaptation originated with Jesus or was an adaptation by Mark who reflected on Jesus’ teaching. This teaching would have been difficult to accept for those who struggled to maintain the purity of their traditions. They would see any Roman influence as representative of their oppressors standing between them and their rightful position as God’s chosen people.

The text offers no insight as to why the disciples prevented the children from coming to Jesus. Instead the text says only that Jesus was upset with the disciples’ behavior. Nor does Mark tell us how it is that one should be like a child. It would be helpful to remember that in that time, children, like women, had no rights or esteem in themselves. Without an explanation or the context for Jesus’ behavior, the apparent intent is to show who Jesus saw value in. Jesus is treating those who had no status, in society or in the religious tradition of the day, as having value and importance in the eyes of God.

Reflection Questions

1. Among the couples you know, what are some of the reasons people decide to marry?
2. When I think of the people in my community who do not seem to have full status…
3. How do you see God working in the bringing together of you and your spouse? (Or, if you are not married, in the bringing together of a couple that you know well?)
4. Jesus seems to have deliberately traveled into the area where his cousin John was killed by Herod, and he is confronted by the same issue. Are there areas, either geographical or emotional, that you avoid because of past experiences? Does Jesus’ action in the gospel text speak to you?
5. When you hear Jesus distinguishing between what Moses permitted and what God intended…
6. When Jesus tells the disciples to “let the children come to me,” I feel…
7. In today’s gospel, Jesus seems to be deliberately challenging what people of the day had become accustomed to—making distinctions between men and women and adults and children. Can you take some time to talk with God about a place where God may be challenging you, where you are feeling called to challenge another, or some other thought that arose within you as you reflected on this gospel?

Celebration of the Transitus of St. Francis

On the vigil of St. Francis Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, Franciscan Friars and friends gathered at Holy Family Convent, Manitowoc, Wisconsin, to celebrate the Transitus of St. Francis, a service recalling the death of our Father Francis’ death. St. Clare of Assisi and her Poor Clare Sisters (our Novices and Postulants) recalled the events leading to those final moments.

Mother Clare: “Dear brothers and sisters, we keep Francis’ vision as we hold onto love. On this eve of our Father Francis’ death, I remember that night. Francis and I were both ill and he could not come here to San Damiano. He sent a message with one of the brothers saying, “’Go and tell Lady Clare that she and her Sisters must put aside all sorrow and sadness on account of not seeing me. They will see me after my death and that will console them.’  Dear holy ones, Francis kept his word.”

Friars of the Order of Friars Minor serving at Holy Family Convent, Holy Family Memorial in Manitowoc, and Franciscans Downtown, Stevens Point, Wisconsin, as well as those in fraternal service in a nearby friary in Manitowoc, reenacted the funeral procession from Assisi’s St. Mary of the Angels to San Damiano. Other men serving in our sponsored institution also joined the procession.

Clare’s words were also a source of strength in the closing minutes of the evening: “Go forth joyfully in peace to Him Who made you, sanctified you, Who has always loved and watched over you; go forth with Him Who will guide you.”

 

Franciscan Sisters Welcome 15 Women for Discernment

Come and see our home, our lives. Fifteen young women ages 17-31 were recently welcomed to the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Motherhouse for the weekend. All arrived by car for a Friday night social of nacho chips and taco dip. Night prayer followed in our Gothic style St. Francis Chapel at Holy Family Convent, Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Saturday and Sunday continued the adventure of reflection on the vocation to Franciscan consecrated life.

Here are words from the young women themselves about the weekend convent visit.

What touched your heart during the weekend?

  • Reflecting on the bridegroom in adoration and hearing the novices and postulants sharing stories about their life and discernment, also praying at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help Shrine
  • I saw the kindness of the sisters and how they are a family. I think that this helped put me at ease giving me no anxiety and no reason to be anxious.
  • The Sisters opening the doors of their house for visitors like us to ‘come and see’.
  • The dedication the sisters showed to their service inspired me to guide my life to live by similar values. I admire the virtues that the sisters live by.

  • I think just learning to sit and talk to Jesus again. I wasn’t really making time for him at home, or if I did, it was structured and not really talking to Him. So just talking to Him again, and actually hearing what He had to say to me.

What part of the weekend did you find the most helpful?

  • The time we spent with the novices and postulants talking about their discernments and realizing how everything works out in God’s timing. The scavenger hunt and exploring the Motherhouse also helped.
  • Adoration. I love the journal and the readings from the Bible to help with meditation and growing closer to Jesus.
  • being able to see the sisters in their everyday lives at the convent, that they live happy lives in community

  • I found the personal stories and advice that each sister gave was helpful. This added a sense of realness that people go through.
  • The most helpful was all the times for silent prayer in the morning or in the evenings. It was a good way to start our day and get back to holy hours. I have been neglecting.
  • The Holy Hours and meals with the sisters. The scavenger hunt was very fun and all the opportunities for us to see all that the Sisters do.

Called to discern Franciscan life? We invite you.

 

Franciscan Sisters Continue St. Louis Pro Life Ministry

August 28, 2018 was a special date for Sister Delores Vogt and Sister Sue Ann Hall as it was the first anniversary of Sisters Patricia Sevcik and Sue Ann’s arrival in St. Louis to take on the mission of prayer and hospitality across the street from Planned Parenthood where abortions are performed.

To help us celebrate we invited the Religious Sister of Mercy of Alma, Michigan for an Evening Praise of Thanksgiving and for dinner. These Sisters work in the Archdiocese and Sister Marysia Weber was instrumental in inviting Sister Natalie and the Council to consider this mission here in St. Louis. We shared many stories of our beginning days and their getting the house cleaned up and livable. We literally walked in on them and other volunteers who were doing the last minute touch ups.


Many times we walk over to Planned Parenthood to talk with the counselors from Coalition for Life and get a taste of what is happening that day. Some of the Escorts from Planned Parenthood are very aggressive so your prayers are greatly appreciated

Franciscan Community’s Podcast Welcomes New Postulants

Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Novice Sister Cecilia Joy produces a community podcast welcoming our new Postulants.

Postulants Yazmin and Lindsay introduce themselves after they receive the Franciscan Insignia and are welcomed into our community. As Lindsay says, “We are a family.””

Watch our other podcasts. Click here.

Franciscan Gospel Reflection: Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Relying on the power and strength of Jesus’ teaching, 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 Refection September 30 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: Immaculate Conception Convent, Yuma, AZ

Mark 9: 38-43, 45, 47-48

John said to him [Jesus], “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.” Jesus replied, “Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us. Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.

If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna, where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’ ”

Background

This gospel text follows the Gospel from last Sunday, where Jesus confronted the disciples who had been arguing about who was the most important among them. In response, Jesus told them that those who desire to be first must be servants of all.

The apostle John again raises questions about discipleship. In their culture, it was important for the disciples to have a sense of belonging and a strong connection with their leader, Jesus. For someone not of their group to be able to use the name of Jesus to expel evil spirits threatened the disciples’ sense of belonging. Adding to their uncertainty around their relationship with Jesus was the fact that earlier in this chapter they tried to expel a demon from a boy but were unable. (Mark 9:14-19) Jesus’ response to John is counter to the values of their culture. He simply lets the disciples know that their need to have an insider or exclusive relationship with him is not a value he shares. It is more important that the work of God be done, rather than who is doing it. Jesus stresses the point in verse 41 by saying God will recognize anyone who so much as gives another a cup of water. However, giving another a cup of water in Jesus’ time was more difficult than in our own time, and could have meant the difference between life and death.

The second part of this gospel also addresses the sense that the disciples have exclusive access to Jesus or God. Jesus instructs them that God cares for even the little ones–not just children, but all those who seem unimportant. While these little ones, like children of the day, may appear to be insignificant and even expendable to most people, in the eyes of God they are of great importance. They are so important that if anyone would be a source of scandal to any of them, it would be better that a millstone be placed about their neck and they be thrown into the sea to drown. This was a humiliating form of execution because it typically was used by the Romans.

In the remaining verses of this text Jesus describes other forms of restraint for those who find themselves being led into sin. Most who hear this gospel find the idea of cutting off one’s hand or plucking out an eye as extreme. But those who Jesus is addressing would not be shocked. Such punishments were not uncommon, and they carried severe consequences. People without limbs or sight did not have access to modern forms of assistance as some do today. Without fully functioning bodies, people became isolated and lived desperate lives. Jesus was trying to make a point about the seriousness of being the cause for another to sin.

Reflection Questions

1. Do you belong to clubs or organizations that charge members for their services? How would you feel if you found out that other people were receiving the same services for free?
2. Do you ever get jealous of the apparent blessings of others?
3. Do you feel like you are part of God’s inner circle? Would you like to be?
4. When you hear of John telling Jesus that they had tried to prevent an outsider from driving out demons…
5. When you hear Jesus tell his disciples that it would be better for one to have a millstone put around their neck and thrown into sea rather than cause a “little one” to sin…
6. When you reflect on the effects of your own sin on yourself and others…
7. Are you ever concerned about family members who are no longer practicing members of the church? Does this gospel text give you any new understanding about how God might look upon them?
8. Can you take some time to talk with God about your relationship to God and how that influences your relationship to “little ones,” or about some other consideration that arose as you reflected on this gospel text?