Monday, November 7, 2016

Talk about reminiscing --

Our Franciscan Sisters at St. Peter's Mission in neighboring Bapchule, Arizona reminisce about our Franciscan Community's 81 years of service there. Treat yourself to a view of their production and you will see one more reason why I am so proud and happy to be a member of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity.  Thank you, Bapchule Sisters for giving us such a wonderful walk-through of the services our Sisters have given over the years! No matter where we serve, we stand on the strong shoulders of those Sisters who went before us!

See St. Peter's Mission at

And speaking of "over the years" it is twenty years since I had the privelege of working with teachers and administrators in some of the Czech Catholic Schools able to come into re-existence after the 1989 Velvet Revolution in their country. You may be sure that I often mentally revisit those experieces; I promise to share some of those memories on this blog in the near future.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Making memories - here's a chance for you or someone you know!

Camp Franciscan     Do you know anyone who is interested in knowing what it is like to be a Franciscan Sister? Or maybe just simply curious about it?  If so, here's a great opportunity to meet some Sisters, get some answers, have some fun, and make new friends and new memories!

As I write this I am remembering some of the questions my sophomore religion students used to ask. I can't help but smile as I remember.
What do Sisters do when they are not in school? 
What do you do for fun or do you ever have fun? 
Do you have good food? 
Do you have to pray a lot? led into more serious questions.
Is it true that you weave baskets in the evening? This one-time memorable question was from a very serious looking young man. The answer was "no" and I didn't laugh at the time!

Maybe someone you know has similar questions. Each summer the Franciscan Sisters offer young ladies a chance (Camp Franciscan) to spend a few days at our beautiful Motherhouse on Silver Lake outside of Manitowoc, Wisconsin. "What's the Motherhouse?" was another question sometimes.

We welcome anyone who is even the least bit curious about Sisters, or maybe even has some burning questions about our life. At Camp Franciscan you can get answers to those questions - and also get a little taste of the more serious side of a Sister's life as well.

There's a saying that a picture is worth a thousand words and you'll find pictures from some past camps on our Camp Franciscan web page and on the blog post announcing this year's camp  Do check these out and if you know anyone interested in considering Religious Life, please send them this blog post.

Camp Info: Theme - Women of Strength, Women of God
Camp begins at 1 p.m. on June 15 and ends at1 p.m. on June 17.
Leadership Training: High School Sophomores to college age are invited to help us guide the other campers June 13, 1 p.m. – June 15, 1 p.m.

Please also join us in praying for the campers and for an increase in Religious vocations!

Thank you and God Bless You!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Leaving the Historic Route

Last night with Rt 66 - at historic Tucumcari,"Gateway to New Mexico and U.S. Route 66 West,"

Entering New Mexico
No time that night to visit any of the tourist attractions promoted on its web page, just enough time and energy to get connected to the internet and plan the last full day's journey. We wanted to side track up to Santa Fe to see the stairs constructed by St. Joseph and to reach the home of cousins, Jan and Joe Gilles, in Albuquerque at a reasonable time. I was excited about that because Jan is the first of my distant cousins that I met online and the one who gave me a great boost when I first put my nose into the family genealogy. She had copies of many Gilles records and between the two of us we got them sorted out into which ones fit our family and which did not. But that's for another post.

The view ahead
Roadside view
The scenery along the way was glorious. I ventured taking pictures with my recently acquired cell phone -- no, not a smart one!  It did take good pictures! God bless the camera!

Loretto Chapel, Santa Fe, New Mexico
The first adventure on that last full day was our side trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico to see the Loretto Chapel which has the stairs believed to be built by the carpenter, St.Joseph. This miraculous spiral staircase stands in a small chapel in what was once a girl's school established in 1853 by the Sisters of Loretto. Finding our way to the chapel and a place to park was a bit of an adventure in its own right, but find it we did and have the picture below to prove it.
Sr. Catherine and Sr. Mary Karen'
at the foot of the staircase.

When we found the chapel, we also found the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis (pictures). It's history, architecture and significance are captured well in Wikipedia. No Franciscan would be able to resist taking a peek at that as well. I have no picture to prove we were there due to sunlight glare and consequent inability to see exactly what view I was getting. The "pray" part of the "point and pray" method for taking pictures in the sun did not work!

I do however have a picture of "St. Francis Preaching to the Birds" in the Cathedral garden.  The quotation on the plaque begins with  “My brother and sister birds, you should praise your Creator and always love him."  

Fitting words, I believe, for all of us to take to heart. Sr. Mary Karen and I certainly had many, many things to praise our Creator for as we left this lovely garden and headed for Albuquerque!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Adventures Continue -- parallel to Route 66

Choosing our route: No, we didn't choose our way because of Route 66; we discovered that part of it later Neither of us knew much about either way of going, but I did know that I had some distant cousins in Claremore, Oklahoma and in Albuquerque, New Mexico - (Genealogy Joys for another blog post). Since a southern route would pass (or bypass) directly those two cities, Sr. Mary Karen graciously humored me, and we chose that route. Packing the car, and not fitting everything in that we had hoped to -- an adventure best left untouched!
The remains of a good meal

The first inkling of our proximity to Rte 66 might better be called a misadventure. An Interstate Rest Stop, gasoline and McDonald's, served as a too-late reminder that we were hungry and might need gas. Since the next Rest Stop was probably about a tank of gas away, we took the first exit and found ourselves in Chandler, Oklahoma. Unlike what we find in Wisconsin, there were no gas stations or fast food places near the exit and we had to drive almost all the way through the little town before we found either fuel or food. The result was a very nice lunch and visit with the owner of a small home-grown "Donute and Coffee" shop.

The Thai owner is pictured here in front of the shop. We were a bit past the usual breakfast time and business was a little slack. So he left his grandson in charge and came into the convenient little dining area to see if our meal was ok and to bring us a receipt (hand-written, after his grandson found the receipt book for him).

He had noticed our Wisconsin license plate and was wondering where Wisconsin was  -- "maybe not too far up the road?" since we had arrived by car. It took a little while to explain the distance we had come, but his face just lit up when he caught how far away it was. Then he told us that he was from Thailand and has been in this county with his family for nine years. He is trying to make a good life for them here, and he is always trying to learn more about this country and to improve his English. One of the ways he does that, he says, is to take time to chat with his customers as often as he can. He took the above picture for us and after much talking and gesturing (on our part) he understood that we also wanted to have his picture. You can see how he beamed and how proud he is of his little business. For me, this was one of the nicest wrong turns I ever took!

Up next: Continuing along Route 66

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The adventures continue - moving into a new Convent home

A new missioning assignment finds me moving to E. San Xavier Drive in Casa Grande, Arizona from W. San Xavier Road, Tucson, Arizona. Just a little aside -- my last "small mission" (before Silver Lake College) was at Xavier High School in my home town of Appleton, Wisconsin, So a devotion to St. Francis Xavier has been a part of my life for a long time.

But back to the new adventure. Casa Grande is a new location for our Community. There are three of us setting up a new convent home, Sr. Carol Seidl, new principal of St. Anthony's School, Sr. Mary Karen Oudeans with a new position with the diocese of Tucson Education Office, and myself, retired but still working at Santa Cruz School in Tucson.

The three of us 
I'm in the modern world of telecommuting on most days, but I do enjoy the at least once a week drive to Tucson and getting my "little kid fix." I always manage to get there for the weekly school Mass and I continue my habit of eating lunch with the pre-K teachers and kids -- always great fun!

St. Anthony Parish is renting a small, but lovely, house for us. Like many houses in Arizona it comes with a small swimming pool. As Franciscans we gladly take whatever lodging we are given, be it "ever so humble" or, on occasion, be it with some nice perks. We have some lovely donated furnishings and the St. Vincent de Paul Store freely gives us anything they have in the store that we need. We won't have any trouble deciding what to do with the furnishings whenever we leave this location! Back to St. Vincent De Paul they will go.

Sr. Carol, as principal, had to start here in beginning of July. She is a "real time" blogger; so you can see some information about her new job and the school and the town on her blog: "Franciscan Sands." Sr. Mary Karen and I were able to stay in Manitowoc for a little longer. We are fortunate to have a car from the Motherhouse to drive down - and keep. I hope the Wisconsin license plate on our car
moved Arizona drivers to excuse us at the times we were poking along trying to find addresses in this new location!

I'll share some of the adventures/experiences Sr. Mary Karen and I had on our road trip on my next post: The Adventures Continue -- parallel to Route 66.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

First retirement ministry

With ACE Mentee,
Touchdown Jesus in the background
When my first retirement missioning assignment sent me to sunny Arizona, I began to think of it as an adventure. To top that off I was invited to a conference at the University of Notre Dame, my Alma Mater and a FAVORITE spot, I began to describe my volunteer status as my “Adventure in Retirement.” Several days of learning the philosophy of the ACE Academies, meeting other new ACE Academy Staff members and the Notre Dame staff were great. Several days on the Notre Dame campus with no homework assignments or exams was a nice feature too! A tour of Notre Dame Stadium, Press Box and all, was the last activity before the closing Mass. The spot with the Library with its mural dubbed "Touchdown Jesus" in the background was a favorite place for pictures. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Miles, Hours, and Years

Franciscan Sisters stationed in Arizona spent a total of 14 hours in cars today, driving roughly 822 miles to join in celebration of 303 collective years of service given by six jubilee celebrants and one finally professed Sister among them. Mimi's Cafe in Casa Grande was the scene of much happy chatter and laughter as we as we enjoyed a lovely lunch.

"We Invite You" -- to the joy a long term Religious commitment!
See additional pictures of the fun on Facebook.