Written by Sister Jan Kilian, this blog will give an understanding of what it’s like to be Franciscan. Living out the spirit of Saint Francis, we see all God’s creation as brother and sister. We, Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, are committed to building relationships and community, ministering wherever there is greatest need, promoting justice and healing Mother Earth’s wounds. My writings will give a glimpse of the compassion, spirituality, interconnectedness and goodness of living Franciscan.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Reflections on CHANGE: An invitation

By Sister Michelle L'Allier

These days around inauguration I’ve been reflecting on change in our nation, in community, in organizations. I felt inspired to write on the change.gov website to the Obama-Biden transition team earlier this month, moved by a book I’ve been deeply touched by. It was energizing and hopeful to write what’s been stirring in my heart. Here it is, slightly edited for posting here.

As a Franciscan Sister, I am inspired by St. Francis of Assisi who lived in a tumultuous time of history (in some ways not so different from our own!) some 800 years ago. His life witnessed to being an instrument of peace, to living in communion with all of creation, to befriending the poor, to seeing all as sister and brother. These values of living in right relationship are a significant contribution to a culture here in the States and in many parts of the world that is often violent, lacking in dignity and respect for persons and for the gift of creation.

My prayers are with you and with all of us who will work together for creative and positive change at a complex time of history. I have felt moved to write as I have been reading a book that offers significant wisdom to us in these times. It is called: “Presence: An Exploration of Profound Change in People. Organizations, and Society” by Peter M. Senge, C. Otto Scharmer, Joseph Jaworski, and Betty Sue Flowers. Here is an excerpt regarding the book from the homepage of their website (
http://www.presence.net/) :

“In wide-ranging conversations held over a year and a half, organizational learning pioneers Peter Senge, C. Otto Scharmer, Joseph Jaworski, and Betty Sue Flowers explored the nature of transformational change—how it arises, and the fresh possibilities it offers a world dangerously out of balance. The book
introduces the idea of “presence”—a concept borrowed from the natural world that the whole is entirely present in any of its parts—to the worlds of business, education, government, and leadership. Too often, the authors found, we remain stuck in old patterns of seeing and acting. By encouraging deeper levels of learning, we create an awareness of the larger whole, leading to actions that can help to shape its evolution and our future.”
Another great author and facilitator of change we can learn from is: Margaret J. Wheatley. One of her more recent books is: “Finding Our Way: Leadership For an Uncertain Time.” A excerpt from her homepage (
http://www.margaretwheatley.com) states:

“I’ve learned, just as Joel Barker predicted when he introduced us to paradigms years ago, that “problems that are impossible to solve with one paradigm may be easily solved with a different one.” I’ve been applying the lens of living systems theory to organizations and communities. With wonderful colleagues, I’ve been exploring the question: “How might we organize differently if we understood how Life organizes?” It’s been an exploration that has helped me look into old patterns and problems and develop new and hopeful insights and practices. It has also increased my sense of wonder for life, and for the great capacity of the human spirit.”
Practically, I would suggest that in the teams, councils, committees and think tanks that are being created to support change at this time, persons such as these authors and consultants be included. They bring strong global experience in facilitating change for the common good, in listening to the future as it wishes to emerge. In Christian terms we might say they have strong experience in collective discernment and in integrating various disciplines and perspectives—important qualities at this critical juncture.

From another vantage point, another prayer-full resource are the many Catholic religious communities (Franciscans, Benedictines, etc.) who have hundreds of years of collective experience in living for the common good, in celebrating unity in diversity, and in discerning collectively our way through change. Joined with other faith communities and traditions, we are a powerful resource for positive change. May God bless you with wisdom, courage and creativity today and every day. Thank you for listening!

May each of us listen deeply for the change that is moving in our hearts. May we be graced with the courage to share it with others; together, then, let us act in service to make this a better world.

Peace and all Good!

Monday, January 26, 2009


by Sister Carolyn Law, OSF

Recently I viewed the full-length documentary movie “For The Bible Tells Me So”. I had seen it once before, but the second time it was even more powerful and moving. I’d highly recommend it.

Here is a synopsis taken from the movie’s web site:
“Can the love between two people ever be an abomination? Is the chasm separating gays and lesbians and Christianity too wide to cross? Is the Bible an excuse to hate?

Through the experiences of five very normal, very Christian, very American families -- including those of former House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt and Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson -- we discover how insightful people of faith handle the realization of having a gay child. Informed by such respected voices as Bishop Desmond Tutu, Harvard's Peter Gomes, Orthodox Rabbi Steve Greenberg and Reverend Jimmy Creech, FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO offers healing, clarity and understanding
to anyone caught in the crosshairs of scripture and sexual identity.”

This movie is very well done, is educational, and at times funny.

Another resource on this subject is the book “Faith Beyond Resentment” by James Allison, an openly gay theologian. In his book he lays out a basis of overcoming resentment toward authority figures and institutions that seem to be in the way of progress. In doing so, he seems very Franciscan. For example, he challenges us to see everyone as our brother and sister. He cites the Gospel verse “Call no one father” to mean that even our biological fathers and mothers are brothers and sisters. In being equal to them, and to other authority figures, we need not be afraid or threatened. We are all children of God.

While the institutional Catholic Church hasn’t done so well responding to issues of orientation and incorporating new understandings about sexuality, I am mindful that Gospel calls us to be loving, open and ever more inclusive of all peoples. We are all God’s children. Francis who embraced the lepers as brothers and sister, who loved the tiniest and oddest of creatures (worms), and who traveled to lovingly preach to the Sultan, prime leader of the Moslem people, is a great example for us to follow.

Sexual orientation can be a controversial subject. What are your thoughts?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Feeding the Human Spirit

by Sister Jan Kilian

I enjoy food most when I am hungry. (That’s why I sometimes sneak my dessert before the rest of my meal – dessert just isn’t quite so marvelous on a full stomach - wouldn’t you agree?)

This past month has been full of lessons for me and my community here at Clare’s Well. For a few days it seemed if anything could go wrong, it would: the pipe between the septic tank and our house broke due to roots in it from the large shade tree over our deck , causing a flood in our laundry room; a deputy stopped Carol for driving our truck with outdated tags; the electric connection to the House of Clare gave up; a guest inadvertently flattened our flag pole with her vehicle just after we featured our Earth Flag on the front page of our current newsletter; and three days ago, our car died while I was driving it. I, for one, hunger most for help when the daily machinery of life goes kaput. This month, my soul’s appetite for human as well as Divine compassion was overwhelmingly stretched and satisfied.

The care with which our septic was repaired brought me to tears. Our friends Luke Mader, Joe Gosiak and crew removed our large, precious shade tree and did so as a gift to us. Then, I wish everyone could have seen how carefully Ron Mares excavated under the deck without damaging the deck or the small trees where he had to park his huge equipment. All of our little catastrophes were remedied with exquisite timing, quality service and utmost support for us. Pete Braun ran a new wire to the House of Clare in time for the incoming guest to enjoy light and heat in that space. Jeanne from our Motherhouse got the right color tags to us before we got fined. (I don’t know how we were so color blind for nearly a year with those blue tags when everyone else’s car has red tags!) The flag pole has to wait til spring. The car? Would you believe? It died one-half block from the repair shop, and the problem was under warranty.

A book I’m reading this month is Island of the World by Michael D. O’Brien, a story of a man whose world is destroyed in the war in Yugoslavia. This book is more than historical fiction. It is a vehicle for my soul’s appreciation of holiness, compassion and goodness born of adversity. I told Sisters Carol and Paula my blog this month will be on the value of suffering. Trite as that sounds, it is uppermost in my mind. Island of the World’s main character, Josip, grows in his humanity as he experiences God in the sacraments of unlikely human instruments. As fellow prisoners feed him portions of their meager bread to sustain Josip’s life, he begins to heal of terror and bitterness. I saw a purity of character forged only in agony borne with integrity. Mind you, our trials this month were infinitesimal bumps in the road compared to any brutality known to victims of war. Nevertheless, I believe I and my community of sisters here at Clare’s Well were fed some of the same food Josip tasted. Our troubles were such that we required God’s angels to come a.s.a.p. or we would be overwhelmed. Human instruments of God’s goodness came “right now.” Sure, such people come around here every day, but . . . . I never appreciated them so much as I did looking up from a little pit of troubles and woe. My gratitude grew by leaps and bounds. Light really shines brightest in the dark.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Christmas Celebrations

by Sister Cordy Korkowski

Christmas Day meant it was the birthday of Jesus but also my Dad’s birthday. We celebrated the dual birthdays every year, until my father died in 1996. After our farm house became too small for the Christmas celebrations, the families of my eight brothers and four sisters graduated to the Brandon City Hall, where little feet could run and play and those more advanced in years could find comfortable spaces to spread out and visit. We have nearly 70-100 Korkowski’s and friends gather now, depending on the weather, most originating from the lineage of my parents, Grace Lambertz Korkowski and Al Korkowski.

My dad related to me that on Christmas day he would feed the animals the best of corn and ground grain. After all, it was Christmas. Now, it’s my turn to know how to celebrate with all of creation, an activity St. Francis would certainly endorse. I go out in the morning of December 24 and make sure all the bird feeders are filled to the brim. Even the humble little sparrows are grateful to be remembered.

This year, we Franciscan Sisters decided to get into the swing of things around the Franciscan Welcoming House too. Sister Clara Stang obtained a darling little tree that we have placed in our front porch. It is just enough to let all know who drive past, that we are celebrating a great feast. Inside our house is the traditional tree, gathered ornaments of each Sister, plus poinsettias that look glorious in their deep red outfits, lights and artifacts of a variety of countries and traditions.

We have done the inner preparation too. Each in our house, Sisters Loretta Denfeld, Clara Stang and myself, have treasured the time of Advent, 2008. We would share on the special Advent Scripture readings at prayer. Our own spiritual preparation for Christmas, plus many social gatherings of Sisters, friends and family, combined to make the days before and after Christmas rich and meaningful.

St. Francis of Assisi initiated the crèche in Assisi, being deeply in love with the Incarnation, Jesus becoming one of us. When we gaze and admire the crib scene, it is more than beautiful artistry. It is a sign of God’s immense love for us. Our hearts are filled with gratitude for such mystery.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


by Sister Jean Schwieters

NEW! Just the sight and sound of that word tugs at several different feeling chords inside me. Excitement at the thought of something other than the “same old, same old” and a sense that the monotony will at last be broken. Perhaps, we tell ourselves, we will be treated to something we’ve never experienced before.

The word, NEW. can also conjure up Hope when we’ve grown weary of never seeing things change; when we have fallen victim to a boring routine or meaningless repetition. Change, we’re convinced, will revive a sense of confidence and belief in possibilities never yet explored.

But the most stimulating reaction to this word is one that stokes the imagination and pushes it wide open to an entrance into unlimited reality - mixed up, rearranged and unfamiliar.

Francis of Assisi was the kind of person who didn’t let the burdens of tradition stop him from pushing the limits. He was willing to be a “new kind of fool”, someone who responded to the inner promptings of the Spirit with little comprehension of where it would bring him. He was the one who literally lived the adage, “You make the path by walking.” He felt an urgency to respond to God’s call NOW. He trusted God would fill in the details only when it was time for them. It was as if God drew the plan and Francis with eyes closed dared to follow that plan, creating something new and different, not deliberately but obediently. Living in a world where religious enclosure was the rule of the day, he claimed the world as his cloister. Clinging to the Gospel as his Rule of Life he dared church leaders to grant permission for a way of life based on a total and radical adherence to Gospel challenges. Being part of a society where the possibilities for wealth were emerging for folks other than those born into wealth, Francis chose to live as a poor person where dependence on God gave him a new found freedom. When life seemed to grow stale and the fire inside him seemed to be dying out he used to exclaim, “Let us begin to serve the Lord God, for up until now we have done little or nothing.” The story of his life tells us that he was tireless in his pursuit of holy newness for he constantly hoped to begin again. For Francis each day offered its own gift; each moment, an opportunity. No two days were the same. Each moment was NEW, blessed with the breath of God.