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.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sister Carmen's Jubilee Autobiography

-- Part 1

This year is my Silver Jubilee year so I share with you my autobiography written for the occasion. Enjoy reading it.

Sr. Joanne Klinnert gave me a birthday card a number of years back that said, "If you ask me what I came to do, I came to live out loud." If you talk to any of my five siblings, you will know that I was not a quiet, reserved child. I came bursting into the world with barrels of energy.

I was born the third child and third daughter of my parents, Geraldine (Geri) Kolles Barsody and Joseph (Joe) Barsody. We lived in Elk River where we were part of the Church of St. Andrew as well as both the German (Kolles), and the Hungarian (Barsody) communities. Polka dancing, pig roasts, hayrides and playing baseball in the hollow at Grandma B's with a bunch of cousins made for a kind of wholesome, familial upbringing.

One of the greatest gifts my siblings and I received from our parents was their ability to support and nurture us an individuals. When they didn't understand something we were doing or thinking, or it clashed with what they were taught was right or wrong, or the way to do things, they didn't become obstacles to our movement. They'd give room for us to learn and they'd open themselves to learning and seeing differently. They were my first teachers of how to allow one's mind and heart to be opened continuously, and love through it all. In Franciscan language we call this living a life of "Constant Conversion".

I attended St. Andrew's School through 6th grade and then went to public school for Jr. and Sr. High. The Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls ran the school. I felt a special connection with the Little Falls Franciscans because my aunt, Sr. DeLourdes Kolles, was a member of the same Community. I was one of those kids who always looked for ways to help the teachers. I'd stay after school to correct papers or wash the blackboards. I took guitar lessons from one of the Sisters in 4th grade and began playing at Mass as soon as I could change chords well enough to play simple songs. That began my "career" of being a leader of the folk choir until I graduated from high school. I was a Sunday School teacher and helped coordinate the program when I was in Junior High. I also was an active member of St. Andrew's Youth group and served as the youth representative on the Parish Council. Between school, sports and church activities I had plenty to keep me busy.

The Franciscan Sisters nurtured my heart and mind. They were common people who enjoyed being a part of the parish and school community. I can still see some of them sitting on our couch in the living room when they came to visit our home before the new school year began. They'd go to the home of the school families and bring the list of what it was we'd need for school supplies. It was also a way for them to get to know the families and the home-life of the children. I remember dancing with them at parish dances and having an overnight at the convent when we were in 6th grade. I'm grateful for the values that they instilled in us, most keenly to be of service.

(Tune in next month for part 2!)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Celebrate Black History Month

by Sister Carolyn Law

Black History Month is celebrated every February in several countries and in the United Kingdom in October. It began as a way to honor Africans and African culture in the diaspora. Black history was, and perhaps still is, sorely missing in traditional academic curriculum.

In my little peace group, Pax Christi St. Gertrude, we have been showing a movie on a peace or justice theme once a month for over a year. We call it “Conscientious Projector”, a name we borrowed from another church. It is a challenge to keep it up. Fortunately modern hand-held cameras and technology makes it easier for freelancers to produce excellent documentaries.

For this Black History month we are choosing to show “The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till”. Emmett was a fourteen-year-old African American boy from Chicago, Illinois, who was brutally murdered in Mississippi. He was murdered for whistling at a white woman. Let me share what I learned.

The murder of Emmett Till was one of the leading events that motivated the beginnings of the Civil Rights movement. The year before Emmett’s murder, 1954, was the year that the historic Brown vs. The Board of Education ruling by the Supreme Courst struck down the practice of separate but equal practice in education. This ruling opened a door to civil rights and a hope for equality. Emmett’s death was a stark reminder of how far we would have to travel to overcome racism.

A main reason that this murder was so pivotal is that his mother, Mamie Till Bradley, insisted first that her son not be buried quickly in Mississippi. Secondly, after winning the right to bring his body to Chicago, she insisted that his casket be opened for all to see the brutality of the murder. The photo and story were published throughout the nation. Both Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King where inspired by Emmett to undertake the Montgomery bus boycott.

“The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till” documentary was released in 2005. The director’s research led to the reopening of the investigation by the Department of Justice in 2004. This new investigation has not yet concluded. A “Till” bill was passed which established a unit in the Department of Justice for the investigation of old Civil Rights cases.

In June of 2005, the U.S. Senate also passed a resolution apologizing for not passing an anti-lynching law 105 years earlier. It was only passed in 1968. Eighty of the 100 senators co-sponsored this resolution. (Why not 100 co-sponsors?) I googled on the topic of lynching and what I read makes my soul tremble.

Today we have an African American president and once again our hearts are hopeful, not only for all that President Obama promises for our nation, our world and our planet, but for the possibility that our nation will be able to heal some of the scars and wounds of racism that mar our schools, our churches and our society

I have been a little long winded here. I hope you found my musings interesting.

Friday, February 13, 2009


by Sister Jean Schwieters

For some time, now, I have stared at the word, LOVE wondering what I could say about it. It is a difficult word to tackle because it has come to mean so many different things to so many different persons – pleasure, passion, affection, devotion, gratification, delight, admiration, inspiration, romance, attachment, fondness, desire, tenderness, infatuation, yearning, idolatry and even abuse. In theology we speak of it as a virtue. In relationships we honor it as a source of power. Most often we refer to it as a feeling, a feeling, I believe, that is buried deep inside us and makes itself felt in a variety of experiences. Little by little it rises to the surface and we are made to deal with it. We can deny it; we can squelch it; we can enter into its lure and allow it to grow and expand within us until it spills over and reaches into the lives of others.

As always I go to my mentor, Francis of Assisi, to see what his life tells me about it. For Francis LOVE was God. And within us, who have been created in God’s image and likeness, a spark of the Divine resides. If we allow that spark to ignite we find that it sheds light on moments of darkness; it opens doors when we feel lost and abandoned; it keeps us restless when we search for answers to perplexing questions; it pushes us into pathways of mystery where we struggle to know what appears unanswerable. But, most of all LOVE enters into every relationship we form with humans and creatures alike. It motivates us to get involved when danger threatens our lives and the life of our planet. It reshapes our lives when we have grown indifferent and comfortable with the status quo. It places unwanted questions in our psyche that won’t go away until we deal with them. It energizes us when we discover a new way of seeing the persons we are in relationship with. It gives us the courage to address issues we would rather walk away from.

Because LOVE is God, it never ends. Love is a bottomless reservoir, a never completed journey, a space within us with no dimensions. Like all of us, Francis stumbled over the obstacles he himself placed in the way. He struggled to show God’s face to those who resisted or demanded or refused to mirror back the Divine Image. However, he always insisted on love between his followers, no matter what the treatment they received. Throughout his life he surrendered to the call of LOVE. And in the end his whole person reflected the image of Love crucified. He truly became a mirror of God who is LOVE.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Embody the GOSPEL

by Sister Cordy Korkowski

How does one embody the Gospel in today’s immersion of worry, anxiety and fear? There have been so many occasions to extend the heart of God recently, especially among families in distress. One mother recently conveyed to me that she had not enough money to buy milk for her children. How can this be right here in progressive St. Cloud? The food shelf stretches only so far. I loved her children. I put the message out to the people. They responded with gift cards for groceries.

What about the families that have illness and hospitalization right now, with limited insurance and no employment. We followers of Jesus today see the suffering Christ and we witness suffering in the world, in our families, in our parishes! What can we do? We extend a listening ear, support by presence and care. Jesus teaches us how to respond. St. Francis lived his response to others in need. We know that the wounds created by today’s problems are softened by our compassion.

Recently a young mother entered eternity after years of cancer treatments and suffering. How tenderly the children spoke of their mother. Many people listened to their stories about her. It brought comfort to this grieving family. We honored their mother by honoring the words of her children. I saw the pain lift somewhat as we cared about their story.

How often the prayer of St. Francis teaches us how to respond to others in the here and now.

“Oh, Divine Master, grant that I may seek,
Not so much to be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Weathered Wine Skins

by Sister Jan Kilian

“New wine is for fresh skins,” says Jesus in Matthew 2:22. The gospel of the day on January 19th caused my heart to skip a beat.

What do his words mean for an aging Franciscan community?

Can’t our weathered skins still receive
and hold
fermenting juice,

If our skins are aged, is our wine near readiness to be poured out?

My own life is limited. The time for lifting a glass to me is coming, I know.
keeping watch,
transformation (in darkness as well as in light)
made good wine of my life.

Who else is in the vineyard for our congregation?
My gut cries for
new skins,
with visible,
tangible hope
for the future
of this winery
before all of the old is served.

P.S. I know Someone who can make wine out of water. . . .