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.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The early visit of Sister Death to Braelyn

by Sister Cordy Korkowski

Last night was a very difficult night for me. It was the wake/funeral service for Braelyn Osborne. Braelyn, 17 years of age and a junior at Hutchinson High School died in her sleep of complications from diabetes on May 9, 2009, a day before Mother’s Day. It was a disease that Braelyn struggled with for 10 years. Brandi called and asked if I would do the service at a Columbia Heights funeral home. I was honored to be asked, but wondered how I could do this, amidst so much family grief along with my own as well.

I first met Braelyn and her mother Brandi about three years ago when our family camped together at Two Inlets north of Park Rapids. My nephew Troy introduced our family to his new bride, Brandi and her two children, Braelyn and Morgan. I remember how delightful and happy they were with energy, lots of pep and personality. They all entered into the relaxation and festivity of the weekend with great enthusiasm. I also was aware that Braelyn could never lose awareness of her disease amidst all the food choices present for the weekend. I knew her story.
To hear the news of her death was shocking. How would I make the mental switch, that we are now entering into her farewelling into eternal life. I started to work on the prayer service and it all came together. I knew I would use Psalm 23, the Gospel of Mark where Jesus embraces the children, some storytelling, special prayers and a blessing for Braelyn. I also prepared a reflection on Braelyn’s life.

The funeral home was crowded with students, many of whom had brought pictures and messages of farewell and love. They came early to the funeral home to decorate the space and spend time with the family as did parents, grandparents, family members and friends of Braelyn. Throughout the three hours, there was a steady and strong stream of family and friends that filled the space with consolation. We prayed, laughed and cried, visited, spent time being together with family and friends.

The family was deeply appreciative of the service, and I was equally touched by their love and gratitude. As we returned to the home of Brandi’s mother for a large buffet meal, my heart was at peace. Braelyn is now home with God, and all of us learned again the fragility of life, and that Sister Death can appear at any moment and quietly take us home. What was so difficult to do, came together with the support of a multitude of people who were touched by the life of Braelyn Osborne.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Raising our consciousness:

by Sister Carolyn Law

In April I completed training for certification in Brain Integration Technique. I asked Susan McCrossin, the developer and trainer for this healing method, how she was led to her teacher, applied physiologist Richard Utt. Susan related that in the mid-1980’s, while working for a computer software company, she took many personal growth courses and workshops. She decided that her life’s goal was to help raise the consciousness of the planet. Furthermore, she would do this by working on herself in order to be a good influence on others and, thirdly and practically, she wanted to work in alternative healing. Within months she was on the path and within a year she was working full time on her dream.

To raise the consciousness of the planet is a lofty goal. We might be more familiar and more comfortable with the phrase “To make the world a better place.” This is indeed what we as Franciscans do in our small ways throughout our ordinary days—step by step, stone by stone, through kind words and kind gestures. Hopefully, we are all working on our dream and on a dream that contributes to making the world a better place.

Bill Plotkin, in his book “Nature And The Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness And Community In A Fragmented World”, writes about his dream of raising the consciousness of the human community. He proposes that our society and culture is egocentric and “adolescent” and that what we need to do is move into an eco-soul-centric culture. By eco-soul-centric, he means living out of our true inner depths and in deep harmony with the Earth. The book is an unfolding of this theme.

While I have only begun to digest his ideas, I am sure that St. Francis and St. Clare lived out their true soul-calling in deep harmony with the Earth. They have inspired us for 8 centuries with their radical adherence to Gospel values and to the profound joy in the love of God for us, God’s human and non-human creatures.

May we each know our soul’s calling. I pray that each of us, step by step, stone by stone, kind deed by kind deed, is unfolding into our soul’s essence. The world community is better for the soul and spirit we bring to it.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


By Sister Jean Schwieters

Spring is the time of year when all of Creation seems to rise up and shout, "I’m alive!" The barrenness of Winter made us wonder if we would ever again see green. It seemed a stretch of the imagination to believe that anything could survive beneath the cold, cold ground. But then comes the thaw and the whole world around us begins to be charged with a new bolt of life. Out from the hard surface we’ve tromped over all winter little sprouts poke up their noses to remind us that life is stronger than death, that nothing can keep a really good thing down, not even ice and snow.

The cycles of Creation are marvelous. Each year they treat us to an unbelievable drama, an endless story book display that produces a new picture on each page. No matter how often we turn the page the scene is different each time causing us to wonder how the artist could possibly come up with such an awesome array of splendor. Give the truth that Creation’s artist is none other than God, we immediately know of the limitless ability of our Divine Creator.

Francis, the simple little man from Assisi knew all of this implicitly. He sensed the interconnectedness of all creatures without the aid of scientific research. He sensed the interdependence that drew all creatures together as members of an earthly family. He affectionately called each creature by the name of Brother or Sister. He recognized each as siblings of a gracious Mother whose home was the Earth. He spoke with tenderness to insects and plants. He encouraged the birds to sing out their prayers of praise to God and he acted as mediator in times of misunderstanding and stress between humans and animals.

It is no mystery as to why he has been chosen as the Patron of Ecology, why his intuitive grasp of the circle of life is what we need today. It has taken us centuries to uncover the beauty, the wisdom, the thoughtfulness that engineered this massivecathedral of intricate artistry and magnificent craftsmanship. Only a meditative reflection on Francis’ "Canticle of the Creatures" can begin to bring us to see what he saw, to feel what he felt in the presence of such grandeur. Should we ever be able to truly experience what he had come to know then all of creation might rightly be "reborn".

Monday, May 4, 2009

Church-door Dining Room Table

by Sister Jan Kilian

I’ve noticed a line in the post-Easter gospels this year that hadn’t struck me before: “. . . the doors being shut . . . , Jesus came to them.” Shut church doors have a particular significance in our house: Clare’s Well dining room table is made out of abandoned church doors rescued from a dumpster. I have attached a photo of this sturdy table crafted by Sister Aggie’s brother-in-law, Floyd Mader. I photographed a seemingly empty table, which is not empty at all but rather immersed in twenty-plus years of stories of guests who dine with us and pour their hearts out to others around this church-remnant table.

“The doors being shut” is still a painful reality for many diners who would like to participate in church services if only they were welcome in today’s churches. “Jesus took bread and gave it to them.” “They knew him in the breaking of the bread.” “Peace.” Our dining room table is an open church door where all are welcome and shared stories restore life. Jesus continues to come in, break bread, and restore peace.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Harnessing the POWER of LOVE

By Sister Michelle L’Allier

Some day, after we have mastered the winds and the waves, the tides and gravity, we will harness for God the energies of love. And then, for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.
--Pierre Teilhard De Chardin

Easter Blessings! I give thanks that the Easter Season is 50 days long, coinciding with the emergence of spring. Here in Minnesota it’s been a tumultuous transition from winter to spring with flooding in the Red River Valley and concurrent drought where I live in the Twin Cities.

Reflecting on the beauty and challenge of nature’s rhythms, I recognize the same beauty and challenge present in human relationships as well. Chardin invites us to “harness for God the energies of love;” Jesus witnesses to this path as he lived faithfully unto death, laying down his life in love, followed by rising to new resurrected life. Those of us who follow his way as Christians continue to learn how to live on in God’s love.

Our community of Franciscan Sisters, too, has been moving through the passage of death to new life—we buried four of our Sisters last month. It was a Lenten letting go for us who had come to know, love, and share life with these wisdom women in their 90’s. Each one was ready to enter fullness of life with God, showing us the way with great grace.

Sister Loretto Schneider
, for example, influenced my professing as a Secular Franciscan after college. She served as Spiritual Assistant to our emerging fraternity of idealistic young Franciscan men and women, and encouraged me beyond my comfort zone and into unfamiliar waters. We lived the Gospel life, experimenting with how to translate Gospel values in the marketplace of everyday life. One of the ways I experienced the transformative power of love was in our fraternity’s risk to tend to the beginnings of Listening House of St. Paul, a drop-in center for men and women on the streets.

Years later, Listening House continues to flourish, and I found my way to religious life within the Franciscan family as a Franciscan Sister of Little Falls. For all of this, I give thanks to God, mindful of what Margaret J. Wheatley says about the power of love:

What gives power its charge, positive or negative, is the quality of relationships. Those who relate through coercion, or from disregard for the other person, create negative energy. Those who relate to others and who see others in their fullness create positive energy. Love in organizations, then, is the most potent source of power we have available.
Cited in Bennett Sims, Servanthood: Leadership for the Third Millennium

As you and I learn to harness “the energies of love,” may we share this “potent source of power” bringing it to bear in our interpersonal relationships, in our organizations and in our world.