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, July 21, 2009

How wonderful to name God as beauty

by Sister Carolyn Law

Last month for the celebration of the 25th and 75th jubilees of our Sisters, the jubilarians requested that we use a new arrangement for the singing of the Mass parts. They had chosen a Mass called “Jesus: the Compassion of God”, written by David Haas. The opening call to worship is:
Lord it is good to be here,
Your beauty to behold
We long to proclaim your vision
And call this place our home.
How wonderful to name God as beauty. St. Bonaventure, an early Franciscan theologian, wrote “In all things beautiful, we see Beauty itself.” Of course, he meant that in seeing Beauty we see God. Seeing the 4 jubilarians process in with such dignity was indeed beautiful and we made beautiful music to celebrate their milestone.

Meanwhile here in Chicago, July 4th has come and gone. July 4th was a cool and rainy day. Sunday July 5th was a perfect day, partly cloudy, a soft breeze and mild temperature. I took a bike ride down along the lake. There was much beauty there as well. There were families of all sizes and ethnicities. Dads and Moms were grilling with great aromas wafting in the air. The beach was full of volleyball teams. Other bicyclists were out. At one end of the beach is a dog park where dogs can run in beautiful blue water and chase each other playfully and the dog masters casually chat.

At the other end of the beach is the dunes restoration area and bird sanctuary. The gulls with a couple of Caspian terns sun at the shoreline and song sparrows sing with all their little hearts. Fishermen and a few women cast their lines out and never seem to catch much. But then we know that at Lake Michigan it is not about the fish but about being near the water under the sky with the skyline of downtown Chicago just a glance away.

There is indeed much beauty. One thing in which I find hard to find some beauty is the Good Humor Ice Cream truck. Oh, the truck is okay and so is the ice cream. But the truck plays over and over and over this obnoxious tune. One truck plays a mechanical sounding “Turkey in the Straw”. I wonder how can the driver stand it for a whole day. I have a hard time with it for just 10 minutes.

The Good Humor Truck does move on and I turn my attention to the firecrackers and bottle rockets being fired off. This smoke hangs in the air with the smoke from the charcoal grills and I wonder if the fireworks are carbon balanced.

Sarah Palin’s announcement about resigning as governor of Alaska upstaged the news about Michael Jackson’s death. Her upstage only lasted a day and then the news went back to Michael, especially since Michael was from Gary Indiana, Chicago’s neighbor to the south. Sarah and Michael are children of God as well and for this we say: Thank God for all your beautiful creation.

So on July 5th, this is all the news from Lake Michigan were all the women are strong, all the men are good looking and all the children are beauties to behold.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Spirit of God at work within you

by Sister Carmen Barsody

Above all things, desire to have the Spirit of God at work within you.

This was the theme of our jubilee celebration on June 21st. Srs. Mary Fabian Schneider and Corrine Millner celebrated their 75th Jubilees, and Sr. Nancy deMattos and I celebrated our 25th Jubilees. A celebration it was! A witness it was to the love and faith that binds us as Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, MN.

The week leading up to our celebration we as a Franciscan Community met together, some days with just Sisters and a day with Associates. It was a time of remembering and reflecting on our life; of telling stories of bold acts as individuals and a whole community that have brought us to this day and binds our hearts together. We prayed together with song and word as we challenged ourselves to live with openness, compassion and active commitment that incarnates the expansive mind of God inspired with the spirits of Francis and Clare. Creativity, difficult conversations, laughter and love wove its way through every moment. For me it was pure gift to move from this time together into the celebration of our life commitments.

During the homily at our Jubilee Mass Sister Paula Pohlmann asked each of us to articulate what the "Spirit of God at work within us" looks like in our lives. I share with you my response...

Most important, most directing in my life is whether my heart is alive, and whether I feel that aliveness deep in the belly. This is my ultimate authority. Leaving college to go to Venezuela as a Franciscan Lay Volunteer was not about discerning a religious vocation, it was about seeking a heart pulse that was rooted in love and meaning, and for me, Love is God! To extend that love, which was and still is rooted in my family, into the Franciscan Community, has allowed me to root it in the world. It is the foundation of my passion to help others become more fully alive, without discrimination, for the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Love does not discriminate. I know it is the Spirit at work because deep down beyond all struggle, endless work and times of anxiety, I can feel a full and flowing river of Joy.

In this Jubilee year, together with my Sister Jubilarians and whole Franciscan Community of Sisters and Associates, I renew my commitment to live desiring one thing alone, the Spirit of God at work within us. So be it!


Wednesday, July 1, 2009


by Sister Jan Kilian

Nicaragua is a significant place for all of us Franciscans at Clare’s Well. Sister Carol accompanies a mission group to the far-flung mountainous villages of this country every January. Sister Paula was a member of these January brigades for several years. I was privileged to spend two months living in a barrio on the edge of Managua several years ago. One of our Franciscan Associates and dear friend, Monica Rudawski has ministered in the Leon and Esteli area over the past ten years. Monica visited us this summer and we all relived some of our own privileged experiences in Nicaragua.

It seems Franciscans are attracted to Nicaragua because it is one place where we meet people, who in the dark of their deep poverty, still radiate light and compassion for one another. Monica shared a beautiful prayer that speaks of this. The prayer is from John O’Donohue’s To Bless the Space Between Us.
Light cannot see inside things.
That is what the dark is for:
Minding the interior,
Nurturing the draw of growth
Through places where death
In its own way turns into life. . . . .

There is so much to be said for Summer and the joy of sunshine. We watch our garden thrive under its influence. However, most seeds sown on top of the ground in direct sunlight can’t take root. The dark under the soil is a vital necessity for our vegetables and flowers. The darkness draws warmth and mysteriously nourishes hidden seed.

I think this is what keeps Monica going back to Nicaragua all these years. In the dark of the poverty of the children for whom she helps to provide food, she is better able to “see inside things.” Sister Carol and the January missionaries, too, go to peoples in Nicaragua who lack much of what we consider necessary, such as electric light. They go year after year to walk in the dark, minding the interior.

Monica concluded our summer morning prayer, “Fill our darkness with the nurture of Your Light. Help us to burn with the fire of Your Love.”