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.

Monday, September 28, 2009

“Francis of Assisi, a Saint for Today”

by Sister Cordy Korkowski

October is a special month for me, mainly because it ushers in the Feast of Francis of Assisi on October 4. We Franciscan cherish our great patron. When I was little, I saw Francis in private gardens and parks, usually with a bird on his shoulder or maybe taming the wolf of Gubbio, a story we all know from our Franciscan tradition.

When I walked the Umbrian valley in Assisi in 2007, I was again washed over with the spirit of this great 13th century saint. There are many visitors to Assisi, and all comment on the serenity and peacefulness of this area. Francis, the simple little man from Assisi, by his spirituality and life has touched the hearts of many. We who are Franciscan have no exclusive claim on this saint. He is for the entire church. Many have captured deeply the heart of Francis. Francis was above all a Gospel person, one who knew and lived the Beatitudes.

Francis has been named the Patron of Ecology. His deep sense of the interconnectedness of all creatures came to him not from books, but as he spent time in reflection and mediation of the goodness of God. He lovingly called each creature by the name of Brother or Sister. He spoke with tenderness of each insect and plant and all that adorned the earth

As we practice good ecological principles in our home, neighborhood or workplace, recycle our ‘stuff’, care for plants, the air, the earth and all creation, let’s turn to God in thanks for leading us on the path of good stewardship and gratitude for all good gifts. Let us be grateful to Jesus who blest the earth by His presence and made holy our created world.

Happy feast of Saint Francis to all of you!

Sister Cordy Korkowski, OSF


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Francis and Other

by Sister Carmen Barsody, OSF

I share with you an experience I had one morning when I lived in Nicaragua. As I left my bedroom and walked down our hall, I looked out toward our neighbors in the barrio, seeing the scrap wood houses and empty barrels because the water didn’t come that night, I heard a voice say within me, “I don’t ever want to be where I don’t wake-up and not see this reality and have to be in direct relationship with this irreconcilable disparity.”

It was also in Nicaragua that one day we were talking about this famous question of what it means to be Franciscan, and Sr. Joanne Klinnert said, “What Francis did was follow his spirit, and so, to be Franciscan is to follow your spirit!” The Spirit moving in Francis was larger than Francis. It moved in relationship with his experience of what was happening in the world and in the church in his day. I remember a slogan used by the National Vocation office a few years back which said, “May the unrest of Christ’s peace be with you.”

We know Francis didn’t set out to join one of the religious communities of his day. In his unrest he set out to be with and to serve the lepers. His heart was enflamed by humbleness of Christ. He made his whole body a tongue. The emphasis was given to becoming and living the gospel, not merely talking about it.

Leonardo Boff, in his book, ST. FRANCIS, challenges our use of phrases such as “preferential option for the poor”. According the Boff and his understanding of Francis, it wasn’t an "option" to be with the impoverished and marginalized, it was the foundation of Francis’ life. Let our own bodies and lives be our tongue, for in this we will find perfect joy.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009


by Sister Carolyn Law

“It is already September and we have had no summer!”

I have heard this comment many times recently. The tone of voice is whiney. The cause is our having a relatively cool summer in Chicago. I used the fan only a couple of days. I politely agree with the speaker but inside I am asking “Where were you during June, July, and August?”

The sun rose and set each day this summer and we breathed every minute of each day. We have worn our short sleeves and shorts. We have donned our sunglasses. The birds migrated north, hatched their chicks, and now are migrating south once again.

Time flies fast under two circumstances: when we are having fun and when we are too busy. When we are having fun we are totally in the present moment and present to those we are with and to our experience. This is delightful. I think the complaint about “no summer” is a result of the second condition—too busy. When we are too busy we risk losing our sense of mindfulness. Mindfulness is a presence of awareness, a quality of self awareness and awareness of what and who surrounds us.

My brother-in-law, Bill , is an interesting and nice guy. He is a psychologist and teaches mindfulness classes. Bill and I recently did a mindfulness yoga exercise. The movements were slow and easy, while stretching and strengthening. Mindfulness yoga invites the practioner to slow down and be aware of one’s experience. Mindfulness invites us to be in the present moment, not second guessing the past, nor anticipating the future.

Another body-mind practice is Alexander Technique, a re-education of movement and posture. This technique calls living into the future “end gaining.” End gaining causes us to be ahead of ourselves. When we get ahead of ourselves, we lose contact with the present moment and ourselves. Then we get tense and lose fluidity of movement.

The Franciscan version of mindfulness is “living with a contemplative attitude”. Contemplation is stopping, being present to moment and seeing this moment as gift. A gift can never be possessed, analyzed or callously manipulated. A gift cannot be judged. A gift is cherished.

Have you had a summer? If not, slow down. It is never too late to start slowly down. Now is the moment. Take a deep breath. Be aware of the air flowing in and flowing out. Repeat. Smile at the gift of breathing, the gift of the sensation, the awareness of LIFE. This is a sure path to mind-full contemplation.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009


by Sister Jan Kilian

The caterpillar is finished eating milkweed leaves. “Watch! It will hang on to the jar in its ‘J’ form any minute now.” We watched. The caterpillar crawled around and around the jar. When it paused again, one of us said, “Now! It’s ready. Watch.” But . . . . the caterpillar moseyed on for yet a couple of hours until the caterpillar said, “Now!” and hung itself up on the jar’s edge to prepare its cocoon.

The monarch caterpillars’ going into their cocoons and coming out butterflies are familiar images of transformation. I had occasion to observe several this summer. Their stretching and flexing on the outside spoke to me of a wrenching process going on inside to accomplish the predictable conversion: worm - cocoon - monarch butterfly.

All of us creatures are designed to make transformational decisions from within our own selves. This was brought home to me during the Franciscan retreat I recently made at St. Francis Convent in Little Falls. Just as the monarch’s blueprint is written in the core of the caterpillar, so everything each of us needs for becoming Christ to the world is available in God’s design indelibly recorded -- you know where. Stop. Sit. Let the inner flexing, turning, stretching happen.

The gift (charism) of the Franciscan life is the life of conversion, a life of daily turning to hear and respond to God. This is not a logical, rational process. It is a work of our hearts, a work of love carried out in community. It involves surrender, letting go, sometimes darkness. It calls for shedding protective coverings, stripping ego, becoming Christ. Francis and Clare of Assisi encourage me with their example. I was happy to be able to retreat and ‘hang it up’ for at least a short while. I’m grateful to have let some important processes turn over in my spirit. I feel new. I think I’m finished eating milkweeds.