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!)