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, April 29, 2009

Springtime is for PLANTING SEEDS

by Sister Cordy Korkowski

Oh, those precious seeds that are entering the cold ground of Minnesota. It takes faith to plant a seed. I did so about three weeks ago, in late March. I had several ‘containers’ placed on the Franciscan Welcoming House porch in St. Cloud and decided this year it would be spinach and green onions that would be early starters.

Each day I take a good look at the pots and water, pray and hope. Then lo, about three days ago, there they were, some little green shoots that looked so timid, weak and wobbly. How will they ever make it to our dining table? I know this is a concern for many anxious gardeners and those who can’t wait for that warmth to accelerate the growth.

I decided that our little neighbor girls would like to plant a few seeds too, and there was still room in the pots. I invited their mother Lynda Brandt to bring the girls over and I would have Grace, age 4 and Olivia, age one, to push a few seeds into the ground. Besides, they are moving away, and I already feel the pain of separation. Maybe, just maybe, when the seeds become plants, I can take another picture and send it to Blaine, Minnesota where they will resettle and we can enjoy our ‘crop’ together.

Jesus knew all about seeds and the conditions that are needed for maturation. Plant the seeds in good soil, water them, and tend them. What a great story this is in the Scriptures. The seeds work their little miracles, break through the soil with determination and bear much fruit.

We are like those seeds. So much is planted by the Spirit of God in our hearts. It takes time for some of the seeds to take root, sprout and come to maturation. Some lay dormant for a long time, and then, with God’s grace and our cooperation, they spring forth.

Springtime is a good time to ask this question - have you planted seeds lately or has someone planted a seed within you?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Liberty, Justice and WATER FOR ALL

by Sister Carolyn Law

Writing monthly for a blog is challenging. At first the ideas come easily. After a few months I start scratching my head! The challenge keeps me on the alert for ideas!

Last week I saved an article from the Chicago Tribune with the headline: “Durbin says world needs clean water.” Senator Durbin (a good Senator from Illinois) had introduced legislation calling for the U.S. to expand access to clean drinking water for an additional 100 million people around the world.

The next day I heard on National Public Radio a report about the World Water Forum taking place in Turkey from March 16-22, 2009 and International Water Day celebrated every March 22. International Water Day was established in 1992 by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro.

Today (March 24, 2009) on my “to do” list was writing this blog for April--Earth Day month--and I was delighted to read today’s scripture reading about water: “Wherever the river flows, every sort of creature that can multiply shall live, and there shall be abundant fish, for wherever this water comes the sea shall be made fresh.” Ezekiel 47: 1,8,9.

Aahhhh, Water, Lovely Water, Water our Sister, pure and chaste is She. Lovely is her taste and her touch against my skin.

While the popular media worries about shortages of oil, others know that the shortage of water is a more serious threat to the health, safety and stability of the world and its people, especially people who are poor and marginated. Years ago I read about the issue of water between Israel and the Palestinians where Israel controls access to water and Palestinians live without it. Drought in Sudan fuels the war between ethnic groups in Darfur.

The web site on the 5th World Water Forum reflects that by 2025 two out of three people worldwide will live in water stressed areas. In the U.S. 36 of 50 states may face water shortages in the next 5 years. The U.S. person uses 262 liters of water daily while a Dane uses 150 liters.

The World Water forum, this year attending by 28,000 people, including delegations from the U.S., seeks to influence water policy at a global level and to promote:

  • Efficient water use
  • Rigorous and harmonious water sharing
  • Efficient water management
  • Protection of the poorest people
  • Promotion of water security

Our President Barak Hussein Obama in his inaugural address stated:

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow, to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor
can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

SO BE IT! Happy Earth Day Month!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Sister Carmen's Jubilee Autobiography

(Part 3)

My candidacy in Little Falls was only 4 months long as they considered my living with our Sisters in Venezuela was like a candidacy. During my candidacy I was privileged to work with our elder Sisters in the infirmary and to help out in what was the Christian Development Center. Sr. Aggie Soenneker was my candidate director, and that was wonderful in that she too had ministered in Maracay, Venezuela. One of the churches I had worked in with Fr. Tony Kroll and the Sisters was the parish of Santa Inez (Saint Agnes) named after Aggie. She could understand when I shared of my experiences in Venezuela and my yearnings to work with the impoverished people in our world. It was Sr. Aggie who invited me to participate in my first act of Civil Disobedience as we protested Honeywell's making of cluster bombs that were killing and maiming our brothers and sisters in war-torn countries.

In August 1984 I entered the Novitiate and was part of the first group of novices to live in the Novitiate house in St. Paul and participate in the inter-novitiate program. Sr. Pat Forster together with the other Novice Directors from the various Religious Communities developed a very rich formation program. We studied theology, the vows and our Community Constitutions and Directives. We had desert prayer days every Friday, and volunteered in St. Stephen's Shelter in Minneapolis. Sr. Jean Schwieters and Sr. Caroline Torborg were the professed Sisters living with us and were anchors of wisdom for us "young sisters." We were members of Sacred Heart Parish and had a great relationship with the Franciscan Friars who lived and ministered in the parish. My most favorite memory of being in the Novitiate was spending time in a dark and damp little space with crumbling walls in the basement of the house. It was like a cave and we made it our chapel. It was a womb for me, a sacred place where I would sit in quiet. Sometimes I'd go there to wrestle with myself, wrestle with God, plunge into loneliness or celebrate being alive. I would sing often the prayer of Francis, "Most High and Glorious God, bring light to the darkness of my heart. Give me right faith, certain hope and perfect charity. God give me insight and wisdom so I might always discern your holy and true will."

I made final vows on August 9th, 1989, together with Sr. Nancy deMattos. I feel that my life as a Franciscan Sister is pure gift. I remember saying to Sr. Pat in the novitiate that at times I wanted to stand on the roof of the house and tell the world how wonderful it was to be a part of our community.

As a Temporary Professed I lived in Chicago for three years and shared community life with Srs. Bea Eichten, Mary Pat Burger, Mary Schmidt, Janice Weichman and Sharon Fitzpatrick. I ministered at Providence of God Church as a Pastoral Associate within a predominantly Hispanic Community. In 1990 I left Chicago and joined Srs. Carolyn Law and Joanne Klinnert in founding our mission in Nicaragua, a place that has become my second home. After seven years in Nicaragua where Srs. Ruth Lentner and Michelle L'Allier also came to minister, I found myself on the streets of the Tenderloin District of San Francisco, CA, where I met Rev. Kay Jorgensen and together we founded Faithful Fools Street Ministry. Every place and every person has a story all its own, and each experience has been the preparation for the next. I never really have known where I am going but I always have known I am in the right place when I get there.

At this time my worlds are wonderfully woven together. From San Francisco the streets lead back and forth to Nicaragua, as well as to MN. I have the privilege to be "Mom" to Alejandra Brown from Nicaragua as she studies in the U.S. and grows beautifully into adulthood. I am grateful to share my experiences and gifts with the larger Franciscan community as I serve on the Formation Advisory Council, One World Mission Grant Fund Committee, and help facilitate the Associate relationship within Latin America.

I am grateful for my life. I am grateful for my family that, as Alejandra says, "is really a family." I am grateful for all who have been my teachers. I am grateful for every experience, tough and beautiful, that has formed me. I am grateful to be a Franciscan Sister of Little Falls and for each Sister and Associate who is my Sister and Brother. I may have come into this world with barreling energy, but my prayer has always been to channel that energy creatively and with love and generosity into the world. May it always be so!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


by Sister Jean Schwieters

We Franciscans say we belong to an Order of Penance. Doesn’t that make you want to back away? Simply put, that means we strive for continuous conversion in our lives. Now if the word penance didn’t scare you, what about conversion? Not just conversion, but continuous conversion. That can make just about anyone shutter. Conversion, however, isn’t all that unfamiliar. We hear about it almost everyday. In fact, during the last presidential campaign, conversion was the topic…only we called it CHANGE.

Conversion is about change. But why continuous change? It’s because we are humans on a journey. We know from experience that no two days are exactly alike. What went smoothly one day creates a real problem the next day. We are creatures of habit and we too easily get into ruts. We don’t stop long enough to fix the problem when it first begins to surface and over time it becomes intolerable. We tend to avoid what we don’t like to admit is a flaw in our own character. Our reaction is to blame others for whatever doesn’t go well in a relationship. Or we grin and bear it because we don’t want to face what is our responsibility in the bigger picture.

The question is, “Will we ever get it just right?” And the answer is “NO!” So why try? Why keep attempting to become what we know we will never achieve? If you are like me, my idea of what is just right keeps changing, so how can I ever get to that point. And that’s the point. As long as we keep listening, keep responding, keep opening ourselves to making things better for myself and others, we stay with what’s important. And that’s persevering LOVE.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

MORNING PRAYER: Fidelity to Practice

by Sister Jan Kilian

We have an additional pre-morning-prayer ritual since Sister Paula moved in with Carol and me at Clare’s Well. Our Staff always did have a spiritual practice of private prayer time before gathering for shared morning prayer. Paula has added a physical practice of daily morning stretches for our bodies in the living room before we move into chapel to stretch our spirits in shared prayer. This physical workout helps me to see even better what good there is in daily morning prayer: Fidelity to practice is key to growth.

Practice. What is its value? We practice music so we can sing or play with ease. In Lent we have spiritual practices, such as fasting, to grow in freedom from needing to satisfy wants and to open ourselves to God. What happens when we maintain a practice of praying together every day? Would it make a difference if we didn’t do it? Unequivocally, yes!

Just the thought of dropping communal morning prayer from our schedule makes my stomach queasy. I feel off balance and out of touch with something very essential in relating to the world. As the morning light replaces darkness, we sisters (and sometimes guests) join together with scripture, inspirational reading, psalms, song, shared silence, and reflections to open the gift of this new day. Our morning hour is rich with insights from saints of every stripe as we share the story of old or contemporary saints of the day. We experience the wide range of Grace as we share our deepest prayers.

I see practice as hungrily repeating routine, sometimes with difficulty, waiting for Light to break through. And when a breakthrough comes, I see us enjoying the paradox of a daily practice so fed with abundant Light that it hardly seems routine at all.

Morning prayer: to see my God-experience in another is to see God Incarnate. I can sit in my room and pray, “Your love is everlasting.” To hear others pray those same words from their hearts, opens doors: “Oh, you know that, too?!” This is the bonding that shared prayer produces. Pulsating from soul to soul, Light is refracted; the Word is amplified; Stillness is very dynamic. We say “Amen”, ready to minister from the Gift of this practice.