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, January 27, 2010

Reflection on Haiti’s suffering

By Sr. Carolyn Law

Two weeks have passed since the heart wrenching earthquake which devastated much of Haiti. The news is beginning to fade yet efforts to attend the wounded, the homeless, the grieving continue. Emergency aid continues to be needed for the near future. Then the important long term work of rebuilding will need to be sustained.

Bill Moyers essay on Haiti aired January 22, 2010 on his PBS program is worth watching and can be accessed at http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/01222010/profile3.html. In his essay, he points out the callous idiocy of TV evangelist Pat Roberson assessment that this earthquake happened because Haiti had supposedly sold its soul to the devil in order to overthrow the French colonizers. The French had run Haiti as a slave colony to produce coffee, sugar and tobacco for Europeans. When the slaves revolted and drove out the French, Thomas Jefferson, U.S. president and author of the declaration of independence, refused to recognize the government of Haiti.

Moyers also criticizes the honorable David Brooks, political pundit of the New York Times, for assessing the Haitian nation as “progress resistant” among other disparaging remarks. Moyers then goes on to more accurately relate the history of exploitation and oppression by outside and inside forces in this small nation, the poorest in the hemisphere.

The theology that poverty, sickness, or misfortune is a punishment for one’s sin is a mistaken one. In contrast, the theology of liberation which sprung from reading the Gospel through the eyes of the poor preaches a theology of compassion on the part of God. God is the one who hears the cry of the poor and acts to right injustices, inequality and suffering.

In the daily prayer of the Church, we pray the hymn of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, because it is an accurate and poetic summary of the message and mission of Jesus, the Christ. This hymn of praise is found in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 1. It seems right to pray it now in the midst of the many crises in our country—the disorder in our banks and economy, the fight over healthcare, the vitriolic hyperbole of an election year. Place yourself in the shoes of someone who is poor or beaten down as you savor the message of Mary’s prayer.

My being proclaims your greatness,
And my spirit finds joy in you, God my Savior.
For you have looked upon me, your servant, in my lowliness;
All ages to come shall call me blessed.
God, you who are mighty, have done great things for me.
Holy is your name.
Your mercy is from age to age toward those who fear you.
You have shown might with your arm
And confused the proud in their inmost thoughts.
You have deposed the mighty from their thrones
And raised the lowly to high places.
The hungry you have given every good thing
While the rich you have sent away empty.
You have upheld Israel your servant, ever mindful of your mercy
Even as you promised our ancestors;
Promised Abraham, Sarah, and their descendents forever.
(Translation Psalms Anew)


Friday, January 15, 2010


by Sister Jan Kilian

My heart and prayer are with friends in Apawas, Nicaragua these days. Sisters Carol Schmit and Grace Skwira are working in this makeshift medical clinic with Dr. Ron and Kay Brown, dispensing love and support along with medicines. They and 18 other Minnesotans are led to this area each January by our Franciscan missionary friend, Father Ted Niehaus, who works with 75-plus scattered villages in remote areas of Nicaragua. Volunteers of all ages endure the rugged travel and meager living conditions to work with him and to build relationships with these Nicaraguan brothers and sisters. This year only 5 of the group of 20 are first-timers. (Photo:  L-R  Sister Carol Schmidt, Fr. Ted Niehaus, Sister Grace Skwira)

My companion, Sister Paula, and I are keeping the home-fires going and praying we don’t get any really big storm while Carol’s away. She is our best snow-removal person. I can operate the snow-blower, but I’ve been known to blow snow in the garage and on the farm-house porch . . . . As Franciscans, we are delighted to have some of our community bridging us with these dear people; however, Carol, we are quite ready for you to come back home to us!

Monday, January 11, 2010


by Sister Carolyn Law

I wish each of you blessings as we begin a new year. And may we know the blessings which we have already.

Last month I was able to travel to Arizona to visit Sr. Ange Mayers. I had visited her there some years ago and always wanted to return for another immersion into the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation in the heart of the Sonoran desert of Southwest USA. Sr. Ange will be leaving her ministry there soon and so I needed to go or forego the experience. Fortunately I had some frequent flyer miles to use up and so I made the time for this trip.

Sr. Ange has lived and ministered among the Tohono O’odham people for over 15 years. This is in addition to her previous ministry of ten years in Tucson with the Yaqui and Tohono O’odham. I have known Ange since we served together in Venezuela back in the late 1980’s. Still I was very impressed with her poise, presence and persistence in living with deep faith, love and patience amidst challenging circumstances.

Ange’s place of ministry lies 120 miles west of Tucson. So while there is much beauty in the desert and in the people, there is also harshness, solitude, and suffering. There is the beauty of the large saguaro cacti, the sunrise and sunsets, the quiet of the starlit nights, and the surprise of many birds in the arid landscape. There is the beauty of the native people who live close to the earth, with authenticity and simplicity. There is the harshness of poverty, the too often suicides or early deaths, and the scarcity of resources for jobs and education. She has walked with the people there ministering a religious promoter, facilitating leadership training for parish members, teaching faith formation for families, adapting sacramental preparation to the needs of the people, and promoting growth in mental health. Most of all she has been a Franciscan presence, being first of all a sister to her brothers and sisters living in this part of the earth. To read a more see Ange’s brief autobiography our web site under “Meet the Sisters” at www.fslf.org.

Visiting Ange was a blessing that I continue to treasure. There are many things and people for which to be grateful as well. I am grateful for family, friends, my Sisters in community. I am grateful my work in the healing ministry and for all of the gifted healers that work to heal the wounds of the earth and her people. I am grateful the sun, and the moon, the air, the earth and for fire. The following prayer is a little long for a blog but seems so appropriate to share at this moment. It is a prayer written by St. Francis toward the end of his life and demonstrates Francis’ mystical union with God and all God’s creation.

The Canticle of the Creatures

Most High, all-powerful, good Lord, Yours are the praises, the glory, and the honor, and all blessing.
To You alone, Most High, do they belong, and no human is worthy to mention Your name.
Praised be You, my Lord, with all Your creatures, especially Sir Brother Son, who is the day and through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor; and bears a likeness of You, Most High One.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars, in heaven You formed them clear and precious and beautiful.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind, and through the air, cloudy and serene, and every kind of weather, through whom You give sustenance to Your creatures.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water, who is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire, through whom You light the night, and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.
Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with colored flowers and herbs.
Praised be You, my Lord, through those who give pardon for Your love, and bear infirmity and tribulation.
Blessed are those who endure in peace for by You, Most High, shall they be crowned.
Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death, from whom no one living can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin.
Blessed are those whom death will find in Your most holy will, for the second death shall do them no harm.
Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks and serve Him with great humility.