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.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Home Alone?

This weekend my companions, Sisters Carol Schmit and Paula Pohlmann, are in Milwaukee attending the Franciscan Federation annual conference with other Franciscans from across the U.S.  It is a special event this year as we honor past presidents of this organization.  These past presidents include Sister Paula and Sister Rose Mae Rausch of our Little Falls community.  They will be honored for encouragement, leadership and guidance provided by them personally over the years.

Many Little Falls, Minnesota sisters have made wonderful contributions to this Federation -- in addition to Sisters Paula and Rose Mae, I think of Sister Maristell Schannan who helped author the document, Go To My Brethren, a transitional guide for Franciscans around the changes called for by  theVatican II Council. Sister Elise Saggau authored a history of the Federation, taught Franciscan theology at St. Bonaventure's University and edited numerous publications to uncover more early Franciscan writings.  We have always had active representation, such as Sister Joanne Klinnert, in planning and guiding Federation activities for the past number of  years.

I would have enjoyed attending, especially to celebrate Sisters Paula and Rose Mae.  I am home for two reasons:  #1.  I already spent two weeks of travel and spiritual nourishment this year when I attended the Hesychia School of Spiritual Direction in Tucson this spring. We need to share our resources for these kinds of experiences.   #2.  One of us should be here with you know who pictured below.
Being home with Roxy is a blessing for me, especially during this time of the summer when everything is beautiful and green around our house.  Caring for a dog encourages a caregiver to get outdoors and receive lessons on enjoying all there is out there.  Roxy doesn't miss a thing and you can see how beautiful she is.  What a gift.

Being home alone is much like being on retreat.  The quiet and unstructured days offer time and quiet for prayer and reading.  I just finished David Brooks, The Road to Character.  Brook's examination of the lives of 8 men and women uncovers qualities and moral values shaped through years to provide lives with finished products of "character" suitable for handing over to God in their final days.

I am particularly nourished by Brook's final comments on vocation.  He says, "No good life is possible unless it is organized around a vocation. . . . A vocation is found by looking within and finding your passion.  It is found by looking without and asking what life is asking of us.  What problem is addressed by an activity you intrinsically enjoy?"  This is food for thought while home alone with God and a dog.                              

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Sisters Vow for Life

"Llamo a los que El quiso, yellos vinieron a El" - "Jesus called those He wanted and they came to Him."  So stated the theme of Profession for our newest Sisters:  Aurora Tovar Rodriguez and Maria Isabel (Isa)  Berrones Morales. Aurora and Isa heard the voice of Jesus while living with our U.S. members in San Raphael Galeana Nuevo Leon Mexico a number of years ago.  On Friday, May 27, 2016 the rafters of our Sacred Heart Chapel in Little Falls, Minnesota U.S.A. rattled with joy and gratitude in celebration as these two women vowed to live as Franciscan Sisters all the days of their lives.

As is customary, our Community Minister receives the vows of Sisters.  Here Sister Bea Eichten stands with her commitment of support after the Mass and vow ceremony with Sisters Aurora and Isa.

Behind them is the portrait of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of Mexico.  Indeed the chapel was filled with images familiar to Sisters Isa and Aurora:

These dancers are just some of the many friends who now live in central Minnesota.  Before returning to live and minister in Nuevo Leon, Mexico, our newest members lived a year or more with our Minnesota Sisters and served as teachers and social workers among the immigrants living in communities around Little Falls.  These families grew to love the Sisters and turned out in large numbers for their celebration of vows at the Convent.  You can't imagine the joy filling all of our hearts!  We are One Body.  We are One Spirit.

Thursday, May 19, 2016


Next week we Sisters will gather in Little Falls from all the towns, states, and countries where we live and serve to share the gospel of Jesus.  We are missioned to these many places as  members of a Franciscan Catholic community and many, though not all, of the people we serve are Catholic.  I've taken for granted that I know what "Catholic" means -- the other night I was confronted with the fact that many Catholics have pretty different understandings of what Catholic means.

We have a Catholic pope in Pope Francis.  I think most people would say he is Catholic.  Since coming to know him we see how consistent he is in modeling the gospel of Jesus--reaching out to those on the margins of society, teaching mercy, peace, unity of all people in one God no matter what their ethnic background or what religion they practice. He leads Catholic Christians in fidelity to the Church we are a part of, weak and sinful though it be.  So I would use Pope Francis to illustrate my understanding of what Catholic means.

On the other hand, the PBS News Hour the other night shared a situation in what the reporter described as "mostly Catholic St. Cloud, Minnesota."  I grew up on the outskirts of St. Cloud and it's true that I hadn't met a "non-Catholic" all through grade school.  Driving through the countryside around St. Cloud one sees the prominently positioned Catholic churches in most small towns.  So, what was this story-making situation in Catholic St. Cloud?  Can you guess? 

St. Cloud has one of the largest populations of Somali immigrants.  This PBS News Hour spoke of intense persecution of immigrants in St. Cloud.  Somali students described being bullied in school.  The reporter spoke with Somali adults who meet with harassment in neighborhoods and are denied recognition as educated, skilled workers.  It appears that the Christians, Catholic included, want to keep St. Cloud for themselves.

And Jesus says, "Welcome the stranger."  I am grateful for all who welcome immigrants and for the immigrants I've been privileged to be with.  My world continues to need to be enlarged.  Thanks especially to Hands Across the World in St. Cloud and to those providing leadership in the Christian/Muslim Dialog in this area.  We "Catholics" need you.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

All the Help I Can Get!

Amanda from our Communications Staff in Little Falls just answered  a n o t h e r   request from me :  my cry for help with blogging.  After a visit in her office, after several emails, and now a phone call:  here I am.  Thanks, God, for Amanda.  Thanks, too, dear God, for all the many other ways You help all of us each day.

I have been in touch with my classmates from the Hesychia School of Spiritual Direction.  The bonds created through our soulfilled sharing in those classes continue to be strengthened.  There is a saying that "You can always make new friends, but you can't make old friends."  I have the feeling that if we live long enough, we will have made more "old" friends.  In the meantime, I am now sharing this gift of spiritual direction with members of our parish here in Annandale. "Thank You, God," for this opportunity.

On another note from our parish, St. Ignatius here in Annandale, we will be celebrating a healing Mass with the sacrament of healing on Sunday afternoon, 2:00 p.m. May 22nd.  Everyone is invited.  We usually think to pray for healing from physical illnesses; however, there are many other reasons t for Christ to lay a healing hand on us:  grief for the death of a loved one. ( my heart went out to a special family on Mothers Day-- a mother and a grandmother were missing in the pew behind me.)   We all know people with financial anxieties and concerns for so many other reasons.  This sacrament of healing is for all. There will be hospitality in our Gathering Space following Mass.

In the meantime, enjoy the greening of this May day and the blooming of tulips and dandelions and lilacs, etc. etc.  I have one more request:  may the Indigo Bunting who came to our bird feeder yesterday return and stay with us.

Oh, well.  One more thing I need some help with. . . . .

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Lakota Friends

This past weekend my local community spent Saturday with Basil and Charlotte Brave Heart. Basil and Char are Lakota friends from the Pine Ridge reservation. They generously give of themselves to share healing ceremonies at the Lutheran Church of the Nativity in Golden Valley each spring and fall.

Lakota healing ceremonies pre date Western medicine and in many ways surpass it. The setting involves all of creation with expressed acknowledgement that we are all one with our Creator and everything/everyone. Many of our ills arise from a sense of isolation. Sitting all together in a circle, repeatedly experiencing circling rounds of blessings with sage, immersed in vibrations of the circle of drummers, voices of singers, and dancing feet, every fiber of my being felt connected.

We joined in prayer with a circle of men and one woman combat vets who came forward for cleansing of scars of war and PTSD in their lives. Minds, hearts and hands of the spiritually and physically wounded vets were touched with a sacred eagle feather as we all stood with them in song and drumming dance. In another moving ritual, anyone who mourned the loss of loved ones stepped into the center for Wiping of Tears. Each one, again with drumming, song and dance was wiped with the sacred eagle feather. Each also made an offering of blessed tobacco and drank from a bowl of sacred water. (What is 'sacred' water? All water is sacred because all water comes from a divine source.) Basil almost always retells us about his grandmother teaching him to step outside first thing each morning with an offering of water in thanksgiving to our sacred creator.

A friend of ours e-mailed the next day: "Thanks for friends to share a wonderful day. I woke up early and was sitting on the deck with a cup of coffee, the first light is coming and the birds are singing. I thought of Basil's message, just listen to the birds, see the light, feel the wind, and let that be your prayer to the Creator -- when we start saying words, our ego gets in the way." I so agree. No wonder my favorite prayer is to simply center myself in God's presence and "just be."

I sometimes think St. Francis was Lakota - Basil is so like him. We are all one. Healing comes through acknowledgement of who we really are.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Jesus has checked out of his tomb. So, why am I still in mine?

I’ve been reading post-Easter accounts of women and men who were around to experience Jesus’ death and his new life first hand. Just thinking about their experience shakes me out of my deadening familiarity with those accounts. I have to give credit to the Collegeville publication Give Us This Day and James Martin, S.J. for reminding me of Father Daniel Harrington’s 4 steps to sacred reading, Lexio Divina. Answering Harrington's four questions while meditating with recent scriptures, I see how I have held back from writing this blog for our community. How many times I've been asked to write again and refused! Too much work . . . etc.

Harrington reads and reflects on a sacred passage taking time with it in these steps:

·  What does this text say? (What’s going on here?)

·  What does that say to me? (What relevance does this text have for my daily life?)

·  What is it I want to say to God about this text? (Begin honest conversation with God.)

·  What difference will this text make in my life? (Encountering the Spirit in scripture always means some conversion and transformation if we are open to it.)

My answers made me listen to hear God’s Word and open my heart in prayer. That is the reason I am coming out of hiding and picking up writing this blog again. I say "yes", I will give.

I'm open to doing something that takes effort and "my precious time." And you know what? The air outside of that tomb is pretty refreshing.

Sister Jan Kilian