Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Our Lady of Angels Convent Welcomes Pope Francis!

When 4 P. M. came today, we rang the tower bells at our motherhouse, joining with parishes and congregations throughout the U.S. to welcome Pope Francis when his plane landed in the U.S. A number of us--sisters and staff--also gathered outside the motherhouse with hand bells to add to the welcome. One of the sisters--somehow--got hold of one of "larger than life" figures of Pope Francis so we took him outside with us.

Although we started ringing our hand bells right outside the front door of the convent, we quickly decided to move out to the road. It was at a perfect time because there was a good bit of traffic going by and we got lots of waves and beeps from the drivers.

Hope you enjoy some of our photos!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Afternoon of Prayer: A Great Success!

Our afternoon of prayer on Sunday, September 13, was a great success. Friends, relatives, neighbors, and, of course, our sisters joined in prayer at Our Lady of Angels Convent. The afternoon’s program was part of our congregation’s celebration of the Year of Consecrated Life. Folks arrived at 1 P.M. and gathered in chapel for midday prayer which opened with Trevor Thomsom’s, “We Belong to You.” The appropriateness of the hymn was especially evident as we sang the refrain, reminding us that each of us—regardless of the way we have been called to serve—belongs to a loving God. The prayer service continued with the chanting of psalms, readings from the Acts of the Apostles and St. Francis’ Admonitions, and a reflection by Sr. Anne Amati. Following a period of intercessory prayer, we had Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament until 2:30. During that time people remained in chapel for a period of personal prayer.

Fr. Cyprian Rosen joined us for the afternoon and prayers concluded with Benediction and with everyone joining in the closing hymn, “Wake Up the World.” This beautiful hymn was written by Steven C. Warner just for the Year of Consecrated Life. If you haven’t heard it, check it out on YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxL7fZPaFuY. 

When we left chapel, we headed down to our large gathering room. There our ever faithful food services staff had prepared a delicious array of refreshments. Blessed with food for both soul and body, we spent time simply enjoying one another’s company.


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Franciscan Volunteers: No Risk, No Gain: Off to a Great Start!

Our newest ministry, Franciscan Volunteers: No Risk, No Gain, has begun in earnest! One by one the first four volunteers arrived: Katheen from New Hampshire, Sabina from Texas, Mikah from Philadelphia, and Neil from Buffalo, New York. Most of the first week was spent on orientation, retreat, presentations by several of our sisters, and simply getting to know one another.

(l-r) Mikah, Sabina, Kathleen, Neil

Helping with dinner
Sharing a meal
Taking time for quiet reflection
Enjoying a game of miniature golf
Last Friday evening I was privileged to attend a cook-out with these young women and men, our leadership, team, the board of Franciscan Volunteers: No Risk, No Gain, and a group of our sisters who volunteered to serve as possible "sister sidekicks." The evening was enjoyable. We all introduced ourselves and I'm sure the volunteers were a bit overwhelmed trying to keep straight who was who, what was what, and who did what!!
During our liturgy this past Sunday, we had a commissioning service for the volunteers. Sr. Sara, director of the volunteer program, invited each volunteer into the sanctuary where each read his/her commitment to the program and to the mission of the Sisters of St. Francis. In turn the sisters who were present for the liturgy read their commitment to the volunteers and also blessed the young women and men by singing the "Blessing of St. Francis." 
Sr. Sara Marks calls the volunteers into the sanctuary.
Kathleen, Sabina, Mikah, and Neil declare their commitment to the volunteer program and to the mission of the Sisters of St. Francis.
The sisters declare their commitment to the volunteers and to their program and (below) sing a special blessing on the work of these young women and men.
Sr. Pat Smith, a member of our leadership team, also welcomed the volunteers and both she and Sr. Sara presented each volunteer with a tau cross, a symbol that is so very special to all of us. The tau is actually a letter of the Greek alphabet. St. Francis often used it to sign his letters and his writings because it reminded him of the cross on which Jesus was crucified.
Sr. Pat Smith welcomes the volunteers in the name of the leadership and the total congregation.
Kathleen, Sabina, Mikah, and Neil receive tau crosses.
Following liturgy, the sisters greeted and welcomed these young men and women, thanking them for the gift of themselves which they will be sharing with us and with the people they serve during this coming year.
Srs. Libby Pepe and Corinne Wright welcome Neil and Kathleen.
Sabina and Mikah pose for a photo with Sr. Maria DeGuadalupe.

We are grateful for their courage and their generosity in blessing us with their presence and their individual gifts. We know that, in turn, God, who will not be outdone in generosity, will bless them in many ways. We pray also that many other young adults will answer this call to give a year of service and to be enriched by our Franciscan spirit and spirituality. Remember--no risk, no gain!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Latest News from the Nyumbani Journal

Enjoy some of the most recent updates from Sr. Julie Mulvihill about her ministry at Nyumbani Children's Home in Kenya. To learn more about all of the Nyumbani programs---Leo Toto, Nyumbani Village (where Lawson High School is located), and Nyumbani Laboratory---visit their website, www.nyumbani.org.

July 31, 2015
We have several volunteers right now. Pepe, who comes each August, and Kara, who is is part of the Princeton in Africa Program, are both volunteering in the village. This week we had a volunteer come for the village. Richelle has been volunteering at the village for the past two  months left to continue  her studies in Ireland. 

I spent a lot of time this week helping to prepare our 21 children to go to Ireland. Sr. Emily and I worked to get all their bags packed and Protus spoke with them about their passports and travel.   Before dinner on Thursday, the children met with Protus, Helen, and myself for a final review and then with Sr. Mary for their final blessing.  After dinner we boarded the bus and arrived at the airport at 7 P.M.  Sr. Emily, Mungai, and I watched from outside as they got through the ticket line and checked their baggage.  By 8 P.M. all was done and we thought they were ready to go but the British Airline (BA) person said she needed to check to see if they needed transit visas to go through the London airport.  At 9:30 P.M. she confirmed that they did and they since didn’t have them, they couldn’t fly to London. BA could do nothing to help since it was UK law. We couldn’t believe it since Protus had checked early in the week and had been told they did not. I’d already notified Protus and he was on his way to see what he could do. In the meantime, we got the children back on the bus so they could sleep and Helen, Knight, and I waited outside the terminal for Protus.  He arrived, worked for hours, and was able—by hard work and some kind of miracle—to get the visas. However, the gates were closed so the children couldn’t get on the plane.  They were very disappointed but we prayed when we got on the bus to go home and knew that they would go eventually—just didn’t know when.  To cheer the kids up, Protus gave me money to get food on the way home.  We stopped at Pizza Inn for pizza and soda.  There was a 250 shilling special and we just had enough money to cover the kids. They woke up to the smell of individual chicken and beef pizzas and loved them. We arrived home at 1:30 AM.  The next day Protus went to BA to see about the tickets and we are now waiting to see when they can fly to Ireland. 

August 10, 2015
Terrific news!  After a lot of hard work, we were able to get our children off to Ireland.  The first group of 12 led by Helen and Knight left on Sunday evening and the second group of 12 led by Peter and Brigit left on Monday. Say a special prayer for Geraldine, Dermot, and all those who made this trip possible.  The children will return home on August 20.

On Friday night the Adoration Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament had the children pray for  me and on Saturday morning they had Mass celebrated for my intention. Saturday evening Srs. Ann, Little, Emily, Teresa, and Elizabeth--who is closely associated with the sisters--had a special jubilee dinner for me.  Sr. Mary and Protus also joined in the celebration. The sisters decorated, prepared lots of good food, baked a delicious cake, and gave me a beautifully wrapped present and a bouquet of roses. What more could anyone want! They are so sisterly towards me.  I deeply appreciated all they did to make this such a great celebration. I loved being able to celebrate with my Nyumbani family.  I am still working on two more jubilee celebrations—one with the Nyumbani children and one with the staff! 

Sr. Julie celebrated her 50th jubilee with the sisters with whom she works.
Sr. Julie shows off the gift and flowers she received from the sisters.
Our primary school children finished school today and our high school students are returning home. The kids will be free to relax this weekend. Our Holiday Program will begin on Monday. This should also be a relaxing time for them. They will have library, computer, and art classes, a little time for service, and time to play outdoor games.  Pray that the weather gets a little bit warmer.  It is winter here and it has been pretty chilly most of the week.

I took Mungai to Dr. Serah to check out how well he is hearing with his CI. That young man knows everything he needs to know about how to program it. He clearly answered any question the audiologist asked him. I’m so proud of him and I am sure Tomi and Jeff would be too. The only sad news is that since his CI is so old we might not be able to get replacement rechargeable batteries. The rechargeable ones are expensive but they actually save us a lot of money. Let’s hope Doctor Serah comes up with some good news.
August 14, 2015
Week 1 of our Holiday Program ended with an Olympic Basketball Team Game in the afternoon. We had two teams: Blue and Green.  Collins and Paulo, two of our Kenyan University students, got our teams together. Thomas captained the Blue Team and Christine G the Green Team. Sr. Mary was our head cheerleader. Aoife from Ireland was our score keeper. The Blue Team won and got their medals and candy and the Green Team got their Olympic rings and candy. There was some complaining about the officiating but I thought I did a great job! On Friday we will have our Nyumbani's Got Talent Show! I’ll let you know how it goes.

John and Sam are working on shading with the art group.  Some of our students, like Canary and Nicholas, have real artistic talent.  Ivan is introducing some new information on computers and is testing the class. The students keep telling me about the percentage they got right. They love learning new things about the computers. In the library we have been working on reading and learning how to write brief book reports. We have also done a little work on letter writing and some grammar. Jackie and her friends are doing well with the high school students, especially Form 4s. The teenagers seem anxious to learn and to get help with the assignments they need to complete while on break. In Self-Reliance Training the topic is preparing budgets.  It’s is an important topic, not just in helping to set up a business but also in budgeting for their daily lives.    

This week Laura P. will be traveling to Switzerland to meet her relatives. Her father was Swiss and she’s excited about meeting her family. Our former volunteer and long-time friend Alex helped to arrange this and will travel with her.

 Before they left for Switzerland, Laura (right) and Alex attended the Swiss National Day Celebration and Laura meet people who knew her father.
Please continue to pray for us as we pray for you!
Sr. Julie


Sr. Ronnie Grier Receives Harriet Tubman Award

Our Sr. Ronnie Grier received the Harriet Tubman Award at the annual National Black Sisters’ Conference (NBSC) which was held in Charleston, South Carolina, in July. Since 1984, members of the NBSC have nominated and voted for one of its members to receive the Harriet Tubman Award. In addition to other criteria, the recipient must exemplify the spirit, courage, and charisma of Harriet Tubman who was called to be a Moses to her people and must have affected the development of Black People.

Before the award was presented, Sr. Kathy Dougherty was invited to address the attendees. Then Sr. Callista Robinson, OSF, president of NBSC, presented the award, explaining that Ronnie, through her ministry, has, indeed, served as a Moses to her people. Jennie Cook Trotter, a friend of Sister Ronnie since their days at St. Benedict School in Brooklyn, also shared the impact that Ronnie has had on her life over the years. In an acceptance speech that combined both eloquence and simplicity and which seemed to reflect the very reasons why she had been chosen to receive the award, Ronnie spoke of the importance of making children aware of their importance and their inherent dignity.

Sr. Kathy addresses the conference prior to the awarding of the Harriet Tubman Award.
Sr. Ronnie accepts the Harriet Tubman Award from Sr. Callista Robinson.
Sr. Ronnie Grier (right) and Jennie Cook Trotter display the Harriet Tubman Award plaque.
In her acceptance speech, Sr. Ronnie stressed the importance of helping children to understand and believe in their inherent dignity.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Congregational Gathering Day 2015

On August 8 sisters from east and west, companions, and former members gathered at the Neumann University Life Center in Aston for our 2015 Gathering Day.  

After a continental breakfast, the program began with prayer and a welcome by Sr. Kathy Dougherty, our congregational minister.
The morning focused on the “joy of the gospel,” a theme developed by Pope Francis in his apostolic exhortation. Each of our four presenters explained how he or she experiences the “joy of the gospel” as a lived reality.  Our speakers were Joan DeGregorio, a former member; Kathy Joyce, one of our companions; Sr. Nora Nash, our director of corporate social responsibility; and John Kruse, an employee of Neumann University.
Joan DeGregorio, former member

Sr. Nora Nash
Companion Kathy Joyce
John Kruse, professor at Neumann University
A midmorning break and lunch allowed time for socializing—always an important part of our gatherings!
Srs. Helen Jacobson and Ruth Bernadette O'Connor chat with former member Linda Vonderschmidt-LaStella (center).
Sr. Florence Hee (right) welcomed Companion Joy Wallace who traveled from Portland, Oregon, for the weekend. 
Following lunch we spent time in quiet reflection and sharing insights on the morning’s presentations.

(Front) Srs. Jean Margaret McDevitt and Kathleen Shadell; (at table) Srs. Kathleen Halpin, Ronnie Grier, and Corinne Wright share reflections and insights about the morning's presentations.
The afternoon program offered several options: tours of the motherhouse, presentations on both our new volunteer program and Young Franciscans, and—more time to socialize!

(Above) Sr. Sara Marks and (Below) Sr. Christa Marie Thompson both did PowerPoint presentations. Sr. Sara talked about the new volunteer program, Franciscan Volunteers: No Risk, No Gain. Sr. Christa explained the evolution and current status of the Young Franciscans program.
At 4 P.M. we moved to the motherhouse for our Eucharistic liturgy during which Srs. Sara Marks and Kathy Flood renewed their vows and our companions renewed their annual commitment.
Sr. Sara Marks (above) and Sr. Kathy Flood (below) both renewed their vows as Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia. They will continue to do this yearly as they continue their discernment.

Many members of our Franciscan Companions in Mission were present for the day and during the liturgy renewed their commitment to our values and mission.
The sisters sang the Blessing of St. Francis to affirm both the vowel renewal by Srs. Kathy and Sara and the recommitment by our companions.
We concluded our day with a delicious dinner served by our always gracious food services staff.

 (Above) Srs. Maria Orlandini, Ursula Tisdall, Joan Koliss, and Eleanor Peck. (Below) Srs. Kathleen Donovan, Doris Johnson, Jean Rupertus, and Marie Lucey.


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