Monday, August 25, 2014

Sr. Kathy Flood Professes First Vows!


On August 10 Sr. Kathleen Mary Flood professed her first vows as a Sister of St. Francis.  The event took place during a Eucharistic liturgy at Our Lady of Angels Convent. The chapel was filled with the sisters and with Kathleen’s family and friends.  The opening hymn, “Everyday God,” seemed especially appropriate as the congregants reflected on God’s great love that brought Kathy to this day, to this moment in time.  The Eucharistic liturgy was presided over by Fr. Cyprian Rosen, OFM, Cap., and Fr. Jay McKee of Good Shepherd Parish in Perryville, Maryland. Fr. McKee offered a beautiful homily.  Sounds of joy and praise filled the chapel as Sr. Esther Anderson welcomed Kathleen into the congregation and gave her copies of the Third Order Regular Rule of St. Francis and the Constitutions and Directives of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia as well as a beautiful San Damiano crucifix.
Sr. Kathleen Flood professed her first vows as a Sister of St. Francis of Philadelphia.

Sr. Esther Anderson presented Sr. Kathy with copies of the Third Order Regular Franciscan Rule, our congregation's Constitutions and Directives, and a beautiful San Damiano Crucifix.
 
Kathleen says of making her first vows: “In the weeks leading up to my profession, the excitement and happiness expressed by each sister I encountered—physically or virtually— gave me a growing sense of joy, confidence, and peace.  It felt like a balloon of goodness was gently expanding within my chest.  So, in making my first profession of vows, I felt held aloft and buoyed by the prayers, love, and support of sisters, family, and friends near and far.  Yes, I am still floating peacefully and I hope to stay aloft for many years!” 

After Sr. Kathy professed her first vows and Sr. Sara Marks renewed her vows for one year, they received the blessing of all of the sisters, companions, and guests.
 
Kathleen Mary was born in Queens, New York, to Raymond and Virginia Flood.  She is a graduate of St. Vincent Ferrer High School.  Her mother, Virginia, died only a few months after Kathy entered candidacy in 2011. Kathy earned her bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from the New York Institute of Technology.  She has since completed technical, business, and theology courses at Villanova and St. Bonaventure Universities. Prior to entering the congregation, Kathy worked providing computer and information security engineering and consulting services for corporations.  She also taught at the junior high level at Good Shepherd Catholic School in Perryville, Maryland.
 
For the past year, Sr. Kathleen has been serving guests at St. Francis Inn in the Kensington section of Philadelphia.  At the end of August, she will continue her education as a student at Neumann University working toward a graduate degree in Pastoral Counseling.  As for the future, Kathleen states she will let the Holy Spirit work to guide her.  “There is much need for pastoral counseling across a diverse range of ministries.  I only hope I will be able to use my gifts, education, and learned experiences to serve the people of God,” she said. 

During the same service, Sr. Sara Marks renewed her vows—dedicating herself freely and unreservedly as a Sister of St. Francis—for another year,

Following the liturgy, Sr. Esther Anderson witnessed the signing of the vow agreements.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Doing the ASL Ice Bucket Challenge!

Yesterday I did the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. No one actually challenged me to do it--I saw it on the news and knew that it was something I had to do. Believe it or not I actually knew personally five people who have died with ALS. When I was living in Wilmington, I lived in a convent where we were privileged to have a cook--a woman named Helena Janas who grew up in Poland. She began having a lot of mobility problems. It took a long time to diagnose what was wrong with her but eventually she was diagnosed with ALS. I learned after I moved from there that she had died. Also when I was teaching in Wilmington, I worked with a young teacher who eventually entered the priesthood. I knew he had had a bout with cancer but also learned that, while he seemed to "beat" the cancer he was later diagnosed with ALS. In  2009 my brother Paul began having what seemed like minor mobility issues and mentioned it to his doctor. After a number of tests he was diagnosed with ALS in April of that year and in less than a year was totally paralyzed and unable to speak or to swallow. He died in April 2010. A few months after his death I read in the paper that a second cousin whom I remembered meeting only when he was a young child had also died of ALS. Around the same time that my brother was diagnosed, one of our sisters was also diagnosed. In her case--at least in the early years--problems were primarily with her speech. However, as time went on she eventually lost more and more mobility as well.

Five people--seems almost impossible! So I gathered a few of our sisters from the offices here at the motherhouse, asked my boss to video me, got someone to help me with the bucket of ice water, and went for it! I really don't know anyone who can afford $100--the amount stipulated on most of the videos that I saw--so I mentioned no particular dollar amount--just asked people to do the challenge or make a donation or both. And believe it or not, a few people have actually given me or promised me money to send along with my own donation! Yesterday I did the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. No one actually challenged me to do it--I saw it on the news and knew that it was something I had to do. Believe it or not I actually knew personally five people who have died with ALS. When I was living in Wilmington, I lived in a convent where we were privileged to have a cook--a woman named Helena Janas who grew up in Poland. She began having a lot of mobility problems. It took a long time to diagnose what was wrong with her but eventually she was diagnosed with ALS. I learned after I moved from there that she had died. Also when I was teaching in Wilmington, I worked with a young teacher who eventually entered the priesthood. I knew he had had a bout with cancer but also learned that, while he seemed to "beat" the cancer he was later diagnosed with ALS. In 2009 my brother Paul began having what seemed like minor mobility issues and mentioned it to his doctor. After a number of tests he was diagnosed with ALS in April of that year and in less than a year was totally paralyzed and unable to speak or to swallow. He died in April 2010. A few months after his death I read in the paper that a second cousin whom I remembered meeting only when he was a young child had also died of ALS. Around the same time that my brother was diagnosed, one of our sisters was also diagnosed. In her case--at least in the early years--problems were primarily with her speech. However, as time went on she eventually lost more and more mobility as well.

So...the video! I managed to get it on YouTube and I have this really crazy expression on my face! However, my heart's right even if my face isn't!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Meet Sister Catherine Georgine Portner!

Sr. Catherine Georgine is one of our sisters who lives in our retirement residence in Aston, Pennsylvania. She is a delightful woman--someone who can put you at ease within minutes of meeting her and probably have you chuckling along with her as she tell you about her experiences!

Sr. Catherine Georgine (standing) stops to chat with Sr. Judith O'Neill who is celebrating her birthday with her sisters and Sr. Ruth Bernadette.
 

When Sr. Catherine Georgine Portner celebrated her 70th jubilee in 2006, she wrote about her wonderful celebration and about the family and friends who joined her for this memorable occasion: “The closure of my “special” day was the showing of a video—my life from birth as a “coal cracker” and after 70 years turned “diamond. Coal does eventually become a diamond!” Her “coal cracker” background is very special to Sr. Catherine—and to her vocation. She traces her connection with the Sisters of St. Francis back to her early education at St. Fidelis School in Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania, and her first grade teacher Sr. Fernanda. “She was so tall,” Sr. Catherine recalled. “I thought she was a saint!” As a child Catherine spent a lot of time at the parish convent helping the sisters—ironing handkerchiefs, helping to make root beer, carrying buckets of coal, and running errands. “That’s how I got my vocation,” she laughed.

Like all of our sisters in our retirement residences, Sr. Catherine likes to spend quiet time in chapel. Her reading keeps her updated on global issues which often form the focus of her prayers.

During most of her years in the congregation, Sr. Catherine was a teacher—a ministry that took her to Philadelphia, Baltimore, Trenton, Lancaster, and York. She also ministered for a number of years as a caregiver for a family member. Sr. Catherine recalled particularly her first two teaching positions in Philadelphia. She was particularly enthralled with her first teaching experience at St. Alphonsus School. “It was only half a block from the early motherhouse,” she explained. It was such a privilege to live that close to our early history.” Sr. Catherine smiled as she described her second mission—St. Benedict School where she taught music. “I spent most of my time pushing a portable organ around the school to 16 different classrooms,” she said. 

Sr. Catherine enjoys reading spiritual books and articles and discussed an article she had read about St. Francis and the virtue of joy.
 
In 2000 Sr. Catherine moved to Queen of Peace Convent, the independent living residence attached to Assisi House. “It was like a regular convent there,” she explained. “You were free to be yourself.” She laughed when she recalled that when she arrived at Queen of Peace, someone asked if she wanted to work. He immediate response was, “No!” However, she was soon invited to volunteer in the finance office in the motherhouse—a service she continued until she became a resident at Assisi House in 2012—and for a short time actually continued to go travel over to the office periodically.  

Visiting the sisters in Clare Hall is one of the highlights of Sr. Catherine's afternoon. Below she gets a special "hello" from Sr. Rosa Mystica.
 
Of her life in Assisi House, Sr. Catherine has only the highest praise. “I’m well cared for and there are no demands on me,” she said. She enjoys straightening and arranging her room and finds time to check out the computer. Sr. Catherine delights in having time to enjoy two of her favorite pastimes—reading and listening to music. Her reading preferences tend toward autobiographies, newspapers, and spiritual books. After lunch each day she goes back to Clare Hall to visit with the sisters there. Her ever-present smile and joyful manner always manage to elicit a smiling response as she stops to chat with each sister. Like all of the sisters in our retirement residences, Sr. Catherine is very conscious that she has been called to prayer ministry and each day remembers the needs of her sisters, the world, and her former students—many of whom still keep in touch.  

As she approaches her 97th birthday and her 78th year as a Sister of St. Francis, Sr. Catherine surveys her life with a positive eye and a sense of peace.—finding joy both in what has been and what is. That, to me, seems to capture the essence of wisdom!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Ice Cream Social 2014: Mr. Softee Visits the Motherhouse!

On Tuesday we had our annual ice cream social at work--a tradition that  started a number of years ago and has become a favorite among our staff. Our leadership team has the Mr. Softee truck come to the motherhouse grounds around 1:30 and all of our employees gather out on our grounds to select whatever of the Mr. Softee products best suits their fancy--and their appetite! The party runs from 1:30 to 3 and provides an enjoyable--and delicious--break on a hot summer day!

Below are some of the photos from this years social.








Monday, July 21, 2014

Psalm 86: A Little Help In Being Slow to Anger!

This past Sunday I went to Mass at our retirement residence and, after visiting for a while with one of our sisters, headed to chapel about 15 minutes before Mass began. Since I had a little time, I opened my Mass booklet and spent a few minutes looking over the reflection which happened to be on the responsorial psalm--a section of Psalm 86.
You, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in kindness to all who call upon you.
R: Lord, you are good and forgiving.
Hearken, O Lord, to my prayer and attend to the sound of my pleading.
All the nations you have made shall come and worship you, O Lord, and glorify your name.
R: Lord, you are good and forgiving.
For you are great and you do wondrous deeds; you alone are God.
R: Lord, you are good and forgiving.
You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in kindness and fidelity.
Turn toward me and have pity on me; give your strength to your servant.
R: Lord, you are good and forgiving.

The reflection--written by Fr. James McKarns--was a very short one but one that had quite an effect on me.  Fr. McKarns focused on the words that described God as being "slow to anger." Apparently something in these words touched some special chord in him and he felt called to try to focus on being "slow to anger" for one day. To remind himself during the day, he put a rubber band on his wrist and when he felt himself being annoyed or angered by any situation that day, he simply snapped the rubber band as a reminder. Apparently this little reminder had a positive effect because Fr. McKarns said that at the end of the day he felt a sense of calmness and decided to continue the practice--although he didn't say how long he continued it.

I thought about this both before and during Mass--especially when we sang one of my favorite hymns--"Loving and Forgiving"!  I had to admit that an increased sense of impatience--and even some anger--have been disturbing to me over the last few years. Well, I thought, rubber bands are relatively easy to come by so maybe I'll give it a try. Maybe a visible reminder might help. So...for the last two days I've been wearing a rubber band on my wrist. Do I get impatient and annoyed? Yes! But that visible reminder does help--at some of the strangest times! Will people begin to wonder why I periodically snap the rubber band on my wrist? Maybe--but they'll probably think I'm just distracted or fidgety! (Of course, if they read this they might wonder if they're making me impatient!)

So...what about you? Do you sometimes need something to remind you that God is loving and forgiving? Do you need to remind yourself that to be more like your God you might need to work on being slow to anger and rich in kindness?


Monday, July 14, 2014

Update from Haiti!

This was Sr. Vicky’s last article before she returned home for the summer. She will soon be returning to Ferrier for another year. As she indicates in this post, Sylvania Franciscan  Sr. Fidelis will not be returning to Haiti but Sr. Vicky will continue working with Sr. Jo.

April 30, 201
This afternoon our KPA leadership team, our medical team, our house staff, and the sisters had a going away party for Sr. Fidelis Rubbo.  Sr. Fidelis is the one who started this mission. The party had its sad moments accompanied by tears.  It had its touching moments when our KPA members, our medical staff, and Sr. Jo shared warm memories and grateful hearts.  However, true to the spirit of Haiti and the Franciscan spirit, our party ended with singing and dancing, eating and laughing, and praising God.
Gerald, a member of the KPA, expressed the gratitude of the group to Sr. Fidelis.
 
May 4, 2014
This morning our parish of St. Rose de Lima had a special liturgy during which we celebrated two very important events.  Today eight of our adult parishioners and three of our children, received their First Holy Communion.  The girls and most of the women wore their prettiest dresses and lovely little veils which Sr. Fidelis found for them. The men had on their white shirts and ties and black dress pants.  They all looked very nice, and we were so proud of each of them. They spent many hours preparing for this very special day with their teachers and their hearts were ready to receive the Lord.

 Marisia, one of the young women of the parish, made her First Communion.
Our eldest communicant--age 90!
Fr. Parnell left a special meeting to be with us for this liturgy.  As always, he was full of enthusiasm, and expressed sincere gratitude to Sr. Fidelis for all that she has done for our people since she arrived almost 13 years ago.  After the Mass, others expressed thanks on the part of the community.  Then there were songs—personalized in her honor—gifts, dancing, food, drinks, and lots of tears.  It was truly a loving tribute!
Sr. Fidelis displays one of her farewell gifts!
Sr. Fidelis came to Haiti over 12 years ago, and began ministering among the people on the Gran Caymete Island.  Eventually she moved onto the mainland, and ended up in Ferrier.  She had the little blue house built.  She then formed our KPA Leadership group because her main goal was to help the Haitian people to help themselves.  With the help of KPA, she has built a clinic and many cisterns for water, started an agricultural group and a sewing center, helped to send many people for emergency care, and provided financial support for education.  Most recently, she became the director of our chapel, forming a pastoral council among the parishioners.  Last year she finished the construction of our visitors’ house called “Zanmi Ayiti” (Friends of Haiti House).  The visitors’ house is used for a variety of purposes such as teaching English, holding meetings, and prayer celebrations.  However, the main purpose of the house is to give a respite  to visitors who come to minister among the Haitian people in the city of Pestel and its surrounding villages.

You can imagine that after all this work, Sr. Fidelis is pretty worn out and it’s time for a new beginning for her   She doesn’t know yet what the Lord has in mind but she’s ready and willing to follow his lead.  The people of this area will be forever grateful to her for all the loving service God has provided through her.  Sr. Fidelis, Bondye beni ou toujou!  (God bless you always!)
If you haven't read the full-length article on the work of the sisters in Haiti, visit our website, http://www.osfphila.org/about/goodnews, and check out the latest issue of our Good News magazine.


 
 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Highlights from Our Congregational Chapter

Our congregational chapter this summer was a time of prayer, communal discernment, and faith-filled sharing. Our goal was two-fold: to set directives for the next six years and to elect a new leadership team who would journey with us in living out those directives.

Although the chapter itself lasted only six days, a great deal of preparatory work had taken place over the 18 months prior to the chapter as we worked in small groups to discern where it was God was leading us as a congregation. During these many meetings, using a process of communal discernment, we arrived--not at a list of "how-tos" but at a single question that would be the focus of the chapter discussions.
Provident God whose life-giving Spirit urges us forward, where are you challenging us as Franciscan women today to risk rebirthing our charism into an unknown future?
 
 
We began with a beautiful opening prayer ritual during which Sacred Scripture was carried in procession into the chapter room.  
 
Sr. Frances Cassidy carries the Book of the Gospel into the chapter room. 
Individual sisters carry bibles to their base tables. As they process through the chapter room, they pass beneath one of the canopies (below).


 At the base tables the sisters reverence the bible which then remains as the table's centerpiece for the remainder of chapter.
 
The chapter was facilitated by Sr. Barbara Valuckas, SSND, who explained that we would be working in both base groups and concensus groups. Each morning would begin with approximately an hour of prayer and faithsharing--one day in base groups and the next in concensus groups. This sense of prayer and prayerfulness pervaded the chapter room throughout the week.
Sr. Barbara Valuckas, SSND
 
 
During the first few days of chapter, delegates worked with the "question" and through a process of communal discernment arrived at a direction statement which will guide us during the upcoming six years. Note that it is not a "how-to" statement--simply a statement of direction. I love it because it says so much about who we are as a congregation and contains such hope for the future!
 
Trusting in our Provident God, whose life-giving Spirit urges us forward, we challenge ourselves as Franciscan women to risk rebirthing our charism, offering it as gift to all. Rooted in contemplative consciousness and committed to the primacy of relationship, we choose to be a prophetic and transformative presence in our Church and world. 
Filled with hope, we step into the unknown future, calling ourselves to…
  • Explore our evolving identity as women in the Church.
  • Expand options for membership and other forms of association.
  • Foster dynamic engagement in every stage of our lives.
  • Exercise responsible stewardship and intensify efforts to care for Earth.
  • Heighten intercultural and intergenerational consciousness and create opportunities for engagement. 
 
Delegates working in groups to discern both our directional statement and which of our nominees would best work as a team to enflesh that directional statement.
 
The last few days of chapter were given to the election of a new leadership team. And the result!
 

Sr. Kathy Dougherty (center) was elected congregational minister. Members of the leadership team are (l-r) Srs. Pat Smith, Ruth Bernadette O'Connor, Mary Farrell, and Marie Colette Gerry.

When Congregtional Chapter 2014 was declared closed, the newly elected team processed through the chapter room caring the Book of the Gospels. All of us who were attendance--both delegates and participant observers processed under the varied colored canopies and headed for the motherhouse for our closing liturgy and dinner.

During the closing liturgy, Sr. Esther Anderson, our current congregational minister blessed and anointed the hands and heads of each of the newly elected council members and all of us in attendance blessed them by singing the Blessing of St. Francis.

 
 



LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...