Sunday, June 27, 2010

Celebrating My Third Anniversary on Blogger!

GlobeImage via Wikipedia
That's right! Three years ago this past week I decided to start a blog--and here I am! Believe me when I tell you that I didn't really know what a blog was. But I kept hearing about them and finally I asked someone to help me set it up. (Thanks, Florence!) I figured that if I could ever get the hang of it, I could use it to share information about our congregation and our sisters and just people know a bit about the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia and what we stand for. And so the "Franciscan Life" blog was birthed.

I have to admit that it got off to a slow start. I did a few posts that first summer and hoped someone would read them. Someone did--a few of my coworkers tried very hard to boost my morale. In fact, that whole first year was rather slow and haphazard. I read other blogs and found them so attractive. I kept thinking that there had to be a way to "jazz" mine up a bit but I really lacked the confidence to try--had no idea how to add photos!

After the first year I decided to get brave and was determined to figure out how to post photos. I know, I know! There are directions but somehow trying to read them and follow them all at the same time wasn't easy. Once I figured that out, however, my blog began to take on a personality. Then I became fascinated with the "Add a Gadget" feature and my sidebar began to grow. This blog was moving from infancy to becoming a toddler and....here we are three years later, having had a few facelifts!

One of the most wonderful features of my blog is not so much what I post but the exchanges I've had with so many wonderful folks from around the world. I thoroughly enjoy reading posts on the blogs I follow and I continue to be honored that I have folks who follow my blog. You'll never know how excited I get when see those magic words--"Comments to be moderated"!

And so my journey into the blogosphere continues with every day bringing something new. The experience has truly convinced me that it is a "small world after all." Special blessings to all who have been so faithful and a warm welcome to all who visit the world of "Franciscan Life."


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Friday, June 18, 2010

Celebrating the Wonderful Life of Sister Michael Joseph!


The oldest member of our congregation, Sister Michael Joseph Herron, 101, died yesterday in Assisi House, our retirement residence in Aston, Pennsylvania. She was planning to celebrate her 102nd birthday on June 28. A professed member of the congregation for 76 years, Sister Michael was born Bridget Catherine Herron in County Donegal, Ireland, in 1908. She was one of 13 children in the Herron family and entered the convent when she was 23 years old. Prior to entrance into the congregation in 1932, she worked as a housekeeper at St. Lawrence Rectory in Catasauqua, Pennsylvania.


Sister Michael Joseph earned a B.S. in English from Mount St. Mary University in Emmitsburg and spent her years in active ministry in both elementary education and parish ministry. She ministered for 51 years in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, where she taught at St. Elizabeth School; St. Peter Claver School; Little Flower School; St. Stephen School, Bradshaw; and St. Katharine School (1947-1955). From 1974-1998 Sister Michael Joseph moved into parish ministry at Little Flower Parish, an experience that left her with many fond memories. “It was particularly rewarding when I spent time in parish ministry,” she recalled. “God spoke through me—I was his instrument to bring peace to troubled hearts and souls.” When we received word about Sister Michael's death yesterday, one of the sisters commented about how Sister Michael enjoyed visited families in the parish--always traveling on foot in spite of the very hilly areas in the parish.

Sister Michael Joseph also ministered for 10 years in the Dioceseof Wilmington and in the Archdiocese of Washington, DC.  There she taught at St. Paul School (1932-1933, 1934-1938) and at St. Anthony School (1959-1964). In 1998 she moved to Assisi House in Aston, Pennsylvania, where she served in prayer ministry until her death. Here too, she was conscious of importance of her ministry. “Now in prayer ministry, I can remember the needs of the world, the Church, employees, family, and friends,” she said. “How can I ever return thanks to the Lord for all he has given to me!” She loved to draw and showcased her works along the walls and door of her bedroom. Although she was hard of hearing, she still liked to joke with the staff and read up on current events. In fact, Sister Michael credited her good sense of humor and her love for God as factors contributing to her longevity in life. When she celebrated her 75th jubilee last years, she wrote, “My heart is filled with gratitude to God and to each sister for her kindness, love, and caring for me over these 75 years in our Franciscan community….God is good!

On May 11 of this year, Sister Michael Joseph was awarded a certificate of official recognition “in grateful acknowledgement of distinguished service and exemplary citizenship in the County of Delaware.” A representative from the county presented the award and flowers to Sister Michael. As she read the certificate, Sister Michael clapped with joy! Imagine what she's doing as she prepares to celebrate her 102nd birthday with the God she served for so long!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Jubilee 2010: Celebrating 50, 70, and 75 Years As Franciscan Sisters!

On Sunday, June 13, more than 200 members of our sisters gathered in Our Lady of Angels Chapel in Aston, Pennsylvania, to give witness to the lives and service of the congregation’s 36 jubilarians. Father Cyprian Rosen, OFM Cap, was the presider at the Eucharistic liturgy. Celebrating 75, 70, and 50 years of religious profession, the jubilarians represent an accumulated 2,045 years of service in 21 states and 45 dioceses, including Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Ireland, Nicaragua, and Africa. Needless to say, the liturgy was beautiful and, as always, our sisters enjoyed being together for this special occasion. The sisters traveled to the mother house from various parts of the country--as far west as Hawaii and as far south as Florida. We also had sisters in from Ireland for the occasion. We are definitely people who enjoy celebrations and who enjoy one another!


These are just a few of the photos of this day of celebration. Enjoy all of them at http://sistersofstfrancisofphila.shutterfly.com/pictures.



After we finished the group pictures of the jubilarians, the procession began. Jubilarians processed outside, along the path in front of the motherhouse, and into chapel.


During the liturgy the jubilarians renewed the vows of poverty, celibacy, and obedience they had first professed 50, 70, and 75 years ago.


Fr. Cyprian, OFM Cap, was the presider at the Eucharistic liturgy.


After liturgy we all went down to the dining room for lunch--which was topped off by this delicious cake made by our food services staff.


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Friday, June 11, 2010

Celebrating the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Jesus H. ChristImage by angelofsweetbitter2009 via Flickr
We've had our new Franciscan Morning and Evening Praise books almost a year now and I never cease to marvel at the beauty of the prayers. The book was birthed by the Franciscan Federation and the various parts of the Office were compiled by sisters from various congregations. I was proud to be part of the group that initially worked on it.

Some of the prayers from today's Office--for the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus--are especially beautiful. Although space doesn't allow for sharing the complete Office, I'd like to share some of the readings and shorter prayers from Evening Prayer with you.

What I particularly like about these readings and prayers is that they seem to focus, not only on the heart of Jesus and its relationship with the vastness of the love and power of God the Father, but they also seem to invite and draw me into that relationship and help me to see my role in sharing that love and relationship with others.

We have two readings--one from scripture and one from Franciscan sources.
Ephesians 3:17-29
May Christ dwell in your heart through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love...May you have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Bonaventure, The Tree of Life
You, soul devoted to God, whoever you are, run with living desire to this Fountain of life and light...clear and sweet...hidden from the eyes of all mortals, whose depth is without bottom, whose height is without limit, whose breadth cannot be bounded, whose purity cannot be disturbed. From this Fountain flows the stream of the oil of gladness, which gladdens the city of God, ...the torrent, I say, of the pleasure of God, from which the guests at the heavenly banquet drink...and sing without ceasing hymns of jubilation.

Intercessions: These I thought were expecially helpful in making me aware of what the Sacred Heart of Jesus is calling me to in my relationship with others.
We take refuge in your heart, O Christ Jesus, and confidently pray to Abba God for our needs and those of the whole Church:
  • That all creatures may respond to your invitation to the new creation:-may they come to the fulfillment you intend for them.
  • For all who work for peace and reconciliation in our societies:-may their efforts bring our world closer to a harmony that reflects your love and glory.
  • For all those burdened by sin and despair:-may they turn toward you in repentence and enjoy the liberty of your sons and daughers.
  • For all your people everywhere:-may they become worthy dwelling places for your Spirit.
Closing Prayer
O God, we rejoice in your gifts of love received through the heart of Jesus. Open our hearts and minds to offer our love and service in return. We ask this through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

And the final Blessing--taken from the Blessing of St. Clare--And this is my prayer for each of you as well on this beautiful feast!
May we always be lovers of God and of our souls and the souls of our sisters and brothers and always eager to observe what we have promised the Lord.
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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Saying "Yes" to the ME God Made!

Jatropha podagrica flowersImage by Martin_Heigan via Flickr
I was looking on YouTube this afternoon for some kind of inspirational video to use as a post and--lo and behold!--I found this little gem! It's not very long but it seems to me, to hold a very important message--that the ME that God made is someone worthwhile and someone with definite value.

Like many people, I often tend to think that I just don't quite measure up, that my gifts and my contributions are somewhat less than they should be. I tend to focus on what I can't do, the areas of weakness, rather than on what I can do. But isn't that attitude something of an insult to the God who made me? Fortunatley, of course, I have friends who are very quick to take me to task for thinking this way and I have to say that in recent years, I think I've improved--at least to a degree. Guess that's one of the blessings of age!

I hope the video speaks to you, reminding you and convincing you of the gift that, indeed, your are. And I'd also like to share a poem that I know I've used before but somehow it seems to fit here quite well. I wrote it about 12 years ago when I was part of a Franciscan sabbatical program. I had been reflecting on the connection between wholeness and holiness and the fact that wholeness includes both strengths and weaknesses. I asked myself the rather convoluted question: If wholeness is holiness and wholeness includes brokeness/weakness, then does it mean that being holy includes being broken or imperfect? Now don't get lost in the twists and turns of that--just trust that I came to the conclusion that it does! And from that came my "Canticle."


Canticle
You dreamed of me in love
Soft whisper-breathed my name. . .
God-loved me into being.
Be praised, my God of all that is.

You held my brokeness within your hands
And gently smoothed with godly care
My glassy, sharpened shards. . .
God-loved me into wholeness.
Be praised, my God, of broken lives.

You searched my darkness with your light. . .
Not harsh. . .
Not glaring. . .
But gently muted
Till my spirit too could bear the rays. . .
God-loved me into light.
Be praised, my God whose name is Light.

You warmed the coldness that I wore
And softened from within
The hardness of my shell. . .
Warmly. . .
Softly. . .
You embraced
And God-breathed gentleness into my veins.
Be praised, my gentle God of warmth.

You sigh with pleasure at this ME you made
And gaze in awe at all I am.
You laugh and sing with godly joy
God-breathing godness into me.
Be praised, my God,
My Joy,
My God,
My All.

                                           Ann Marie Slavin, OSF
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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Franciscans Join Statewide Prayer Vigil for Immigration Reform


Putting our corporate stand on immigration into action, the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia will join people throughout the nation next week as we continue to call for comprehensive immigration reform and stand against the anti-immigrant legislation recently passed in Arizona and introduced in Pennsylvania and 16 other states.


In Pennsylvania, we join a statewide, week-long, 24-hour per day prayer vigil to show support for the people of Arizona as they face firsthand the devastating consequences of federal inaction on comprehensive immigration reform and prepare for new extreme anti-immigrant legislation to go into effect on July 28. In addition, at least 20 faith communities across the state will host public prayer events, protesting attempts by Pennsylvania’s state house to replicate Arizona style enforcement laws locally and to pray for courageous leadership in Washington to act now on immigration reform that keeps families together and fixes our broken system.

We will also host the rolling prayer service on immigration in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in Arizona on June 10, 2010, in our motherhouse chapel (Our Lady of Angels Convent Chapel, 609 S. Convent Road, Aston, PA 19014-1207), 7 P.M. – 8 P.M. All are welcome.

Central Baptist Church of Wayne hosted the opening prayer vigil on Sunday, June 6 at 7 P.M. Together we lit vigil candles that will remain lit throughout the week and renewed our commitment to tend the flames of hope, justice, solidarity, and unity for and with our immigrant brothers and sisters. The gathering time opened with prayer, song, stories, and reflections on the issue of immigration justice. Moving into a creative response time, we had opportunities to travel among several learning, reflection, and action stations.

A large closing event Concert of Song and Prayer will be held on Saturday, June 12, at St. Luke United Methodist Church in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania (568 Montgomery Ave, at Pennswood) from 9 A.M.-1P.M.

In addition to the public events, we are inviting individuals to commit to a moment of prayer at some time during the week. We simply ask that you take about 30 or 60 minutes to engage in prayer, meditation, or other action in support of our brothers in sisters in Arizona.

Pennsylvania’s week long vigil is part of a broader nationwide, eight-week effort called the Isaiah 58 Summer, a nationwide vigil and fast for Arizona. The Isaiah 58 Summer, a “rolling” prayer vigil and fast, will move from region to region from June 6 to July 28, culminating with a three-day fast, July 30-August 1, in both Arizona and across the country. Each week, groups in different states will lead constant prayer and public witness in support of the people of Arizona to denounce the anti-immigrant law there and to send the message to state and national leaders that we need humane, just comprehensive immigration reform this year—and that no other state should face legislation like Arizona’s. The event honors the young activists who have maintained a growing 1500+ person prayer vigil outside the Arizona state house.
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Monday, June 7, 2010

Corporate Social Responsibility: Bringing Change Through Action!


As we continue to watch the news accounts of the gulf oil spill, we learned this weekend of another drilling-related accident--this time in Pennsylvania. Some time ago I did a post on the work our sisters are doing through corporate social responsibility in regard to hydraulic fracturing, particularly along the Marcellus Shale. Saturday's Philadelphia Inquirer carried a story about what they termed "the states most alarming drilling-related accident in recent years." The account described a rupture that, for 16 hours, blasted natural gas and polluted wastewater out of a well in northwestern Pennsylvania. You can read that article and the various views of related to the issue (EOG Resources[one of the largest gas contractors in Pennsylvania], state legislators, DEP officials, etc. at http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_action=doc&p_docid=1302C6ECC1D83AA0&p_docnum=1.

Then on Sunday, the business section of the Inquirer carried the following headline: "Activist Nuns Bringing Fracting To A Vote." And there we were--the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia and the work being done through our office of corporate social responsibility to get the shareholders of the Chesapeake Energy Corp. to vote on the issue of hydraulic fracturing. Sr. Nora Nash, our director of corporate social responsibility is quoted in the article. The article does a good job of describing the role of shareholders and the impact they can have on policies of large corporations. Check it out at http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_action=doc&p_docid=1302DE1AF4317EF8&p_docnum=1.

Our corporate socia responsibility office also works with a larger group, the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR). The New York Times ran a very positive article about ICCR's work.Susana McDermott, Director of Communication, for ICCR. quotes a section of the article that praises the whole concept of corporate social responsiblitiy: ""If ever the corporate world could use a healthy infusion of responsibility, this would seem to be the time" and then added that "the piece not only affirms the relevance of our members' work during this proxy season, but it honors the genuine spirit of our mission over our 40-year history of corporate engagement." You can read the article at  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/04/nyregion/04nyc.html.

And so I salute Sr. Nora and all who work responsibly, peacefully, and tirelessly to bring about change and justice in our world!

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Friday, June 4, 2010

Prayer Service for World Environment Day

I received this information after I had finished my earlier posting, but I felt it was very applicable.

Tomorrow, June 5 is World Environment Day. The Carmelites have prepared a beautiful prayer service on water. You can find it on their website, http://www.carmelitengo.org/. They have a statement on their site inviting people to download and share the prayer.

In addition to those mentioned in the prayer, perhaps you might also want to remember our brothers and sisters who live along the gulf coast.

Reflection: What Can WE Do In Light of the OIL Spill in the Gulf?

An oiled bird from Oil Spill in San Francisco ...Image via Wikipedia
Every evening we watch the latest on the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Images of oil boiling out of pipes into the waters of the gulf bombard us. Last night I sat and watched videos of a pelican struggling to lift itself out of the oil-slicked waters, unable to lift its wings to rid itself of the layers of oil. News accounts list the dangers to the wetlands, the implications for the fishing industry, the health  issues of the people who live and work along the affected shores. And I ask myself--what do I, sitting here in my community room, do about this?

Jim Wallis has an excellent post on the Sojourner's blog, God's Politics. Jim is able to capture what to me seems to be the crux of the situation--that this immediate crisis, while it can certainly be assigned to numerous infractions by BP, can also be seen as the outcome of a mentality, a philosophy, a lifestyle that each of us might well want to reflect on and find alternatives to. Check out Jim's post:
http://blog.sojo.net/2010/06/03/a-time-for-moral-reckoning.
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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Happiness Is: Receiving the Happiness Award!


Wow! I just learned that Mary at Life in a Small Town, http://mary-lifeinasmalltown.blogspot.com/ has passed the Happiness Award on to me! This is really an honor. I have to say that working on my blog makes me happy. I love passing on the good news about our sisters to those who follow my blog.

This happiness award will be given to five bloggers, every Sunday! (We'll just pretend this is Sunday! After all, it is a "Sun-ny" day!) Mary explained the award in this way. "Those five bloggers will then pass it on to five bloggers. This special award will be given to bloggers who truly have happiness in their hearts and pass that on to everyone they meet and everywhere they go. They know that happiness is a choice, and always choose wisely. Always looking on the sunny-side of life and keeping their sense of humor, these bloggers are a joy to read."

And now for my five selections! It's hard to actually limit my choices to five because I read so many blogs but here goes, in no specific order:

1. http://crystalmarylindsey.blogspot.com/
2. http://hollydietor.blogspot.com/
3. http://jubileestreet.blogspot.com/
4. http://smarylou.blogspot.com/
5. http://livingfranciscan.blogspot.com/

Please visit these blogs as well as Mary's. I know you'll find something special there for you!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Franciscan Life Receives Inspirational Blog Award!

Special thanks to Anna at Faithful Catholic Girl, http://faithfulcatholicgirl.blogspot.com/, for gifting me with the Inspirational Blog Award. It's really an honor to receive any award and when a blog award comes from one's followers--that's even more special! Thanks, Anna!

In turn, I'd like to share this award with the following blogs that I follow:

1. Sr. Patricia at Nun Other Than A Franciscan Sister, http://nunotherthanafranciscansister.blogspot.com/
2. Pat at Among Women, http://amongwomenpodcast.blogspot.com/

Check them out--I'm sure you'll find them interesting!

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