Alive with Franciscan joy

The Kitchen Crew – Keeper of the Keys

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Beyond food, our cooks nourished our souls by listening to our stories as we came and went
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by Sister Elise Cholewinski

In our former motherhouse the kitchen was located on the lower level, not far from the entrance to the garage.  In addition to the stoves and counters and all the other equipment that goes with the Community’s kitchen, there was a special rack on the wall, just inside the door.  It contained the keys for all of the vehicles. This meant that as Sisters came and went they always had to stop in the kitchen.

Stopping in the kitchen to get or return keys was not just an ordinary act; it was a moment of reprieve and rejuvenation.  The dear Sisters working at preparing, cleaning up from meals, or processing vegetables from the garden, really wanted to know how a Sister’s day was going.  Was she on her way to a celebration or to a special commitment in her ministry?  Was she coming home from an exciting experience or bringing disheartening news?  It was in the coming and the going that Sisters shared their stories with other Sisters who offered them support, encouragement, and affirmation.  Their stories were received and honored.

The month of November is a time to remember.  We celebrate the feasts of All Saints and All Souls, and recall those people whom we have personally known in our lifetimes.  When I think of the Sisters who have gone before us, it isn’t always those who were in leadership positions or made outstanding contributions to the Church that comes to mind, although their work was surely significant.  I often picture the Sisters in the kitchen.  They were the keepers of the keys, the keys to love and acceptance, joy and peace.  They radiated the warmth that made us happy to be a part of the community.

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Car keys hung behind the wooden door seen here on the left.

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God calls you and me

Friday, November 3, 2017

This week, listen for God's invitation felt in your heart or heard in a quiet moment 
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by Sister Laura Zelten

It's National Vocation Awareness Week, an annual celebration of promoting vocations in the Catholic Church in the United States. During the week, it’s a great time to think about how God is calling you to live out your faith!

This week consider how God is calling you -- yes, God is always calling you -- but this week is a good time to seriously consider the invitation! Maybe it’s time to revisit and reimmerse yourself into a commitment you’ve made, maybe it’s time to acknowledge that nudge in your heart that you’ve been feeling. Whatever it may be, you can be assured that God is drawing you close and wants the best for you.

Our prayers are with you and we are with you! If you have questions about how you feel God is calling  you, or what to do with a “nudge”, or how to go about figuring stuff out, let us know. We’re glad to be with you on the journey.


Nudge Sister Laura at vocations @ gbfranciscans.org (spaces added to minimize spamming).

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Feast of St. Francis of Assisi

Monday, October 2, 2017

God calls each of us to radical Gospel living, to work always in rebuilding the church
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by Sister Laura Zelten

As a Sister of St Francis of the Holy Cross, I follow in the footprints of St. Francis of Assisi.  He is considered one of the greatest saints because he lived a radical commitment to following Jesus and trusting God to provide for all his needs. St. Francis possessed a willingness to live among the poor, to understand their struggles and to bring them to Jesus through his preaching.  He imitated Jesus in everything that he thought and did. He encountered Jesus daily, living a deep Christian way of life. 

The charisms of St. Francis flow forth into every person who becomes a Franciscan.  Today as a Franciscan Sister, I am called to live simply, compassionately, humbly, gently and joyfully. Each Sister is called to the radical Franciscan commitment to following Jesus and to trust God to provide for her.  Living the Gospel through prayer, presence and hospitality helps us to know Jesus and to reach out to our brothers and sisters.  It is about hearing today the words Jesus spoke to Francis 800 years ago: "Rebuild the Church!” 

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Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

A prayer from youth connects with a Community's charism
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by Sister Elise Cholewinski

“O dearly beloved cross, I embrace thee, I kiss thee, I joyfully accept thee from the hands of God.”

This statement, which was part of a prayer from the Stations of the Cross that we prayed on Friday evenings during Lent at St. Josaphat Church in Oshkosh, has stayed with me since my adolescence.  I felt something when I prayed it, and I sense now that those moments were times when I was experiencing a distinct call to religious life. 

Now I am a Sister of St. Francis of the Holy Cross, and as a Community we claim being rooted in the cross as part of our charism.  For me this means recognizing every event in life as a participation in the Paschal Mystery, the death/resurrection of Jesus.  It is a belief that in every death-dealing situation, new life is rising.  This basic trust gives us a reason to rejoice as we celebrate the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on September 14.  Isn’t it amazing how God mysteriously leads through the prayer of our youth.

 

 

 

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Angels proclaim a gift that keeps changing the world

Friday, December 23, 2016

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Angel For Blog

by Sister Laura Zelten

Every fourth week of Advent I pick an image from the Nativity scene and pray about its meaning. This year it's an angel.

During this sacred season we hear the angels sing as the messengers of God’s grace, given to all humanity for the purpose of our salvation. Now it is true that the glorious message the angels delivered that night was met with wonder, awe, surprise and fear ... quite understandably! Yet, every time we read or listen to this timeless story we can lay aside our fears and instead be overjoyed because this story, and the angels’ message, proclaims God's gifts of life and love, freely given to all of us. When we take God's gifts into our hearts we serve as agents of inspiration and servants of truth, hope and promise.

So this Christmas when we sing "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" or "Gloria in Excelsis Deo" remember that we, too, are called to announce the Good News of God present in our midst. 

Christmas blessings to each of you.

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Introducing Sister Elise

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

by Sister Elise Cholewinski

Cholewinski Elise Sr 2016-001-web -100pxEvery year as summer wanes and autumn approaches, I acknowledge with gratitude a special day on my September calendar. It was on Sept. 7 many years ago that I walked up the front sidewalk, opened the door, and entered St. Francis Convent at Bay Settlement.

My name is Sister Elise Cholewinski, and I am a Sister of St. Francis of the Holy Cross.  Beginning this fall I will be sharing this blogging space with Sister Laura. I am really happy to have this opportunity to relate with you the story of my vocation and my many experiences in religious life.

That special Sept. 7 was actually Labor Day. Our family arrived at the convent in mid-afternoon. I walked into the building carrying one important item, my tennis racquet. Several minutes later I knelt in the back of the chapel praying, “Lord, it is good to be here.” Did I really mean it? I was scared silly! When I looked out the window a short time later and realized that the car had departed, I resigned myself to the fact that I would have to spend one night of my life in a convent. However, when the Community gathered in the chapel for evening prayer, and I prayed Psalm 121 with the Sisters -– “The Lord is your guardian; the Lord is your shade. He is beside you" -– something happened, and I thought that maybe I might stay more than one night.

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A prayer for the new school year

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Zelten_Laura_Sister2012-100pxby Sister Laura Zelten

A new academic year has begun! As a former teacher my heart always leaps with excitement at this time of year.  It is a beginning for students and teachers as they ready to spend the next nine months together.  The newness of the fresh classrooms, new school supplies, and new friends can be exciting and yet stressful as well.   What if I don’t know anyone?  Will my teacher like me?  Who will I sit with at the lunch table? 

I can’t help but send a prayer:

Loving God,
This is the first week of a new school year, a happy, exciting, scary time.
I pray that teachers will be generous, wise and gracious.
I pray that student will form true and lasting friendships. Keep them safe and well.
Open their hearts and minds to learning and growing.
May this be the beginning of many days in which parents, teachers and students know the depth of your love and the faithfulness of your care.  Amen

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Beauty found in unexpected ways of following God

Friday, August 5, 2016

by Sister Laura Zelten

Today we celebrate the gift of four women -- Sister Francis Bangert, Sister Jeanette Peplinski, Sister Urban Schumacher and Sister Clare Simon -- who have spent a collective 270 years as Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross. In this group of amazing women we have teachers, musicians, parish ministers, congregational leaders, social justice advocates, a retirement home administrator, and a missionary to the First Nation people in British Columbia, Canada.  Yes, there are more ministries than Sisters because, over the years, these women have grown, taken risks, tried new things, and answered the call to follow Jesus wherever He called them to serve.

Jubilee celebrations are a wonderful time to gather as Community, to celebrate our Sisters, to celebrate our lives together.  During the liturgy, all Sisters and Associates present are invited to stand and bless the Sisters.  It is always a touching moment, in the presence of loved ones, to sing the Blessing of St. Francis and celebrate the lives of our Sisters.

As our Constitutions: Design for Life says:

“The Sister realizes that in Community she can be and do with others what she cannot be or do alone.” 

Jubilee is indeed a day of rejoicing, celebrating and giving thanks to God!

 

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What Pokemon GO can tell us about evangelization

Thursday, July 14, 2016

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by Sister Laura Zelten

I was sitting on my porch praying one evening when I looked up and saw a group of people roaming a nearby field. Yes, they were searching for Pokémon.  I must admit, it looked intriguing. I went over to find out how the game works and who these people were. The group of young adults didn’t know each other and yet were engaging in conversation and searching together for the sign post.  It got me thinking, isn’t this what community is about?  

As a community of believers we continue to seek the face of Jesus in the reality of our own world.  As we search, we encounter each other in our faith communities, meeting new people, having conversations and building relationships.  We come together in a spirit of welcome to get to know each other and encounter the risen Jesus alive in the community.  Unlike Pokémon, we are not out to fight and overcome others but to come together as a community of mutual respect and love. 

As Sisters of St Francis of the Holy Cross our signposts of prayer, hospitality and presence direct us to search for a world in which we uphold human dignity, pursue peace and promote Gospel justice.  To build a community where all are welcome and continue to search for the face of Jesus in one another. 

Pokemon Go

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Stop, breathe and refocus

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Rare resolution refocuses daily prayer for peace

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by Sister Laura Zelten

I am not one for New Year’s resolutions but this year is different. I received this Williow Tree angel for Christmas from a good friend. She is called “Prayer for Peace, seeking the quiet within.”  She sits on the corner of my desk as a reminder to take time out of my day to pray for peace and seek the quiet within. My days are busy (and can be filled with lots of busyness) so I need a reminder to stop, breathe and refocus.  My resolution is to take some breaks during the day and pray for peace.

Wishing you peace and stillness in this New Year.

Prayer Willow Figure

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