We are living in extraordinary times. Our physical and economic health are threatened by an unseen force. We are afraid.
As Franciscan women, we have always provided hope to those who need it most. This ministry is particularly important now, so we are sharing the prayers and words of hope that have comforted us as we faced personal challenges. It is possible to comfort people even in a time of social distancing!
S. Kathy Adamski works with the Diocese of Charleston, SC, training staff parishes throughout the state and offering spiritual retreats. An attendee sent this note to her after the last retreat she held before COVI-19 restrictions went into place:
Good morning Sister Kathy,
I just wanted to follow up my first thank you with a more robust thank you for the time you took to bring us your Lenten Mission “Lent: The Power of Vulnerability”.
Who would have known then, March 8-10, that your message would have to sustain us throughout the rest of the 2020 Lenten season? We were not aware at that time that we would be staying at home due to the corona virus or that we would be sacrificing daily mass, sunday mass and holy communion for an undetermined or yet to be determined time. Thankfully, how you ended our retreat time, especially, was so powerful! Impromptu as it was, we were left with a sustaining gift…so beautiful!
On March 11, 2020, I drove to Mepkin Abbey where I was signed up to hear Sr. Susan Schorsten, HM and Sr. Gay Rowzie, HM. Their lecture had been cancelled but, I did not know it. My trip was not for naught, however, because I visited with the gift store clerk there, “Angel”, and bought a few books (on your suggestion – “What was the last book you read for spiritual growth?”).
One small book I bought belongs on your bookshelf. It is a great Sr. Kathy Adamski Lenten Mission companion in keeping with your vulnerability message: “Finding Your Treasure, A Monastic Journey through Lent”, by The Benedictine Monks of Munsterschwarzach Abbey. You definitely inspired me to pick it and buy it.
In sum, thank you again for your efforts to prepare, travel for and present your program to us. It continues to resonate with me and, hopefully, with the others who attended.
The stay home order has challenged us to be mindful of caring for ourselves and others. Here’s what the sisters are doing…
Hope is to compassionately remember all people affected by the virus, to create positive attitudes from a distance, to savor the moment of a hot shower and to spend time appreciating the good in others.
S. Barbara Whelan
Leaning on The Heart of God
God is both waiting and welcoming as we pray for all creation and learn to trust and to love even more deeply. Below is a link to a poem by S. Joyce Rupp I found inspiring for these times.
S. Alice Dunlop
Simple Beauty and Contemplation: Leaning On The Heart Of God
“I am leaning on the heart of God. I am resting there is silence. All the turmoil that exhausts me is brought to bear on this great love. No resistance or complaint is heard as I lean upon God’s welcome.
A Prayer of Hope
I have always felt inspired by St. Theresa of Avila’s prayer of hope
because it reminds me that God is faithful and will always be with us.
S. Rose Ann Reichlin
“Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.”
― Santa Teresa de Jesús
I would like to share A Prayer Amid an Epidemic by Kerry Weber, as published in America Magazine. I found it very good, mostly because it is addressed directly to Jesus as he is present in the gospels.
— S. Marion Moeser
A Prayer Amid an Epidemic
By Kerry Weber
Jesus Christ, you traveled through towns and villages “curing every disease and illness.” At your command, the sick were made well. Come to our aid now, in the midst of the global spread of the coronavirus, that we may experience your healing love.
Heal those who are sick with the virus. May they regain their strength and health through quality medical care.
Heal us from our fear, which prevents nations from working together and neighbors from helping one another.
Heal us from our pride, which can make us claim invulnerability to a disease that knows no borders.
Jesus Christ, healer of all, stay by our side in this time of uncertainty and sorrow.
Be with those who have died from the virus. May they be at rest with you in your eternal peace.
Be with the families of those who are sick or have died. As they worry and grieve, defend them from illness and despair. May they know your peace.
Be with the doctors, nurses, researchers and all medical professionals who seek to heal and help those affected and who put themselves at risk in the process. May they know your protection and peace.
Be with the leaders of all nations. Give them the foresight to act with charity and true concern for the well-being of the people they are meant to serve. Give them the wisdom to invest in long-term solutions that will help prepare for or prevent future outbreaks. May they know your peace, as they work together to achieve it on earth.
Whether we are home or abroad, surrounded by many people suffering from this illness or only a few, Jesus Christ, stay with us as we endure and mourn, persist and prepare. In place of our anxiety, give us your peace.
Jesus Christ, heal us.
Kerry Weber is an executive editor of America.
A Prayer Amid an Epidemic
By Kerry Weber
Father Joncas, composer of On Eagle’s Wings, composed a new hymn for the time of Covid-19. He is allowing for its free use into 2021. The link tells more about this 2020 hymn of consolation and strength and explains how to get the words and music. Our sisters in WNY learned the refrain and a cantor sings the verses at times of prayer. Click here to listen to the song.
Sister Fran Gangloff
On my formation for ministry page located on the Diocese of Charleston website, I have a beautiful reflection video that I want to share with all my sisters and associates. After viewing the video, you might also enjoy reading some of the additional material from “down south” posted on this page. Video
S. Kathy Adamski
S. Margaret Carney received an email from Patrick Carolan, Catholic Outreach Director for Vote Common Good and past Executive Director of the Franciscan Action Network (FAN) about her recent blog “Clare, Covid-19, and the Communion of Saints.” Patrick said that he included some of her reflection, with due credit, in a reflection he was preparing for a briefing Vice President Biden receives each morning.
Below is Patrick Carolan’s reflection.
As a result of COVID-19 our world has been turned upside down. We are asked to make difficult choices and sacrifices for the common good. The 13th century Franciscan theologian St. Bonaventure tells us that how we choose and what we choose makes a difference – first in what we become by our choices and second what the world becomes by our choices.
Perhaps the one of the most difficult choices we are faced with is when a loved one is dying. It is painful enough without the added hurt of believing that they are dying alone without family and friends. In Irish Celtic spirituality there is a belief in what is called “thin places,” places where the veil between earth and heaven is so porous that we may experience the “other side” clearly. The moment of death is the ultimate thin place. There, beyond our ability to see or to imagine, those whom we love and honor who “have gone before us in faith” move toward us in joyful welcome. Our faith teaches us that our loved ones were not alone. In that final hour, the veil fell away and they moved forward surrounded by ancestors of their family and of their faith. Christian faith teaches us that they are surrounded and welcomed by the Communion of Saints. God has wiped away their tears.
As a people of faith one lesson to be learned from COVID-19 is that we are all connected. What happens to one affects all. Franciscan spirituality teaches the interdependency of all creation. St Francis of Assisi had a deep respect for creation. It was not out of a sense of duty or obligation but out of an inner love by which creation and the source of creation were intimately united. Creation is the outpouring of God’s love into the universe.
A portion of this reflection was adapted from “Clare, COVID-19, and the Communion of Saints” by Sr. Margaret Carney OSF.
When I am in school, I start each class with the children saying a prayer written on my white board. This prayer is based on the Gospel reading for each day. Since I am unable to do this, I want to support others, thus I post a reflection on the Gospel reading of the day every day on Facebook.
S. Laurita Kelly
Sister Martha Torbik received a response from the thank you letter she shared with our News & Views readers that she sent to Msgr. Philip Heng S.J. regarding positive feedback on their YouTube presentations. Msgr. Heng invites us to watch a Post-Easter series of YouTube videos they produced on “Living a More Discerning Life.”
Contemplating Jesus with Discernment series for our Daily Living
Part 4: https://youtu.be/tfO7dANi2AI
Part 5: https://youtu.be/8IJUbP6p2f4
Part 6: https://youtu.be/3MzGHDWiln4
Part 7: https://youtu.be/ZbfCq8vE3Pg
Part 8: https://youtu.be/6uteSM72_9E
Our sponsored ministry, St. Francis Health System, is doing marvelous things in Honolulu during the pandemic! In a recent e-newsletter from the System, it shared a “Mahalo for helping us deliver dinners to homebound kupuna.”
Thanks to the Hawaii Dental Service Foundation, American Savings Bank, Nan Inc. and UHA Health Insurance, St. Francis Healthcare System has been able to deliver thousands of free dinners to Oahu seniors since April 20. The dinner deliveries build on the Show Aloha Challenge, which offers free lunches prepared by local restaurants to seniors who do not qualify for other government-sponsored home meal delivery programs. This fills an important need for healthy seniors who do not feel safe grocery shopping while the stay-at-home orders are in place.
“We know healthcare workers, including our own employees, are critical to a vibrant, robust healthcare system, but many are under tremendous stress and at the brink of burnout. Many don’t have the energy to make dinner and take care of their elderly loved ones after a long shift of meeting the needs of others non-stop,” said Jerry Correa, chief executive officer of St. Francis Healthcare System. “This is our way of taking care of the people who take care of the community.”
The Hawaii Dental Service Foundation was the lead sponsor of this initiative with a $150,000 donation. Nan, Inc. gave $50,000; American Saving Bank, $25,000; and UHA Health Insurance, $5,000. Mahalo also to consulting partner Pacific Point, who helped develop our meal and delivery route app, and to Salesforce for the additional courtesy licenses to allow for more drivers on the app as the number of meal deliveries increased.
With all of this generous support, St. Francis Healthcare System was able to rapidly organize the logistics for the deliveries from several local restaurants, mobilizing and deploying teams of captains and drivers to ensure meals are delivered to seniors in a timely manner, seven days a week.
A Positive Approach in a Pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic. Unemployment at Depression era levels. Civil rights protests that rival those of the 1960s.
What the world needs now is prayer — and some spiritual guidance. Sister Kathleen Murphy is a certified spiritual director, someone who companions people as they develop deeper relationships with God.
She’s not a therapist, though she does admit that she incorporates some of renowned psychotherapist Carl Jung’s methods into her work (self-awareness can help us make changes in our lives), along with the teachings of St. Ignatius and St. Francis.
“There are three roles for a spiritual director,” she says. “We give hospitality by creating a safe space for people to examine where they find God in their lives. We are teachers and we are mid-wives in that we help bring out what is already in an individual’s soul.”
Sister Kathleen has adapted her work with directees due to the pandemic’s stay at home and physical distancing requirements. She emailed each directee to check on them and conducts spiritual sessions via telephone and videoconferencing. She proposes that people keep a ‘gratitude journal,’ where they write down that day’s gift from God, and also recommends people change their prayer forms, if deemed necessary.
“I often suggest the Rosary because it’s tactile and repetitive, which can help lead people to contemplation,” she says.
Most directees are upbeat during this difficult time, Sister Kathleen says. “People say they appreciate that they have had more time for prayer during the pandemic. Others say that they are growing closer to their spouses,” she reports.
Sister Kathleen directs people from a variety of faith traditions. All of them miss worshipping in community. Roman Catholic directees especially miss receiving the Eucharist and long for the day when they can do so again.
Colors of Summer Surround The Waters
The grounds that surrounds The Waters of Wexford is filled with color — beautiful flowers and colorful landscaping that is so refreshing to people who walk around the property and those who see it from windows or balconies. Beauty really does speak to the soul and reflect the infinite perfection of its creator. You can take an outside tour of The Waters by visiting our photo display.
Ethel is one of the residents at The Waters; her birthday is very special to her daughter who hosted a lovely party in her honor last year. Because of the coronavirus, a display sufficed this year. There is little furniture on the patio to help maintain physical distancing. You will notice in our patio photo a tall structure that looks like concert lighting. This is a condo for purple Martins (bird). The Martins don’t’ seem to be aware of the luxury accommodations yet, but we’ll keep looking for them.
The tall trees arise from a deep ravine adjacent to our walkway that descends to a tiny creek. And of course, we see S. Ellen’s tomato and zucchini plants on her second-floor balcony. Color will come when tomatoes ripen. In one photo, you can see our nearest neighbor —a dermatology, plastic surgery and spa center. So near and yet so far!
Today’s outside tour courtesy of S. Alice Dunlop, photographer.
Caption: S. Ellen McClure grows tomatoes outside on her balcony
S. Mary Schifferle keeps her students safe during lunchtime at St. Paul’s Catholic School in Leesburg, Florida by making sure their needs are met while staying socially distant.
On Thursday morning, October 15, Sisters Samuel Marie Setter, Grace Michael Souza, Jean Barrett, Robertine Palladino and Barbara Woody went on an exhilarating outing to Beaver Lake, located near Syracuse. Our gracious assistant activity director, Tracy Durkin, and fabulous van driver, Regina DeMoff, accompanied us. The day was perfect, warm and shining with the brilliance of Brother Sun. The outing was a “Beaver Lake Nature on Wheels” excursion. We were able to explore the beauty surrounding Beaver Lake without having to walk the trails. We rode in an electric vehicle on an hour-long tour through the forest, driven by our competent and witty naturalist guide, Dave. Dave enthralled us with his knowledge of the forest, the animals and the lake and kept everyone entertained with many jokes. The attached photos reveal some of the beauty of the Beaver Lake Nature Center that we all enjoyed. During the tour, everyone beheld God’s artistry in this small corner of creation. God’s masterful art work was revealed in the lush forest and majestic trees, dazzling with multi-colored leaves and shimmering in the Autumn sunlight; wild grapes still clinging to the vines; abundant berries with striking red hues; playful squirrels skittering about; and, in the quiet lake where hundreds of geese were swimming languidly in its still waters. Throughout the tour, we delighted in God’s creation and thanked God for the time we shared together.
The sudden impact that coronavirus has had globally leads one to reflect on Richard Rohr’s mediation leading the human soul on two paths, one of suffering and one on love. According to the daily news, no one is excluded from the dangers that anyone infected with the deadly virus is in fatal or serious condition. This “oneness” is a factor in making our world an international family. This leads to unity that fosters peace and harmony; and no need for hostility and war. At present, the U.S. is engaged in the election for the president. Competition often engenders an atmosphere of division.
Suffering is inevitable for many. My father who suffered from cancer of the esophagus had difficulty breathing, Whenever he noticed the anguish on our faces, he would try to comfort us by saying, “Jesus, suffered and died, I am not better than God.”
What really matters in each of our lives is knowing that we are certain of God’s infinite love for each of us who are the work of His creation.
Sister Helen Buscarino
A Powerful Quote For Our Times
S. Rose Jerome Kenlon shares this quote by Winston Churchill. Taken from a November 1942 speech given at Mansion House, London after the Allied Victory in North Africa in WWII, it is fitting for today:
“Now this is not the end, it might not even be the beginning of the end, but it might be the end of the beginning.”
Thinking of Others
Thinking of the youngest generation of our family…so many home from school – elementary, high, and college doing distance learning. Best wishes to each of you. Thinking of the parents and grandparents and cousins and all who have to make big adjustments to their daily lives. God’s blessings to all of you.
S. Fran Gangloff
Let us remember the apostles at the tomb of Jesus.
They had to have HOPE that they would see Jesus
who always gave them hope for their life’s journey.
During these difficult times let us place all our HOPE in
Jesus and all will work out for the good of all. Amen.
S. Laurita Kelly
One thing that has continued to amaze me is how from the beginning of time – at least from that of Adam and Eve – God manages to bring GOOD out of bad situations, stupid choices, even warfare (with enemies seen and/or unseen.) For once in my lifetime, we are at a point of compassion for our GLOBAL Brothers and Sisters. Thank you, GOD! Even our politicians are working together!! Thank you, GOD! We may not be able to participate in the Eucharist, but we are closely connected in prayer for each other. Thank you, GOD! Thank you, Jesus, one more time – for as long as this “time” lasts!
Peace and all Good!
S. Catherine Noecker, OSF
Loving people who are so wonderful always to the sisters, here is a marvelous prayer to help you when experiencing fear during these days
of COVID-19. Say it often, and all the love and trust in Jesus will flood your whole being.
Jesus, have mercy on our world.
S. Myra Richard
Prayer of St. Theresa
Trust Him when dark doubts assail you
Trust Him when your strength is small
Trust Him when simply trusting Him seems the hardest thing of all.
The following reflection is written by Joyce Rupp – writer, international retreat leader, and conference speaker. You can subscribe to Joyce Rupps Newsletter here.
Shortly after the Covid-19 virus reached our state, an incident in the supermarket troubled me. A stranger spoke at length about the details of his work at a water bottling company, his worries about getting his needs met and the free lunches he applied for at two places. As the man moved on, he lowered his voice and confided, “I’m afraid of what people are gonna do so I got two loaded guns in my house.” His comment unsettled me. Fear’s ability to pounce on peace and replace it with violence became more real that morning.
Fear in itself is humanity’s friend, a natural response meant to protect our well-being. But when fear insists on center stage and gobbles up peacefulness, it can change into an enemy. Pema Chodron writes in Comfortable with Uncertainty that instead of “resisting our fears” we need to “get to know them well” and ask ourselves, “What happens when I feel I can’t handle what’s going on? …Where do I look for strength and in what do I place my trust?” That last question is a determining factor as to the choice of maintaining foundational peace or succumbing to high anxiety when fear arises due to an uncertain, glum future.
Tara Brach (Radical Compassion) describes what I consider to be a valuable meditation in regard to where we place our trust: “Let the fears you’re carrying, the big ones, come to mind. And now imagine that you are holding them gently and respectfully in both hands…and placing them into the arms of the Divine Mother. It’s not that you’re getting rid of them. It’s more like letting something much larger help you hold them. See if you can visualize and feel this. You might try actually cupping your hands and lifting them up.”
This meditation reflects an aspect of Brach’s core method, RAIN, for lessening anxiety. This helpful, fourfold step is on her website. Besides Brach’s approach, several other spiritual practices keep my mind and heart steering away from fear. The first is The Serenity Prayer by the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr. The first three lines are most often worded this way: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” I also return daily to several lines in Nan Merrill’s translation of Psalm 91 inviting the words to sink into my heart: “My refuge and my strength, In You alone will I trust. For You deliver me from the webs of fear, from all that separates and divides.” (Psalms for Praying)
There’s another spiritual practice that assists in leveling fear when it hurtles itself at me. I created a list of people with good reason to have fears much bigger than mine. The litany consists of those easily recognized for their bravery such as medical staffs, EMTS, caregivers and police officers, along with those in less prominent view: transportation drivers, food chefs, postal workers, plumbers, and more. I focus on the Compassionate One’s love in my heart and intentionally send this abiding peace forth to those who are placing themselves in harm’s way for the sake of serving others and saving lives.
As we move through this troubling period of human history, I hope we can corral unhelpful fears and maintain our peace by trusting in Someone or something larger than ourselves.
This past week the staff and children at Mt. Alvernia Daycare & Learning Center, Millvale, Pennsylvania, spotted a baby deer on the property. The mommy deer would appear now and then to bring food to her baby. Each day of the week we would spot the baby deer in different places on the property. One day, a teacher and the kids found her hiding in a playhouse on the playground. Of course, the kids loved seeing the deer!
It was an educational experience for the children and we all loved seeing the beauty of animals in nature.
Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life
A webinar on Friday, June 5, 2020, Georgetown University’s Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life presented an online public debate on Racism in Our Streets and Structures, A Test of Faith, A Crisis for Our Nation. Future upcoming topics for discussion are listed on their website. If you are interested in receiving emails for future webinars, you can subscribe by calling 202-687-1662 or email email@example.com.
Sister Barbara Jean Wajda
‘Just Mercy,’ is a film based on the true story of Walter McMillian, who with the help of civil rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson, appealed his murder conviction. Warner Brothers made the movie available for free during June, because it believes “in the power of story.” It also hopes people will view the film as part of the national dialogue on race relations and “the systemic racism that plagues our society.” The New York Times Post says “The studio has made the film very easy to watch. It’s available for free via most services where you would normally pay to rent a film: YouTube, iTunes, Amazon Prime Video and Google Play.” You must subscribe to one of these platforms before viewing.
Sister Barbara Jean Wajda
Stations of the Cross and Covid-19
In doing some research on a project I’m working on, I came across some links to Stations of the Cross and Covid-19. I thought you might like to check out these links and use the articles and pictures for your times of prayer. They are from the Diocese of Baltimore, the Diocese of Saginaw, and Kairos
Sister Fran Gangloff
The board of Partners in Franciscan Ministries awarded a $70,000 grant to our sponsored ministry, St. Francis Healthcare System of Hawaii to help provide meals to senior citizens. Quarantined in their homes and with restaurants closed to stop the spread of coronavirus, the city of Hawaii asked the healthcare system to help the local Meals on Wheels program expand its ability to serve senior citizens hot meals in their homes. Within days, the System reassigned staff, contacted community partners for call center staff, built a pool of drivers and found mobile devices to dispatch deliveries. By mid-June, the program was delivering 1,400 meals a day. The grant made by PFM will keep the program running for an additional month. The money comes from the Nazareth Nursery Fund, created with proceeds from the sale of the former day care ministry. This furthers our mission to serve those most in need.
Photo Caption: Two residents receive hot meals at home during the coronavirus quarantine in Honolulu
Congratulations S. Alice Dunlop on becoming a Notary Public, an official ‘witness’ for legal documents. She studied online, took a test and passed it! She then journeyed to downtown Pittsburgh to be sworn in.
S. Alice’s first customer was a sister in The Waters in Pittsburgh who was filling out a form requiring a notarized signature. The signature must be made in person, so a mask and adapted social distancing assures safety. S. Alice follows in the footsteps of S. Coleman Conroy and others before her who made this important service available. In many ways the presence of a Notary is invisible. That is, until we need one! Congratulations, S. Alice. We will look you up when the need arises.
The pleasure we find walking on the grounds of Fredonia Place in Williamsville is very therapeutic for one’s body and soul. While enjoying the scenery, S. Barbara Whalen is pleasantly surprised by a few of God’s creatures who stopped by to say hello. Wanting to share this precious moment with her sisters, she took out her camera to take a few photographs of the adorable deer that crossed her path.
S. Myra Richards wanted to celebrate with her neighbors her 70 years of religious life. So, she recycled the balloons from her household Jubilee party and hung them in her bedroom window. In the story photos, look closely and you will see S. Myra looking out the window. What a great idea S. Myra, and congratulations!
It’s been a while since our sisters at Franciscan Villa in Syracuse have seen beyond their facility walls and its immediate surroundings due to the coronavirus. But on Tuesday, they had a two-hour ride from Syracuse to Auburn. The sisters were excited to get out and enjoy the beautiful surroundings; they pointed out some memorable and beautiful locations during the journey. The passengers were grateful for a bit of freedom beyond the halls of the Villa.