September 22, 2016

A Jubilee in the Jubilee

Sr. M. Margaret reflects on
her 25 years of Religious Life.
I am grateful to God for 25 years of Religious Life.  It is hard to believe it has been that long.  As I look back, I thank God for everything I have experienced, for the joys and sorrows, the challenges and many blessings.  When I reflect on my many experiences in my apostolate as a teacher, I think about the numerous spiritual children that God has blessed me with.  I have a multitude of memories and stories I could tell of my teaching experience as well as my community experiences.  I know that god has been present through it all.  In the beginning, he said to me, "Veni Si Amas," "Come if you love."  I am grateful for that first call and the grace to respond to that call.  I pray that my life has been a joyful surrender, a sacrifice of praise to God through my service, through my vows and the gift of self.  I look back and I look forward with joy and gratitude.  Each day is a new beginning, a new opportunity.  In this Year of Mercy, this jubilee year in the Church, I think, "Wow!  What a wonderful time to celebrate my 25th Jubilee!"  I have also reflected on the fact that I professed my final vows in the Jubilee Year 2000 declared by Pope St. John Paul II.  Now, Pope Francis has declared this jubilee year and we are all called to receive the MANY graces that our Lord has for us.  It is by his love that we have been called, and it is by his love that we remain in his service.  Let us together rejoice in his merciful love.  I thank God for my call as a Sister of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George for these past 25 years, and I pray, God willing, for many more years of grace and blessings remaining ever close to his heart.

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100 Years of Religious Life!

From Left: Sr. M. Margaret, Sr. M. Seraphica, Sr. Marie-Therese, Sr. Marietta
Four sisters celebrated 25 years of religious life (4 x 25 = 100) in a community celebration on September 17, the feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis.  Click here to view some photos from the celebration and be sure to read their reflections on the blog.

September 21, 2016

Praising God "no matter what" for 25 years...

Sister Marie-Therese shares her gratitude
and joy as she celebrated her Silver Jubilee
 on September 17.
On Saturday, September 17, 2016 Sister Marietta, Sister M. Margaret, Sister M. Seraphica and I had a grace-filled Silver Jubilee celebration at St. Francis Convent in Alton. It was a great joy to celebrate together since in recent years, members of our group were in faraway Cuba and Oklahoma! My fellow jubilarians came to the Friday evening faculty recital at the college where I teach to support me as I  performed with our piano trio. When we returned, our doors were decorated with silver balloons and silver “25’s!” We were blessed to celebrate our Silver Jubilee on the Feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis, reflecting that the wounds of Christ should always remain imprinted on the hearts of Franciscans. 
Many Sisters came from other convents to join us for the special Mass Saturday morning. My favorite hymn was the chant Ave Verum, which asks “sweet Jesus” to “be a foretaste for us of the heavenly banquet” and “to have mercy on us.” When singing or hearing chant, I remember learning that the lack of regular meter symbolizes heaven, where time is not measured as it is on earth. 
Between festive meals, we spent some time together gratefully remembering the last 25 years. We also shared memories with the Sisters at supper, laughing about events like the time my right eyebrow was accidentally shaved off in a convent postulant haircut. We all remembered the class on praise many years ago, when our postulant mistress exhorted us to praise God “no matter what” and to especially praise Him in the difficult times and struggles, as this helps us to keep our eyes on Him and to give us better perspective. We praise Him now with hearts overwhelmed with gratitude for our vocation as brides of Christ in this Franciscan community!
- Sister Marie-Therese, FSGM

September 17, 2016

Meet Anna

Anna with her parents
       My name is Anna O’Connor. I am 20 years old and I am from Hopewell Junction, New York. I attended Franciscan University of Steubenville for two years, studying for a degree in Communication Arts with a concentration in Radio and Television. There I met our Sisters for the first time.
        My family consists of my parents, Cynthia and James, my older sister Rosemary (26), my twin brother Alex (20), and my younger sister, Grace (15). In my free time I love to play tennis and to play piano and to sing. I am a huge New York Yankees fan as well!
       The Lord drew me to this community through our charism of “seeking to make the merciful love of Christ visible.” I watched how the Sisters loved others and how they loved me and I saw Christ directly. He then romanced my heart each day with little gifts of his love and brought me here! Jesus showers us with surprises every day if we are open to His gifts. I am so grateful to Him for bringing me to Alton. May the Lord give you peace!

September 11, 2016

St. Teresa of Calcutta: Better than a Beanie Baby

St. Teresa of Calcutta is the patron saint of our Sister Teresa Maria.  Here she reflects on the canonization of her patroness and how she came to know and love the Church's newest saint.

Saint Mother Teresa, pray for us! This is a prayer I have been looking forward to for almost 20 years. Mother Teresa captured my heart when I was a little girl. I do not remember what it was that attracted me to her or caused a seven year old girl to be so attentive to a nun halfway across the world, but I was truly captivated. I had a “Mother Teresa box” where I would collect newspaper articles and pictures of my hero. I remember grieving her death and not understanding why Princess Diana’s death was receiving different attention. Their deaths coincided with the “Beanie Baby craze” and Princess Diana had a Beanie Bear created in her honor. I naturally was waiting for the Mother Teresa version. I remember feeling confused when my father told me my desired Beanie Baby would not be coming. “But, why,” I asked.  Dad said that Mother Teresa would not want one. This was hard for me to understand because I wanted a Mother Teresa bear! Religious poverty and simplicity was a little above my young mind.  I have since grown up and now share her name. I believe that God placed a special love for Mother Teresa in my heart because He would use her to lead me to my vocation. When I was discerning
my vocation I begged Mother Teresa’s intercession constantly. I asked her to take me by the hand and lead me to where Jesus wanted me. She has not let go of my hand. I am very aware of her presence and will hear her speaking to my heart reminding me that I “am precious to Jesus.”

I give thanks to God for the witness of Mother Teresa’s holiness and capacity to love. Her love for Jesus was the motivation behind every act of love she gave to the poorest of the poor. May she intercede for each of us that we may be not afraid to seek out the poor and forgotten in our lives. May we, like Mother Teresa, seek to quench the thirst of Jesus in loving everyone we encounter.  

- Sister Teresa Maria, FSGM

September 8, 2016

Welcome, Anna!

Yesterday afternoon we welcomed Anna O'Connor from Hopewell Junction, NY to our community and today she became a postulant.  Her parents, Jim and Cynthia, were on hand to celebrate her entrance with us.  Anna studied Communications at Franciscan University before entering, and it was there that she came to know our sisters.  This morning, Mother M. Maximilia gave her a medal of St. Francis and assigned her to assist with teaching religion at St. Mary's School here in Alton.  Stay tuned for her own introduction!
In the meantime, enjoy these photos.