AUSTRIAN VISITATION –
A SISTERLY GIFT OF PRESENCE
We were blessed to have visits this summer from three of our Austrian Sisters. The Visitation of Sr. Angelika and the presence of both Sr. Johanna and Sr. Renee’ during our Provincial Chapter was a tremendous gift! Sr. Renee’ arrived in August to assist us for three months and Sr. Angelika, our General Superior, and Sr. Johanna, General Secretary, were with us from September 26 through October 10th.
Although Sr. Angelika and Sr. Johanna had a bit of “travel trouble” with delays in Chicago, they arrived with happy greetings and in good spirits. After a long night’s sleep, they were on their feet and ready to go the next day. That was a good thing, because four of us Sisters were committed to helping with the Northwest Missouri Enterprise Facilitation Wine Fest fundraiser. Joining us for several hours, the two got a “taste” of wine from our region, but also mixed with the vendors at the various booths and with fellow board members of the NWMEF organization. They went home before the rest of us, and when we tired workers arrived back, we found a cornucopia of gifts from the Motherhouse displayed very decoratively in the dining room. The Sisters were delighted with the gifts!
The days went by very quickly. The Sisters joined in wherever they could with the tasks and activities of each day. What a delight to celebrate Transitus and the Feast of St. Francis with them! Then there was preparation for the Chapter, and the Chapter itself where all were able to speak freely and communicate despite our language differences.
We also made an effort to let the Sisters know a little bit more about our area and what it is like to live and serve here in rural Northwest Missouri. Many pictures were taken as they toured the Remington Nature Center, the Pony Express Museum, the Amish community in Jamesport, and other local sites. One unique experience was a real surprise.
The Sisters were invited to visit the farm of Shirley and Rick Catlett. But little did they know that they would be picked up and delivered there in a stretch limousine!
Even though this was a longer visit than usual, the most difficult part of the visitation was saying goodbye to the three Sisters. We are thankful for our time with them and so appreciative that they took time to be with us!
The Gift of a Willing Hand and a Willing Heart –
The Gift of novices!
As our natural aging process becomes more of a reality and our religious members continue to decline, we are ever so grateful for the generous and willing hearts and hands God provides us on life’s path. One such gift is the gift of novices from Austria who have been sent on a practicum to the assist the Sisters in the USA province.
As a second year novice, Sr. Ruth Summer, was the first novice to come to share the USA version of our Franciscan way of life. Sister Ruth holds Masters degrees in both History and Religion. Teaching is just one of her many gifts. Having had the opportunity to instruct students both on the elementary and secondary levels, Sr. Ruth truly enjoys seeing how her young students meet the challenges of learning and continuing to strive to reach their fullest potential.
During her two months stay, much was requested of Sr. Ruth and without any hesitation she was always willing to accept and meet the challenges with grace and enthusiasm. Sr. Ruth’s living of our Franciscan charism was truly evident in her visiting the sick, assisting in meal preparations, chauffeuring, running numerous errands, organizing various projects here at the convent, apple picking, and spending time with our senior sisters, in addition to participating in our shared prayer and community life. We felt her absence deeply when it was time for her to return home.
A few months later we were blessed to welcome Sr. Anna Harbich. At the youthful age of 26, it was most refreshing to have not only another sister in our home, but one who is so full of energy and enthusiasm. By profession, Sr. Anna, a Kindergarten teacher, can easily be characterized as being spirit-filled and joyful, two of the finest characteristics one could have especially when working with children.
Early upon arrival, Sr. Anna was ready to avail herself to any tasks presented to her. She arrived just in time to be a wonderful therapist for our little dog, Kizzy, who was injured recently and is unable to walk without the assistance of a doggy wheelchair. Prior to Sr. Anna’s coming, Kizzy had no movement in her hind legs but after much intensive care and water therapy, Kizzy is now trying to stand up on all fours.
Besides providing excellent dog care, Sr. Anna also applied her teaching skills as an instructor in the parish school of religion at St. Rose Parish. She assisted in the care of our senior sisters, planned and directed some wonderful activities for our Shining Stars program, chauffeured and assisted with doctor’s appointments, made a daily run to the post office, grocery shopped as needed and taught computer classes to some of our local seniors. Each Sunday, she enhanced our liturgy with a beautiful flute solo. On other days, she and Sr. Raphael mastered the tasks of making homemade apple strudel, bread and cinnamon rolls.
Sr. Anna’s short stay of two months with us was mutually enriching and enjoyable for all.
Each time a novice arrived for her time with us, Sr. Teresa, Formation Director, accompanied her. Sr. Teresa stayed only one week, but it was wonderful to share even this short amount of time with her.
In February of this year, we got to welcome Sr. Teresa again, as she traveled with Sr. Ida, our third novice. Sr. Ida came in winter, but that did not prevent us from utilizing her gardening skills as a horticulturalist. She assisted us with instructing and guiding our Shining Stars activity in the creation of miniature gardens and worked with our large collection of houseplants which were in need of an expert touch.
Sr. Ida came at a time when we needed help in the infirmary. Sr. Barbara was dealing with a broken pelvis, and Sr. Ida was able to assist her and also assisted the other Sisters there. She practiced her culinary skills in the kitchen and provided Sr. Raphael with strong arms to knead the dough or to bring in the boxes of groceries.
We Sisters in the USA consider ourselves blessed to have these young Franciscan Sisters, even if only for a time.