Franciscan Sisters Serving at West Point, NE

by Sister Julie Ann on December 1, 2008

west-point_picture-001-copy.jpgAt the threshold of the Advent Season, the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity serving and living among the people of West Point, NE are ready to to begin this new church year. How shall they hear St. John the Baptist’s call to ‘prepare the way of the Lord?’

Mother Agna in a letter dated November 27, 1963 enfleshes further what a follower of St. Francis is called to do during Advent:

St. Paul admonishes us to ‘put on the Lord Jesus Christ’. In these concise words the Church has set up for us a program of religious deepening and spiritual renewal not only for Advent but for our entire lives.

To ‘put on Christ’ according to the meaning of the Apostle is not merely something external like putting on a piece of clothing. To put on Christ means to make ourselves inwardly and outwardly so conformable to Him that Christ is actually reproduced in us.

This living, real reproduction of Christ in us is the very kernel of Christian life and in particular Franciscan life…’lay aside the works of darkness, love of ease, attachment to our own will, uncharitableness toward our neighbor, and put on the Lord Jesus Christ.’

Find here the Sisters’ own daily life Advent reflections.

28 thoughts on “Franciscan Sisters Serving at West Point, NE”

  1. Today Monday, December 1, I had the good fortune to beable to bake cookies for one of our 5th grade classes. Sister Mary Ann had said this morning that she was going to bring this class over to our Convent chapel for a prayer experience. I asked if she wanted some cookies for them and she took me up on it. They were a delightful class and I might add an energetic one. All enjoyed the cookies and soda in our dinning room. After a time Sister Mary Ann said they needed to hurry up so they would get to their PE class. One of the boys reflected, “cookies and pop or PE class? Hummmm? Cookies and pop are good!” Needless to say Sister took them to PE class.

  2. Kevin says:

    Keep up the good work, I hope you will continue to impact lives everywhere.

    Please join us at http://www.thegiftrevolution.com as we try to change the world through giving.

  3. I read a reflection just before Advent which suggested rather than focusing on what I can give to God each day, we focus on God’s gifts to us. I really like that approach.
    With that as backround, last evening was CCD here in West Point from 7:00-8:00pm. We have about 112 students in K-8. It was our Advent Reconciliation class opportunity. And as CCD can go there is always alot going on in a little time and I was more then a little concerned about it all going well. As the 8:00pm church bell was ringing I was able to slip into the confessional with my list of failings and challenges. I can not say how the chance for reconciliation struck anyone else, but for me,it was a gift from God. The priests comments so simply and clearly helped me to see that my challenges hold the potential of grace. God does gift us so often each day. Advent is a wonderful time to look at His coming – in many ways.

  4. A popular Christmas song goes…”…baby it’s cold outside!” Today, as I walked home from teaching religion to the sophomores and juniors at Central Catholic, I recognized a bone chilling feel to the air. I thought how winter had arrived and how we are all given the opportunity to choose how we will handle little daily events. Just last evening during a conversation I recalled that so much depends on how we “see” things at any given moment. Is this “cold” just to be endured? Is the “cold” something that can be related to our relationship with God and others? Can “cold” actually be our friend? If so, how? And, how can we bring the warmth of God’s love to others despite the cold negatives of this world?
    As we journey through these beautiful Advent days, let us take time to reflect further on our reactions to the many different types of “cold” experienced and how we may be able to replace it with warmth.

  5. What gift do I want from God?
    In today’s Gospel the two blind men ask for sight. Jesus says to them, “Do you believe that I can do this?” “Yes, Lord,” they said to him. (Matt. 9:28) Here God’s mercy and man’s faith meet. Do I believe that God wants to gift me, hear my request?
    These Advent days we are looking forward to the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Because God loves us so much God sent His son to become man, to suffer and die to save us. Will God then not take care of us and our loved ones? Increase our faith Lord. Help us to see your love in all the events of our lives.

  6. Advent is the season of waiting. However, with the fast paced world we live in the waiting of Advent seems so hectic at times. As a school principal there are many events that take place during Advent that add to the feeling of being rushed. There are the Christmas program practices to schedule, the program itself, the wintry weather that can strike on the day of the performance, and the illnesses that begin to strike both teachers and students alike.
    There are a couple things I use to help keep me grounded in the midst of it all. First, I recall how much my parents loved this time of the year and all the wonderful things they did for my brother and me. Four years ago my father died on Christmas day. At first I wondered why; but then I recalled how much fun my dad at Christmas. Now I say to myself, I can’t think of a better day to go home to God. Second, I think we focus to much on the serene scenes in the Christmas card and forget how hectic that first Christmas was.
    My prayer for all of you this Advent season is to enjoy every part of it and realize God is there in it all.

  7. A BLESSED ADVENT to each of you & may the Lord be your guide as we again renew our lives as we await the GREATEST GIFT of LOVE. To me Advent is a time of taking stock & deep down in our soul asking myself or ourselves: How am I doing or How is God manifested in my day? I think everyday should be an ADVENT because the Lord lays out for us each day many opportunities of relating to Him in the Mass, Eucharist, Office, Prayer. We further this in our encounters with one another and to whom we meet all day LONG & the many opportunites presented to us. I work in Pastoral Care & Transportation at St. Joseph’s Retirement Community, an assisted living facility that houses 65 apartments. These can be couples or single units. There are multitudinous opportunities to meet & interact with: Hospital personnel, doctors, nurses,dietary, CEO, housekeepers, lab personnel, Rehab, Home Health, chaplain, priests, school personnel, vision & dental clinics, store owners, patients, people on the street, bank personnel, lawyers, police, courthouse personnel, many churches & preachers–other nursing home personnel just to name a few. WHEW! The Lord guides every move & sometimes I wonder when I’m helping a resident adjust to the new surroundings, being present with a patient who just lost her husband, then her child, sell of a home, giving up one’s car, accepting debilitating health & a transfer to a nursing home WHERE did those words come from? We also deliver meals to older people in their homes. We bring the Lord to them but I do believe we or I are given MORE in return than what we give—because it all COMES from the Lord–our gifts & talents. WE SHARE the ADVENT or coming of our God each day, each minute in all circumstances even in the disgruntled, sad or angry person. Look deeply in your days & recognize the successes & failures and give them to the Lord in GRATITUDE! SHARE some of your ADVENT moments. I would love to hear some of them. Sr. Sharon Paul

  8. Happy St. Nicholas to each of YOU!
    It is extra special in my hometown of Zanesville, Ohio because our church is named after St. Nicholas & YEARS ago one of my ancestors, a PAUL, & 6 others rolled back the first stones to begin the site for the ADVENT or “coming” of the first Catholic German Church. Today, being such a gorgeous,sunny day we began with A.M. Mass at St. Joe’s Retirement Community and Father Mel spoke about “teachers” bringing the Word of God to others. I don’t know about YOU, but I remember every Sister or teacher I have had. They have always been instrumental in my life and they remain so. Let us pray for all our teachers. Have a grace-filled weekend!

  9. I Wonder!!
    On this second Sunday of Advent as we read the message of John the Baptist I think back on the visit of the two mothers – Elizabeth and Mary. I wonder what they talked about the three months they spent together. Both were pregnant through God’s mysterious act. What was the conversation of these two holy women? What was their prayer and silent contemplation like? What did they share as they prepared meals, washed clothes, drew water, etc.? What words of wisdom did Elizabeth share with Mary? What was it like to be in their presence?
    I have wondered.

    Sister Doris Jurgenson

  10. Sister Mary Beth Prinz, OSF says:

    The Sisters at St. Mary’s have a special monthly Holy Hour together. I am responsible for planning the December Holy Hour. My theme relates to Advent as a time to actively let God form us into the image of His Son. Mary is our role model in this, and with her, we patiently wait and prepare for Christ’s coming.

    During our Holy Hour, I am proposing a reflection on the Angelus prayer, a short devotion in honor of the Incarnation of Christ. Its Scriptural reference is Luke 1: 26 – 38.

    I offer several reflection questions on the first section of the Angelus prayer.

    The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary and she conceived by the Holy Spirit.
    •Who have been/are the angels in my life?
    •How attentive have I been to these angels?
    •How freely do I let Christ be conceived in me?

    I suggest you end your reflection by praying the Hail Mary.

    May Mary be your role model as you await Christ’s coming today and at Christmas.
    God’s blessings on your Advent Days

  11. The West Point Sisters enjoyed an outing in Logan, Iowa to a Museum of Religious Arts created by Paul & Helen Lovell. This couple was vacationg in Minnesota in 1994 when they attended Sunday Services at a modern Catholic Church and they realized how much church history had been lost in the conversion from the old to the new. They created this Museum of Religious Arts in 1995 with the purpose to preserve & exhibit religious arts, tradition & culture, thus fostering an appreciation of the religious history for our enrichment & that of future generations.
    The stained glass windows above the entrance were made in Italy over 100 years ago & cam from Girls & Boys Town in Omaha, NE. Many statues came from various churches. The King of Kings Wax Exhibit Display features over 45 life-size figures depicting nine scenes from Christ’s life. The Mission Chapel is designed to look lik an old southwest Spanish mission chapel. The Hallway contains a Holocaust Memorial Exhibit by artist, George Zielezinshi, who drew the prints during his time in a concentration camp. There are also fourteen oil painting showing the Story of Christ’s Passion. one plexi-case has dolls depicting the many diffent Religious Orders & ours is present. The Display Room show a Methodist Display of a set of “The Greatest Story Ever Told.” The Lutheran Display features communion ware & writings by Martin Luther. There is a Jewish & a Mormon Display depicted also.
    The only CHILD prodigy in realistic art & poetry in recorded history, Akiane Kramarik, has many of her works displayed. Akiane appeared on the Oprah Show & CNN. Go to http://www.artakiane.com and enjoy her marvelous works & talent from the Lord.

  12. On this Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, I offer a short reflection/questions on the second part of the Angelus Prayer, a continuation of the entry on December 7.

    “Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done to me according to your word.”
    – Who really is the Lord of my life?
    – What evidence is there that I am a handmaid of the Lord?
    – What keeps me from letting God’s will be done unto me?

    I suggest you pray the Hail Mary as part of this reflection.

    With Mary as our role model, may we continue on our Advent journey.

  13. Hi from West Point, Ne. This past Sunday I going over to church and a woman said to me, “Boy, it’s cold this morning.” I agreed and said that it would be nicer if wasn’t so windy. Then she replied, “Then it wouldn’t be Nebraska.” I chuckled and thought just how windy it can be all year round here in West point. The wind can gust up to 50 miles and hour without a storm and just crossing the street requires you to secure your veil to keep it on. That lead to a “Nature reflection”, The Spirit of God touches us in so many ways, from gentlest breeze to a gust that you can lean into. There are many times in my life that I wish God would answer prayers or guide me with his gusts, but in all reality he mostly answers in the smallest ways. As a result, I pray that I all can live in the present and wait for his gentle love and quiet answers to lead me this day. I wish this for all of you as we make plans and lists of all that is to come. Stay in the anticipation of Advent and enjoy the presence of God with us now.

  14. Here in West Point the Guardian Angels Kindergarten through fifth grader put on their Christmas program on Friday. This involves about 175 students. The program was, “God’s Rainbow Promises of Christmas”. The students on stage, who were the “Rainbow Angels” held a colored piece of paper creating the rainbow. They really did a great job considering the age and the number of students. There were also Sheperds on stage. The program alternated between the rainbow angels talking with the Sheperds and the Christmas songs the enter group sang. The rainbow angels giving away the promises of God; the star in the sky, the birth of Christ and gifts of love and Eternal life. It left me feeling proud of our school and the good the teachers are doing for our students. The program I am sure helped each student grasp more fully the true meaning of this season. The program also had the Pre-schoolers singing songs with movements. Plus there was a small Bell Choir and Band members who played several pieces for us. They are to be congratulated. May these days hold more blessings for them because of all they did.

  15. The feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe was celebrated here at St. Mary’s today. We had a special mass before noon with the church decorated in the Spanish flair. It was really very attractively done. The mass itself was all in Spanish with authentic Spanish music and songs. A solo was sung by Sergio, who had attended school here a few years back. He did so well. Sister Joellen and I both felt like we were back in Arizona. The mass which was very well attended was followed by a potluck meal in the school cafeteria. The food was wonderful, hot but not too hot! There were organized games for the children as we waited for the warm tortillas to arrive, then following the meal we were treated to some authentic Mexican dances. Maria had sewn beautiful full shirted mexican dresses for the young women to wear. And did they ever dance! Following the dances a big pinata was brought in. The children were lined up youngest to oldest and away they went at that pinata. It was one scramble for the contents once it broke. It was one of the most beautiful celebrations I can recall. I’m sure Our Lady is pleased with her Mexican people living here in West Point.

  16. Advent is moving right along & coming closer to the blessed Feast of CHRISTmas! Last nite at St. Joseph’s Retirement Community the residents had their “Tree of Love.” This is their Christmas Giving from many staff & people of the town who choose a resident & buy some gifts for each one with their suggestions. Just a perfect Advent GIVING & RECEIVING. Of course Santa Claus comes with his bells & hearty HO HO.
    Today we received about four inches of snow. It was GORGEOUS and a billion Sparkles. In the midst of the day we had a resident whose husband was diagnosed with a terminal illness & another lady who was given the news of her illness that percipitates a MOVE already tomorrow to a Nursing Home. Quality time was spent listening & assisting them in this journey which is just a beginning. Advent IS a coming of Christ in our lives over & over again. May you continue to experience these days as being ones of grace & opportunities to serve.

  17. Advent Blessings to you! It is less than 10 days until the celebration of Christmas – God-with-us!

    This is a continuation of the reflection on the Angelus Prayer. The third section most directly speaks to the meaning of Christmas.

    “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.”
    Reference if you wish, Paul’s letter to the Philippians 2: 6 – 11. Christ emptied himself to take on our nature in the mystery of the Incarnation.

    – How willing am I to be emptied of self in order, like Mary, to let Christ be formed in me?
    – What can I do to become more aware of God’s dwelling among us?
    – How often do I bring Christ’s presence to others?

    In ending your reflection, I suggest you pray the Hail Mary.
    May Mary be with you as you continue your Christmas preparations.

  18. Last nite the Catholic Central Boys’ Basketball team played their first home game against Logan View. The Reserves played earlier before I arrived and they won. The Varsity played and also won. It certainly was Great to see them play as a TEAM. It takes a few games before they jell together & get fluid with their moves.
    The theme today for Advent was: “Undivided Attention.” Just as the basketball team has to be attentive to one another to accomplish the task at hand so are we being attentive to the voice of God during this Advent Season. John the Baptist’s example is challenging. He stayed focused and had zeal for the Kingdom. Keep moving toward our goal with freedom & responsiveness so that our attentiveness is sharper & undivided. We have Jesus’ promise to seek first His Kingdom & His righteousness, & everything else will fall into place. COME, LORD JESUS!

  19. Dear Sisters, you give us much to ponder this Advent Season. Now, I am looking forward to hearing more about your more immediate Christmas preparations and actual celebration. The Lord give you peace.

  20. Advent Blessings to you!
    This is the conclusion of the Angelus prayer that we have been using as an Advent reflection.

    “Pray for us, O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.”

    I offer the following questions for reflection.
    – What are the promises of Christ for which I long?
    – How open am I to receive God’s promises, God’s graces, God’s blessings?
    – How patiently do I wait for the Lord’s coming?

    In closing your reflection time, I invite you to pray the following prayer which is used as the closing prayer of the Angelus.

    Let us pray:
    Pour forth, we beseech you, O Lord, your grace into our hearts: that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ, your Son, was made known by the message of an Angel, may by his Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

    May all the promises of Christ be yours this Christmas season and always.

  21. Good evening to each of you! Sr. Julie Ann, you are now wondering about now our last few waning Advent days & our immediate preparation & celebration of the great Feast of CHRISTmas. Yes, our house is getting to look a bit like Christmas. Every common room has been decorated & some Sisters have decorated their bedrooms. Chapel is decorated except for the main altar that has the Advent candles yet. At work, St. Joe’s Chapel was done on Friday when we had icy roads (had more time) & just the Advent wreath is there and of course the baby Jesus is NOT in the crib yet. Today I purchased 2 white poinsettias to finish St. Joe’s Chapel. The Sisters here have exchanged names & given suggestions as to WHAT they wish to be bought so the little elves are BUSY wrapping presents.Each Sister has signed up to prepare a food item for the Christmas dinner so that is in the planning stages.
    We also are praying Mother Generose’s Novena: “Stir up, O Lord, our hearts to prepare the ways of Your only-begotten Son; that by His coming we may serve You in purity, humility & innocence.” Come, in a couple days to “go over to Bethlehem and see this Word which the Lord has shown to us. Behold, this is our God.”

  22. Thanks for the update, Sister Sharon. I look forward to hearing more.

    I am reading this while warming my hands around a cup of hot chocolate after coming in from outside. Yes, we too, are into some outside winter exercise (shoveling). As one of the men who is employed here at the Motherhouse said, “we have enough exercise for the whole world.”

    The snow is beautiful and is God’s natural (and in Godly abundance) Christmas decoration here is Wisconsin.

  23. Time is passing quickly as we near Christmas day. The past week has been filled with snow shoveling, christmas baking, a CCD Christmas program, christmas mail, house decorating, a few invitations to share a meal with parish friends, another snow storm with school cancelled and the Sisters gathered together to decorate christmas cookies. The list could go on.
    The mass readings these weeks of Advent have invited us to bring our wills in line with Gods’. John the Baptist, Mary, Joseph, Zechariah, the prophets all witness to this for us. Todays liturgy calls us; “Your ways, O Lord, make known to me: teach me your paths”. So many times each day the Lord does just that by intercepting our plan and giving us another, His! In the business of life let us recognize Your coming and Your will, O Lord.

  24. “O Emmanuel, Come!” Tomorrow, Mary said: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord: my spirit rejoices in God, my savior.” Luke 1:46-47 Today was spent in listening & responding to residents needs at St. Joe’s & West Point Living Center (a nursing home.)Like Mary, it could be rejoicing or giving encouragement or comfort. Our new lady was instructed on how to use the Nu-Step Exercise Machine. She, like Mary was appreciative. Each resident is unique in the sight of God. In today’s reflection this was said: “Christ is not the gray agent of uniformity, but the ONE who summons all to the full expression of their God-given uniqueness. In His presence, we are all invited to be fully who we are, so that our souls in all their uniqueness can proclaim God’s greatness.” At the Vigil Mass or on Christmas Day we say: :Open our hearts as we WELCOME YOU, our SAVIOR. In GRATITUDE & LOVE we praise and thank YOU! Have a BLESSED CHRISTmas!

  25. Today, Cristmas eve day, finds us cleaning, decorating, baking, giving thanks to our benefactors, praying, working our usual jobs and pondering the final day of Advent. Where have these weeks gone? I think Advent is my favorite time of year. The words of scripture are so full of comfort, hope and the love of our God. “O Come, O Come Emmanuel, God with us.” As a child I could not wait for Christmas day. As an adult I pause here and want to stay awhile longer. The crib scene calls us forth to kneel and try to comprehend the humility and the love of God. As we praise and give thanks this eve we pray; Lord, that we may grasp more fully Your love and grow in spread it through out the world.

  26. A blessed, holy Christmas Eve AND CHRISTMAS to each of you as it is 2:30 A.M. At 4:00 P.M. the Sisters prayed an hour early and we congregated into our beautiful convent chapel for the Blessing of the Crib, followed by office. The 5:00 Mass was the children’s Mass with a delightful Little Angel Choir with solos including “O Holy Night.” Fr. invited the children to come around the altar for the homily. Some of us also attended the Midnight Mass which is a most holy time with the Adult Choir leading the heavenly music with a half hour rendition before the Mass. I then watched parts of the Mass from Rome. What a blessing seeing the little children from 55 countries offering our new born King flowers.
    Quoting Mother Generose’s Novena: “With love throbbing in my heart, the sweet picture comes to my mind of the Grotto of the Nativity, scene of supreme joy and blessedness, making a heaven on earth. “for while all things were in quiet silence & the night was in the midst of her course, Your Almighty Word came down from Heaven from Your Royal Throne.” In touching words St. Luke tells of the Blessed Virgin, “And she brought forth her firstborn Son, & wrapped Him up in swaddling clothes & laid Him in a manger.” “We have waited for Him & He will save us.” “The Lord is great & exceedingly to be praised.” Ponder the remaining day of CHRISTMAS in GRATITUDE for the greatest GIFT of the newborn King, Jesus Christ in the hearts of all Peoples from all lands & nations!”

  27. On this last day of December I want to thank each of you sisters in West Point for sharing with so many the daily practices of Advent and then the Christmas preparations and celebrations.
    We in Oshkosh were involved in Omro, Winneconne and St. Raphael parishes and are now culminating with the holyday eve and day celebrations. The Catholic Church certainly has a rich heritage of liturgy, prayer and ritual. God’s blessings on each of you during 2009!

  28. A blessed New Year to each of YOU and may graces galore abound for the taking from our Eternal Babe and be spread FAR AND WIDE!

    Sr. Anne Marie, thank you for your message of support & solidarity on behalf of our West Point Sisters’ musings & spiritual thoughts & living. Friday, Sr. Chiara will arrive to spend 7 to 9 days with us.

    Blessings to you as you minister in Omro, Winneconne & St. Raphael Parishes. Thank you for your dedicated service on behalf of our Franciscan Community. Let us pray for each other!

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