Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving blessings to all of you!

We pray for God’s blessings on you, your families, and friends. We are grateful for God’s goodness that surrounds us. Join us in praying for peace among nations and peoples and in sharing with those in need. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

When Things Fall Apart

I'm reading a really good book right now called When Things Fall Apart. It's so full of wisdom that after every sentence, I find myself saying things like "I have to remember that!" or "That's so true!" or "That's the same thing Sr. Maria, my spiritual director, has been telling me for years. If only I can remember to apply these things to my life now, when the going gets tough or like the title says 'when things fall apart'."

One pearl of wisdom I've taken from the book is to try to soften up. (I laugh as I write that because I can be a very hard person, like the Simon and Garfunkel song "I am a Rock.") When difficult things happen or when people say or do things I don't care for, I harden up and try to protect myself. Instead of hardening up and trying to keep my distance from things that are painful, the idea is to soften and just be with the circumstances. We tend to run away from pain or problems or at least put up some kind of defenses. I, myself, like to drink caffeine or eat some chocolate when the going gets tough. I also find myself avoiding things.

The book also mentions how we have a difficult time when things get tough because we're holding on to them too tightly. If we realize that everything passes and nothing is permanent, change wouldn't be so difficult. So when change happens, loosen our grip on how we would prefer things to be and then soften up and allow these feelings to enter in rather than avoiding them or trying to change them to something better. I know when I experience unpleasant feelings, I always like to change them to something I have more control over. Instead of feeling sad, it's easier for me to get angry or blame someone. I put the focus outward rather than inward.

Obviously, this book is one that I will need to reread and reread and reread. I know that if I don't keep reminding myself of these ways of thinking and responding to difficulties, I'll forget all that this book has taught. If I don't keep meeting with Sr. Maria, who has been saying the same things as the book (and for years), I'll want to do what's more comfortable and familiar.

As much as I like chocolate, there are healthier ways to respond to life's difficulties.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Being un-silent about the silent auction!

Have you heard about the silent auction that’s part of Christkindlmarkt festivities at the monastery this weekend? Visit the crypt below the monastery church. (You’ll find lots of other activities in the crypt, too!) Items – some new, some gently “pre-owned” – include a Waterford crystal bowl and vase, a Precious Moments figurine, angels, a Christmas card holder, St. Nick pillows, ceramic cookie jars, books (including cookbooks), a photo of the RCA Dome and Lucas Oil Stadium, a large framed St. Benedict print, a basket with blanket, books, and tea, and gingerbread houses and a church. You can place your bids from 9 to 4 on Saturday and 10 to 2 on Sunday.

Paul Krack, brother of Sister Mary Ruth Krack (who has organized the auction), puts a finishing touch on a gingerbread house, while Sister Jan Youart watches.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

I'm Baaaack

I used to post to this blog quite often, but hung up my blog hat for quite a while. There is a reason. . . . or rather several reasons.

My dad died suddenly in July. He was in the hospital for a blood clot in his foot, which later developed in his lung. There were also other complications. I was on my way home when my brother called to tell me that he didn't make it.

I've also been dealing with the steady decline of my mom over the past 2 years due to Huntington's. If you don't know what Huntington's (or HD) is, consider yourself blessed. It's a neurodegenerative disease that affects every part of your being or in other words, the 3 M's - mood, memory, and movement. It's been described as having Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and Schizophrenia all at the same time.

My mom is a fighter, but the progression of the disease has been steady and drastic. Her progression is atypical according to things I've read or others I've heard from. I really think my mom was holding out until after I made profession in October 2008. Before that time and during the profession, everything seemed normal. When I went home at Christmas, it was like night and day. It was a drastic change in 2 months - probably the same progression some would have over several or many years. It's been tough. She continues to decline. She sleeps a lot, her speech is slurred, and she forgets things. Facing reality is difficult, but we know she can't keep living the way she is.

My mom is a nurse, so is used to doing for others. She's also extremely stubborn, which has helped her get this far. It has also helped her to raise a stubborn kid, and I'll count any similarity to my mom as a positive thing. I pray, however, that my mom will let go of her stubbornness and allow us to help her.

All of this reminds me of the lesson my mom always taught me growing up. Anytime anything didn't go the way I wanted them to, she'd say, "Now you know how it feels. Now you know what someone else is going through." Now I know what it's like to have a parent die. Now I know what it's like to care for a parent whose health is declining. Now I know what it's like to have to look into other living options for a parent. Now I know what it's like to live far away . . . . . the list goes on.


My dad is a great guy. I believe that he would do anything that someone he loved asked him to do. His sister is involved in the Dubois County Humane Society. Every year they offer pictures with Santa for pets. Well my aunt asked my dad if he would play Santa. He was willing to do it. I went and saw him. It touched my heart to see him. He is such a big hearted guy and looked great as Santa. The beard is real!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Women of the Rule awards first grants

When she accepted the grant, Sister Jean Marie Ballard, Simply Divine supervisor, announced that sisters were at that moment working in the bakery. She then left to tell them the good news. Carolyn Fuhs is at left and Darla Blazey is in the back.

Women of the Rule presented its first grants during a festive awards banquet on Saturday evening, November 6. During the dinner, members voted to select these projects for funding: a new roof and gutters for the sisters' monastery in Morropon, Peru ($4,500), a freezer for Simply Divine, the monastery bakery ($6,657), a year's tuition for three sisters working toward education degrees ($13,000), and development of a long-range facility and property master plan ($11,470.52).

Less than two minutes after the four grant recipients were named, Nancy Habig, who served as emcee for the dinner, announced that an anonymous donor, in the spirit of the evening, offered to provide $1,625 for a fifth proposal that was a grant finalist: scholarships for cancer patients and their caregivers to attend centering prayer programs.

(You'll find more details on the projects on our web site under "Recent News.")

The women's philanthropy circle was publicly launched in June 2009 and, since then, has grown from a core group of 11 lay women and three sisters to 60 members! The core group began meeting in 2008. The idea for Women of the Rule originated with Sister Barbara Catherine Schmitz and Darla Blazey, who that year took part in Connect with Southern Indiana, a program sponsored by the University of Southern Indiana. Program participants collaborated in developing project concepts to benefit the community.

Sister Barbara Catherine and Darla envisioned a women's philanthropy and giving circle that supports the mission of the Sisters of St. Benedict. Members pool their donations and then decide where their funds should go -- a terrific concept that gives women the opportunity to experience the power of giving as they make philanthropic decisions with others committed to the same values.

These are the core group members (listed alphabetically): Teri Hollander Albin, Lynn Belli, Darla Blazey, Paulette Campana, Sue Ellspermann, Carolyn Fuhs, Nancy Habig, Judy Huber, Sister Kathryn Huber, Kathy Kleindorfer (facilitator), Pat Koch, Sister Barbara Catherine Schmitz, Sister Barbara Lynn Schmitz, and Mary Jo Tempel. Congratulations and thanks to you all for establishing a unique and important group!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A busy end of October

We were busy with a variety of activities at the monastery this last weekend in October. We took care of some community business at meetings during the day on Saturday. As is usual for such days when sisters living in mission houses away from the monastery come home, there was a flurry of socializing and visiting over lunch and during the breaks. In the evening we, and the public, were treated to a concert of sacred music performed by Angelus, a group of outstanding vocalists from Mount Vernon (Indiana) High School. This first concert in the Mechtilde of Hackeborn Sacred Music Series, endowed by the Verkamp Family, drew a capacity crowd in the monastery church.

Of course, the highlight of our weekend was our celebration with four of our sisters who observed special anniversaries of their monastic profession. We are proud of them and deeply grateful for their 259 years of ministry to people in Indiana, Minnesota, North Dakota, and countries of Columbia and Peru. We give thanks for their witness to living monastic life faithfully and with joy.

Photo above: Sister Theresita Schenk, Sister Wilma Davis (seated), and Sister Mary George Kissel (center back), observed 70 years of monastic profession, and Sister Leah Baehl (far right) observed her 60th anniversary.

Angelus concert photos

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Sister Jeana Visel makes perpetual monastic vows

We sisters, along with family and friends of Sister Jeana Visel, gathered on October 2 to witness and celebrate her profession of perpetual monastic vows — a life commitment to the Benedictine way of life as a Sisters of St. Benedict of Ferdinand, Indiana.
After making her profession of monastic vows, Sister Jeana, witnessed by Sister Kristine Anne Harpenau, prioress, and Sister Ann Francis Hillenbrand, her formation director, signs the document on the altar, signifying her total offering of self.

As part of the “Rite of Monastic Profession,” Sister Jeana prostrates in the middle aisle while the sisters chant a litany of saints, asking the saints to intercede for her as she consecrates herself to the monastic way of life.

Sister Jeana receives a ring as a sign of unbroken fidelity to God and to her profession. The ring, worn by all perpetually professed sisters in the community, signifies full incorporation into the monastic community.