Newsletter

Summer, 2008

Dearest Friends,

May the Lord give you His peace!

Perhaps the spiritual highlight of the past few months has been the visit of the Holy Father to the United States this April.

Along with practically everyone in our country, we felt as if the Holy Father had come to each one of us personally and individually. He brought with him a sense of hope, unity and Fatherly Love.

I felt particularly blessed to be able to receive Holy Communion from Pope Benedict XVI at the Papal Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Walking up the steps of the sanctuary to receive the Body of Christ from the Vicar of Christ, I had no sense of fear or self-consciousness; I was filled with an extreme peace and true joy and this was even deepened by the radiant love I personally experienced from the Holy Father himself as I received Communion from him.

As I watched the papal events I was struck by an observation. The Holy Father, in everything he did, reflected the love and graciousness of Our Father in Heaven in a very real way to all who approached him. He was a loving father to all and was sensitive to the particular ways in which people came to him. He was kindly reserved to those who approached him in this way, just as he was totally open to those who approached him with joyful, loving enthusiasm. Much like the words of Saint Paul, Our Holy Father seemed to be “...all things to all people.” (1 Cor 9:22) He exhibited unconditional love for all.

As for us sisters, it was a time of abundant blessings! We hope and pray that we too may follow in the footsteps of our beloved Pontiff by similarly reflecting God’s Love as we evangelize, uphold the teachings of our holy faith and faithfully serve God’s beloved poor - just as Saint Francis did.

Please continue to pray for us, as we continue to pray
for you.

With joyful love in Jesus and Mary,

Sr. Lucille
and all Your Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal

 

Novices at Yankee Stadium

Twenty-five thousand Catholics worshipping together at a solemn Mass celebrated by our Pope at Yankee Stadium - just a few blocks from where our community began! None of us could have anticipated the joy and unity and lasting impact of such a beautiful event! Our novices (and postulants in background) are each a living witness to the hope Pope Benedict is proclaiming. Each one is a blossom of the “New Springtime!”
Sr Joseph
 
The candlelight illuminating Sr. Joseph’s face portrays how we all felt after Pope Benedict’s visit to New York - glowing with the blessing of it, and loved - very personally - by our Holy Father on earth and our Father in Heaven. This photo was taken at the candleight vigil outside the Pope’s residence where over a thousand young people gathered to sing to our Holy Father and show our solidarity with the Church we are so blessed to be part of.
ring Sisters with Grace Moran
(above, left) A sister in final vows can look down on her profession ring and be reminded that her call originated in the heart of the Father and the call is forever. He is faithful to His promises and His promise is Eternal Life. What is Eternal Life? To know Jesus Christ. These two newly professed sisters vowed their lives to know and love Christ Jesus and to radiate this love to all. Please join us in thanking God for the Final Vows of Sr. Agnes and Sr. Cecilia, who made their life-long commitment on May 31, 2008. (right)Beauty comes from the inside out - and the beauty radiant on the faces of Sr. Francesca, our dear friend Grace Moran, and Sr. Catherine comes from knowing personally the love and mercy of our Heavenly Father. This photo was taken on Divine Mercy Sunday.
   

In a neat lilac jacket and skirt with pocketbook in hand - even while waiting in a food line, a grandma in the Bronx shines a certain dignity. “Esther” was standing at the front of the “extra” line - for those who aren’t on our regular food distribution list and therefore must be satisfied to wait until the “regulars” are met, prayed with, and on their way with their groceries. More often than not we have enough food to distribute to everyone who comes, regular or not. But on this Thursday morning, judging by the number of grocery bags we had made and the empty pantry shelves, we’d be able to serve the regulars, but there would be no surplus. So the first order of the day was to let the people who were already lining the sidewalk know that there was no extra food to be had.

I braced myself for the worst and went out to make the dreaded announcement. I couldn’t have been more surprised by the responses I received. “No problem, Sister!” “We understand!” “If you don’t have it, you don’t have it!” And then came the most unlikely response: Esther said to me, “Sister, I would like to make a donation. May I give you something?” Everything in me was confounded at this proposal - a recipient from the food pantry can’t be a donor to the food pantry. “You need what you have,” I thought. But I knew I could not deprive Esther of her chance to give. “Yes, of course you may make a donation,” I said.

Perching her pocketbook on the card table we set up each week and call the “Evangelization Station,” she took out of her wallet a single dollar bill and handed it to me with a smile. It left her wallet empty, I saw. There was no question about who was evangelizing whom.

Since I was a little girl the story Jesus told of the poor widow giving her two coins to the temple treasure has captured my attention. I remember coming home from Mass and digging down into the corners of the toybox where I knew a few pennies could be found. Adding two seashells to the offering (which were of far greater value than the money, I felt sure) and tying up the gift in a translucent pink Barbie cape - the best accessory I had and my prized possession, I now had something of worth for the “temple treasury” next Sunday. Even children need to give.

Years later when I was preparing to make my final vows, the poor widow occupied my thoughts again. As I lay prostrate before the altar and before God, I thought of my two coins as body and soul offered to God all the days of my life. But what is truly astonishing and worth a lifetime of reflection, is the offering made by God Himself to us. It is only because I have received something of this gift of love that I could attempt a return. The first gift we give is to receive.

On that Thursday morning at the front door of the convent I met the widow from the gospel. She had a radiant smile, wore a lilac dress, and carried a pocketbook. She gave all she had and did it without a bit of show. The poor widow loved enough to give and gave enough to be truly free. Yes, she is poor in the eyes of the world - and Heaven is filled to the brim with this kind of Poor.

All the unnamed Poor Widows who populate Heaven, pray for us!

Sr. Clare Matthiass, CFR

 

Sr Maria Teresa
Sr Agnes

(above, left) The scene on Bainbridge Avenue when the food give out is going on, with children running around, lively conversation at the “Evangelization Station,” the ongoing praying with the people as they come with many needs, is a highlight of our week! Here Sr. Maria Teresa makes good use of the Spanish skills she developed while in Honduras. (right) Working with a contemplative spirit is an art which requires come cultivation. The joy of the possibility of being ever in the presence of God makes the effort well worth it. Sr. Agnes is pictured here arranging flowers for the Chapel - a task which easily lends itself to prayer.