Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas- Reflection

baby jesus
It is hard to celebrate this Christmas with joy and happiness
 because of the tragedy at Newtown, Ct. 
The massacre at Sandy Hook School  has made us, as a nation,  look more deeply it to our own value system.
We  are  asking questions and offering solutions but when all is said and done we once again are left silent.
The silence that becomes prayer.
That is all we have to offer and maybe in the end as we pass this spirit of pray  on to our childrent that is enough. In doing this  we may behold the face of this
little Child who took on our flesh , and bore the same pain that we are bearing now.  We know Mary, His Mother, held His broken body
when He died at the hands of people who chose to rid the world of this Man, this Man who never sinned. 
May the parents find some consolation in Mary's own suffering as a Mother.
May the parents know that we support them with our prayers.May  we survive and grow.  That is our prayer.
 Posted by Sister Florence Vales OSC

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Our Lady of Guadalupe- December 12

Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patroness of all of the Americas and in her hands we pace all her people.
May Mary intercede for us and for all the people of the world.

Posted by sister Florence Vales OSC

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

Altar of Immaculate Conceptionpainting by Bianchi, 1740
mosaic, 1744-47
At St. Peter's Basilica

The Immaculate Conception from Catholic Answers

It’s important to understand what the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is and what it is not. Some people think the term refers to Christ’s conception in Mary’s womb without the intervention of a human father; but that is the Virgin Birth. Others think the Immaculate Conception means Mary was conceived "by the power of the Holy Spirit," in the way Jesus was, but that, too, is incorrect. The Immaculate Conception means that Mary, whose conception was brought about the normal way, was conceived without original sin or its stain—that’s what "immaculate" means: without stain. The essence of original sin consists in the deprivation of sanctifying grace, and its stain is a corrupt nature. Mary was preserved from these defects by God’s grace; from the first instant of her existence she was in the state of sanctifying grace and was free from the corrupt nature original sin brings.
When discussing the Immaculate Conception, an implicit reference may be found in the angel’s greeting to Mary. The angel Gabriel said, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you" (Luke 1:28). The phrase "full of grace" is a translation of the Greek word kecharitomene. It therefore expresses a characteristic quality of Mary.
The traditional translation, "full of grace," is better than the one found in many recent versions of the New Testament, which give something along the lines of "highly favored daughter." Mary was indeed a highly favored daughter of God, but the Greek implies more than that (and it never mentions the word for "daughter"). The grace given to Mary is at once permanent and of a unique kind.Kecharitomene is a perfect passive participle of charitoo, meaning "to fill or endow with grace." Since this term is in the perfect tense, it indicates that Mary was graced in the past but with continuing effects in the present. So, the grace Mary enjoyed was not a result of the angel’s visit. In fact, Catholics hold, it extended over the whole of her life, from conception onward. She was in a state of sanctifying grace from the first moment of her existence.
And what is the lesson Mary and the Church teaches us from this Feast.
As Mary surrendered to all in her life so we need to do the same and this comes through prayer, the great  means of grace, the sacraments but especially the Eucharist; a love of suffering  through accepting what comes our way.  This is not easy and seems very ordinary but it is the path of Holiness. 
Posted by Sister Florence Vales OSC

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Advent 2012- We gather around our Advent Wreath to begin the Celebration of Advent

Sister Miriam, our Abbess, sprinkles holy Water on our Advent Wreath.

The Advent  wreath lights up the beginning of this Holy  Season.  May we also have light to our eyes and peace in our hearts to begin again our preparation for  Christmas.  Advent  is a time to go back to the desert spots in our hearts where we find we are empty and of need  of the right kind of fulfillment in our lives.  Christ calls us out of this darkness to walk with each other  in the light of His coming every day in the present NOW.

Posted by Sister Florence Vales OSC

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Year of Faith

Year of Faith: Oct. 11, 2012-Nov. 24, 2013

"…They called the church together and reported what God had done with them and how he had opened the door of faith..."(Acts 14:27).

In the Acts of the Apostles, we learn that God has opened the door of faith for the early Church.But did you know that God has opened the door of faith for each one of us and he invites us to step through the threshold into a deeper relationship with him.The upcoming Year of Faith is an opportunity for every Catholic to turn towards Jesus Christ, encounter him in the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist and rediscover the Faith and Church.
With his Apostolic Letter of October 11, 2011, Porta Fidei. . . , Pope Benedict XVI declared that a "Year of Faith" will begin on October 11, 2012 and conclude on November 24, 2013. October 11, 2012, the first day of the Year of Faith, is the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. . . (Vatican II) and also the twentieth anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. During the Year of Faith, Catholics are asked to study and reflect on the documents of Vatican II and the catechism so that they may deepen their knowledge of the faith.

"The 'door of faith' (Acts14:27) is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into his Church."

-Pope Benedict XVI, Apostolic Letter Porta Fidei for the Indiction of the Year of Faith.
The upcoming Year of Faith is a “summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the One Savior of the world” (Porta Fidei 6). In other words, the Year of Faith is an opportunity for Catholics to experience a conversion – to turn back to Jesus and enter into a deeper relationship with him. The “door of faith” is opened at one’s baptism, but during this year Catholics are called to open it again, walk through it and rediscover and renew their relationship with Christ and his Church.
Posted by Sister Florence Vales OSC

Friday, November 9, 2012

Feast of the Dedication of The Basilica of St. John Laternan

Although many of the major events in Saint Francis’ life are commemorated in Assisi, where we are headed on Monday, we did come across some wonderful tributes to Franciscanism today.
First, we visited Saint John Lateran or San Giovanni in Laterano, the Cathedral of Rome. This is where Saint Francis asked Pope Innocent III for approval to live the gospel life. To Francis, this meant to literally live as Jesus did. The Pope was unsure at first since what Francis asked for was so different. However, he had a dream of a man holding up the Church and he interpreted that man to be Francis. Thus, Francis received oral approval from the Pope. Lateran is also where Francis participated in a pastoral council in 1215 that focused on calling a crusade (which he was against) and a renewal of the Church (in which he played a big role.)

In the front of Saint John Lateran, there is a statue of Francis with his arms in the air. We unfortunately didn’t have time to see for ourselves, but Siena President Fr. Kevin Mullen says that if you walk about a quarter mile past the statue and turn around, it looks as if Saint Francis is literally holding up Saint John Lateran Cathedral.

Posted by sister Florence Vales OSC

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Fall at the Monstery of Saint Clare in Chesterfield, NJ

Thoughts from Evelyn Underwood

Everything is sacrament and spirit finds Spirit in the lilies of the field and the fall of the year, no less than in the unknowable God.
Underhill quotes Clement of Alexandria,"A beautiful breathing instrument of music, the Lord made us, wheron the spirit of Life"makes Melody to God". ..the freshness of eternal  springs would speak to us in the primrose and the trees...all things rush on, they stop not, they look not behind, no power can hold them back, they rush on. Keeping steps with that restless rapid music, seasons come dancing and pass away-colours, tunes and perfumes pour in endless cascades in the abounding joy that scatters and gives up and dies every glad with the gladness of this rhythm. 

Posted by Sister Florence Vales OSC

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Sister Natalie Hayes Celebrated a Milestone- 95 Years Young

Our dear Sister Natalie celebrated her 95th birthday October 6th.
We had a wonderful Mass with Father Steve Schuler SVD and a delicious dinner prepared by Sister Nelia and Karen.  
The dinner was  followed by a prayer service arranged by Sister Mary Frances and after this Sister Natalie opened her gifts from each Sister.  
As you can see from the pictures Sister Natalie loves to read and some of the gifts included about four books.
Congratulations, Sister Natalie from your Poor Sisters.
Tonight we are having a party and live entertainment which should give Sister Natalie a good laugh.
Posted by Sister Florence Vales OSC

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

October 4th Feast of Saint Francis-

October 4th celebration of Saint Francis was low keyed but beautiful.
Below is a collage of our dining room with Saint Francis ,front and Center, our dining room table , Father Peter Cebulka , an Oratorian priest and friend of the community for years, our Abbess, sister Miriam and our good friend, Bernie McClain, with his German Shepherd dog, Marcus.
Marcus did not get blessed so one of the sisters did the honor.

The evening of October 3,1226, Francis of Assisi
serenely finished his earthly pilgrimage intoning
the praise of our sister Bodily death.
To the Friars, anguished for his immanent transitus, he confided,
"I have done my part:
May Christ teach you yours."

Francis asked that the book of the Gospels be brought. 
He wanted to hear the Gospel of St. John beginning at the words:
"Before the festival of the Passover..."
John 13:1-17
Intercessions :
Leader: We have remembered the passing of St. Francis. Mindful of the wonders the Lord has worked in him, we confidently approach the Father in Prayer.
Reader- For Church and Civic leaders that they seek the counsel of God and pursue the ways of peace, justice, harmony and the common good.
For all men and women, that they honor praise the most High and good God in all of His creatures, especially animals.

For all followers of St. Francis that they follow the Gospel way of life in humility.

For all the faithful departed, especially among our friends and family, that Sister Death lead them to the Most High and may they intercede for us here on earth.
Good and gracious God, you called our Father Francis to reflect the image of Christ so may we follow the Gospel Way in humility and peace.
Posted by Sister Florence Vales OSC

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thoughts on Saint Francis of Assisi From G.K.Chesterton

Courtesy of Saint Francis of Assisi
From G.K. Chesterton book on Saint Francis

Below is 
" only one incident out of a life of such incidents; and 1 have selected it partly because it shows what is meant here by that shadow of gesture there is in all his words, the dramatic gesture of the south; and partly because its special reference to courtesy covers the next fact to be noted. The popular instinct of Saint Francis, and his perpetual preoccupation with the idea of brotherhood, will be entirely misunderstood if it is understood in the sense of what is often called camaraderie; the backslapping sort of brotherhood. Frequently from the enemies and too frequently from the friends of the democratic ideal, there has come a notion that this note is necessary to that ideal. It is assumed that equality means all men being equally uncivil, whereas it obviously ought to mean all men being equally civil. Such people have forgotten the very meaning and derivation of the word civility, if they do not see that to be uncivil is to be uncivic. But anyhow that was not the equality which Francis of Assisi encouraged; but an equality of the opposite kind; it was a camaraderie actually founded on courtesy.

Even in that fairy borderland of his mere fancies about flowers and animals and even inanimate things, he retained this permanent posture of a sort of deference. A friend of mine said that somebody was the sort of man who apologises to the cat. Saint Francis really would have apologised to the cat. When he was about to preach in a wood full of the chatter of birds, he said, with a gentle gesture, "Little sisters, if you have now had your say, it is time that I also should be heard." And all the birds were silent; as I for one can very easily believe. In deference to my special design of making matters intelligible to average modernity, I have treated separately the subject of the miraculous powers that Saint Francis most certainly possessed.

But even apart from any miraculous powers, men of that magnetic sort, with that intense interest in animals, often have an extraordinary power over them. Saint Francis's power was always exercised with this elaborate politeness. Much of it was doubtless a sort of symbolic joke, a pious pantomime intended to convey the vital distinction in his divine mission, that he not only loved but reverenced God in all his creatures. In this sense he had the air not only of apologising to the cat or to the birds, but of apologising to a chair for sitting on it or to a table for sitting down at it. Any one who had followed him through life merely to laugh at him, as a sort of lovable lunatic, might easily have had an impression as of a lunatic who bowed to every post or took off his hat to every tree. This was all a part of his instinct for imaginative gesture. He taught the world a large part of its lesson by a sort of divine dumb alphabet. But if there was this ceremonial element even in lighter or lesser matters, its significance became far more serious in the serious work of his life, which was an appeal to humanity, or rather to human beings.

I have said that Saint Francis deliberately did not see the wood for the trees. It is even more true that he deliberately did not see the mob for the men. What distinguishes this very genuine democrat from any mere demagogue is that he never either deceived or was deceived by the illusion of mass-suggestion. Whatever his taste in monsters, he never saw before him a many-headed beast. He only saw the image of God multiplied but never monotonous. To him a man was always a man and did not disappear in a dense crowd any more than in a desert. He honoured all men; that is, he not only loved but respected them all. What gave him his extraordinary personal power was this; that from the Pope to the beggar, from the sultan of Syria in his pavilion to the ragged robbers crawling out of the wood, there was never a man who looked into those brown burning eyes without being certain that Francis Bernardone was really interested in him; in his own inner individual life from the cradle to the grave; that he himself was being valued and taken seriously, and not merely added to the spoils of some social policy or the names in some clerical document. Now for this particular moral and religious idea there is no external expression except courtesy. Exhortation does not express it, for it is not mere abstract enthusiasm; beneficence does not express it, for it is not mere pity. It can only be conveyed by a certain grand manner which may be called good manners. We may say if we like that Saint Francis, in the bare and barren simplicity of his life, had clung to one rag of luxury; the manners of a court.

But whereas in a court there is one king and a hundred courtiers, in this story there was one courtier, moving among a hundred kings. For he treated the whole mob of men as a mob of kings. And this was really and truly the only attitude that will appeal to that part of man to which he wished to appeal. It cannot be done by giving gold or even bread; for it is a proverb that any reveller may fling largesse in mere scorn. It cannot even be done by giving time and attention; for any number of philanthropists and benevolent bureaucrats do such work with a scorn far more cold and horrible in their hearts. No plans or proposals or efficient rearrangements will give back to a broken man his self-respect and sense of speaking with an equal. One gesture will do it.

With that gesture Francis of Assisi moved among men; and it was soon found to have something in it of magic and to act, in a double sense, like a charm. But it must always be conceived as a completely natural gesture; for indeed it was almost a gesture of apology. He must be imagined as moving thus swiftly through the world with a sort of impetuous politeness; almost like the movement of a man who stumbles on one knee half in haste and half in obeisance. The eager face under the brown hood was that of a man always going somewhere, as if he followed as well as watched the flight of the birds. And this sense of motion is indeed the meaning of the whole revolution that he made; for the work that has now to be described was of the nature of an earthquake or a volcano, an explosion that drove outwards with dynamic energy the forces stored up by ten centuries in the monastic fortress or arsenal and scattered all its riches recklessly to the ends of the earth. In a better sense than the antithesis commonly conveys, it is true to say that what Saint Benedict had stored Saint Francis scattered; but in the world of spiritual things what had been stored into the barns like grain was scattered over the world as seed. The servants of God who had been a besieged garrison became a marching army; the ways of the world were filled as with thunder with the trampling of their feet and far ahead of that ever swelling host went a man singing; as simply he had sung that morning in the winter woods, where he walked alone.

Posted by Sister Florence Vales OSC

Monday, September 24, 2012

Holy Name Federation Council Members of the Poor Clares

The Holy Name Federation Council Members met at the Monastery of Saint Clare September 21-23.
Left to right:
Sister Nancy of Travelers Rest, SC, Sister Ann of Langhorn, PA , Sister Carolyn of Travelers Rest, SC Sisters Barbara and Etta of Chesterfield, NJ.
All the council members said that the new President, Sister Carolyn, did a fine job and they accomplished very much in the short time that they met.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Feast of Saint Francis - A Man of Peace

Posted by Sister Florence Vales OSC

Vatican City, 25 September 2012 (VIS) - "God, the unknown" is to be the theme of the "Atrium of St. Francis", an initiative organised by the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Holy Convent of Assisi and the "Oicos Riflessioni" Association. A press conference presenting the event was held this morning in the Holy See Press Office.
The meeting is due to take place in the Italian town of Assisi on 5 and 6 October and is part of the "Courtyard of the Gentiles" project, a structure for permanent dialogue between believers and non believers created by the Pontifical Council for Culture under the presidency of Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi. The Courtyard of the Gentiles has already organised events in several European capitals.
The Assisi meeting, in which more than forty speakers are due to participate, will be opened by Giorgio Napolitano, president of the Republic of Italy. The programme, which involves nine meetings in nine "atria" at different locations around the city of St. Francis, will cover the following themes: "Work, business and responsibility", "Contemplation and meditation", "Inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue for peace", "Young people, between faith and nihilism", "The cry of the earth", "Art and faith", "The cry of the poor, the world economic crisis and sustainable development". Among the participants will be figures from the worlds of culture, science, art and economics, such as film-maker Ermanno Olmi, architect Massimiliano Fuksas, and trade union leader Susanna Camusso.
"In a second edition of his letter to the faithful St. Francis addressed himself to 'all Christians, religious, clergy and laity, to men and women, to all inhabitants of the world entire'", notes Fr. Giuseppe Piemontese, custodian of the Holy Convent of Assisi. "We are opening the 'Atrium of St. Francis' with great humility, and under the sign of that evangelical openness to others. Our hope is that the Courtyard of the Gentiles, in its call at Assisi, will be able to demonstrate the 'pure heart' and 'pure mind' to which St. Francis called us".

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Celebrating Sister Frances Vass Incorporation into The Monastery of St. Clare,Chesterfield, NJ , September 18, 2012 , The Feast of St. Joseph of Cupertino

From the Official Book of Documents 
for the Poor Clare Sisters of 
Chesterfield, New Jersey

In the year of Our Lord  ,2012, on the eighteenth day of September,
in the presence of the assembled Community of the Monastery of Saint Clare,Chesterfield, New Jersey, Sister Frances Vass,OSC, a Solemnly Professed member of  Christ the King Monastery, Delray Beach,the Diocese of Palm Beach, Florida, having completed the canonical requirement for a  transfer to another monastery of our Federation, was officially incorporated into our Community.
Notification of the incorporation was  sent to Bishop David O'Connell, Bishop of Trenton, New Jersey, Bishop Gerald Barbarito, Bishop of Palm Beach, Florida, Rev. Thomas Hartle OFM, our Religious Assitant of the Holy Name Federation of Poor Clare Monasteries;and sister Leanna Chrostowski, OSC, Abbess of Christ the King Monastery of Delray Beach,Florida.

The Ceremony of Incorporation took place during Office of Readings in the Monastery of Saint Clare.
signed :
Sister Frances Vass OSC
Sr. Miriam Varley OSC
Sr. Mary Frances Flynn OSC
Sr. Pat Kahler OSC
Sr. Barbara Gerlach OSC
Sr. Karen Stapleton OSC
Sr. Natalie Hayes OSC
Sr. Etta Patton OSC
Sr. Donna Padalino OSC
Sr. Florence Vales OSC
Sr. Agnes Valimont OSC
Sr. Nelia C. Acuna OSC

Congratulations to you,Sister Fran 

Posted by sister Florence Vales OSC

Friday, September 14, 2012

Up Coming Feast of Saint Francis

September is dwindling down to a few weeks before the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, October 4th.
We take time to reflect on this Saint from the writings of G.K. Chesterton. The following quotes are taken from his book Simplicity and Tolstoy.
Francis expressed in loftier and bolder language than any earthly thinker the conception that laughter is as divine as tears. He never forgot to take pleasure in a bird as it flashed past him or a drop of water as it fell from his finger. 
The clear and tranquil life of the Three Vows had a fine and delicate effect on the genius of Francis.  He was primarily a poet.  The perfection of his literary instinct is shown in his naming fire "Brother" and the water,"Sister" in the quaint appeal in the sermon to the fishes .'that they alone were saved in the Flood.

The general attitude of Saint Francis, like that of his Master, embodied a kind of terrible common-sense.  The famous remark of the Caterpillar in"Alice of Wonderland"-"Why not?" impresses us as his general motto.He could not see why he should not be on good terms with all things.  The pomp of war and ambition, the great empire of the Middle Ages and all its fellows begin to look tawdry and top-heavy, under the rationality of that innocent stare. His questions were blasting and devastating, like the questions of a child. He would not have been afraid even of the nightmares of cosmogony, for he had no fear in him.  To him the world was small, not because he had any views as to its size, but for the reason that gossiping ladies(???) find it small, because so many relatives were to be found in it.  If you had taken him to the loneliest star that the madness of an astronomer can conceive, Francis would have only beheld in it the features of a new friend.
Posted by Sister Florence Vales OSC

Monday, September 10, 2012

Patriot's Day September 11, 2014

Our prayers are with all those who died at the World Trade Center
in New York City;
at the Pentagon;
at Shanksville, Pennsylvania
May God give them Eternal Rest and be with their loved ones.
May the dead intercede for Peace for us here on earth.

We stand beneath the cross
            And ask  the hard question
Is this enough?
            We look to the world,
The world looks back.

Its pain and our pain is rooted
            In our hearts.
We lift it to the cross
            He reaches out for it tenderly ,
            And places it securely in His side.

Alone in the silence of solitude
            In the sacred place of  quiet,
The rain, like tears of a mother,
            Cleanses us,
And we find hope in a blanket of prayer.
We find hope in His Son’s Cross

            It is enough...


Prayers for our Friar, Father Mychal Judge OFM of the Holy Name Province
May God give him  Eternal Rest and be with his loved ones

May the dead intercede for Peace for us here on earth.

Posted by Sister Florence Vales OSC

Alan Jackson's song for September 11

Posted by Sister Florence Vales OSC

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Saint Francis- Lover of Creation

Meister Eckhart said of Creation "Every creature is a word of God."  Reading Francis and reading Eckhart is a very harmonious  experience. Their spirituality is creation-centered that is so biblical.
 G.K.Chesterton says of Francis
Francis never forgot to take pleasure in a bird as it flashed past him or a drop of water as it fell from his finger.- Francis could not see why he should not be on good terms with all things.

Posted by Sister Florence Vales  OSC

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Franciscorps Visits the Poor Clares

Friar Riccioli, OFM Conventual brought a group of young men and women who just finished college
to our Monastery to introduce them to our way of life.
These young people are set to give a year of service to the poor in Costa Rico  soup kitchens in New York and other Social Service.

 Visit their website  : 
The Francis VolunteerProgram

Below is a short profile of the 2012 Franciscorps group. 

1) Georgie Asfoura, 22 , comes to FrancisCorps from Akron, OH and is a 2012 graduate from Boston College where she majored in Economics and Studio Art. Georgie has worked with the Office of Residential life and in the Welcome Center at Boston College. She has also volunteered through the St. Bernard Project dry walling houses in New Orleans. She enjoys creating artwork, playing the guitar, hitting up museums and giving speeches.

Living simply begins with capitalizing on any opportunity to truly be with people, living out their stories side-by-side to empathize with them and share their perspective. Although good deeds are essential, only through prayer and reflection are our actions informed, and thus, become more meaningful. Close consideration and a search for deeper understanding allow us to put light in the dark places.
2) Jeanne Marie Clemmer, 22, hails from Jamesville, NY and is a 2012 graduate from Canisius College where she majored in Sociology and Urban Studies. Jeanne Marie worked within Residential life at Canisius College as well as acted as a foster sister, tutor for refugees and community service volunteer. She has a passion for working with refugees, drawing and keeping up-to-date with current human rights issues. Jeanne Marie will minister as an Assistant with Refugee Resettlement and Asian Apostolate in Syracuse.

I am so blessed to have the opportunity to be able to apply to such a program as presented by FrancisCorps. Through my school St. Francis of Assisi in Fulton and the youth ministers and leaders, I learned of Christ’s call for all his disciples to serve other with humility and passion. Since hearing the quote “Preach the Gospel, if necessary use words” I have grown and flourished to becoming an instrument of change in the world.

________________________________________________________________________________ 3) Ellen Craven, 23, is coming to FrancisCorps from Culpeper, VA. Ellen just completed a year with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Hartford, CT where she was the Program Assistant of Community Meals. Ellen is a 2011 graduate of The University of Delaware where she majored in Foreign Languages and Literatures. Ellen has studied abroad in Ecuador, Mexico and Brazil and has taken part in service trips to Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico. She enjoys running, baking, readings, movies and learning new things. Ellen will minister as an Assistant in the Social Outreach program at our St. Francis School in San José, Costa Rica.

Serving full-time for a year is just as much a formative experience for the volunteer as it is about performing charitable works. Walking in Solidarity with the poor through a year of service with FrancisCorps will plant roots and build relationships to guide me through the rest of my life.

4)  Rachel Fedders, 22, is a graduate of Wake Forest University where she obtained her B.A in Biology and Studio Arts. She is originally from Beckley, WV. While at Wake Forest Rachel was an active member in the Wake Forest Catholic Community where she participated in numerous service and volunteers opportunities for low income families in the Appalachian region. She also spent a semester studying abroad in New Zealand. Rachel enjoys many being outdoors hiking, fishing camping as well as listen to music and attending concerts and plays. Rachel will minister as a Youth Mentor the Bishop Foery Foundation, a neighborhood youth center in Syracuse.

  I have truly enjoyed and am greatly blessed with the many volunteer experiences with which I have participated. I feel strongly devoting a year to service, simple living and community is part of God’s plan for my life. I am excited about FrancisCorps and the opportunities it presents to strengthen my faith, minister to those in need, build relationships and live simple.

5) Gerardo Gomez, 22, comes from Philadelphia, PA and is a 2012 graduate of St. Joseph’s University. At St. Joseph’s, Gerardo earned his B.S. in Business Administration with a Accounting major. While at SJU he participated in the Cultural Exchange Program as well as volunteered in homeless shelters and with individuals with special needs. Gerardo also enjoys running and biking, spending time with his dog, music whether listening, playing the violin or going to concerts and photography. Gerardo will minister as an Assistant at Centeno Guell in Costa Rica for blind, deaf and physically challenged children.

I chose FrancisCorps because its missio is consistent with my most important values, specifically to live out the gospel through your own aons. I truly believe that the parallel between the FrancisCorps mission and my own experience will help me get even more out of my service and make it a strong foundation for my spiritual growth.

6) Michael Hyde, 22, is from St. Louis, MO and is a 2012 graduate of The University of Dayton. Here at Dayton he earned his degree in Religious Studies and Marianist Social Transformation. While at Dayton he was the team manager for the soccer team. Through this experience Michael was also able to volunteer by coaching soccer for underprivileged youth. He also has done a little traveling to France and a recent trip to China. Michael also enjoys hiking, reading and racquetball. He will minister to the refugee children at the Northside CYO in Syracuse.

  I applied to FrancisCorps because I am drawn to the values of simple living and community life. Coming from a background where community is been stressed I found myself drawn to the emphasis on the faith community in FrancisCorps. I feel this is beneficial for my development as a whole person.


7 Glenne Knape, 22, is a native of Grand Rapids, MI. She is a 2012 graduate of The University of Dayton where she studied Biology and Spanish. Glenna has had her hands in many volunteer opportunities to Honduras, Dayton, Appalachian, New Orleans, and St. Louis. She also has taught health education while in Quetzaltengo, Guatemala. She has also worked a head research in a Regenerative biology lab. Glenna enjoys playing sports, running, sailing and downhill skiing. She also loves being outdoors, reading and singing. Glenna will minister at a FUNDESO, a clinic for women with breast cancer.

  Living simply, means that we will not focus on the physical aspects; rather, we will focus on more important aspects of life such as spirituality, developing relationships, and becoming more like Christ. Living simply also directly related to the service that I would be participating in during my year of service with FrancisCorps. To best relate to to the people I would be serving, I would need to live in solidarity with them.


8 Simon Pearson, 23, comes all the way to Syracuse from Duluth, MN. He is a 2012 graduate of the College of Scholastica with a degree in English and Secondary Education. Simon has volunteered and acted as a trip leader for Students Today Leaders Forever. He is also a co-founder of a NPO called Spread Love Like Violence. Simon also enjoys writing poetry, reading, sports such as basketball baseball and running. He also enjoys music and spending time with his family. Simon will minister to The Franciscan Church of Assumption Food Pantry.

  FrancisCorps, to me, is the kind of organization that treats their people as members of a community and encourages them positively to make the changes in the world that the Lorkd would have us do. For me, this opportunity to work with FrancisCorps has landed exactly in the middle of what I want to do.


9) Jeffrey Sass, 22, is a recent college graduate of St. John’s University in Collegeville, MN. Jeff is originally from Clear Lake, MN. While complete his degree in Biology, Jeff was a Biology Lab Teachers Assistant, and was President of the Biology Club. Jeff was also an orientation leader for incoming first years at St. John’s. Jeff also did a semester abroad in Quetzaltengo, Guatemala where he was able to work with local Guatemalans teaching English. He also enjoys reading, movie, sports and playing cards. Jeff also enjoys being outside whether fishing or being on the lake. He will minister at Albergue San Gabriel, a clinic for children in Costa Rica.
  With an experience like FrancisCorps I hope to become a stronger part of my community. Through the volunteer work and responsibility, I hope to learn to community better with others and find a community through faith that can help others see like through a better perspective.


10) Alexandra Vereau, 22, comes to FrancisCorps from White Plains, NY. She is a 2012 graduate from The Catholic University of America. There she obtained her degree in Spanish for International Service and German. While at CUA, she participated in numerous volunteer opportunities such as Habitat for Humanity, Homeless Outreach Program and was the President of Latin Alliance. She also has worked as a translator/interpreter and was a summer camp aide for people with special needs. She also enjoys playing rugby, spending time with her family and traveling to Peru.

  FrancisCorps I a place I feel I will be able to reach my full potential and actively use all the gifts God has blessed me with. Because of my past in working with those in need and my passion to help others, I feel strongly towards the values and goals that FrancisCorps represent.

Submitted by sister Florence Vales OSC

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Happy Feast Day of our Lady and Her Assumption

  • Mary is "blessed" because --totally, in body and soul and for ever -- she became the Lord's dwelling place (Benedict XVI)

  • # 2: Carl Jung on the Assumption: It was in 1950, that the famed Lutheran psychiatrist Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist,and an influential thinker, the founder of analytical psychology, remarked that the papal announcement of the Assumption of Mary, in 1950, was "the most important religious event since the Reformation." (Storr 1983 p. 324) It means that along with the glorified masculine body of Jesus in heaven there is also a glorified feminine body of his mother Mary.

    According to Jung "bodily reception of the Virgin into heaven" (Ibid.) meant that "the heavenly bride was united with the bridegroom," (Ibid. p. 322) which union "signifies the hieros gamos"[the sacred marriage]. (Ibid.) Acknowledging that the Assumption "is vouched for neither in scripture nor in the tradition of the first five centuries of the Christian Church," Jung observes that: "The papal declaration made a reality of what had long been condoned.  This irrevocable step beyond the confines of historical Christianity is the strongest proof of the autonomy of archetypal images." (Storr 1983 p. 297).

    Jung remarks that
    “the Protestant standpoint . . . is obviously out of touch with the tremendous archetypal happenings in the psyche of the individual and the masses, and with the symbols which are intended to compensate the truly apocalyptic world situation today." (Ibid. pp. 322-323) Jung added: “Protestantism has obviously not given sufficient attention to the signs of the times which point to the equality of women. But this equality requires to be metaphysically anchored in the figure of a 'divine' woman. . . .  The feminine, like the masculine, demands an equally personal representation
Submitted by Sister Florence

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Happy Feast Day to Our Lady Clare

Chapel decorated in an elegant style

The Way of the Lamb

We wish,
 until we are,
what Clare was.

Clare who kindles
 our hearts
to be lovers of God
and lovers of all.

She fills our minds,
with passages
from Scripture.

We take up her longing,
to pass from emptiness
to fullness.

 in a love
 that comes from God
and goes to God,
passing from death
to life.

But we, pondering her phrases, may miss
the mark.

So our Sister Moon,
reflecting light
from Brother Sun,

points beyond her self,
beyond her Francis.
to the way of the Lamb.

Rule Chapter VI
Since by Divine Inspiration you have made yourselves daughters and handmaids of the Most High Sovereign King.

The Testament of Clare:
Love one another for the sake of Christ, and show forth externally by your actions, the love that reigns in your hearts so that, urged on by each other’s example, the Sisters may always grow in the love of God, and in mutual Charity.

Clare’s love of Scripture : first Letter of Clare to Agnes:
Psalm 32; Matt 8,20;  Jn 19,30; Matt 6,20, 24; Matt 19,24
Matt 7,14,; Matt 19,29

Clare’s Third Letter To Agnes:
Truly, I can rejoice, nor can anyone rob me of such joy, because I now possess what under heaven I have desired.

Clare’s Third Letter to Agnes:
Love Him in complete surrender –quotes Jn 14,21”Who loves me will be loved by my Father etc.

Clare’s fourth Letter to Agnes.
You are espoused most wondrously to the spotless Lamb.

Posted by Sister Florence Vales OSC

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Some Thoughts on Contemplative Life in the Monastery


800th Anniversary of the Beginning of the Poor Clare Life
More Thoughts on Contemplation  from Breakthrough
Meister Eckhart's Creation
by Matthew Fox

Creation centered spirituality, the most Jewish, the most biblical ,the
most contemplative and Franciscan has been lost in the West, so says Fox.
Meister Eckhart quotes:
  • Every creature is a word of God

  • When I preach, I try to speak of letting go and that we should become unwed from ourselves.

  • Everything which is past, everything which is present, and everything which is future God creates in the soul, in the innermost soul.

  • Life is blessing and blessing is life
Creatures are an echo of the Divine.
  • Announce the Word, pronounce the Word, produce it, give birth to the Word.

Someone gave us a book by Dianne Aprile, Making A Heart For God: A Week  Inside a Catholic Monastery
Aprile spent sometime with the Monks  at the Trappist Abbey of Gethsemani, Kentucky and some of the quotes below are from her book, which we found so true to our own Poor Clare Contemplative Life.
"In the night of our own technological barbarism, monks must be as trees which exist silently in the dark and by their vital presence purify the air."  Bother Patrick Hart OCSO
"In the process of striving for union with God through solitude, silence, and Christian faith, the Catholic monk(or nun) reaches out to the world in all its diversity and extends an embrace of peace." Dianne Aprile
To us, living in the world of turmoil this is the essence of our life especially as Franciscans , "to extend an embrace of peace." As Francis said in a prayer attributed to him, "Lord, make me an instrument of your peace."
Even as we do that we will ruffle feathers but we will not be rebels in the sense of any aggressive attack.  We will be like the mighty oaks holding  our vigil in prayer.
Aprile quotes Thich Nhan Hanh who advocates a half smile as our greeting to the world upon awaking up the morning."
"A smile", he wrote confirms that you are in complete mindfulness."
If one is smiling one can not be hostile to others or to creation, especially to dogs, says me.
Like all Contemplative communities the monks and nuns of today respect and appreciate, the power of silence, solitude and simplicity and work and pray together for the world.

Further thoughts:

When you enter a contemplative (cloister) Community it is like entering into the wilderness of the desert.

One movie that speaks to this might be Hidalgo, the true story of Frank Hopkins. Hopkins lived around the time of Buffalo Bill and worked for him.

The story is, in a nutshell: Hopkins runs a race in the Arabian Desert with his wild mustang.  What Hopkins learns in the desert is to accept himself for who he is, half white and half Indian. 
In the end Hopkins uses  the money that he won to buy all the wild mustangs from the government who's intention was  to slaughter them.  The most touching part of the movie was when Hopkins  lets the wild mustangs out of the corral to run free and his own horse
makes a neighing sound and Hopkins turns, takes off the saddle of
his horse and lets the horse run with the other wild mustangs. It is a complete surrender for Hopkins in which he  lets himself and the horse be who they  truly are.

This is what the desert teaches us but first comes the surrender of everything nothing less their ourselves, and in the process we will find union with God.
And what is union with God:  Love God with all your heart and all your soul and your neighbor as yourself.  Easy? NO.
" Remove the bogus: reveal the authentic", as Brother Luke Armour of Gethsemene says.

Nothing is expected of the monk or nun except, "to be." That sounds easy until you try to do it.  Amen.
Posted bySister Florence Vales OSC

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Corpus Christi Sunday June 10th

    This mosaic is found in the Church of the Loaves and Fishes at Tabgha in the Holy Land. It reminds us  of Jesus' feeding five thousand with just a few loaves and fishes.   The story found in the Gospels is a shadow of the future institution of the Eucharist.
    The Eucharist is the center of all Christian life. for in the Eucharist Jesus Christ gives Himself to us, and we lay hold of Him.  The Eucharist is not merely a symbol and ceremony:  It is truly the sacrament in which, most of all we receive the body of Jesus Christ, true God and true Man. Our Faith tells us that this is our reality.

    St. Thomas Aquinas' Hymn is posted below: 
    It is one of the most profound explanations of the Sacrament of the Eucharist in a small kernel.

    The Sequence
    Zion, praise your Savior. Praise your Savior. Praise your leader and shepherd in hymns and canticles. Praise him as much as you can, for he is beyond all praising and you will never be able to praise him as he merits.

    But today a theme worthy of particular praise is put before us -- the living and life-giving bread that, without any doubt, was given to the Twelve at table during the holy supper.

    Therefore let our praise be full and resounding and our soul's rejoicing full of delight and beauty, for this is the festival day to commemorate the first institution of this table.

    At this table of the new King, the new law's new Pasch puts an end to the old Pasch. The new displaces the old, the reality the shadow and light the darkness. Christ wanted what he did at the supper to be repeated in his memory.

    And so we, in accordance with his holy directions, consecrate bread and wine to be salvation's Victim. Christ's followers know by faith that bread is changed into his flesh and wine into his blood.

    Man cannot understand this, cannot perceive it; but a lively faith affirms that the change, which is outside the natural course of things, takes place. Under the different species, which are now signs only and not their own reality, there lie hid wonderful realities. His body is our food, his blood our drink.

    And yet Christ remains entire under each species. The communicant receives the complete Christ -- uncut, unbroken and undivided. Whether one receive or a thousand, the one receives as much as the thousand. Nor is Christ diminished by being received.

    The good and the wicked alike receive him, but with the unlike destiny of life or death. To the wicked it is death, but life to the good. See how different is the result, though each receives the same.

    Last of all, if the sacrament is broken, have no doubt. Remember there is as much in a fragment as in an unbroken host. There is no division of the reality, but only a breaking of the sign; nor does the breaking diminish the condition or size of the One hidden under the sign.

    Behold, the bread of angels is become the pilgrim's food; truly it is bread for the sons, and is not to be cast to dogs. It was prefigured in type when Isaac was brought as an offering, when a lamb was appointed for the Pasch and when manna was given to the Jews of old.

    Jesus, good shepherd and true bread, have mercy on us; feed us and guard us. Grant that we find happiness in the land of the living. You know all things, can do all things, and feed us here on earth. Make us your guests in heaven, co-heirs with you and companions of heaven's citizens. Amen. Alleluia. 
    Posted by Sister Florence Vales OSC

Pope Francis visits Sister in Umbria