June 24, 2023

Mailing Day at Casa Maria

Some of you have asked to see more posts about what happens during ordinary daily life at Casa Maria – here’s a regular event at home that you might enjoy seeing! We try to send you a newsletter three or four times a year, but did you know how many hands pitch in to make it possible? There’s all the pictures that are taken with newsletters in mind, then the designing, proofing, printing…

Then, once the newsletter arrives at the convent, we all enjoy taking a peek!

Then, we clear out the reception room and set it up as a workroom. On average, we send 8,500-9,000 newsletters every mailing! The day before mailing, we set up two tables for stuffing envelopes, one for sealing, and a big table for labeling.

And before you know it, the latest newsletter will be in your mailbox – hope you enjoy it!

May 29, 2023

Adventures on the West Coast

Early one morning in May, four Sister Servants flew all the way to the great state of Washington. We went to share about our life as Sister Servants with the parish and school of one of our Casa Maria retreat masters. Fr. Wichert has come to give retreats for the last few years, and because he couldn’t bring his entire parish on a 5-hour plane ride down to Birmingham, he asked that some of us come and bring a little of Casa Maria to them. It was exciting to teach the community about our vocation and the joy it gives us to live totally for God. 

Each morning, we visited a few classrooms to talk to the students and answer whatever questions they had about religious life. Then, we had the joy of eating lunch with the students and joining them for recess! In most areas of the country, recess might be moved inside if it is raining—not in Washington! Rain does not keep these kids from their daily time for running around, playing soccer or four-square, so we didn’t let it deter us either. 

On Friday morning, we joined the school and parish for their May Crowning. That morning, every single student brought a few flowers, and at the beginning of Mass, they all processed up to the front of the church to put their flowers in vases to be placed around Our Lady. Needless to say, she was thoroughly adorned with hundreds of flowers! The seventh-grade students led the music for the Mass, and Sister Benedicta Marie served as guest director of the choir.   

Each evening, we were able to join in many of the regular parish activities, including First Communion classes and youth group. One night, the parish had a potluck, at which the four of us gave a presentation on the universal call to holiness and the ways of cultivating a life of grace. At this event we were able to meet a lot of the parishioners, including the families of the students we had already met in the mornings. Everyone was so welcoming and kind! 

A trip to the beautiful Pacific Northwest wouldn’t be complete without some time spent in the great outdoors! On Sunday afternoon, Fr. Wichert brought us for a hike to see Wallace Falls, and after a rigorous hike to see the waterfall, we were treated to a rainbow shining forth from the mist of the falls.

The trip was a great grace to the four of us Sisters, and we pray it was equally so for all we met!

April 26, 2023

Sisters on Campus

Western Kentucky University

For the past four years, the Sister Servants have been visiting college campuses throughout the Southeast, and it has been a blessing all around! The Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) trains young missionaries to serve on college campuses, and we have supported them in one way or another for many years. Increasingly over the years, FOCUS has been emphasizing the importance of the witness of religious life, and what an impact this witness can make on college students. so in 2019 we began to spend more time with FOCUS missionaries and on campuses, and a new apostolic venture came about. While many of the campuses that we visit are FOCUS campuses, some of them are not. We have found ourselves at a variety of schools and student centers, each with its own unique atmosphere and character. It is always edifying that on every campus, we have encountered young Catholic men and women desiring to put God at the center of their lives, when there is so much pressure to do otherwise. It is also beautiful to see our Eucharistic Lord present in each campus chapel – and present to each of these young people.

The Sisters have been traveling quite a bit, to visit these schools! Some campuses have invited us to come once a month or once a semester, but of course we visit those farther away less often. Take a look and see (approximately) where we have been!

We have been able to bring our apostolic work to the college students in a variety of ways. We have assisted with retreats, given talks on different aspects of the Faith, led study groups, and prayed with students. Often, just being present at a meal or at Mass is an opportunity to meet and speak with students who wouldn’t get to speak with Sisters otherwise. Our first aim in this work is to serve the people God wants us to meet during each visit, through prayer and in conversation. At the same time, it has been a blessing to us as well, to encounter these young people. It is beautiful to see the grace of God at work in each individual soul. 

Please pray for us as we continue to work with different Catholic student centers and visit campuses. Please pray for the students also, as it is truly a battle to live the Faith in such a secular sphere of society. God is doing great things and his grace is always sufficient for every challenge! 

And, these visits have also borne the fruit of bringing many young adults to retreats at Casa Maria!

April 5, 2023

Holy Week at the Convent

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

There is a very powerful flashback scene in the Passion of the Christ a little before Jesus is crucified where He reminds us of His Sermon on the Mount and His teaching to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (cf. Mt 5:44). It’s easy to forget that Jesus does not ask us to do anything He Himself did not do first. It’s a sobering privilege for us to repeat the persecuting words of the Crowd in the Passion Narrative read every Palm Sunday and Good Friday; for, as the Catechism teaches, “All men are implicated in Adam’s sin, as St. Paul affirms: ‘By one man’s disobedience many (that is, all men) were made sinners’: ‘sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned.” (CCC 402)

It’s an even greater privilege to hear Jesus’ response to us personally in His last words from the Cross: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Lk 23:34)

We enter into Holy Week not trying to recall a series of events that happened 2,000 years ago but to enter into the Paschal Mystery present right here, right now. The Holy Triduum is a continuous liturgical event that begins with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, (notice that Mass is not concluded on Thursday), continues with Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion, and ends on Easter Sunday evening. The Catechism teaches,

“His Paschal mystery is a real event that occurred in our history, but it is unique: all other historical events happen once, and then they pass away, swallowed up in the past. The Paschal mystery of Christ, by contrast, cannot remain only in the past, because by his death he destroyed death, and all that Christ is – all that he did and suffered for all men – participates in the divine eternity, and so transcends all times while being made present in them all.” (CCC 1085) 

These are arguably the most important three days out of every year. The Triduum liturgies make present the institution of the most Holy Eucharist, the institution of the holy priesthood, and the one sacrifice offered in place of the old to bear the sins of many for my salvation and yours (cf. Heb 9:28).

If you usually attend Mass only on Easter Sunday at the end of the Triduum, we highly encourage you to participate in as much as you can of this 3-day-long liturgy. These days pull us right into the heart of salvation history, into the open heart of Jesus Christ. Ultimately, they bring us into the loving embrace of the Father, who so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Here are some recent pictures, and a glimpse of what is happening at Casa Maria as we prepare for the Triduum:

March 21, 2023

Not as Man Sees Does God See

“Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance, but the LORD looks into the heart.”

1 Samuel 16:7


As we enter into this 4th Week of Lent, we have ample opportunity to reflect on our experience of Lent so far and consider our preparation for Holy Week. No matter how we have done, Venerable Bruno Lanteri would famously remind us that it is never too late to “Begin Again!” Most of the spiritual life consists in beginning again, no matter what liturgical season we are in. But perhaps we’ve made one too many resolutions, fallen behind on a daily practice, or just need to switch gears with some different spiritual reading to bring us into Holy Week.

 The Lord isn’t quite as concerned with our plans as we are, as long as our first concern is always Him. Although it’s good to make resolutions and revive them as needed, we’ll never get a demerit mark from God for falling behind on Catechism in a Year, not finishing that book study, or finally realizing it’s more of a penance than a blessing to others if I give up caffeine for Lent. The first reading from the 4th Sunday of Lent recounts Samuel’s journey to Jerusalem to anoint the next king. It sounds easy enough; God tells him which family to visit. But God doesn’t tell Samuel which of Jesse’s seven sons will be the next king, and He doesn’t accept Samuel’s first assumption. Or second. Or third. Samuel has to meet all of Jesse’s sons that come to Jerusalem, and still request that the missing son, David, God’s chosen one, come in from the fields.

Samuel anointing David

 God is never distant, but sometimes His ways are mysterious, and we end up waiting on the Lord for the answer that only He himself must provide. Waiting is fruitful if we can endure it in trust; it’s insanity if we spend it in worry. But if we simply believe, we’ll see that God is who He says He is, and He’ll do what He says He’s going to do, and this is exactly the kind of waiting we should practice in these last weeks of Lent. Fulton Sheen reminds us that there is no Easter Sunday without a Good Friday, and as we begin again in these final weeks of Lent, we are preparing to receive the same message that the woman at the tomb received from the angels:

 “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.” (Matthew 28:5)

Jesus has not only gone ahead of us into in Galilee, but in the mystery of His Death, Resurrection, and Ascension, He has gone ahead of us to our Heavenly Father, and is waiting for us both now in the Eucharist, and ultimately in Heaven. So let us continue to set our Lenten eyes toward Calvary and the empty tomb, and trust that wherever we find ourselves, the Lord is always calling us in from the fields to Himself.