April 29, 2021

Easter Season with the Sister Servants

Easter Preparations

Every year, we look forward to Holy Week and the Easter Triduum. Our religious life allows us to enter more fully into the rhythm of this sacred week. All hands are on deck as we prepare for these holiest of days through our work in the chapel, in the yard and in the kitchen.

The Triduum Liturgies

Fr. Patrick Mary, MFVA, celebrated our Triduum liturgies, and he was joined by some of his brother Friars who assisted him with preaching. Fr. Joseph Mary, MFVA, celebrated our Easter Sunday Mass. Still restricted by COVID, we were not able to have the larger crowds of past years. We look forward to welcoming our friends again for Holy Week in 2022!

Easter Octave Outing to the Bankhead National Forest

One of the ways we celebrated the Easter octave this year was by taking an outing to the Bankhead National Forest in Northern Alabama. Several of the Sisters went hiking in the Sipsey Wilderness area while others enjoyed the nature and fellowship with one another.

April 2, 2021

Retreat on Jesus’ Seven Last Words with Fr. Hugh Gillespie

When someone we love is at the point of death, that person’s last words are often the most important lessons that he or she teaches us. Fr. Hugh Gillespie pointed this out in his recent Casa Maria retreat where he offered a series of meditations on Jesus’ seven last words from the Cross. Focusing on the order and structure of these words, he showed how Jesus called on God as Father at the beginning and at the end of His Crucifixion, thus teaching us to turn to our Heavenly Father in times of suffering. Following Our Lord’s example, we are then able to entrust our heavenly Father with everything and hand over our spirits to Him in abandonment and love.

We wanted to share these reflections with you to help you enter into the events of the Triduum more profoundly. We hope that you find these talks as spiritually fruitful as we do.

March 10, 2021

The Story of My Vocation: Sr. Mary Philomena


Sr. Mary Philomena has been taking part in a ChristLife small group study and recently shared her story with her small group. She wants to share it with you!

I grew up in a family that did not attend Mass on a regular basis. My mom was a cradle Catholic, and my dad did not convert until I was about 12. At the age of 10, I felt the need to attend Mass each Sunday, so I asked my grandma if she would pick me up and take me. Every Sunday I got myself up and ready for her to pick me up. After my dad’s conversion I would go with him.

Throughout my life I feel I had many conversion moments when I accepted Jesus in my life, but awhile after those moments, I would slip back into the way of the world. Even though I was not living the life, I should I always went to Sunday Mass. One reason my conversion moments did not last during that time is that my parents weren’t strong in their faith to help support and guide me.

When I was a young adult my parents had deep conversion. They attended a Life in the Spirit seminar at our parish and had a more profound conversion. I had seen a transformation in their faith. They began attending a weekly prayer group and invited me to join them at different group functions or at their prayer group meetings. I would decline, thinking it wasn’t for me.

Then a protestant counselor moved to town, and I had to talk with her frequently. I worked in a group home for mentally disabled adults, and she was their counselor. One day she asked me if I knew of any prayer groups she could join. The only group I knew of was the one that my parents attended, and she asked me if I would go with her. I said I would. My parents were excited to hear that I would be attending the next meeting.

At that meeting I began my transformation and eventually accepted Jesus in my life. From that time I began to grow in my faith, and it was there that when someone was praying over me, I got the overwhelming sense that God was calling me to religious life. I reluctantly began the journey to find the community God was calling me to be His spouse. At the time I gave my boss a one year notice, and a year later I entered the Sister Servants where I continue my journey in growing with the Lord.

 

March 3, 2021

Snow at Casa Maria

It is very rare that we see any snow in Birmingham, and for our winter-loving sisters, even snow flurries are a treat! On February 15, we woke up to a surprise: the air was filled with flurries, and they were actually sticking to the ground! When it finished, we had gotten about half an inch. The Lord blessed us in Alabama because we didn’t have any of the traumatic experiences that many in the nation suffered. Our prayers remain united to all those who continue to suffer from the effects of the recent snow and cold in Texas and other parts of the South.

February 10, 2021

Sisters All In for SEEK21!

Each year FOCUS hosts their “SEEK” conference for their missionaries, students, and those who wish to experience FOCUS’ work in person.  This year, due to COVID, the keynotes and impact sessions were virtual.  However, numerous college campuses hosted their own live gathering, organized by their local FOCUS missionaries, to provide students with a opportunity to experience together the amazing talks, small group discussions, and celebration of the Sacred Liturgy, which make SEEK such a life-changing experience.  One opportunity SEEK provides is the chance for students to meet priests and Religious from across the country and the world.  We happily responded to a series of invitations for our Sisters to attend these smaller campus gatherings:

Georgia College & State University:

Sister Rita Marie and Sister Madeleine Marie traveled to Milledgeville, GA, to join the FOCUS missionaries and students of Georgia College & State University for their SEEK21 venue.

Sister Rita Marie shares with the students in a small group discussion

“We brought books, medals, and other items from our bookstore, and we joined the students in their small groups as they discussed the content from the many talks we heard together.  The missionaries had encountered several roadblocks as they planned the conference (from a car crashing through the original venue to extremely wet and cold weather), but everything came together beautifully and it bore much fruit in the lives of all whose who attended.” ~ Sister Madeleine Marie

 

Adoration on Saturday night at the Georgia College SEEK21 venue

University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa):

Sister Joseph Marie joins in a small group discussion

Over the weekend, Sister Joseph Marie and Sister Mary Faustina traveled to both the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa and at Birmingham.

“I was very edified by the zeal of the students at the University of Alabama.  What I took away from SEEK21 was a great hope for the future of the Church.” ~ Sister Joseph Marie

 

 

University of Alabama at Birmingham:

The Sisters listen in on the students’ reflections

 

Louisiana State University:

Sister Marie Therese and Sister Margaret Mary took the longest haul of all to Baton Rouge, LA to join the students from LSU.

The Sisters’ booth at LSU

“We had a wonderful time at LSU’s SEEK21 venue!  The students were impressive in their spiritual insights, their openness to share with each other, and their love for Catholicism.  We were happy to see 200 students join in for the weekend.  The FOCUS missionaries did an excellent job at planning and providing for everyone’s needs.   They created an environment as close as you can get to the feel of a real SEEK conference experience.” ~Sister Margaret Mary

 

Sister Marie Therese plays a game with some students on Friday night

 

Sister Margaret Mary joins in tossing a football with a FOCUS missionary, two Mercedarian Sisters, and a few students (after a good throw, one bystander said, “from Alabama – of course!”)

 

 

Saturday night Eucharistic Adoration and Procession in Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Baton Rouge

 

Sister Marie Therese and Sister Margaret Mary bid farewell to two of the LSU FOCUS missionaries

And Back at Home:

Sister Mary Michael watched over our “Virtual Booth” for the entire SEEK conference and was able to engage with several people who checked-in via Zoom.

A Screenshot of our “Virtual Booth” and the times for “ZOOMing-in” with us

“It was a blessing to be available during the weekend for so many fruitful Zoom conversations with students and sponsors alike.  Although we’re not together in-person, our intentionality, accompaniment, and prayers are just as present for all who reach out to us.  We can’t wait to see you all in person in Salt Lake City next year!” ~ Sister Mary Michael

 

Photo Gallery on our Virtual Booth

Sister Mary Philomena participated in the SEEK21 online platform, including the Christlife small group.

A view outside Sister Mary Philomena’s office…

A view inside Sister Mary Philomena’s office!

“I was very impressed with FOCUS’ excellent virtual platform.   Their emphasis on small group participation throughout the weekend allowed this virtual conference to impact us personally.  I hope that future SEEK conferences provide virtual participation for those unable to attend in person.” ~ Sister Mary Philomena

 

What about the other Sisters at home?  They “held down the fort”!  And, many had the opportunity to watch some of the keynotes and impact sessions over the weekend and benefit from the amazing speakers of SEEK21.

We are delighted to be friends of FOCUS and to be able to support them with our presence and our prayers!