Are you a wisdom seeker or looking for inspiration? Have you ever heard of Saints Francis and Clare? They lived 800 years ago, but the witness of their lives and values continue to inspire people of faith today. Twice a month Sister Michelle L’Allier, Franciscan Sister of Little Falls, Minnesota, will bring a guest, a story or a text for reflection and conversation, leading us to prayer, inspiration, or action.
Crossing cultures & creating spaces for belonging in daily life - Episode 52
Join Dr. Patty Jimenez as she shares the joys of being raised with Franciscan values, translates theological terms and teachings into everyday language, and the creates spaces of belonging for young Latina woman raised in the United States.
For a video version of this episode, see: https://youtu.be/etFD7Z-4Vsw
From Patty Jimenez’ interview:
“When I returned to school I am reading Bonaventure, Scotus, and Francis and Clare's writings, I'm going, some of this stuff is pretty lofty. But when I broke it down to the essentials of hospitality, of care for creation, this is what my family lived every day, especially the women in my family; it was really powerful to see that written theologically, to see that expressed and be like, oh yeah, this is us.”
Regarding moving between cultures: “I think first is to not make assumptions. It's really important to ask a lot of questions. Oftentimes people just kind of jump in based on what is on the surface level, but they don't really know what's behind it. … I've seen that happen over and over again in so many situations, making assumptions about other people without taking consideration about what we are doing or not doing that is causing what's happening.”
“When you deal with a lot of cross-cultural issues, oftentimes just feeling heard causes a shift. That's sometimes all people need, is to be heard.”
“We all belong. If we've ever felt that we didn't, it's usually because we haven't been adequately provided for or cared for. That has resonated for me as a Latina that's been raised here in the United States. And so I take a huge responsibility now of how do I create belonging for US born and raised Latinas. At times we have to, if we feel like, ‘hey, I don't belong’, maybe it's the Spirit that's moving us to create spaces of belonging for others.”
Vernacular theologian: “How do you translate really lofty theological terms or teachings into everyday terms so that anyone can understand it? And so for me it's translated in what we Latina theologians or pastor ministers speak of la vida cotidiana, our everyday life. And so how do we integrate it and speak in a language that is accessible to most people nowadays?”
For a full transcript, please include episode number and email: email@example.com.
Brother Ed Dunn and las Posadas at the Border: read about the impact of the San Diego and Tijuana border experience in Patty’s life: http://www.ushispanicministry.com/la-posada-at-the-border/
Franciscan School of Theology: “There is a hidden treasure in Catholic Theology called the “Franciscan Tradition.” As Pope Francis reminds us, St. Francis of Assisi is a saint of peace, a saint of the poor, a saint respectful of each person’s God-given uniqueness, and a saint with a great love for all God’s creatures.” See: https://www.fst.edu/about/
Secular Franciscans: https://www.secularfranciscansusa.org/ . You may also find it interesting to listen to Carolyn Townes’ reflections on being a Secular Franciscan in Episode 27, including links to further information at https://engagingfranciscanwisdom.org/walking-the-path-of-grief-and-loss-to-joy-as-a-lay-franciscan-episode-27
Francis and the Sultan: a contemporary telling of the story: https://cac.org/francis-and-the-sultan-2019-10-10/ . An original source: The Life of Saint Francis XX:57, by Thomas of Celano at: https://www.franciscantradition.org/francis-of-assisi-early-documents/the-saint/the-life-of-saint-francis-by-thomas-of-celano/672-fa-ed-1-page-231#ges:searchword%3Dsultan%26searchphrase%3Dall%26page%3D1
Wolf of Gubbio: read in The Deeds of Blessed Francis & His Companions XXIII, FA:ED, vol. 3, pp. 482-485 at: https://www.franciscantradition.org/francis-of-assisi-early-documents/the-prophet/the-deeds-of-blessed-francis-and-his-companions-1328-1337/2386-fa-ed-3-page-485
Christmas in February: A Journey through Latin America – Bonus Episode 1
Join Franciscan Associate Arlen Casco as she narrates in video form what we’re calling “Christmas in February: a journey through Latin America.” It will be an exploration by several Associates of how Christmas, that is, the coming of Jesus among us as a human being, is celebrated in their respective countries of Mexico, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Columbia and Venezuela. The video is spoken in Spanish and subtitled in English, while the audio is in Spanish.
For the original video version with English subtitles, see: https://youtu.be/3X6kH4YLhME
We hope you find a welcome in this bonus episode of word, song and visuals. You will be led on this journey by Franciscan Associate Arlen Casco in Nicaragua who interviews Sol, Beni, Estrella, Camilo and Maria José, and has produced this lovely window into cultural expressions and traditions across Latin America.
This episode is the first of an occasional series called TAO, an acronym for “Testimonios Actuales y Ordinarios” which in English means “Current and Ordinary Testimonies.” While these episodes will continue to be produced in Latin America especially for Spanish-speaking Associates, they will be shared with subtitles in English as bonus episodes on Engaging Franciscan Wisdom.
Special Note: If you speak Spanish, you may want to look up the Spanish versions of each Engaging Franciscan Wisdom podcast. The same Franciscan Associate Arlen Casco coordinates the Spanish version; see Sabiduria Franciscana
For further information, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hospitality opens doors to pioneering inclusion & education – Episode 51
Join Franciscan Sister Callista Robinson as she breaks open her experience as an African American woman of faith, rooted in her own culture. A life-long learner and teacher, her hospitality and compassion serve to build bridges of relationships across cultures.
For a video version of this episode, see: https://youtu.be/x9N0uDm-A_E
From Sister Callista’s interview:
“Franciscan values of compassion, serving the very poor and underserved, have really influenced me as a Franciscan Sister. And peacemaking and social justice, those are Franciscan values. It seems to me you cannot talk to a Franciscan without hearing that person say something about social justice and how we have to go out to those who are not served. … Another Franciscan value that we have is we’re very hospitable.”
Wisdom to share: “Have a conversation with God, which we call prayer, an open and honest conversation where you let God do the talking and you do the listening. And from there each person will receive the wisdom that they need, whether that is to be more trustful, to be more compassionate, to be more accepting of others from a different culture, whatever that might be. Listening and talking with God – but more listening rather than talking.”
For a full transcript, please include episode number and email: email@example.com.
Sr. Callista Robinson, OSF – 35th Annual Black Excellence Awards Honoree: https://milwaukeetimesnews.com/35th-annual-black-excellence-awards/honorees/sr-callista-robinson-osf
School Sisters of Saint Francis: https://www.sssf.org/
Loretto Academy, Chicago, an integrated high school for girls: https://www.preservationchicago.org/loretto-academy-institute-of-the-blessed-virgin/
Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, founded by Saint Katharine Drexel; their mission was to evangelize and educate African Americans and Native Americans:https://www.katharinedrexel.org/st_katharine_drexel_overview/founding-of-the-sisters-of-the-blessed-sacrament/
Saint Anselm Catholic School, Chicago: https://stanselmchicago.com/?page_id=7
Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, Minnesota, history: https://www.fslf.org/aboutus;
Sister Thomasine Schmolke: https://thecentralminnesotacatholic.org/little-falls-franciscan-sister-writes-new-history-of-her-community
Vatican Council II: a five-minute video about the Council by Franciscan friar Casey Cole: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyVq1hnxAqg .To hear other podcast guests references as well as to see show note links (click on ‘Read More’), type ‘Vatican’ into the search bar of this website, and several options will come up to explore.
National Black Sisters Conference (NBSC), founded to support each other as African Americans: https://www.nbsc68.com/
LCWR (Leadership Conference of Women Religious): https://lcwr.org/
Center for Consecrated Religious, at CTU (Chicago Theological Union): https://ctu.edu/cscl/
Saint Francis of Assisi Parish, Milwaukee: https://www.stfrancismil.org/
Brother Booker Ashe Lay Ministry Program, Milwaukee: https://blackandindianmission.org/news/congrats-brother-booker-ash-lay-ministry-graduates
Adult Learning Center, Milwaukee: https://www.alcmke.org/
Black History Month: https://asalh.org/about-us/origins-of-black-history-month - also see: https://blackhistorymonth.gov/
Saint Francis de Sales Seminary, Archdiocese of Milwaukee: https://www.sfs.edu/SFSHome
Dr. Antoinette Mensah, MD, Director of Archdiocesan Office for World Mission and the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, Archdiocese of Milwaukee: https://cx.uwp.edu/antoinette-mensah.html
Sister Callista with students from Harambee Community School in Milwaukee
Growing with God & others: Welcome & bring our full selves – Episode 50
Join former Franciscan Community Volunteer Nnedi Anoskie-Ogunu as she shares her learnings of what strengthens her connection with God and others, ranging from the place of welcoming communities to developing an interior spiritual life.
For a video version of this episode, see: https://youtu.be/z0QhmFbJ8Ss
From Nnedi’s interview:
“When I was in Nigeria, I was eager to come to the US because we'd seen all these images about the US and I was excited to experience all of it. But then when I came, it was much different from what I knew. … And then school, I faced some racism from teachers, administration, students. It was a very hard transition. That was rough. You're going through so many internal changes trying to figure out what your feelings are, and everyone is doing the same. So, we're all gonna bump into each other in very unhealthy ways.”
“I've always been drawn to community where I feel welcomed. Of course, when I was growing up in Nigeria, that was not a community that I chose, I was born into it. I was just part of it, right? And as an adult, you're able to choose where you belong or where you find belonging, and I've been able to do that. And making it part of a spiritual practice was not something that occurred to me until I came to you all in Minnesota. The intentionality behind even our gatherings was something that has stayed with me. And those gatherings are what built our community, right?”
“It's very important for me to feel a sense of community with the people that I work with; the line of work that I'm interested in doing cannot be done without community. I'm very much into social justice, and I think that none of us can survive, can thrive without being, without having belonging anywhere. And part of the work that I do through “Faith and Public Life” is to create spaces and make sure that everyone feels a sense of belonging and not excluded because of things that are out of their control, you know, their skin color, how they pray, things like that.”
“I try to be mindful when I'm in community with other people, that someone may be showing up a certain way in my community, that there are stories there that I may not know. It's up to us to continue to create safe communities, safe intentional communities, where they can bring their full selves.”
“I had been told almost all my life that I should be a nun. I think it's just because I had spiritual practice; I had a love for God and enjoyed things like that, so to them it meant to be a nun. And I always wondered why it wasn't enough that I was a lay person, and that my love for God was evident - all of us should be living a life that is evident of our love for God and our love for one another. It gave me the opportunity to come and be with sisters, see what the life was like, and see if there was something that it stirred in me during my time there. And while I was there, I discovered that you all were normal people that loved life, loved one another. I think the first night there we played a game and that was the most peace I felt in a foreign place before, and I knew that I was in a right place. And since then there was such a strong welcoming. I didn't have to explain certain things, even though there were cultural barriers. There was still a willingness and openness to learning about me that felt like this was home, right?”
“For me, when I get to a certain point with my friends, with my relationships, I feel like it's almost transcended friendship, I will call them, I'll call my friends my sisters. And so since my time with the Sisters of Little Falls, I call you all sisters. Not because of the title, but because I have also taken you as family in a way that I feel like
Living Presence: uniquely gifted by God for the world – Episode 49
Join Jamie Deering as she shares stories and considers with curiosity what it is to be present to oneself and others as we allow God to flow through us in the midst of different ways of thinking, seeing and being in the world.
For a video version of this episode, see: https://youtu.be/PZ9MDBvRbe8
From Jamie’s interview:
“One of the first and primary ways that God grabbed a hold of me and that I knew the presence of God in me and in the world, was through music. When I was four years old, I began piano lessons and when I was in elementary school, there was a choir and I was so excited to be part of this, creating music with our bodies and with our souls, which has felt to me like a special portal, a special pathway to God. … The thread of music through my entire life is what has anchored me in knowing and experiencing God's presence.”
“It was so important for me as my kids were growing up to be sure that they had this experience of the diversity of humankind and the diversity of thought and movement and ideas. … It was such a blessing and gift to be exposed to different ways of thinking, different ways of being in the world. I served in the Peace Corps, as you know, and lived in Macedonia for a little under two years. That plus my experiences in a variety of churches throughout my formative spiritual formation years was understanding the power of a community to form, to be so influential, in how our worldview, I'll stick with me, how my worldview was formed.”
“Recently a friend of mine distinguished for me this word, interdependence, and we've been having conversations. We come from different cultures and so I've been curious about, again, the formation of this person coming, growing up in a different culture. And my growing up in the American culture, in sort of a spirit of independence; this other culture was a spirit of interdependence. I've been learning more about what that is and connecting that to all the experiences that I've had; they have been helpful in pointing me to what it means to be interdependent and communal in thinking.”
“There are some things in contemplation we can do to set down striving; this concept of being with our thoughts then gets integrated in somatic presence with being in our bodies, being in my body. What is my body experiencing right now? Because our bodies live in present time. And so to the degree that I can be in my body, I can be present in present time. So there's that sense of being with. Then in spiritual direction, being with another, companioning another. Again, it's so important for me to be able to know what it is that's going on in me, physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, so that I can hold space. So I can offer that space to another person for them to be with whatever is going on in them.”
“Haecceitas … this notion that we are all uniquely gifted by God for work here on earth for God. Presence in God through us, manifesting God through us in the world. I feel this mysterious, mystical, and special gift that my gifts now are partnered so beautifully with the Franciscan Sisters, and what might God be bringing into the world through us.”
“There’s an expression in contemplative prayer of the wellspring of love, the wellspring of God; that is probably the primary image that I use when I'm leading contemplation, because the wellspring is always available to us. Always. We just sit by the wellspring, contemplating the wellspring, being with the wellspring of love.”
“Living life from a place of curiosity - I find that to be very Franciscan. And expanding beyond that, the spiritual journey, to live from curiosity. To be listeners seeking to understand another, is also very Franciscan, rather than be understood. …The wellspring cultivates curiosity and the ability to be with another and hold space for another's essence, to see another in their essence.”
For a full transcript, please include
Hospitality & Presence: teachers of beauty & living in unity – Episode 48
Join Sister Meg Earsley as she shares the delight of discovery and learning through cultural immersion in intentional communities, both in the unexpected joy of religious life and in her immersion with the incredible people of Bolivia.
For a video version of this episode, see: https://youtu.be/11L8Oue8Y5Y
From Sister Meg’s interview:
“My community is blessed with a real attitude of inclusion. Even our constitutions have a title called Unity and Diversity. We are united as a community, but we are accepting and promoting of all of our gifts; how we find those gifts is a blessing in itself.”
“I had never lived in a larger community; before joining community, I appreciated and enjoyed living alone. My biggest fear of coming to community is like, am I going to be able to even do community? I have no idea. But I found it to be an incredible joy, although I valued my time alone because of the quiet and the only having to consider my own thoughts and ideas, being in community has a richness of communal sharing. … Living community, being in this living situation together and then being a support to each other, is something I had never experienced. This is a really good thing. This whole mutual support is something I could sure get used to. I have really enjoyed living in intentional community.”
“Unity is based on the acceptance of the diversity. … Assimilation to me means that you're going into another culture and all of who you are is expected to be folded into that and to become like that culture, whatever that culture is that you're going into. I think some of that is necessary. But there's also the other side of things where bringing your uniqueness and who you are is also very necessary when you're coming into another community, another culture. Then how do those things work together? I think that that is the joy of the whole, the phrase and the living of unity and diversity is, there's an acceptance and each person's uniqueness.”
“If I hadn't heard the call to become a religious sister, I wouldn't have ever experienced it. I would've gone through my whole life saying how much I loved being alone; one of my favorite things was to say, because I didn't have to bring other people into my emotions into my heart. At the time I didn't have a word for it, but like I don't want to have to bring other people into that space of mine because then I have to consider them. Before I do things, and I have to give them the time and energy, the love and compassion, right? And so now I've been living that for four years and I don't even know how I could ever do anything else – that's probably one of my greatest joys.”
“Can we reimagine what community looks like and how we live in community, to expand out to other religious communities, lay, or whatever? … The Franciscan Federation is looking with our Emergent Group of what does intentional community look like now, and how that's a need, a want and a desire in, for sure our country; I wouldn't be surprised at other places too. And then how can, how do we live that, and what does that look like now?”
“There is so much beauty, especially to the people, incredible people (of Bolivia). Going back to suspending judgment. I’m thinking of the word detachment, a Franciscan value; I think we might use the word here of holding things lightly. For some reason, detachment seems like, I don't care, but holding things lightly says that there might be things that are valuable.
Food safety’s a great example. People would have things sitting out all day. So even at the convent, food would just sit out, we'd have it for lunch, it would sit out till dinner, and then we'd cook it, warm it back up and eat it, right? So holding things lightly is knowing that for my culture, having a rice and chicken dish sitting out all day would be very unhealthy. We would all get sick and be in big trouble with food poisoning at the hospital. This is the judgm
Grow in Faith
Thank you for this podcast. This year I’m reading the Bible in a year. This will help with my faith Journey.