Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It's a Wide, Wide World Out There!

I just returned from a five and a half day "road trip", mostly for my vocation ministry with meetings and connecting with some of my Franciscan Sisters, but also with a side trip to Southern Oregon to visit with my 96 year old mother. I traveled many miles during those days across LOTS of open space from the west side of Oregon, to eastern Washington, on to eastern Oregon, and down through central Oregon before getting back to Portland. I saw a variety of scenary as I traveled along - all beautiful in it's unique way ...

I was alone, but not lonely. Traveling often becomes a prayerful, solitude time for me as I soak in the beauty of the surroundings and contemplate God's presence in the world! It's a great thinking time as well. I sometimes travel for miles without the radio on or music, but since this trip was so long I was also listening to a "book on tape" (it was really a CD) ~ "The Restless Heart" by Fr. Ronald Rolheiser. A quote that Fr. Rolheiser made reference to was from St. Augustine, "...You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you ..." I think that is why I really do not feel lonely or restless when I am driving down the road ~ when I see the vastness of our world and the beauty of nature and creation around me, I feel close to God!

Like St. Francis I say:
"Most high, all powerful, all good Lord! All praise is yours, all glory, all honor, and all blessing. To you, alone, Most High, do they belong. No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce your name ... Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth, who feeds us and rules us, and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs... Praise and bless my Lord, and give thanks, and serve him with great humility."

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

It helps now and then to step back and take the long view...

The past couple of days I was involved in the annual regional meeting for Region 12 of the National Religious Vocation Conference. There were about 15 Sisters present from various congregations and 2 Religious Brothers ~ a Holy Cross Brother and Maryknoll Missionary Brother. We got together to support one another, share ideas, pray together and discuss ways that we might collaborate with each other in our ministries. It was a great couple of days! We were able to enjoy part of a day during our time enjoying God's creation in the beauty of The Columbia River Gorge.

At our closing prayer this afternoon we prayed with some words of Archbishop Oscar Romero. The spirit does move in amazing ways as I thought back to the scenes we saw in the gorge the day before and connected those images to our prayer which had been planned days before.

Archbishop Romero wrote in a piece that was entitled ..."We Are Prophets of a Future Not Our Own"...
"It helps now and then to step back and take the long view. The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is beyond our vision. We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God's work. We plant seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise. We cannot do everything and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do somethig and to do it very well ..."
So in this brief writing I leave you with these thoughts!
Peace and Blessings!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Many Hands Make Light Work!

The weekend quickly disappeared as they often do! It was a full and busy one for me, but good ....

Saturday was moving day for several of our Sisters who were moving from one house to another. Although I arrived after the packing up of the one house, I was there for some of the unpacking in the new house. It's amazing how quickly a move can happen when there are many helpers. Several other sisters from the Portland area were around to help, as well as some friends and a number of our Franciscan Companions (Associates of the Community) who live in the area.
I think that the three sisters that moved will be quite happy in their new abode. Because many parishes have either sold their convents or are using them now for parish offices, it sometimes can be hard for local communities to find a suitable place to live. Many of our sisters do need to rent apartments or houses to live in. This has been the case for quite a few yeas now, especially on the west coast. I live in a rented house with three other sisters on a fairly quiet street. Over the years as I go out for my walks though, I have discovered that I have developed a little "neighborhood ministry" with several of the folks that live up and down on my street. We have nice conversations and they are often asking for prayers .... and in a very unchurched area of the country, that is really something - God works in many ways!
Peace and Blessings! Sr. Patrica

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Beauty All Around Us

"Justice is the restoration of beauty to all that is broken." ~ St. Bonaventure

Lately we have been having some gorgeous days in the Portland area! I love these days of blue sky and sunshine with a tinge of autumn in the air ... A couple of weeks ago I was able to enjoy some days away for my annual retreat. How wonderful it was to get away and have time to soak in a great deal of "beauty" that is in our world! The Trappist Abbey of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Lafayette, Oregon provided a perfect setting - check out the photo!
With that image before me I am reminded of the quote from St. Bonaventure that I have included in this posting. If we all were more aware of the beauty that is within us first, see the beauty in each individual person we meet, and reverence the beauty of creation that is all around us, I suspect we would have a very different world ....a more just and peaceful world in which to live in.

Take a little quiet time today and reflect on your life and the world you move in. May
each one of us strive to restore beauty to that which is broken!

Friday, September 11, 2009

It is a Fine Day to Begin a Blog!

"Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible." St. Francis of Assisi

As I begin this Blog all of a sudden at am at a loss as to what to write first ... I had all these great thoughts in my head this morning, but what first?!? So, I guess the best way to begin is to start with a brief introduction of myself.

My name is Sr. Patricia Novak and I work in Vocation Ministry for my Franciscan Community, the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia. I am not from Philadelphia, I'm from Klamath Falls, Oregon, but that is where my Congregation began in 1855 and where our Motherhouse still is.
Our history in the "west" began within thirty years of our founding, in 1885, when Sisters were asked to come out to Eastern Oregon to minister to the people. Quickly the Community was involved in education and health care and we started spreading out from Baker City to other parts of this vast area of the country. We still serve our brothers and sisters on the west coast ministering in a variety of ways in Oregon, Washington, California, Alaska, Wyoming, Hawaii as well as the east coast.
Anyway ... I am from Oregon, I graduated from Gonzaga University way back when, and have been a Franciscan Sister for nearly 30 years, teaching 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade for many of those years, but also having the chance to serve the poor for brief periods in Wyoming, Appalachia and Haiti.

As I begin with this initial writing I am aware of several things that mark the beginning of September:
1.) For over 21 years I was a teacher in Elementary School, so I note the beginning of a new school year with all the energy and excitement (and moans & groans sometimes too) that a new school year brings. What a wonderful time though - to start out fresh in a new year of learning and growth!
2.) Yesterday, September 10th marked the 31st anniversary of my entrance day into the Sisters of St. Francis. That was an exciting day for me for sure! I had made a huge vocation decision as a twenty something young adult and there I was, arriving at the convent, open to where ever God was leading me ... there is something very freeing about making a decision/choice and following through on it. God is good
3.) And then today is September 11th, a day we remember with great sadness in the history of our country. For me it is a day to stop, reflect on my life and freedoms, and to pray ... pray for our country, pray for all those who lost their lives on 9-11, for all those who still mourn the loss of those they loved, and pray for peace in our world.

St. Francis is often attributed with the words, "Lord, make me an instrument of your peace". May we all strive to have peace in our hearts, peace on our lips and peace in our homes!
Pace E Bene!
Peace and All Good, Sr. Patricia