Tuesday, June 26, 2012

It's Moving Day to a Bigger Convent With a Chapel!

One year has almost been completed by the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity at All Saints Catholic School, which is part of Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church. The two Franciscan Sisters arrived last year on July 16th.

This is the first time the parish and school have had Sisters so they had to find a house to rent for a convent and furnish it. They did a great job with renting a home almost completely furnished. But now with the addition of a 3rd Sister for the new school year it was time to find a bigger house and one with a room that could be used for a chapel and hopefully, the house could be closer to school. The first convent was closer to Fort Huachuca, the Army Fort, but two stop lights and a 10 minute ride to school every day.  After looking at all seven houses for sale in the neighborhood of the school it was decided to go more than a mile radius from school for something more affordable.

The new convent home was found on the final day of the deadline-the Friday before the pastor took off on his summer vacation to his home country of the Philippines. The house selected was one not looked at before but just became available and it WAS THE ONE!  The new convent is located only two miles from school, four minutes by car with only 3 stop signs, not stop lights, from school, ( a big time difference between a stop light and a stop sign).

 Our Lady of the Mountains Convent
1st Window on left is chapel & other two windows-bedrooms
View of our neighborhoodHuachuca Mountains
The new convent has three bedrooms and a lovely room for a chapel. The living room, dining room and kitchen are much bigger. We now have a table that seats 6, not just 4 so we can have more than one guest for dinner now! Yeah!!!

Now it was an empty house not partially furnished. So a wish list was put into the parish bulletin of what the Sisters would like/need for their new convent home. The response by the parishioners was overwhelming!! Their generosity could not be matched. A trailer was parked on the church parking lot for the parishioners to put their donations of chairs, lamps, linens, statues, large crucifx for chapel, pictures, towels, end tables, desks, candles, clocks etc. into - and they did!

Parishioners would go to yard sales and call me up and say, "Sister Carol I  saw this. .. can you use it? I will get it for you. That's my donation." One Saturday, I was out for my early morning walk when a parishioner called me up and said he was at a yard sale of a home of a very strong Catholic couple and they have beautiful statues, Catholic reading materials and he said to the owner-"Sister Carol would love these items for the new convent!" They told him what ever I wanted would be free. Their mother would be happy to have her religious items in the convent. The parishioner picked me up and I spent an hour at the yard sale getting the most beautiful statues that I would only admire before in a store, books for our convent library, pictures and she also had some very nice kitchen and dining rooms items - plus a whole corner in the garage of Christmas items - some never been used. I filled the car up and was thrilled for their generosity and the early morning phone call.

Another parishioner called me to say there was an estate sale not far from school, " Be sure to go! I know the family and they will give you a deal. " The pastor, Fr. Ariel, and I went and were able to purchase a beautiful dining room set for six people, a table for chapel to have the tabernacle on and some end tables and a set of dishes. The family was happy that the Sisters were getting their family dining room table as it holds lots of family memories, espeically the holiday dinners. One never thinks of all the family sharing at a dining room/kitchen table.

One school parent played "Storage Wasr in Tucson" and won. She called me up afterwards and asked if I wanted part of the contents - 2 new black leather couches, a buffet and 2 new lamps. I said, YES! And thank you! 

Some parishioners gave me money and said to buy what was needed. :):):) It's coming in handy.

When I returned on Saturday morning from retreat at Picture Rocks in Tucson, the parish secretary and I went to take a look at the new convent to kind of get an idea of where to put things when school parents help me move on the next day. I had only seen the convent just one time and had forgotten exactly how it really looked - as was obvious when I kept going down the wrong hallway. This home has three hallways not one like the former convent. Donna, helped me move in some of my own clothes etc before the big move of furniture on Sunday. Here are some pictures of the "before the move".
 Back Yard

 Bedroom Hallway
 Living Room/Dining Room
Master Bathroom / Closet 

Sunday mornig at 8:00am school parents and one of the students met me at the old convent and we began loading up trucks and my car with items. We made several trips back and forth. .

Here is what our new convent looks like. There is still pictures to be hung, a floor rug to be bought for the living room and the chapel needs some items yet also. But otherwise it is looking good and homey.

The 1st - Our Lady of the Mountains Convent Chapel  

Living Room  looking into Dining Room and Kitchen (4 legs up- buffet being repaired) 
Beautiful table bought at an estate sale
 Living Room -couch from "Storage Wars"
Front Entrance - chapel door to right


Dining Room to Living Room

3 Bedrooms
3 - Bedrooms  

Our LandLord and LandLady - Ramon and Dot
Super Nice People and Very Helpful!  We are blessed to have them

Sitting in my wicker rocking chair from a yard sale.
Ready to head out for vacation in Wisconsin! 


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Pathless Path

Do you ever feel sometimes that you aren't sure where you are going, or perhaps what path is Life leading you down sometimes?  Well, I know I have had that feeling in my life.
I spent a week at .....
and I came upon this Sign

as I walked the beautiful grounds of this retreat center run by the Redemptorists. It is located in Tucson, in the Sonoran Desert, bordering the Saguaro National Park. It doesn't take long to realize this close proximity.

The "pathless path", as I pondered that during my retreat along with "The Desert will lead you to your heart where I will speak."  that is found on the stone wall in their beautiful, peaceful church, gave me much spiritual insight.

Spending a week in the desert with triple digit temps of 107 most days - one has got to love the desert. My companions for the week were: lizards, spiders outside and inside, ground squirrels,  plenty of birds singing away, especially the woodpeckers early in the morning tapping and drilling away at their breakfast. One friend who came early morning and stayed all day at the front door of my hermitage was

I was in a hurry one morning to get to my conference and I didn't close the front screen door all the way. When I returned an hour later there this furry creature was. I used the back door all day so as to leave him sleep in peace outside-and not inside my bed. He left at about 6:00pm. Tis the season for him to be looking for a mate. Didn't find one with me!

Other companions in the afternoon when I would cool off in the pool were the birds that came and jumped onto the first rung of the ladder in the pool. They would take a drink or two and then fly away and eventually other birds came. It was interesting to see that they act just like humans when it comes to getting into the pool. Some birds just hop from the concrete onto the ladder and others aren't sure if they want to do it. They come to the edge, go back, come close again and maybe jump onto the rung and maybe uh, uh - too far down and away they flew.

In reading the helpful book about the retreat center that was left in my hermitage, I found out that there were other animals that I could have seen such as: javelina, snakes (if coiled go way around as they are getting ready to strike), two cougars and coyotes. I kept looking for the javelinas, who are nocturnal, but I saw none. I think I did hear them one night as there was something moving around outside my hermitage one night.

I also learned the names of the different cacti. Now, can you name them?




Answers: 1) Saguaro-one with the arms - they are 60 years old before they start growing an arm. Some by the retreat center are 200 years old.  2) cholla-the one that has the hardest needles to get out if you get stuck with one; 3) barrel -quite obvious name; and 4) prickly pear.

As with people, cacti have personalities too. I happen to find some unique ones.

 Multiple personality-so many arms and not sure which way they were to go.
 Mr. Independent-the one hiding behind the desert bushes. If you look closely, one arm is growing down instead of up and the flowers on top are just shooting straight up and very tall - not normal.
 Ms. Fashion Conscious-rich color and lots of dazzling blossoms on top.
 Strong and Stout!


I also saw the blossums and fruit of the cacti and the needles up close.

The land that was chosen for the retreat center is holy and sacred ground. The Hohokam people 1500 years ago chose this area as their sacred grounds. They carved sacred images on the rocks, called petroglyphs. These petroglyphs are still seen today and as one walks in this area and sees these beautiful picture rocks you can feel the sacred presence. This is truly "holy ground".

One can also take another holy walk on the labyrinth.

It is not a maze. There is one way in and one way out. You just keep following the path, prayerfully, as you reflect where has God led you and where is he leading you now and next.
It is amazing to see what different people leave behind on the very center rock.

My favorite part of the day was catching the sunrise at 5:00 a.m. Seeing that my hermitage faced the East the sun woke me up each morning.  Here is God's beauty that was my alarm clock each morn.

Each morning at the daily Mass at the Church of Our Lady of the Desert we had the novena prayer to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. The beautiful picture of her came from Europe many years ago.

In the evenin,g as I walked the pathless path to watch the sunset, it was harder to see it because of the mountains surrounding the retreat center in the West. I did capture a little of it though.

The Redemptorist Retreat Center is also known as Pictured Rocks Retreat Center and as one walks the grounds and sees the pictures in the rocks there is no other perfect name for it except perhaps - Sacred Grounds. One can feel the presence of God here as one seeks out the many paths in one's life and comes from the pathless one to The Path God has chosen for each of us.

Our Lady of the Desert - Pray for Us!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Camp Franciscan- A Hit!

Camp Franciscan 2012 was a hit!  One of the girls I took with me from Sierra Vista said she didn't want to leave. Her dad could come and visit her at the Motherhouse. She would rather stay among the Sisters. She had that much fun and peace at Camp Franciscan.

Camp Franciscan is a camp for girls in Grades 5-12th. Those in high school attend a day of leadership training before the other younger girls in grade school arrive. The high school girls then lead their group to the different activities. This year the girls attended the following activities: Picnic-where they made ice cream, crafts-made a large purse, art-designed their own stain glass plate, prayer-took place at our beautiful college chapel with stain glass windows, Called to Be-blogged on our website about camp, games-Ladder Ball, Bocce Ball and put the clothespin in the vigil light candle-(only at the convent! :):)) Daily Mass and morning and evening prayer were also part of the schedule.

56 girls arrived at our Motherhouse from Kentucky, Illinois, Nebraska, Mississippi,Arizona and Wisconsin. For some it was their first time at Camp Franciscan and for others it was their 4th or 5th time. Many could not wait till they were old enough to be a junior leader.

The spirit among the girls was one of the best of the many camps I have attended. All the girls got along, participated and had a peaceful, prayerful spirit. I was amazed one night at about 9:45pm to hear a keyboard being played in our St. Francis Chapel on 2nd floor. I looked down from the 3rd floor choir loft and there in the darkness of the chapel, light coming only from the lights behind the Franciscan statues and the sanctuary candle, were about 12 of the junior leaders praying together as one of them played beautiful music on the keyboard. They did this on their own. One knew they were close to God and to each other. They grabbed the spirit of the camp.

The annual talent show was put on on Wednesday night for all the Sisters in the area. The girls could sign up for choir, readers' theater or the skit. With only three one hour practices they did extremely well.

When camp was over we had time for some sightseeing before heading back to Arizona. My sister, Sue, was gracious enough to provide transportation and be our tour guide. We walked on the submarine parked in the waters of the Manitowoc River in downtown Manitowoc. This sub was used in World War II. I was proud to walk on it because my father helped build the subs at this marine area in Manitowoc during the war.

We also had time to tour what Wisconsin is famous for - dairy farms. It took awhile for the girls to get use to the new smell and when they were able to let go of their noses they enjoyed the little calves and the big cows. Later we went to Pine Hill Dairy for a free ice cream cone during June Dairy Month if you made a purchase. This wasn't hard with all the choices of cheese to choose from: chocolate cheese, blueberry cheese, jalapeno cheese and so on.

Of course, in coming to Manitowoc one cannot leave without seeing Lake Michigan and putting your feet into the icy, cold water. My girls felt it looked like an ocean being such a large lake and strong, powerful waves.

It was also great to be back in PACKER COUNTRY!! It was obvious where ever you turned.

We arrived back in Sierra Vista at about 3:00 a.m. No one minded the late hour or loss of sleep since they were able to make so many more new friends and had a chance to get to know a "real live Sister".They found out they are real and really nice and like to talk and laugh.
Sierra Vista Campers
Front Lobby of our Motherhouse