Although she’s not a Franciscan saint, St. Therese, the Little Flower, has a kind of special place in my life and in our community. Let me explain…
When I was confirmed in eighth grade, at the Cathedral of St. Paul, I chose her as my Confirmation Saint. Sr. Rebecca and Sr. Elaine Marie, my fellow Sisters here at St. Anne’s, did likewise in their youth.
Another connection I have with today’s saint of “the Little Way” is having served at Little Flower School and parish after finishing my novitiate there at Little Flower Convent in Rugby, ND. This was an especially fitting place for a novitiate experience in that St. Therese is the patroness of novice mistresses. (She actually served in this role herself.) Novitiate can be a very memorable and important time in the life of a Sister.
I must confess I am facing a bit of that good old “writer’s block” today, so I will fall back on my earlier creativity. Below, I will share a poem I wrote as a novice about my experiences. I apologize that some references made therein may not be clear to outsiders. However, I hope you enjoy reading it nonetheless. Please note, this was written in increments over several months, not all at once.
Sr. Christina M. Neumann
On August 23rd we came.
The date is actually the same
As when to Hankinson I came to stay
For more than a few days.
It had been two full years
When to Rugby we drew near.
We first stopped, though, at St. Anne’s,
Which often seems to be the plan.
We did return for Labor Day
And that full weekend we did stay.
The next Friday we left once more;
A community meeting was in store.
The month held also domestic work,
None of which I wished to shirk.
Because of Carla, and others too,
We had tomatoes, not just a few.
We had some fresh, and some I froze.
I made sauce, too, no time to doze!
There were still more and Sister made juice.
For “helping [that] cause along” I was no use.
(I can’t stomach tomato juice.)
For Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday nights
I fixed supper- what a delight!
Down in the kitchen before prayer
That night’s supper I’d oft’ prepare.
Time in the p.m. thus to spare.
I used menus old and new
And here I’ll mention just a few”:
Tater Tot Hotdish, shepherd’s pie,
And chili, too, but I almost cried.
The onions that I used this Fall
Made me weepy; I could have bawled.
These were topped by Mother Dear
Who spoiled us too well, I fear-
Lemon bars, cookies, and candy corn-
These I surely could not scorn.
I cleaned some in the basement, too.
The floors and the shelves (not just a few)
Penta-P privileges* did not stop:
One bath downstairs and one on top.
I vacuumed too, and washed the floors
But didn’t mind too much these chores.
*Perpetual Professional Porcelain and Plug Purification= cleaning bathrooms
~ ~ ~ ~
Lest it seem I learned no more
I take my pen in hand once more
Though the following don’t have much mirth
They may be of greater worth.
I’ve learned of St. Francis’ views
On living fully the Good News
In obedience and poverty,
prayerfulness and minority.
I’ve read Sts. Bonaventure and Clare
And been enlightened by what they share.
I’ve also read quite a bit
Of more modern, yet spiritual writ.
The topics have been manifold
And here they need not all be told.
The counsels, community and prayer
Have constituted a good share.
Besides reading of this all
In the future I should recall
With gratitude the time shared
With Sr. Genevieve who surely cared.
~ ~ ~
It’s been some months since I wrote last
Of novitiate events that have past
So on Palm Sunday afternoon
My reminiscing I’ll resume.
Pumpkins were carved for all Saints’ Eve;
From Devils’ Lake two were received.
I baked seeds, nine loaves of bread,
Which I froze for months ahead.
I typed many a litany and prayer,
Using the handy adjustable chair.
I’ve done other work on the computer called “Rosie”
Before time in chapel at which I got dozey.
One major blessing takes place at the school;
That’s piano lessons, once a week as a rule.
I’ve practices with different “keys” and their chords,
Now also with timing so I shouldn’t get bored.
We went to St. Anne’s for Thanksgiving Day.
Really, longer than that we did stay.
I’ve accompanied on keyboard at the Guest Home’s Mass,
Putting to practice what I’ve learned in class.
I often played in the activity room there,
My little ability with residents to share
(as well as myself from boredom to spare).
In late Advent some gifts came from family dear:
A package of parcels and lots of good cheer.
To Hankinson for Christmas we made our way,
One night, for all, Christmas songs I did play.
I spent time there embroidering, too.
Sr. Genevieve taught me this hobby to do.
~ ~ ~
Now that my canonical year is through
I’d like to give a special “Thank You”
To you, Sr. Genevieve, for all shared,
For all the many ways in which you’ve cared.
Along with the classes, you’ve taught me much more-
How praise and gratitude are at the core
Of what are life of prayer should contain,
We’ve been given so much- we shouldn’t complain.
Now, in gratitude I pray
For how you’ve helped in another way:
You always eagerly listen and advise
When I need the counsel of someone wise.
I appreciate the love that truly shines through
In all of the kind little things that you do,
In helping with pumpkins, with back rubs, and veils
To me you reflect Him whose love never fails.