Hats Off to Tuesday Evenings!

I know I’m a bit of a tease; maybe I should learn to act my age!PB260002.JPG

I do enjoy giving people a little grief, at times.  One example is hat-stealing.

We have a married couple that prays with us Tuesday evenings; they join in vespers during their 6-7 adoration hour.

On these occasions, the gentleman brings his hat with him and sets it on the pew beside him.

I am not opposed to swiping the hat and hiding it elsewhere.

We enjoy teasing each other; he brings out the little kid in me, I guess.

The experience of praying with this fine pair and the other Sisters here is part of what makes Tuesday p.m.s a high point in my week.

On Tuesdays, I have some free time in the afternoon, followed by supper and prayer together.  After this, promptly at 6:30 p.m., I work the reception desk here until 10.

I like this schedule as I enjoy the quiet evening half-shift at the desk.  I am also glad to be free to have supper and prayer together before this.

The peace and quiet of Tuesday evenings stands in sharp contrast to Tuesday mornings, when I have multiple commitments almost simultaneously, with 9 a.m. Mass followed by sacristy and receptionist duties right before leading Bible study.

Mother Daughter Days

Thanksgiving service
I just got back from a few days at our provincial house in Hankinson, ND.

This past Thursday evening through Saturday afternoon, We had a group of over twenty mothers and daughters join us for activities, prayers and Mass, games, and “mother-daughter time.”

There was a nice mixture of prayer and fun and also the chance to learn more about our faith and vocation.

The girls even learned actions to the song “Canticle of the Sun,” which is based from St. Francis’ own composition.

I was happy to have two opportunities that I don’t often have when I was there:  I got to play a rousing game of “Spoons” with some of the girls and I also was able to play the beautiful sounding organ in our large chapel there.  (An electric keyboard is nice, but the sound of the organ in Hankinson is really lovely!)

It was a nice chance, too, to visit with our Sisters in Hankinson since I don’t get to do that too often.

Thank you, Sr. Jean Louise for organizing this nice event again!

(More pictures will be forthcoming on this site.)

“That Looks Like a Chicken”

IMG_2207.JPGI know chicken isn’t really a profound or inspirational topic, but we don’t have to be profound and inspirational all the time, do we?

Last evening, our dietary staff served chicken strips, along with other menu items such as apple rings and peas.

I had a little extra time since the other Sisters were still out of town and I was on my own schedule over the supper hour.

Thus it was that I gave in to my urge, or inspiration, to share my “chicken joke” again.

I had showed it several years ago here in the dining room as a diversion during a tornado warning, but now there was a somewhat new audience; several residents have come and gone since that time.

I first learned “the chicken joke,” which my dad does not encourage, about twenty years ago at a graduation open house for the son of one of my mom’s friend.  Since that time I have embellished it.  I now can offer the bare bones, basic version or the embellished, extended, dramatic version in which I tell of my friend Ed, the farmer, sharing a bit of his life’s story and recounting the tragic death of his beloved pet chicken, Beatrice whose special attentions roused the envy of Ed’s wife!  (I have quite the imagination, I guess.)

Last night, I kept things a bit simpler for our residents, some of whom have auditory challenges.

I walked into the dining room but they were still serving a few people.  I had a little time to kill before I could go through the line.  So, back to our conference room I went to get a hand towel (which I was ready to send out to the laundry, anyway).  I proceeded to tell the “chicken joke” in which I mysteriously transform a hand towel into the figure of a butchered chicken.

The residents enjoyed the little story and demonstration; in fact, I had to do it two or three times to allow for others who were interested to see what they had missed.

When I had finished producing my second or third hen, one of our residents observed from his table: “That looks like a chicken!”

I’m glad he thought so!

Anyone wishing detailed instructions on how this art is accomplished is welcome to call or email me for a tutorial in poultry procedures.

My St. Clare Connection


Statue of St. Clare – at my Novitiate Reception

Nine years ago today, on the Feast of St. Clare, I professed my first vows in Hankinson at our Provincial House!

What a special day!

St. Clare, in fact, has been special to me for some time.  Not only was I received as a novice (with a haircut* and all) on her feast day and did I make first vows two years later on that date, I had been introduced to her previously.

*When St. Clare fled to follow St. Francis, he cut off her beautiful hair, tangibly illustrating her departure from worldly things for the sake of Christ

When I was first discerning religious life, my mom happened to stop in at a local religious goods store.  She had been making home visits as a hospice nurse and couldn’t find the patient address; she stopped in this store to get directions.

She recalls saying a prayer, “Mary is there anything I should pick up while here?”  Strange as the story may seem, two copies of the same book fell off the shelf near her.  It happened to be a biography of St. Clare, and she felt inspired to get it for me.

I read it, and appreciated learning more about this inspiring saint, who is often pictured holding the Blessed Sacrament due to a story that she held off invading troops from her monastery by bringing Jesus out and asking His protection for her Sisters.

I feel a special closeness to this early follower of St. Francis.  Not only do we share a special love for the Eucharist, but she also is patroness of embroiders, communications, and against eye problems, three things very relevant to me personally.

Her desire to faithfully follow in the footsteps of Christ inspires me on my journey.

Sr. Christina M. Neumann, OSF


IMG_2207.JPGBackground Note: I facilitate a weekly Bible Study group for residents at our Home for elderly and vulnerable adults

It wasn’t what you would call a typical Bible Study/Faith Sharing Group this morning!

At one point, a person could walk into the room and hear some rather unconventional lyrics being sung to the old melody of “Old McDonald Had a Farm.”  That poor elderly agriculturalist would turn over in his grave if he heard our version, invented to correlate with today’s scripture study on the Ten Plagues in Egypt.

Yesterday, our Activities Assistant and I somehow came to create new lyrics to this familiar tune regarding the Sixth Plague that came upon Egypt: boils.  We utilized them with the residents this morning.  (Please note: the following lyrics may be to graphic for younger audiences.)

Old Egyptian had a boil
And on his boil he had some puss
with a pop pop here and a scratch, scratch there,
here a pop, there a scratch, every where a scratch or pop.
Old Egyptian had a boil

Thankfully, the rest of the lesson wasn’t quite so explicitly grotesque, but it did involve frogs, pestilence, locusts, and the like, along with interjections of “Let My People Go

On a more serious note, we did discuss how the story of the Exodus has special meaning for us as Christians.

It is beautiful to see the parallel of how God saved His people from slavery in Egypt and led them out to the promised land; the Father sent His Son Jesus to save us from the slavery of sin and lead us to the Promised Land of heaven.

The story of Moses also serves as a calling to us each personally.  We noted that God sometimes asks us to do things, as He did Moses, things that we may not want to do.  We have to ask ourselves: Are we willing to accept what He asks or do we make excuses?

To “Make our People Happy”

Image may contain: 1 person, sunglasses, indoor and foodIt seems that a number of the things we do here are, as we sometimes put it, simply done “to make our people happy,” that is: to help provide joy, satisfaction, or fulfillment to our residents.

(In case you’re new to this blog, I serve at an assisted living-type facility.)

This motive led me to our activity room kitchen yesterday afternoon when I was relieved at the front desk by our evening receptionist.

With the hot, muggy weather we’d been having, I hadn’t touched the oven for quite a while.  Now with beautiful, cooler temperatures, baking was no longer out of the question.

Some of our ladies really love to bake.  They enjoy getting “their hands in there” and taking part in activities they once undertook to look after their families.

It can be a bit challenging to keep two or more ladies busy while measuring out ingredients and sometimes having to run to get something I need from elsewhere in the building (like an egg from the main kitchen or cooking spray from the conference room pantry as was the case yesterday.)

Nonetheless, I do it because “it makes our people happy.”  They so enjoy it and thrive on being part of this project.  The other residents savor the chance to have home-baked special treats as well.

It is so neat to be able to say: “Would you like a cookie?  We [here mentioning helpers by name] made them this afternoon.”  It is uplifting for me to be able to “lift them up” and credit them with making something that so delights their fellow residents.

I find that letting older people, now retired, have a chance at some real, productive work does them a lot of good (physically and emotionally).  I have seen it many times.

IMG_2168Tomorrow, I will put this philosophy into practice again (out of necessity, if nothing else).  We received about 100 more pounds of rhubarb this afternoon, and it’s not going to cut up itself.

Sr. Chistina M. Neumann

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Let My People Go!

~Nine hours later, the melody is still coming back to haunt me!

preview16This “Negro Spiritual,” recommended to me by a friend for the occasion, was perfect to accent the reading and get people more engaged in this morning’s weekly Bible study which I lead for our residents.

It was suggested because we’re studying Moses and the Exodus.  Instead of just reading and discussing the scriptures (valuable as that is), I like to use music and/or an activity to enhance these gatherings.

I am so grateful for being introduced to this peppy little song!  We’ve been having fun with it off and on all day!  I made an overhead transparency (yes, I still use these) with the lyrics and listened to it repeatedly to learn it myself.When Israel was in Egypt’s land,

Let My people go!
Oppressed so hard they could not stand,
Let My people go!

Go down, Moses,
Way down in Egypt’s land;
Tell old Pharaoh
To let My people go!

No more shall they in bondage toil,
Let My people go!
Let them come out with Egypt’s spoil,
Let My people go!

Oh, let us all from bondage flee,
Let My people go!
And let us all in Christ be free,
Let My people go!

You need not always weep and mourn,
Let My people go!
And wear these slav’ry chains forlorn,
Let My people go!

Your foes shall not before you stand,
Let My people go!
And you’ll possess fair Canaan’s land,
Let My people go!

~ ~ ~

One word that especially touched me in this song (and Exodus passage) is the pronoun “My.”  This is accentuated by the tenacity with which these words are proclaimed in the song.  The Israelites were God’s people, and He was carrying out deliverance for them.

In our Bible studies, I try to connect the scriptures to our daily lives.  Today, I saw this connection in that we are God’s people, too, in Christ who was sent for our deliverance and freedom.

May I add a little side note (actually, an important one)?  This song was actually used during the times of the underground railroad both as a code song and as a way of rallying people in the African-American slaves’ quest for freedom.  I had suspected this on hearing it, noticing the possible correlation; my suspicions were confirmed this evening when I perused an article on Wikipedia.

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Just Had to Share…

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We’ve been having fun this “St. Anne’s Week” as we also mark 65 years of service in Grand Forks.

Monday, we had a big celebration open to the public.  We wore our blue St. Anne’s T-shirts and shared memories.

Tuesday was “Sports Day” and we had fun with a little rivalry between UND and the Minnesota Gophers.

Wednesday included a game of St. Anne’s Monopoly, where players were able to “buy” rooms or rights to events (in pretend, of course) from around St. Anne’s.

Thursday was hat / wacky hair day.  The activity department made a number of hats available for us to choose from.  I ditched mine by mid-afternoon when it kept falling off.  That evening, we did our nails in preparation for “Patriotic Day.”


Wacky Hair – a Time Saver!

In case you haven’t heard, we’re celebrating “St. Anne’s Week,” since our patroness’ feast was July 26th.

One way we’re making it fun and special is by having several “dress up days,” like sports day, patriotic day, pajama day, etc.

00Y0Y_bYGi6hMUNz5_1200x900Today’s observance is “Wacky Hair/Hat Day.”  This one was very handy for me this morning.

Last night, I wondered, “What can I do to make my little bit of exposed hair (my bangs) “wacky?”  I got so busy with other projects that I forgot to search for ideas.

This morning, I had a busy schedule as well, having altar cloths to change and sacristy work to do before coming to the front desk.  I also wanted to get my prayer time in – it’s nice to do that before the hustle and bustle of the day begins.

This morning, therefore, it was fortunate that the day had been designated as “wacky hair day.”  I could save time by not utilizing my comb.  Without their morning rondeveau with a wet comb, my bangs tend to be naturally “wacky.”

Thus it was, to my happy surprise, that I finished changing the altar cloths and making preparations for exposition with three minutes to spare!  If I would have had to tame my hair first, before leaving the convent, I wouldn’t have had this luxury.