Thursday, May 29, 2014

Tales from our trek

Sister M. Luka

The pilgrims are still sleeping - but I am always an early riser. So I shall share with you a few tidbits from our pilgrimage so far.

We have had almost no problems to date - the good God and his angels are taking amazing care of us. We have a great group: everyone has a pilgrim spirit and a willingness to try just about anything coupled with a responsibility that gets them everywhere five minutes early, packed, organized and ready - no matter the hour or the situation.

Our first day's travel was long - we made it as far as Toledo, Ohio and the Little Sisters of the Poor, just outside the city. We visited Lake Erie and had a picnic supper on the way. The Little Sisters and their residents welcomed us with great hospitality and Sister Mary Raymond and the Sisters saw to all our needs. We got to join them for common prayers in the morning and had a chance to see a movie presentation about their foundress. Then the Sisters sat with us, answered questions about their community and regaled us with stories. It was both fun and informative. Did you know that they take a fourth vow of hospitality? And their charism is to be humble. They care for the elderly poor - making homes for them all over the world.

They also told us about the Shrine of Venerable Solanus Casey, in Detroit. So, we decided to make a side trip there. He is buried at the Capuchin Monastery of St. Bonaventure. We went and prayed there and experienced one of the good Lord's providential moments: the weather has been forecasted to be rainy and thunderstormish throughout the pilgrimage, but we have only had sunshine during our visits, where there is outside activity. While we were in the Shrine of Venerable Solanus, however, the heavens opened and a torrential downpour followed. Thunder, lightening and rain like you only see in the midwest blew through Detroit. Lightening struck the bell tower (you could hear the bells ring) but no damage seemed to be done. And when we left, the sun was shining again.

It was then that Samantha (the GPS in the white van) began to show that she, too, has an adventuresome spirit. Since we were going to Williamsville, NY, she decided, firmly, that the way to get there was through Canada. And no amount of persuading could change her mind. She kept redirecting the white van towards the border. We had many adventures, including very nearly ending up in the tunnel that goes under the Lake (you really cannot turn around in a tunnel) and the resulting close encounter with a city bus (he kindly allowed me to break the law, cut in front of him and avoid having to explain to the Port Authorities how five wanderers from Wisconsin, without passports, ended up in the wrong country.) As we continue to skirt the Canadian border, we cover Sam's "eyes" so she can't see how close we are. And follow the silver van closely. (Their GPS, Michelle, does not have the same pull toward foreign countries!)

Niagara Falls was stunning - and it was a joy to see the pilgrims enjoy it. The hike to the Whirlpool Rapids gave us a chance to stretch our legs - I think the finally tally for the day was twelve miles. Mother Tappan and I decided not to climb the gorge a second time and, after enjoying the beauty of one of the parks along the trail, hiked back to the Discovery Center at the main park. We had our own adventure as the bike path we followed disappeared. We ended up hiking along a highway. There was a fence there - and our bike trail reappeared on the other side. We both eyed the fence speculatively (and the undergrowth on the other side). We could have climbed the fence - and would have, had our internal prudence meter not vetoed the idea. We both had visions of some passing driver taking pictures (I am dressed somewhat singularly) and ending up making the rounds on the Internet - or the front page of the daily paper. So we wisely waited until there was a break in the fence and made our escape with more decorum.

The Cave of the Winds experience topped it all for the young ones. Clad in their ponchos and special sandals, they went again (and again, and again) up to stand right where the Bridal Veil Falls strike the rocks. It was stunning - and they were soaked - but they would laugh and say "Let's go through it again!!!!" and then scamper back along the path to the observation platform. The ponchos were not really equal to such enthusiasm - the girls, all of us, actually - were soaked. But it was worth it - to see the grandeur up close.

(Interesting trivia - the walkway and observation platform is dismantled and rebuilt every year. When one of the visitors asked why, they guide replied that there is 50 tons of snow and ice on the base of the falls each winter and it would be crushed.)

I will close for today. Lexee posted pictures of the excursion on Facebook yesterday and I will be posting more on Flickr later. Our camera is currently locked away so it will probably be tonight or tomorrow.

God bless you - and continue to pray for us.

May 28th and photos

May 28

Mary Busse

At the moment, we are in the car driving to our next destination and resting after  amazing and memorable day exploring Niagara Falls and the surrounding state park. After early Mass this morning, (7:00 is definitely early!) we headed to the Falls. It’s been a long day, what with seeing the waterfalls, riding the boat to the foot of the Horseshoe Falls, going on a hike along the river of about 7 miles, and then braving the mist to go on the platform near the foot of the American and Bridal Veil Falls. We just ate a good satisfying supper at the Hard Rock Cafe, with the result that I am getting sleepy, so Goodbye for now and God Bless.

Sr. M. Luka

Mary gave a short description of a stunningly beautiful day. We experienced the grandeur of the Falls and the beauty of nature. The good God has blessed us with beautiful weather and good spirits (this is a rather extreme expedition - long days, little sleep and much travel - but our pilgrims remain adventuresome and ready to go...despite a few thorns, a couple of blisters, and a GPS that keeps wanting to go to Canada!) We spent the night at Johnstown, New York, and will spend today at the North American Martyrs Shrine in Auriesville.

We've been posting pictures on Facebook and Flickr. And the Little Sisters of the Poor have also put our pilgrimage visit on their blog.

As we have the time and the internet availability, we will be posting more pictures and our travel log.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Pilgrimage, installment one

May 26, 2014

Mary Busse

After all the girls were dropped off at Mater Redemptoris House, we had a quick orientation with the sisters and then a little free time before supper. I went downstairs with Mary, Emily, Teresa, and Theresa. We played ping pong, and it seemed we did more chasing of missed balls than hitting them! : ) We also played a crazy game of foosball. After supper we went for a walk outside and when we got back the aspirants showed us a video they were making about their life at MRH. After that, the plan was to get to sleep early ahead of a big day of traveling, but when we went downstairs where I and the other highschoolers were going to sleep on mattresses on the floor, we got started talking. We had such a good time getting to know each other and finding out how much we had in common that we didn’t turn off the lights until 10:00!

We woke up to Sr. Luka ringing the bell this morning at 6:00. Rise and Shine!. We packed up our sleeping bags and got ready for our day, then piled all of our luggage in a huge mound outside of the garage. (Don’t worry, it all fits in the minivans...) Before breakfast, we had Mass with the sisters in their beautiful chapel. They have a mini organ in the chapel, which sounded gorgeous. After Mass, the monsignor who said Mass for us gave us a blessing and we headed off to eat. When we were done with breakfast and cleanup, we loaded up the vans and hit the road!

 Greetings From The Introverted Silver Van!

 We arrived in Chicago at 2:30pm. Thanks to our handy dandy I-Pass, we zipped through the tollways of Chicago. While there we passed a guy in a Santa hat......with a styrofoam head on his dash board facing him!( he was in a blue Cavalier.)After Chicago, we got into Indiana, and there was nothing interesting. As we changed our clocks, we lost a whole hour.  Approximately at 5:15pm we crossed into Ohio. At 5:50 we were flagged down by an Ohio state trooper. While we awaited our sentence, we brainstormed possible causes for this mild excitement! Only to be told to move along.  We are an hour early, so we might stop for a picnic supper. Everything is awesome!!! 
Hi Carol. Hi Mom, love you. 

Typed by Teresa Piepmeier (our scribe)

The day was beautiful. As soon as we left Wisconsin, the weather cleared, the sun shone and traffic seemed to be avoiding all the roads we traveled. We ate our picnic supper and enjoyed the stunning beauty of the shores of Lake Erie. 

The Little Sisters of the Poor greeted us with kind hospitality. More later...

May 27, 2014

Hello and welcome to the second day of our nun run pilgrimage! Today our hosts are Hannah Konzen, Emily Felsheim, Teresa Piepmeir, and Mary Felsheim in the Winsome White van. Currently we are lost. Actually, we aren’t lost, we are momentarily misplaced... exploring a really interesting part of Detroit. We just left the Fr. Solanus Casey Shrine and Center. It was so amazing because we got to pray at his tomb and put our prayer requests, rosaries, and prayer cards on it. We toured the museum and saw Fr. Solanus’ violin, vestments, rosary, and sandals. We even met a friar and took a picture with him! The church interior was beautiful and we spent time praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament. This morning, we prayed with the Little Sisters of the Poor, watched a video about their founderess and community, took a tour of their Home, had an opportunity to talk with the sisters and ask them questions, took a rosary walk, visited with the residents, attended Holy Mass, and ate lunch with the sisters. Yes, it was a full morning, but it was lots of fun! 

Still May 27th, 

Hello, Silver Van here, Maggie Hackett, Mary Busse, Lexee Harbor, and Theresa Liebert.             
While our traveling companions were “momentarily misplaced”, Sister Mary David was enjoying the driving challenge. So much so, that we had enough time to stop and enjoy Lake Erie. We enjoyed a pleasant dinner of PB & J while the seagulls looked on enviously. After dinner we split up. Sister Mary David remained at the picnic table, while the rest of us chased seagulls and took the time to call home. At which time, the passengers of the “Winsome White Van” called to say that they were done exploring and would join us shortly. Praise God! We are now on our way to New York state and should arrive around 11:00. (Possibly 10:30 if Sister Mary David continues to drive so well) Everything is awesome. 

Sister M. Luka
And finally, we are found, and everyone is tucked in and headed for bed.

Everything in this pilgrimage really is awesome.

Pictures will be coming soon.

God bless you!!!

Thursday, May 15, 2014


So much happens in a year!

We've had aspirants come...and now they are moving on.

We've had children come - and we've visited them in schools.

We've watched a religious community move from just getting started to "the real deal."

We've hosted lots and lots and lots of retreats - for all kinds of girls and women.

And now we're getting ready for a new adventure - The First (Annual???) Summer Vocation Pilgrimage. (We'll see how annual it turns out to be!)

We'll be posting a log here and pictures on Flickr and Facebook so you can all come along with us. If you want us to pray for something special, please log your prayer intentions below. We'll carry them to all the saints and shrines we visit along the way and include them in our daily prayers.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Missionaries of the Word

Mother M. Catherine professes her vows
It was a once in a lifetime moment - you don't get to see this sort of thing very often at all in the Church. A new religious community took its first steps as Bishop David Ricken read the decree and created the public association of the faithful, with the intent to become a religious congregation. Margaret Duemling, the visionary woman who responded to God's call to found this order, became Mother Mary Catherine of the Divine Word and professed final vows. Two young women, formerly known as "Sister Anya" and "Sister Sarah" received the new religious habit and new names: Sister Maria Lucia of Maris Stella and Sister Marie Bernadette of the Sacred Heart.

At the Formation Center, at lunch with the Missionaries of the Word,
the Missionaries of Charity and the aspirants.

Rejoicing infused the celebration. Family, friends of the community, priests, religious Sisters, parishioners and former Expeditioners filled the church. The liturgical celebration truly reflected the Church.

The Sisters invited us, since we have done many formation activities together, so two Sisters and six aspirants trekked to Appleton to rejoice with the Sisters.
Father Tom Farrell, Sister Erin, Mother M. Catherine,
Sister Marie Bernadette and Sister Maria Lucia

We stayed the night afterwards and then had the opportunity to visit the Formation Center for Catholic Youth Expeditions. We spent the day touring the Center, visiting with the Sisters and enjoying Catholic community.

For more photos, you can follow these links: ours (photos from our visit) and the Diocesan pictures.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

What is an aspirant?

Receiving Father Powell's blessing
We do many different things at Mater Redemptoris. We talk about finding God's will to school groups, young adult groups, children. We walk with women through their journeys in spiritual mentoring. We offer individual and group retreats.

But the oldest program is the aspirancy.

Who are these aspirants?

Young women who are determined to find God's will and do it.

Maggie interrupted in contemplation

Women committed to becoming fully the one God has called to be.

They work very hard to know themselves, to know the Lord and to grow.

It's a beautiful thing: to see a young person, desiring to give her whole life to God and willing to do whatever it takes to figure that out. The most challenging journey each of us has to make is the one that leads us to know who we are, created by God, loved by him, beautiful, somewhat flawed, gifted, talented, not-there-yet... Coming to know the person called, the path and the destination.
Laura, Jemma and Rose

It is the time of year when we begin to receive applications for the fall semester, which starts September 1st. Is God calling you to this?

More information...