Into this New Year…

Yes, the Sisters of St. Clare are back. It is a new year, even though so many of the directives for surviving a pandemic are the same. We here at the Motherhouse of the Franciscans follow all the rules with fervor because what we might get as a simple cold could cause an older Sister to die. The elders here at Assisi Heights are much too beautiful to let go of just yet. So…we follow the guidelines to keeping Assisi Heights free of the viruses.

Breaking news: The Roman Catholic Church world wide, is called forth by Pope Francis, to engage in a Synod, 2021-2023. I can hear the Roman Catholics now. Are not Synods the work of Anglicans and Lutherans and Reformed Churches. It is true they engage in Synods much more frequently than the Romans. For myself and for you I looked at Webster’s take on “Synods.” We Catholics can definitively have one. I must say that for me I am weeping for joy.


Christmas at Assisi Heights

  • This Christmas season was beautiful in all aspects except there were no people to join us in singing and celebrating the birthday of Christ and our Christian faith. Our families and friends were tucked away in their homes caring for one another and watching our Eucharistic celebration on Zoom.


What Comes with Summertime? Pilgrimage, of Course:


We are thinking Pilgrimage here  at the Monastery as two of our Sisters are preparing to head out with Friar Tom Hartle to Assisi.  There are two ways to look at Pilgrimage: one focus is on the going, and the other is on the arrival— you might call the latter a “destination” pilgrimage.

San Damiano, the proto monastery of the women’s branch of the Franciscan family, is the focus of my muse these days.

Why did Francis take Clare to San Damiano or why did Clare insist on going to San Damiano?  It was a wreck of a place( Fortini…)—and very dangerous outside the walls of Assisi. Maybe that was the point: to get out from behind the walls.  Maybe they wanted to get out of Assisi with freedom to be poor, vulnerable, available, interdependent.  If that was the case they got what they were looking for.  But…as soon as Clare died the nuns scuttled inside the walls.

I put the question to one of my favorite Franciscan specialists, Jean Francois Godet:

Regarding your question, I think you already have the right answer. Clare and her companions wanted to join the evangelical/penitential movement started by Francis. That meant leaving Assisi, its wealth, its power, its protection, its privileges, and getting close to the outcasts, the nobodies, in particular the people with leprosy. San Damiano was an ideal place: it was outside the city, close to the leper colonies, had the three ingredients of the early Franciscan settlements: a little church, a spring of water, and near a road (the Assisi-Foligno road). It was the property of the diocese. Since bishop Guido was blessing, protecting and promoting the new movement, there was no obstacle. Soon after Clare died, the sisters were moved inside the walls, not only the walls of the city, but also the walls of a monastery. That was a major change that separated them from the people, and in particular the people that Clare, like Francis, wanted to be close to and to serve. But by that time, the same thing had already happened to the brothers. I believe that the spirit and life of Clare and Francis will always survive because it is simply, but radically, living the Gospel. However, the future is in the roots. We need to go back to the sources and rebuild the Franciscan movement.

I would just add that Francis and Clare were motivated by one thing: to do mercy, facere misericordiam, because it was in that experience that they were experiencing who God is, the Father of mercies as Clare says at the beginning of her testament, quoting Paul in 2 Corinthians. The whole Franciscan adventure began with Francis’ experience with the outcasts of Assisi, the people with leprosy: feci misericordiam cum illis, I did mercy with them, writes Francis at the beginning of his testament, quoting Luke and the parable of the good Samaritan.





Celebrating the Life of Sister Anne Condon, osc


“Til the end of my days I will sing your praise…give you thanks all my days.”

Sister Anne Condon, OSC: Born, June 10, 1913; Profession of Vows, March 28,1933; Died, January 11, 2016


In the Gospel of Mark (2: 1-12) for today’s weekday Mass, the friends of the paralytic broke through the roof because of the crowds, in order to place him before Jesus for healing. Jesus saw the deep faith of the man and his friends. Addressing the paralytic, Jesus said: ” ..rise, pick up your mat, and go home. It was a holy night of vigil when Sister Anne picked up her mat to go home. She broke her bonds after a very long struggle, at 12:10 a.m. Monday. Sister Gabriel and I were privileged to vigil with her that night; so gentle, so silent, so easy was her passage that we might easily have missed that sacred moment had we not been watching her closely.

Sweet Anne a woman who would say to each of us here today, I love you so much, and I care so much for you and your families. I thank you for walking with me, for the many years we have shared, for the care you have all given me. 1will continue to be with you. I ask you to be mindful of me.

Sister Anne, a great woman of God. The words of our sister and mother, St Clare, from the 13th century, were a constant inspiration for her:

Loving one another in the charity of Christ, let the love

you have in your hearts be shown outwardly in your deeds.

Anne was not afraid of hard work; she was equally not afraid of prayer, nor of profound beauty. She would often say “If people only knew how wonderful it is to be a Poor Clare, the world would be filled with Poor Clare monasteries.

With five of us from Sauk Rapids, she initiated our presence in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul/Minneapolis, At that time our Sisters of St Joseph gave us haven at HolyAngels Academy, as a “home before our home”. In the next decade we grew very quickly. In 1960 we received an invitation from Archbishop Harold Henry to makea foundation in South Korea; as a community we said yes and opened the monastery on Cheju Island in 1972 which in turn founded a monastery on the mainland in 2001 inYangYang. And in 1991 a community of four went to Saginaw, Michigan.

Another involvement in the Clare life was that of our federation of monasteries; as you might suspect, Anne was very involved. She held in great respect an educated and cultural life, making her the logical person to be a leader of a study program for contemplative sisters at the then-College of Saint Teresa in Winona.

I could go on and on with specifics about what filled her life, her days. She was ever so generous. Here at the monastery, we have liturgical masterpieces from her loom as master weaver, an art she loved and created as long as her health would permit. Here we also have evidence of her looking ahead, thinking of future generations.

It is difficult to recount her life of virtue. She didn’t flaunt her piety, yet it ran deep as an ocean. Anne knew exactly from where came her strength. A great icon to all of us in her last months, weeks and days, was the full acceptance of her life at St Therese in New Hope as her home. Not an easy transition from life with us in our monastery, but that grace of transformation to the fact that she would not be able to return to 8650 was equally God’s triumph and Anne’s triumph. It helped us, her sisters, to a place of peace, a peace that would wrap her round in her last days and hours. She was ever a woman of strength, a strength that helped others to walk upright and stand tall in trust, humble faith and great love.And most especially in gratitude: her mantra was “Thank you.” For the slightest assistance: “Thank you.” She was especially grateful for the care she received in her frailty; for example she spoke so often of the staff at St Therese:”they work so hard,” she would say.

Feisty, tough and, oh, so tender, always quick to say, “I am sorry.” Having walked with Sr. Anne for over 65 years through storm and calm, thick and thin, I testify to the wonderful gifts engraved in her heart and spirit. She has entered the quiet, peaceful immensity of God, of Clare and Francis, of countless loved ones, of the beautiful universe, greater than we can grasp from our side.

I believe she would say to all of us: “Thank you for coming today. There is life that as yet is unlived in you; let it blossom into a future that is fired by Love. Fear no fear that enters your path, for fear is cowardly in the face of your God-given inner strength.”

Go forth, Sweet Anne. Go to the embrace of the One who created and sanctified you, the One who has nurtured you as a mother into your precious life. Go home, Anne, go home to your mountain. From that holy place, remember all of us as you cry out with all the holy ones: “KADOSH, KADOSH, KADOSH: HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, LORD GOD OF HEAVEN AND ALL CREATED THINGS …

Testimony of Sister Helen Weier, OSC


Christmas Greetings

Our Christmas movie is here for your enjoyment.  Please give it a minute to load.


Advent in the North



The moon sheds silver shadows on the sky,

blue shadows on the snow;

the house-beams crack all night,

startling us with the news

that it is colder than we thought.

“Winter is closing in,” we say,

but winter moves us outward in imagination

to learn how cold it is to be exiled from the sun,

how lonely the darkness,

how welcome the light of any approaching star.




The radiators wakened me

(four a.m., after a night of blizzard)

alarmed me with their frantic gushing,

a niagara roaring through the system,

gurgling, swirling, growling

through every pipe, making the circuit

of the house with urgency.

Anxiety washed over me — not just

concern about the state of the furnace,

but dread of where we might be carried

beyond sleep, through the storm:

to what cold shore?


Day emerges with a rare shining:

not remnants of moonlight

or the early edge of dawn,

but the sheen of new snow

binding every branch.

Somehow the snowfall invaded

without waking us,

took over without resistance,

left us helpless at the window,

captives of beauty and cold.


When you live in the north

where winter, white ogre,

grips the calendar for months,

then a bird’ s song in mid-March

tastes like Spanish wine,

and your heart can easily miss a beat

at the sight

of a puddle.

Sr. Kate


Advent Season

FSCN1273Clare leads us into the depths of Advent.

Following along with Papa Francisco she calls us to be “poor with the poor.”

For Advent reading: THE GREAT REFORMER by A, Ivereigh is the best of the best.

Austen tells the story of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, born into a lower middle class immigrant family, joined the Jesuits, himself called to the people of the slums, connecting and worshipping with our brothers and sisters of other communities, his pectoral cross, Christ the Good Shepherd.

Blessings on your journey!


These are the days when the whole pattern

is spread before us: the long intricate past,

the wars and wanderings, prophets and kings;

and the future as well, the vineyards and orchards

of the age to come, the safe and happy children

playing in the streets, the high road to peace

And our eyes are drawn to the center,

to the jewel at heart of the plotted web,

to a girl in a village and her ordinary life,

her willing response to mystery

when it came seeking her,

to the answer she gave

and the light it poured

over the whole story.

Sr. Kate





The Feast of Francis of Assisi

Francis goes to God with all of Creation, and with the Sisters and the Brothers whom he loves.

Transitus at the Clares, October 3, 7:30 pm.

Eucharist at the Clares, October 4, 10:00 am.Scan0020


Pope Francis wants our input.

Scan0020Listening Sessions with Archbishop Hebda to Help Inform Pope Francis’ Choice for our New Archbishop

Date(s): Monday, October 5 – Wednesday, November 4

Monday, October 5:

1 – 3 p.m., Rauenhorst Ballroom, Coeur de Catherine, St. Catherine University, St. Paul

7 – 9 p.m., St. Stephen, Anoka

Tuesday, October 6:

1 – 3 p.m., For women and men in consecrated life, Carondelet Center, St. Paul

7 – 9 p.m., Pax Christi, Eden Prairie

Monday, November 2, 7 – 9 p.m., Saint Peter, Forest Lake

Tuesday, November 3, 7 – 9 p.m., Divine Mercy, Faribault

Wednesday, November 4, 7 – 9 p.m., Woulfe Alumni Hall, Anderson Student Center, University of St. Thomas, St. Paul

Additional listening sessions are being scheduled for Latino Ministry parishes (in Spanish) and priests.

Pope Francis has emphasized the importance of dialogue in the life of the Church. And in the spirit of speaking and listening in charity, the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis is hosting a series of listening sessions. Archbishop Hebda will lead the sessions to hear your input on our strengths, our challenges, and what characteristics are important in a new archbishop. Feedback gathered during these sessions will be shared with those responsible for advising Pope Francis as he makes this important choice and with the new Archbishop whenever he is named. Summaries will be published in The Catholic Spirit.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Retreat or Siempre Adelante

Our retreat with Fr. Mike and Pope Francis.  Yes, it was that week, time out of time, the most memorable retreat of a lifetime.  Everyone was watching the Pope so no need to write how wonderful the message, so wise and merciful, Pope Francis moving seamlessly from deep prayer to joyful communion with God’s people.   DSCN1198

front row: Sr. Caroline, Fr. Mike Crosby Sr. Anne

second row: Sr. Gabriel, Sr. Lucie, Sr. Kate, Sr. Francis, Sr. Helen