Sunday, April 30, 2017

"Free" weekend

After the six weekends of Lent, the weekend of the Triduum and Easter, followed immediately by our Spring Community Weekend, having the first "free" weekend after all of those was time for fun outings by many sisters. I chose to go to our state park, Presque Isle, specifically to see if we could find the owl family sighted recently in a tall hollow tree with their new owlet!

Not only did we find the owl family but we learned that the Tamarack Wildlife Center was holding a live raptor program at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center right at the entrance to the park. Here are a couple photos I took of the "traveling troupe"!!

A red-tailed hawk minus its redness!

Jasper a beautiful little Eastern Screech Owl who lost an eye and an ear but is a regular member of the traveling educational troupe of the Tamarack Center.

A Barred owl, Sophia, I think...another beauty.

But, my favorite was seeing Willow. Willow is a small Eastern Screech Owl who was rescued, along with her three owlets,  from a hollow in a dead tree that was felled in Gridley Park seven years ago. All were taken to Tamarack who released the three babies when they were old enough to be on their own. Willow, however, had a damaged wing and has been a part of the Tamarack education programs for years. She also serves as a surrogate mother to any baby owls that are orphaned and brought to the center.   

See Tamarack's site for more about these and other "residents"!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


For the past couple months we've been borrowing the original DVDs of the show "Northern Exposure" from our library. That wonderful quirky series about Cecily, Alaska and its quirky cast of characters and delightful and quirky stories. What creativity! How did those writers think of those plots?! We are enjoying them immensely. I do love quirky things and I've just found a new one to add to the list.

Out of the blue, an unanticipated gift from a friend, comes an equally quirky book, The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by first time novelist, Katarina Bivald. Here we meet Sara, a bookstore employee from Sweden, who is arriving in a small (pop. 637), fading town in Iowa to meet her pen pal, Amy---only to find that Amy has just died. Sara stays on and, drawing on her love of books (and Amy's personal library), opens a bookstore in Broken Wheel. And everything changes! The characters are great, the writing is good and the story, in my opinion, is creative, fun and delightful....with just enough quirkiness to keep me hooked.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Cokie and Joan

If you can't be with us this Tuesday for "In Conversation" with Cokie Roberts and Joan Chittister, don't despair. Mercyhurst University will have it online very quickly. Watch their site or our site, and I'm sure it will be up within a couple days.

Meanwhile, here's an excerpt from an interview that the Jesuit-published America magazine had with Cokie three years ago. It's title was: "Catholic woman in the public square." You can find it in its entirety online here.

In the world of media, have you seen coverage of the church by mainstream media change? Have media been harder on the church? Not hard enough?

Well, I think Pope Francis is being treated like a rock star. And that was true of John Paul II when his papacy began. And the media, for the most part, take the church seriously. There are always complaints about coverage of scandal versus all the good things that go on, but that is true in every field. It is not news that thousands of planes take off and land safely; the one crash is news. But for the American Catholic Church, unfortunately, the question of media coverage cannot be separated from the sex abuse scandal. I have personally been involved in several media-outreach efforts by the hierarchy on this and the tin-ear and fundamental ignorance about molestation in the early years of the unfolding scandal was truly shocking. There was only one Christian response: This is a crime. We are horrified. What can we do as caring people to help? How can we make amends and prove to you it will never, never happen again? That’s not what anyone heard. Finally, we are hearing those responses after hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements. That’s money that could have gone to educate poor children, feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, help pregnant young women see the way clear to give birth to their babies. You get my furious drift. And equally maddening: it caused the bishops to lose their moral authority at a time when it could really be used on those issues.

As a woman in media, have you found prejudice against you? As a Catholic woman? As a woman of a certain age?

Of course. I don’t think I’ve been discriminated against officially as a Catholic woman. But certainly sex and age. Let me count the ways. And when I say officially, I mean no one has denied me a job or a raise. But are there people in this society still who think that to be a believer is to be a little bit simpleminded? Sure. And to be a Catholic, still a little simpler still? Yes.

One of the blue heron that lives at the East Pier.

Our bleeding hearts make me so nostalgic for my grandmother's garden.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Easter colors

Showing off their Easter "colors" are Gary Good, (green) one of our great maintenance guys, who had surgery; Sister Carol Ann (pink) who took a tumble carrying a computer printer and broke a couple small bones in her hand; and Sister Cecilia (blue) who bumped into a guest at the intersection of two of our hallways and landed on her wrist, also breaking a couple small bones! Neither sister needed surgery, thankfully. Anyone for a purple one to complete the colorful Easter basket?!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Inside and Outside

The four-day celebration of the Triduum and Easter finished with a flourish. All of the prayers and liturgies came off very well--our presider was first rate, the music, creativity of liturgical ideas, and old and new guests were all a special part of the days.

One admission I feel obliged to make however: On the last day, Sunday, a guest was really gushing over with compliments in conversation with me: "Oh, everything was so beautiful and looked so smooth and easy. It must be just a delight to be part of it all." My outside self responded, "Thank you so very much, it takes a little work but, yes, it is our pleasure to share our prayer with so many friends--thanks so much for coming!" Meanwhile a little, but very strong inside voice was saying, "Smooth and easy? We practice and practice for hours to get everything coordinated and looking effortless. We've been singing those songs in choir for 3 months, ditto for handbell pieces!!! Nothing's's hard work!!"

Within minutes doesn't another guest stop me and say, "You must be beat you look so tired, so many events, so much to do--hope you can get a little rest!" My outside self responded, "Well, thank you but I feel pretty good; many of us have tomorrow (Monday) off, so we can relax a little; thanks so much for coming and joining us." That little, but strong voice inside piped up: "Tired? We're exhausted! This afternoon it will be as quiet as a morgue around here as everyone either goes to their room and closes the door to the world or takes a drive to the peninsula to get away from people and be surrounded only by the sounds of nature!! So glad you came to join us, now enjoy your trip home and we'll see you next year...or next month...or at the earliest, next weekend!"

But both voices sincerely say "thanks" to all our oblates, family members, friends and guests (especially first-timers) who were with us for Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Tenebrae services, Holy Saturday and/or Easter Sunday. They really were great, great community and prayer experiences!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

And the conclusion is...

1. This year we had below our average snowfall;
2. Our last measurable snow was in mid-March;
3. This year, because winter was shorter, spring got an early start;
4. 6-7 very warm days over the past two weeks have accelerated blossoms and buds;
5. The heavy winds and rainstorms we've been seeing all around the country did not hit us;
6. Sunshine has accompanied our higher temps;
7. Easter is mid-April;

Ta-da: We are in for (crossing our fingers) one of those rare--but remembered from childhood photographs of pastel dresses, navy blue coats and white hats or miniature three piece suits for boys-- warm and beautiful Easters--where your winter coat does not have to be worn, covering your Easter outfit;

And, ta-da, ta-da....our daffodils and hyacinths are strong and upright, full and glowing!
WOW! and Alleluia for spring and Easter!

Even the tree in the center of the library courtyard is beginning to bloom. Here's the view from indoors. It will be gorgeous in a couple days.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Holy Week

"The Poet Thinks about the Donkey"

On the outskirts of Jerusalem
the donkey waited.
Not especially brave, or filled with understanding,
he stood and waited.

How horses, turned out into the meadow,
leap with delight!
How doves, released from their cages,
clatter away, splashed with sunlight!

But the donkey, tied to a tree as usual, waited.
Then he let himself be led away.
Then he let the stranger mount.

Never had he seen such crowds!
And I wonder if he at all imagined
what was to happen.
Still, he was what he had always been:
small, dark, obedient.

I hope, finally, he felt brave.
I hope, finally, he loved the man
who rode so lightly upon him,
as he lifted one dusty hoof and stepped,
as he had to, forward.

Mary Oliver

Wednesday, April 5, 2017


I was "hanging around" one of my old haunts this week, St. Mary's Home East, as a couple of our sisters are there right now for rehab following falls and broken bones. My mother was a resident there for 7 years, most of it on the 100-room assisted living side, but the last year or so on the 100-room full care side following a stroke.

Between her time there and living in a community with a number of 80 and 90-somethings, I've learned a lot about "parenting." The number one thing I've learned is this: although all parenting is basically the same, every parenting situation is unique and special. The trick is to find the parenting options that "fit" you and your family. St. Mary's East was a great fit for my Mom and me.

One of the things we both enjoyed was the seemingly endless celebration of holidays. Every window sill, desk corner and table top went through an annual progression from July 4th to Back to School to Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas (which was hands down the biggest and best) to New Year's, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, and with nary a breath, ta da, what I found this week: Easter (Never mind that we're headed into Holy Week....don't be a Scrooge bunny!) Can Memorial Day be far behind?!

St. Mary's was founded in 1884 by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Erie, who had already begun a hospital in nearby Meadville, PA and St. Vincent's hospital here in Erie. In 1991 they added a separate building for Alzheimer's patients and in 2001 a twin complex, St. Mary's Asbury Ridge, in west Erie.

There are a number of fine senior care facilities in the Erie area---we are indeed blessed. St. Mary's is surely one of them.

Thinking of you, Mom.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

An Altar in the World

This weekend we finished the last session the community held discussing the marvelous book by Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar in the World: a geography of faith. Our formation committee organized the discussion gatherings during Advent and Lent--each around one or two chapters that all Sisters read. The sessions were creative times of discussion, artistic expressions, DVDs, writing and many other group activities that were all opportunities to share with each other. Barbara Brown Taylor is a marvelous writer and her topics resonated strongly with our experiences of church, spirituality and community living. Her last chapter on "Blessings" just blew us away! We'd love to get her here but right now she is teaching in a college/seminary, so her time for travel commitments is very limited.

The recent rains cleared on Sunday and the sun called us outdoors. We drove to Twenty Mile Creek, just across the PA/NY state line, and spent some time roaming on the beaches and the park that is there. A cool wind blew off of the lake, but the sun made the early spring day lovely as we found numerous groups of those hardiest of hardy spring blooms, daffodils, popping up everywhere.

The mouth of Twenty Mile Creek, where it empties in Lake Erie, appears to be about 30 feet wide right now. By mid summer we'll be able to walk across to the houses on the other side, as the creek flow lessens considerably and a rocky path will appear across it.

"Bat habitat" in a field. We have a couple bat experts in a local college and bat houses are common in our area!