Tag Archives: Margaret Anna Cusack

In Memory: Sister Joan

I have just returned to the States after a visit to our CSJP community in the UK. One of the sisters I was pleased to have the opportunity to spend time with during my visit with was Sister Joan Ward. This morning, I heard that Sister Joan passed away in the early hours today.

IMG_2408I first met Joan when I was a novice spending four months with our community in England. Sister Alexine, who I lived with in London, arranged for the two of us to spend several weekends travelling about with Joan who was an expert in our Congregation’s founding story.  In fact, here is a picture that Alexine took of Joan and myself at the grave side of our founder Margaret Anna Cusack (Mother Francis Clare) in Leamington Spa on one of those weekend pilgrimages. (I wrote about this particular 2007 pilgrimage trip on my old blog –you can still read that post.)

Joan was a dedicated researcher who cherished the story of our founders and early community. I myself will always cherish those special weekends. Joan, Alexine and I went to Grimsby on the east cost of England where our first sisters ministered with the poor. I will never forget going to the Grimsby library with Joan and looking at original census records that listed our early sisters. (In fact, thanks to the way back machine which is my old blog, I have also recorded that experience for posterity!)

In addition to being a community historian, Joan was a dedicated community member. In her younger days she was novice mistress. She was dearly loved across the congregation and so committed to our mission. We had our community assembly in the UK this past Saturday, and Joan was there, attentive and present to our conversations about the vitality of religious life.

I had dinner with Joan this past Sunday. We talked about religious life and our congregation and vocations.  “I don’t worry about vocations,” Joan said. “I never really have. It is all in God’s hands.”  Given that one of my roles these days is as congregation vocation director, and given that my thoughts are often preoccupied with vocations, I took Joan’s hand and said to her:  “Joan, I need you to do something for me. Please pray for me, in my role as vocation director, that I don’t worry about vocations.” She promised me that she would indeed pray for me, and I have absolutely no doubt that she will.

Rest in peace Joan. I am so grateful that I had the chance to get to know you. You have been such a tremendous gift to our congregation! Please pray for us and for those who God will send our way as future Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace.

Hope is like breathing

Hope is like breathing.
Hope  in, hope out.

In between it mixes with
all my worries
and cares and doubts.

How will this all work out?
What about x, y, z?
Why me, why now?

Indeed were it all up to me
Hope would not be enough.
But God is in the mix.
Breath of the Spirit.
Breathe of God.
Breath of life.
Love.

“Cast the anchor of hope
into the Heart of love,
and all things shall work together…”
-Mother Clare

Breathing in
Breathing out
Hope.

Global Sisters Column: Easter People

My latest column on Global Sisters Report has been posted- Help Wanted: Easter People. It is a reflection on being Easter people in a mixed up world, in conversation with Pope Francis, Gustavo Gutierrez,  and the founder of my religious community, Margaret Anna Cusack.

In the face of such suffering, against the backdrop of fear-mongering and terrorism, and with the soundtrack of an oftentimes toxic political debate, we celebrate Easter.

Christ is risen. Alleluia!

If Easter and the Resurrection are to mean anything, then we must be Easter people in such a world. …

As Easter people, we are called to find joy, to create hope, and to build peace.

Through us, the Easter story continues.

Click here to read the whole column.

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Me, Sister Camillus, and the Easter Bunny

Decking my heart

Wow, it is already Christmas Eve. Advent has been very full, as has the past year. Full of good things, full of hard work, full of light and laughter and love and loss, because all of those things come together in this package we call life.

This Advent I’ve been spending some time with words written almost 150 years ago by Margaret Anna Cusack, who later as Mother Francis Clare founded the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace in 1884. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, her little 1866 book Meditations for Advent and Easter is freely available under public domain.  Her words are steeped in theological worldview of her day. That is a given. But there are also kernels of wisdom, insight and challenge sprinkled throughout that are every bit as relevant today as they would have been to a 19th Century audience.

In her reflection for Christmas Eve, she writes this:

Tomorrow sweet Jesus will come. Oh, how blessedly near is His advent! Today we are decking our houses for His divine visit; let us not forget to deck our hearts.  Let us sweep out every imperfection, every imperfect disposition, every wandering thought, with the besom of penance and adorn ourselves with the fair bright flowers of contrition and love.  Tomorrow our Infant King will come. Are we prepared to receive Him? Have we all the love ready for Him we should like to offer Him?

This is my prayer this day, that I may deck my heart to be ready to welcome the one who is love incarnate.

ChristmasEveMeme

 

Margaret Anna Fridays – Founder’s Day Edition

Mother Francis Clare (Margaret Anna Cusack)
Mother Francis Clare (Margaret Anna Cusack)

Today is one of our CSJP Community Feast Days – Founders Day. On this day in 1899 our founder, Margaret Anna Cuasck (known in religion as Mother Francis Clare) went home to God.  Periodically on Fridays I share some words of wisdom from her here on the blog.  She was a prolific writer in her day, writing lives of the saints, spiritual works, histories, and social reform.  Under the inspiration of the Spirit, she also founded our Congregation, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace, to promote peace in family life, in the church, and in society.

On this Founders Day, I share an excerpt from The Nun of Kenmare, her autobiography, in which she recounts her audience with Pope Leo XIII on the founding of the new order, St. Joseph’s Sisters of Peace:

My audience [with Pope Leo XIII] was entirely private, as I did not require an interpreter. Mgr. Macchi brought in the whole set of my books to his holiness, who looked at them, I think somewhat surprised at the number. Some of them were duplicated, having been translated into German, French, and Italian. …

His holiness specially commended the plan of my new order, and encouraged me in every way to continue writing. He gave his blessing to all the sisters present and to come, and to all those who would contribute to my work. I cannot forget his paternal and affectionate kindness, and the sympathy he expressed for the troubles I had gone through. My last audience was a public one, and at this the Holy Father noticed me specially, and spoke to those who were standing around, explaining to them in a few words that we were Sisters of Peace, and the object of our work.
~M. F. Cusack, The Nun of Kenmare, 1889

If you’d like to learn more about Mother Fracnis Clare, here are a few places to start:

Margaret Anna Fridays – On Love

Mother Francis Clare (Margaret Anna Cusack)
Mother Francis Clare (Margaret Anna Cusack)

Periodically on Fridays I will share some words of wisdom from the founder of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace. Known in religion as Mother Francis Clare, Margaret Anna Cusack was a prolific writer in her day.  She wrote lives of the saints, spiritual works, histories, and social reform. I find great inspiration in her life’s word and work. Here’s a little tidbit from her 1877 book, Good Reading for Girls: Sundays and Festivals.

Oh, my children, let us remember our love must be a love of deeds, not of words. That if we would be the faithful disciples, the cherished little ones of the Heart of God, we must imitate that Heart–we must confide in that Heart, we must prove our love to the Heart in time, and so shall It be our refuge here in every sorrow, and our Home in the land where sorrow can never come.

Margaret Anna Fridays – Example of Humility

Mother Francis Clare (Margaret Anna Cusack)
Mother Francis Clare (Margaret Anna Cusack)

Periodically on Fridays I will share some words of wisdom from the founder of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace. Known in religion as Mother Francis Clare, Margaret Anna Cusack was a prolific writer in her day.  She wrote lives of the saints, spiritual works, histories, and social reform. I find great inspiration in her life’s word and work. Here’s a little tidbit from her 1876 book, Advice to Irish Girls in America.

The world gives us the example of pride; our dear Saviour Jesus Christ gives us the example of humility.  My children, we must take our choice, we must follow the example which the world gives us of pride, or the example which Jesus gives us of humility.

Margaret Anna Fridays – Our Common Work

Mother Francis Clare (Margaret Anna Cusack)
Mother Francis Clare (Margaret Anna Cusack)

Periodically on Fridays I will share some words of wisdom from the founder of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace. Known in religion as Mother Francis Clare, Margaret Anna Cusack was a prolific writer in her day.  She wrote lives of the saints, spiritual works, histories, and social reform. She also wrote copious letters to her Sisters. This gem is from her April 1887 general letter to the new Congregation.

“We must all have more consideration for each other, and make full allowance for difference of birth, education and temper. We have a common work to do for God, and His poor which should be our union and our bond of charity and this motive should enable us to put aside all little differences, and troubles.”

Margaret Anna Fridays – Desire to live the life of a sister

Mother Francis Clare (Margaret Anna Cusack)
Mother Francis Clare (Margaret Anna Cusack)

Periodically on Fridays I will share some words of wisdom from the founder of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace. Known in religion as Mother Francis Clare, Margaret Anna Cusack was a prolific writer in her day.  She wrote lives of the saints, spiritual works, histories, and social reform. I find great inspiration in her life’s word and work. For example, this simple desire which she articulated at some point in her life resonates with the simplest desire in my own heart as a Sister of St. Joseph of Peace.

My desire to live the life of a sister, to give my life to God, and to work for his poor – this seemed to me the only object worth existing for.