fall 2009 magazine

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Fall 2009 Magazine


  • A Potters Heart

    Kids and Creation

    A Light in Kentucky

    Fall 2009

    A Publication of the Sisters of St. Francis and Their Ministries

  • The Mission Advancement Office has an email address: development@tiffinfranciscans.org. May we have your email address?

    We want to be kind to the environment by using less paper whenever possible. Emails help us to do so. Please respond with your email address to development@tiffinfranciscans.org.

    We would love to include you on our list to keep you informed of news from the St. Francis Community.


    On the Cover: Sr. Jane Frances Omlor offers pottery classes and retreats on the St. Francis Community campus. Her hands have been forming clay into beauty for 26 years.

    From the Community Minister


    Dear Family and Friends,We, Tiffin Franciscans, in the spirit of Francis and Clare, are drawn ever more deeply into union with God through contemplation-action. Thus begins the Directional Statement of the Sisters of St. Francis of Tiffin, Ohio.

    What is contemplation-action? You will not find this term in the dictionary because its a term we coined for our own purposes. We wanted to make it clear that God comes first in our lives, and that all of our actions flow from prayer. First we pray, and then we act. We want our lives to be an extension of Gods goodness and love, flowing through us to others. This cannot happen except through time spent in prayer and contemplation.

    Prayer deepens our sense of the presence of God in our everyday lives. It helps us to see the face of God in those we meet along the way. Whether we are engaging in casual conversation with residents who live on our St. Francis Community campus, walking with those who are facing the last days of their journey to heaven, hosting those who come for retreats at our St. Francis Spirituality Center, offering spiritual direction to those seeking to deepen their own prayer lives, helping others to learn how to care for Gods creation, or assisting those in need, we want our encounters to be a mutual recognition of the loving God who dwells within us. You will read about some of these encounters in this issue.

    As we engage in prayer each day, we remember in a special way the intentions of all of you who have expressed a need for our prayers and all who have partnered with us in our ministries by giving of your time, talent or resources. We invite you to pray with us in the words of Francis of Assisi who, inspired by the Our Father, taught us to pray:

    Holy be Your Name.

    May knowledge of You become clearer in us

    that we may know

    the breadth of Your blessings,

    the length of Your promises,

    the height of Your majesty,

    the depth of Your judgments.(Francis of Assisi, Volume 1, p. 158)

    It is in this prayerful spirit that we present this issue.

    Holding you in prayer,

    Sister Jacquelyn DoepkerCommunity Minister


  • Pottery is a very contemplative activity, says Sr. Jane Frances Omlor. It focuses one, centers one. As one centers the clay, one centers oneself.

    Sr. Jane Frances talks about the process of creating pottery as if talking about a beloved friend. Shes poetic and peaceful. When I do pottery, Im alone. I start with a lump of clay and within 3 or 4 minutes, Ive made something beautiful. Its transformative.

    Wanting to share that transformative process, Sr. Jane Frances offers several weekend pottery retreats each year

    on the wheel and learn handbuilding techniques: pinch, coil and slab.

    They get into it. Its quiet. Theres not a lot of chattering. By about 4 p.m., most have made about four or five pieces. Sometimes they even do sculptures, Sr. Jane Frances says. They then retire to their rooms to write about what the day meant to them

    and then share these reflections after supper.

    A woman with breast cancer used to show up to work with the clay in Sr. Jane Frances studio. She made little birds and gave them to family, friends and nurses who had supported her. She told me a number of times that coming to the pottery studio was very healing for her. She attributes her healing to that process. And its funny, because while we were working in the

    studio, we hardly talked. I tell people that if youre doing the process mindfully, its bound to have an effect on you spiritually.

    Sr. Jane Frances invites the retreatants back to glaze their pots. At a later date, she sets up an exhibit of the pots so family and friends of the retreatants may see what their loved ones made.

    And the Lord God formed the man out of the clay of the groundGenesis 2:7

    Being mindful during the process reaps spiritual rewards, Sr. Jane Frances says.

    Each potter creates about five pots and a few sculptures.

    Sr. Jane Frances also offers two 10-week pottery classes a year and a Saturday class for children. Her own pottery is available at SpiritSpace Gallery and Gift Shop on the St. Francis Community campus.

    After the retreat, potters come back to glaze their pots and to show them off to family and friends.

    through the Spirituality Center. Participants arrive Friday evening and leave on Sunday.

    The retreats begin with reflection and prayer. We talk about pottery, we do centering prayer and we watch a video by DeWitt Jones called Everyday Creativity, Sr. Jane Frances says. Then we have a reflection, talk about the process of making pottery and how it relates to everyday life.

    Retreatants make a small pot that first evening. On Saturday, they make pots

    3Making pottery,finding God

    For more information on the pottery classes and retreats, email Sr. Jane Frances at jfclay1@yahoo.com. You may visit Sr. Jane Frances Earth n Sisters web page by visiting tiffinfranciscans.org.

    Pottery is a verycontemplative activity.As one centers the clay,

    one centers oneself.

  • Sr. Marge Eilerman moves from contemplation to action every day as a pastoral associate for Holy Family Parish in Booneville, Kentucky, which resides in Owsley County, one of the poorest counties in the country.

    A lot of our work is outreach with families, finding volunteers to do things like home repair, preaching the Gospel, Sr. Marge says. Our mission is to be present to people, to have a presence here.

    Sr. Marge says she receives requests for assistance often, probably daily. It might be for food, for gas to get to a doctors appointment, for help with an electric bill and occasionally for water. In fact, on this day, Sr. Marge says someone requested assistance to get a heater.


    Sr. Marge celebrates the big and small moments with the people she lives among. With her is Nicholas, who was baptized last April.

    A shining light in Booneville, KentuckyLast year, Sr. Marge received a grant to help the working poor, Sr. Marge says. We concentrated on helping those with minimum wage jobs. We helped them get food and household items.

    Also last year, St. Bridget Parish in Dublin, Ohio, gave Sr. Marge money to help purchase Amish heaters for the people. We asked each family to pay a small amount. With gas prices going up, its been very difficult for them.

    Not long ago, a young family asked Sr. Marge for help. She was working and pregnant, and he was temporarily disabled. Their electric bill was too high for them. So I gave them a larger amount than usual. He assured me that when he could work again, he would pay it back.

    A couple of months ago, that young man drove up and gave me $150 to repay that loan, Sr. Marge says. I was so touched, I immediately gave him the $100 back. He

    I love the people here.I love the peacefulness.I love being ableto see the faithplanted here.

    broke down and sobbed, saying, You have no idea what that means to us.

    The story doesnt end there. When I wrote to the woman who had sent me money to help people here and told her the family had used it to pay their electric bill and that they had paid it back, she sent me another check just for that family. She said she remembered what it was like to be a young married couple.

    Preaching the Gospel in a more formal setting is another way to reach out, Sr. Marge says. There are 14 families registered at Holy Family Parish, but Sr. Marge says the childrens Bible School in the summer is open to those of other faiths as well. Jesus comes to people wherever they are. However we can share that light, thats what we do.

    Sr. Marge has been in Owsley County for about 23 years and wouldnt have it any other way. I love the people here. I love the peacefulness. I love being able to see the faith planted here.

    If youd like to learn more about the sisters work in Kentucky, you may contact Sr. Sara Aldridge at 419.447.0435 or saldridge@tiffinfranciscans.org.

  • The Sisters of St. Francis are canonical members of their community. But there is another group of people living out the Tiffin Franciscan charism, supporting the sisters work and answering Gods call while not taking vows.

    The associate program started in 1973. Today, there are 64 associates from six states and Mexico who are living the Franciscan charism in their own communities.

    The Tiffin Franciscans associate program goes beyond, Come, pray with us, says Kay Shrewsbery, co-director with Sue Nowak and Sr. Roberta Doneth, of the program.

    live simply. We try to be open to what God wants of us. We view the vows a little differently from the way the sisters view them. If I were a vowed member of the Tiffin Franciscans, I could not use my resources the way I want to use them. I couldnt give money to charitable organizations, for example, because I wouldnt have it to give.

    Kay points out the difference between Secular Franciscans and the Sisters of St. Francis a