Sunday, May 7, 2017

God Is Here

I just read a reflection from Mary MacKillop, founder of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Australia. She said that either God is with us here in the every day challenges, or God is nowhere. Don't wait for that perfect day, that peaceful moment. God is here.
In that context, let me tell you about the next leg of my trip. Our meetings for the vocation/formation team of Sisters of St. Joseph in the US and Canada went very well. There was a great spirit among us and we were able to continue our collaborative efforts for vocation promotion. We were also able to share our lives, our hopes and our challenges.
Friday morning, I headed to the airport so that I could travel to Rome. Due to weather in NYC, my flight was delayed, delayed, delayed and finally cancelled. The best they could offer was to fly me to NYC the next day, and I wouldn't be there in time for the next day's flight to Rome. So I rented a car and drove to NY that evening. It was really lovely country, and only occasional rain. After dark, there was a patch of dense fog, in northeastern Pennsylvania. I arrived in NYC after 10pm and stayed with a friend. We had a good visit the next morning. She was free, but had several things she needed to do around the house.
Then I drove to the airport and caught my flight to Rome. That was uneventful. And I'm here now, ready for my meetings to begin today. I've had a little time to catch up with a friend here on Sunday. We'll both be busy during the week. It was a lovely day yesterday - hopefully it will continue to be so.
And God is Here in all of this!
Peace,
Amy

Friday, May 5, 2017

Canandaigua

My upcoming trip involves more or less two weeks of work, followed by two weeks of vacation, followed by two more weeks of work.
So I'm opening up an old blog space to record some of my adventures for those who may be interested. I'll post photos and stories during the trip. 
First stop: Canandaigua NY.
I'm in the beautiful finger-lakes region of New York. I did a Soil Science class online in which they discussed the geological history of this region with multiple lakes running north-south, left by receding glaciers. Then went on to discuss the development of the soils of the region.
Sisters of St. Joseph from the US and Canada are gathered for a vocation/formation meeting here. There are about 30 of us gathered to pray, reflect and discuss our ministry with those discerning religious life. I will be presenting some material on Laudato Si', Pope Francis' letter on the environment - our common home. I will be co-presenting with Mary Rowell, a Sister of St. Joseph from Canada. We have met in the past and we have discussed our presentation over skype and email. Yesterday, after the introductory session, we had the opportunity to share our stories. It was delightful to hear the story of our circuitous routes into the community and to rejoice in the wonderful work of God in each of our lives.
Mary and I will lead the morning session, and I look forward to the discussion afterwards.
Peace,
Amy

Friday, April 21, 2017

Celebrating Sisters

Celebrating Sisters was an online panel of the newer generations of sisters from around the country, sharing their best memories of religious life, their enthusiasm for religious life today and their hopes for religious life going forward. The recording will also be available after the live event.
What a joy to have the opportunity to reflect together about religious life. My life as a religious sister has given me incredible opportunities to grow in spirituality and in my relationship with God. I have had the opportunity to serve in various ministries and to receive so much from those that I serve. They really call me to a deeper and more authentic living of the Gospel. And finally, I've gotten to know so many wonderful sisters with whom I have shared prayer, community and ministry. They have inspired me, challenged me and supported me in so many ways.
I thank God that I have been called to sell all, give to the poor and to follow. And I thank God that I have received the promised hundred-fold in return.


Friday, March 24, 2017

Pray Like This....



Pray like this....
  • Our Father
    • My hope, my joy, my love
    • Our hope, our joy, our love,
    • God who dreamed us into life
  • Holy is your name
    • Praise, glory and honor....
  • Thy kingdom come
    • on earth,
    • in me, through me
    • in us, through us....
  • Thy will be done
    • on earth,
    • in me, through me
    • in us, through us
  • Give us today our daily bread
    • Gift us with life, with wholeness, with holiness
    • Today, this day, every day
  • Forgive us trespasses
    • We fail to live up to your standards, to our own standards
    • Forgive us
    • And give us the grace to forgive
      • others
      • those who do us wrong
      • forgive and reconcile us to be once again brothers and sisters.

Pray always.
Pray alone and in groups.
Pray with and without words.
Pray.



Friday, March 17, 2017

Sisters and Sustainability

--by Christina Cappeci

The old farmers used to say you should leave a field better than you found it. Sometimes that called for heavy lifting. Other times it just meant picking up a rock as you crossed and placing it at the field’s edge.

That counsel stuck with Amy Hereford, who grew up on a 10-acre Missouri farm where sheep roamed and blackberries grew wild. She planted whatever vegetable seemed to be lacking.... Read more...

Friday, March 3, 2017

Celebrating Sisterhood

Join us!
I was chatting with our Sisters 2.0 group about the possibility of hosting a public conversation about religious life as we experience it. We talked about the unique perspective of younger women religious, which includes those now in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s. We have lived our entire religious life after that massive waves that entered in the 1940s-60s. We also lived our entire religious lives after Vatican II and after the renewal. We have always been few in number and have struggled to find our place in our communities with the overwhelming majority of sisters that are 20-50 years older than we are.
Help for the project comes from
an NCSW grant
With all our sisters, we share community, we share life and spirituality, and we share a mission as wide as the world and as far-reaching as the gospel. Yet our experience and our culture are very different. Our experience of religious life and our hopes for the future are shaped by these differences as well as our shared reality.
We decided to invite some of our members into the conversation which we will host online on March 8, 2017 at 7pm Central, the first day of National Catholic Sisters Week. We are grateful for a grant from NCSW to help promote this project.
Our IT department will provide
technical support
On March 8, we will host an online panel of the newer generations of sisters from around the country, sharing their best memories of religious life, their enthusiasm for religious life today and their hopes for religious life going forward. The recording will also be available after the live event.
I have the privilege of moderating our conversation. I'm working with my community's IT people to ensure that the technology works for us.
Our panelists will be:

  • Sr. Michelle Stachowiak, a Felician Sister for almost 29 years. She has served as a teacher and physical therapist, and has worked with the homeless and served in leadership in her own community.  Currently from Pittsburgh, she has lived and ministered in many parts of the US.
  • Sr. Ann Mare Paul, a Sister of Christian Charity. She too has served as a teacher, teaching theology at the high school and theology levels. Currently, she brings hope through her ministry in a Neighborhood center in one of the poorest cities of New Jersey.
  • Sr. María de Lourdes López Munguía, a Franciscan Missionary of Mary. She ministers as a psychologist and has served indigenous peoples, the incarcerated, victims of domestic violence and those struggling with drug addiction.  

To find out more about the program and to register, click here.

Peace,
Amy

Friday, February 17, 2017

Sisters Supporting Sustainability

Praying Mantis overwintering
beneficial insect
We received a grant from National Catholic Sisters week for a project entitled Sisters Supporting Sustainability. Sisters will work with a local ecovillage to enhance sustainability in the neighborhood and region by planting Missouri native plants, enhancing pollinator habitat, increasing soil fertility and augmenting rainwater management.
We will hold a potluck event on March 9 to publicize the project and the involvement of Sisters and ecovillagers. Publicity before and after the event will draw attention to the active involvement of Sisters in life at the margins, and particularly today, our involvement in environmental sustainability projects both local and national.
American Hazelnut
Flowering in February
Little red flowers are female
Long tan part is the male flower
I thought it might be nice to have a few blog posts to highlight different aspects of the gardens and the enhancements that we are making with the assistance of the grant funding. The photos this week focus on some of the work that is already underway and what nature  is doing all around us in mid February. On the right side, I have two photos of some Praying Mantis egg cases that I found around the garden while working on various projects. The Praying Mantis eats lots of other bugs, so it is a sign that there is a lot of life and diversity in the area.
Another species of Praying Mantis
Overwintering
On the right, there is an image of the Hazelnut in bloom. It blooms in later winter, just after the Witch Hazel. It is a native plant that provides habitat for native bugs and birds. And each of those tiny red flowers that gets pollinated will produce a delicious hazelnut in the fall. I'll have to work fast to get them before the squirrels do.

Elderberry starting to leaf out.
Our weather is definitely on the warm side. We have had some very cold days, but most of February has seen above average temperatures. On the one hand, its great because we can start planting veggies. but this is also problematic for a few reasons. First, gardeners all know that our climate is changing. Plants are blooming sooner, plants what we couldn't grow in this zone are now grown here, and other plants that we used to be able to grow are not doing so well. For example, Apples need a certain amount of cold weather. If it gets much warmer, we won't be able to grow them here. And second, we may still see killing frosts after the bushes and trees have bloomed. This could damage the plants and crops.
Wildflower Nursery - each pot is seeded with a different species
Packera obovata - a shade loving ground cover
that stays green all winder
The Elderberry is already beginning to leaf out - it won't bloom for a few months though. And on the right here, you can see the wildflower nursery. The seeds are collected locally, or obtained from a native wildflower nursery. Most native plant seeds fall to the ground in the wild and stay there all winter; they need that period of cold weather to break dormancy. So let's do as nature does and plant them outside in the winter and then get ready for them to pop up in the spring. The chicken wire is to keep the curious squirrels from digging out the pots to see if there might be something yummy hidden at the bottom. 
The Packera obovata stays a lovely green all winter long. It makes a great ground cover for a shady area and in another month, it will send up a flurry of little yellow flowers. 
Wildflower mix seeded
The scruffy area below is seeded with a wildflower mix. Growing a prairie patch from seed is a multi-year process. Last year was spent 'solarizing' this area to remove all the weeds. Most of the wildflower mix was seeded a few weeks ago. There are a few wildflower and all the native grasses that do better if they are seeded a little bit later. This year we are just hoping for some sprouts, and next year, maybe some flowers.
Pruning cut on the pear tree
One of the spring projects is pruning the trees and bushes. Some of this is done for the health of the plant, some is done for aesthetics, some is done to increase fruit production. My brother is a master pruner, so I asked him to come over and prune, and to let me know what he was doing. Things look a lot better now and I learned a lot about how and why to make each cut. Thanks Chris!
The next few shots are a few things that are starting to green up. Ratibida pinnata is a summer coneflower that I planted last year. It just sprouted, but did not flower. It is already up this year, and hopefully, it will flower!!




Then there is Rhubarb - one of the great spring harvests. This comes back every year and slowly spreads. This plant started as a tiny leftover from a plant sale. After a few years, it looks like it is ready to burst out of the ground and we should have a good harvest!





The next few shots are of a low tunnel where I have planted a few spring veggies: turnips, radishes, carrots, spinach, lettuce, chard and various other greens. I'm not a big fan of the brassicas because we get a lot of cabbage worms. Maybe I should do a few though.
Low tunnel for early spring veggies



In any case, I've made this small tunnel about 4'x5'. It is really simple to make - I have done this in the past, but I think it is sturdier that my past efforts. Most of the materials I had around the garden. I also got some floating-row-cover. It helps to retain heat near the plants, it is permeable, so it lets air in and out and lets the sun shine in to the sprouts. I have tried this with plastic, but it is hard to keep it covered in a wind storm. So I'm hoping this will be more successful.
Low tunnel
And finally, we have a photo of the Wild Sweet William peeking through the leaf cover. I've left leaves on the ground around the plants to protect them and to provide habitat for the little critters to overwinter. Many of our native insects need a little leaf and plant debris in order to survive the winter. The plants also appreciate a little protection from the harsher weather. And flower heads provide a natural bird feeder for all our feathered friends.
By spring, a lot of these leaves and debris have broken down. I'll clear them away a little to let the new plants get going, then tuck them under the plants for a layer of mulch that will continue to break down and nourish the flora and fauna.
So that's what's happening now. Stay tuned for more developments over the coming weeks as the time of our potluck approaches.
--Amy

Wild Sweet William