Duplicate Page
Export Template
Import Template
Visibility:     Module:   
Add Module To Page

Follow Sylvania Franciscans as they blog about living their mission of joyful service to all people. Each week you can read a new entry from the personal journal of a Sister and how she applies Franciscan values to her ministry and the impact they have on the community where she lives. If you like what you read, comment back. We’re always looking for a good conversation.

‘Gladdening our Hearts’ Texas Style

By Sister Lois Anne Palkert, OSF
Since moving to Texas, I have learned many things about the Lone Star State.  Texas claims bragging rights to their bluebonnets, Blue Bell ice cream, and barbeque.  They are fifth in the nation in both wine production and consumption.  My latest discovery includes the history and traditions around the harvesting of grapes

Each weekend in August, the Messina Hof winery near Bryan, Texas invites the public to gather and stomp grapes, enjoy wine tasting classes and dine on the Vineyard Cuisine.  

The fun begins with an introduction by the CEO/Winemaker Paul Bonarrigo (a former employee of St Joseph Regional Health Center).  Guests then walk through the vineyard to pick some of the grapes used to make one of Messina Hof’s award winning wines.  The group is then led to the crush pad where the stomping begins. They “sign” their souvenir t-shirt with purple stomping feet... 

The first weekend of the harvest Festival includes the blessing of the grapes.  For the past 15 years Monsignor John Malinowski, chaplain at St Joseph Hospital in Bryan, has blessed the grapes, remembering the special place of honor held by grapes in the Old Testament.  As the “first fruits” of the harvest, they were offered to God. 

In the Armenian Church grape are given preference over other fruits to be blessed as the first fruit of the harvest, conditioned by a number of historical and religious circumstances.  In Genesis 9:20 we read that, after the devastating flood, Noah planted a vineyard in the valley of the slopes of Mt Ararat. The fruit of the vineyard became the decoration of the Araratian valley…It was considered to be the noblest fruit and was called the KING OF THE FRUIT.  

In the 1600s Spanish missionaries brought grape vines to Texas, but it was not until the 19th and 20th century that winemaking began to grow.  Now, in Texas, winegrowers want wine to be fun, exemplifying Texas’ reputation for being friendly, approachable and easygoing.  Winemakers extend the invitation to not only taste great wine, but also to be part of the conversation that surrounds it.  And they claim that you do not need to know about wines to enjoy them.  

So we are grateful to Mother Earth who has generously provided us with such a treasured gift.  And with Francis we pray: “Praised be you, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us and who produces varied fruits with colored flowers and herbs” (and grapes that produce the wine that “gladdens our hearts” (Psalm 104:14).

  1. Re: The Waiting Game

    Great idea, Karen! That really puts things in perspective!


  2. Re: God Gave Me You

    I use to listen to country music a lot not so much because it is my favorite genre but because it wa


  3. Re: In Memory of Values and Traditions

    Great reflection on the values instilled by our parents!

    --Nancy Alice

  4. Re: Six Challenging Words

    Thanks, Pam, for a reflection that's both very challenging and down-to-Earth at the same time! If we

    --Sharon Havelak, osf

  5. Re: Freedom from Fear

    If we were unable to fear we would not survive as a creation of the Father very long. We would walk


Meet the Sylvania Franciscan bloggers. We invite you to join us helping the Christian community commit themselves to works that reverence human dignity, embrace the poor and marginalized, and respect the gift of all creation.

Sister Lois Anne Palkert
Health and Human Services

Sister Lois Anne has had the opportunity to serve in a variety of ministries, initially as a teacher in Detroit and Toledo.  She transferred her teaching skills into formation ministry in Sylvania, then to Lourdes College where she was Director of the Lifelong Learning.  She then moved into parish ministry and served as a Director of Faith Formation and as a Pastoral Associate in two rural parishes in Minnesota.    From education she transferred to healthcare ministry and currently serves as the Director of Mission Services at St Joseph Regional Health Center in Bryan, Texas.

Read all posts

Sister Julie Myers
Religious Vocations

Why did you come to religious life….why do you stay?  As Vocation Minister for the Sisters of St Francis, Sister Julie addresses these simple questions that hold deep meaning and more in her blogging and in her monthly “Letter from the Vocation Minister” found on the Vocation link of the Sister’s Website.  We are all called by God to be our best selves and to serve God in ways far beyond our imagining.  Sister Julie has lived her calling as a Franciscan through the ministries of Vocation Minister, Physical Therapist Assistant, and as Sacristan for the Motherhouse Chapel.

Read all posts

Sister Nancy Surma
Health and Human Services

Sister Nancy is a native of Detroit and was taught in grade school by the Sylvania Franciscans. Her early years were spent teaching and administering at the junior high and high school level. Life took a turn, as it so often does, and she served as administrator in four different Catholic colleges and universities, earning a doctorate in higher education administration along the way. She currently works for Sylvania Franciscan Health, the Sisters’ sponsored health and human service ministry, in the world of mission integration. Sr. Nancy lives with three other Sisters in a house that is filled with laughter and love.

Read all posts

Sister Ann Carmen Barone

As Vice President for Mission and Ministry, Sister Ann Carmen Barone is responsible for developing consciousness of the Franciscan mission and for ensuring its implementation and integration into the community of Lourdes. Sister Ann Carmen also supports the other Vice Presidents and the President in their mission-related activities.

Read all posts

Sister Karen Zielinski
Health and Spirituality 

Sister Karen J. Zielinski, OSF was director of communications for the Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania, OH from 1991 to 2008.  She is now director of Canticle Studio, a creative office of products which focus on spirituality and health.  She lectures on chronic disease and coping strategies and has lived with multiple sclerosis (MS) since 1975.  She lectures on the spirituality of disability, women's prayer, and topics of wholeness. Most recently, Sister Karen authored Hope and Help for Living With Illness a book on dealing with sickness and disability. The book is available on Amazon.

Read all posts

Sister Nancy Linenkugel
Franciscan in the Marketplace

Sister Nancy Linenkugel has served in healthcare administration, education and leadership for the Sylvania Franciscans.  She is an accomplished cello player and a member of the Washington D.C.-based Medical Music Group, made up of doctors, nurses and medical professionals from around the country.  Sister Nancy is currently the chair of the department of health service administration and director of the graduate program in health services administration at Xavier University in Cincinnati.  She has served on the Sylvania Franciscan Leadership Team, was president of Chatfield College in Cincinnati, president and CEO of the Providence Health System and Providence Hospital in Sandusky, Ohio, and vice president of St. John Medical Center in Steubenville, Ohio.  

Read all posts

Sister Sharon Havelak
Justice and Peace

Sister Sharon is an artist, educator and long-time peace activist, who currently oversees All Good Things, a store/gallery/gift shop featuring art by the Sisters, handmade soaps and lotions, and Fair Trade products.* She also serves as the coordinator of the Sylvania Franciscan’s Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation efforts, and teaches art history at Lourdes University. She keeps her creative juices flowing by painting on silk scarves.
* All Good Things gallery is located in our Sylvania Franciscan Village and many of the items are sold on our website.

Read all posts

Sister Pam Nosbusch
Hospice Chaplain

Sister Pam is native of Hopkinsville, Kentucky.  She is a Chaplain with Gentiva Hospice in Nashville, Tennessee and is a Board Certified Chaplain with the National Association of Catholic Chaplains.  Previous ministries include Theater Arts and Music Education and Pastoral Associate in Catholic parishes.

Read all posts

Patrick Mills
Spiritual Enrichment

Pat is a husband and father living in Sylvania, Ohio. He has worked many years for Owens Corning in Toledo and elsewhere. He leads programs there for recruiting and developing talent early in their career, primarily for engineering and operations. As Pat and his family moved around the country, he has been blessed to fellowship in Cursillo, Christ Renews His Parish, bible studies and liturgical music ministry. He presently serves on the Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania Associate Advisory Board, Chairs the Associate Spiritual Enrichment Committee and is a member of the Expansion Committee for Feed Lucas County Children. Pat is a pilgrim on the journey.

Read all posts

Sister Nancy Ferguson

Sister Nancy has been involved with various ministries from elementary teacher, vocation ministry, parish ministry and as a houseparent in a children’s home.  She was recently invited to be part of the Sylvania Franciscan sponsored healthcare ministry and is presently, the Director of Mission Integration at Trinity Health System in Steubenville, Ohio.

Read all posts