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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.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, ev’ry where you go…

By Sister Ann Carmen Barone, OSF

And we don’t have to go far from home to get caught up in the preparation.  Mother Adelaide certainly knew how to deck the halls with boughs of holly and saw in these touches of beauty ways to make us grateful to God as St. Francis was. Her fingers were always busy creating lovely things and calling attention to the little ornaments made by the sisters for the “old” chapel.  Could we imitate the simple ornaments of white and metallic substances that gave back by reflecting fully and truthfully?  They didn’t absorb light but enhanced what they reflected. 

Christmas wreaths and the garlands in the chapel added beauty and offered another lesson.  Mother Adelaide pointed out the separate leaves and berries, shining white leaves, silver and gold berries, materials of different textures, some soft and mellow, others bright and sparkling, and many glistening white.  Mother imagined them saying to the Creator, “Make us up into anything you like; we’ll reflect back every ray of light you throw upon us; we are glistening white and shining silver.  We’ll give you back in beauty all the effort you’ve put in; we’ll reflect and show truly every ray of light and every shade of color that is turned upon us.”

Gratitude to God flows into gratitude for the goodness and generosity of others.  As a novice we took turns each month with different responsibilities on campus.  Sister Magdala and I were assigned to work in the kitchen during December with Sister Armella, Sister Justin, Sister Gabrielle and Sister Rita.  We were very good at fetching utensils, holding pans, finding hidden treasures in the walk-in and shifting trays in and out of ovens. 

But the special treat for December was working with Sister Armella in the basement of St. Joe’s as she made Christmas wreaths for our benefactors.  She was a wonder to watch sorting through the greens, the cones, the collection of ribbons and special ornaments.  I don’t know if either of us was much help but I met another Sylvania Franciscan artist whose hands lovingly shaped our thanks to our many partners in mission. 

No one could call out, “Novices” and get the speedy response Sister Armella did.  No one else ran interference for us when we created a disaster or ruffled a professed sister’s feathers.  Years later, I learned that Sister Armella read every word of the newspaper and anything else she could get her hands on.  And when she met a new friend she never failed to sing the praises of Lourdes and life as a Sister of St. Francis. 

Her smile reflected the fullness of God’s love and the truth of her dedication. And whether it was Sister Justin, who helped keep the kitchen running; Sister Gabrielle, whose baked coffee cake was our Sunday treat; or Sister Rita, who brought African Violets to life; together, they all modeled what it meant to be a Franciscan family.  They were the wreaths that surrounded our lives with the evergreens of love.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, soon the bells will start. 
And the thing that will make them ring is the carol that you sing right within your heart.

May the carol you sing be one of gratitude for the beauty within and around you.  And may you be a true reflection of the Babe of Bethlehem who came as a messenger of peace and a seeker of justice.

  1. Re: Episode Two Recap: Lifetime Series - "The Sisterhood: Becoming Nuns"

    In this episode, I felt that the women's youth and emotional outbursts were really on display. I kep

    --Sr Judy Zielinski

  2. Re: Lifetime Launches Sisters Reality TV Show

    Sr. Judy, I so appreciate your perspective. I watched about 1/2 the show and decided to go to bed! T

    --Sr. Sharon Derivan

  3. Re: Good News

    Sr. Nancy, you are not alone. I am constantly trying to center myself. I rely on prayer, the sacrame

    --Jim B

  4. Re: The Stigma of Mental Illness

    Dear Karen, Thank you for sharing your reflection on depression in your blog. Beautifully, insightfu

    --Eileen Ripsin

  5. Re: The Blank Check

    Great reflective piece and calming to read at the end of the day, as we gather the energy to be like


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 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.

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Sister Karen Zielinski
Health and Spirituality 

Karen J. Zielinski, OSF, is a Sylvania Franciscan who has lived with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) since 1975.  She writes, speaks and consults regularly on issues relating to spirituality and health. Her recent book, Hope and Help for Living with Illness (Franciscan Media) discusses chronic disease and coping strategies and is addressed to both caregivers and patients.  Karen also writes a blog on spirituality and wellness--Soul Sister-- for the National MS Society website.

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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.  

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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