Volume 8.09 | May 11, 2020
In this Issue:

Alternative Ministry during COVID-19

A life dedicated to prayer, health care, and chuckles

Celebrate the Fifth Anniversary of Laudato Si

"Some Keep the Sabbath Going to Church"

In Memory

Alternative Ministry Options During the COVID-19 Crisis
By: Pat Sheeran OSF
When I Googled favorite quotes from St Francis, one seemed especially relevant to the challenges of our present reality. Francis said, " a single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows". During these days of social distancing and sheltering in place, I have found that there are many ways to "reach out and touch someone". In this article, I would like to share some of the ways that I have engaged in the ministry of presence during this difficult time.

1) Essential Errands. I have made exercising "an attitude of gratitude" a priority toward all the essential personnel that I meet along the way. I thank them for working and being there to provide the essential services we all need in this time of crisis. Encounters with people in drive throughs, grocery and convenience stores, the laundromat, sanitation workers, Post Office workers and pharmacy workers can all be opportunities to thank these people who are putting themselves at risk by working during this pandemic.

2) Phone Ministry. When I talk with someone on the phone these days, I leave the time frame open-ended. Yesterday, I returned a call from a very active 85-year-old woman who was finding the pandemic isolation both lonely and boring and we talked for an hour. Last week, I called the wife of one of our Secular Franciscans whose husband had recently died in the hospital of a Covid-19 infection. She shared that the hardest part of it all was not being able to visit or say goodbye to him.

During this past week, I received a call informing me that my Mother's best friend who is 100-years-old in a local nursing home had contracted the virus. I called her but she was very weak so we did not talk long. When I called a friend who lives a distance from me who is on oxygen 24/7 for a chronic lung condition, we talked for two hours.

3) Facebook. This is another avenue for ministry especially at this time. When health care workers on the front lines share their experiences, I thank them for their service. I also share that I pray each day for their well-being and safety to lift up their spirits.

I have also found that Facebook can be a vehicle for evangelization by posting online opportunities for Mass, other spiritual events and resources, as well as prayers and reflections.

Another opportunity afforded by Facebook is being an advocate for some of the current issues that face us each day. There are many opportunities to stand up and vote for positive outcomes in such areas as: care of Mother Earth, endangered animal species, dreamers and immigrants as well as other issues.

As Franciscans during this time of great crisis, we can bring the gift of our presence in so many ways. We can be a blessing in the lives of so many who are suffering and offer them encouragement. We can indeed be the single sunbeam that drives away the many shadows present amid the Covid-19 crisis.
A life dedicated to prayer, health care, and chuckles
By: Peter G. Sanchez, Catholic Star Herald . Reprinted with permission.
Hair, sunglasses, slacks and socks — all bright red.

A nurse’s scrub top bursting with colored hearts.

A pocket full of finger puppets and a jar of bubble solution.

These are in the “medical kit” that Sister Patricia Sheeran, OSF, dressed as the clown named “Nurse HeartBlessing,” has been carrying with her for almost 20 years to sick adults and children throughout South Jersey.

In her 60 years as a professed Franciscan Sister of Allegany, and more recent time as a member of the New Jersey-based “Kapo’s Gang” Clown Club, she has proved that smiles, laughter and a few “humor-rhoids” are good for what ails the body and soul.

The Atlantic City-born Sister Patricia, a graduate of Sacred Heart Elementary School (Mount Ephraim) and Camden Catholic High School (Cherry Hill), has a background in nursing, pediatric healthcare and education dating back to 1961, when she became a professed sister.

In her early years as a Franciscan, while teaching pediatric nursing at the Junior College of Albany, N.Y., she would take the students, her guitar, and very sick kids to the playroom each evening, for sing-a-longs “to entertain and cheer the children up.”

“We were a blessing to them, and brought joy to sad experiences,” she says.

Along with singing and music, Sister Patricia would provoke smiles with finger puppets and soapy bubbles.
Amidst the pain and suffering she and her students witnessed everyday, she would constantly tell her students that “it’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness.”

In 2001, she began a 10-week “Clown Course” at Cooper Medical Center in Camden, and soon took on the persona of “Nurse HeartBlessing,” a cheery, kind and brightly dressed clown with good medicine.
As a member of the group “Kapo’s Gang,” she and 20 other clowns perform charity work throughout South Jersey, entertaining all ages. In February, she was part of the attraction for Voorhees’ Walk for Homeless, along with two others from Kapo’s Gang.

“Three children were just glued to me the whole time, watching me blow bubbles,” she laughs.
In the current shutdown necessitated by COVID-19, her clown group has been unable to perform, but Sister Patricia expressed eagerness to get back to providing smiles, when able.

She sees her work these past 60 years as a sister, nurse and clown as all one part of a greater mission.
“One of the charisms of the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany is joy, and Saint Francis was a troubadour for the Lord — he went out to where God sent him with his whole heart, and was playful; he had a unique way of being.”

“I thank God for letting me participate in his healing ministry; I can extend the same compassion that Jesus did.”
Webinar to Celebrate the Fifth Anniversary of Laudato Si
Franciscan Action Network (FAN) is proud to announce their upcoming webinar for the Fifth Anniversary celebration of Laudato Si' on Tuesday, May 19 at 3 p.m. ET / 12 p.m. PT.
Laudato Si, the environmental encyclical of Pope Francis, calls on all of us to take up our moral responsibility to defend, nurture, and care for all Creation. This responsibility extends to the people in poverty disproportionately affected by man-made warming of the climate system. It is a powerful call to remember that Creation in all its glory belongs not to us, but to God – and that we are merely caretakers of the Creator’s garden. Presenting this webinar will be FAN’s Executive Director, Stephen Schneck.
Steve will speak about the Franciscan inspiration that informs the encyclical and how it resonates in a special way with Franciscan hearts. Laudato Si’ -- “Praise to you” -- are the words of our patron, St. Francis of Assisi, as he prayed over and over again in his poignant "Canticle of the Creatures." The Canticle praises God through Sister Moon, Brother Wind, Sister Water, and Mother Earth. A compelling theology of action emerges from this inspiration. Franciscan “Action” Network draws much from this theology.
Celebrate this powerful encyclical with us! Mark your calendar and join us on Tuesday, May 19 at 3 p.m. ET / 12 p.m. PT. You must register to join the Zoom webinar. This presentation will also be Live Streamed on the FAN Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/franciscanactionnetwork/ .
Some Keep the Sabbath Going to Church
By: Emily Dickinson
Submitted by Kathie Uhler OSF, in response to COVID-19

Some keep the Sabbath going to church;
I keep it staying at home, 
With a bobolink for a chorister,
And an orchard for a dome.
Some keep the Sabbath in surplice;
I just wear my wings,
And instead of tolling the bell for church
Our little sexton sings. 
God preaches, -- a noted clergyman, --
And the sermon is never long;
So instead of getting to heaven at last,
I'm going all along!
In Memory
Sister Clare Marie Figueroa
Date of Birth: February 23, 1928
Entered Eternal Life: April 29, 2020
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, no eulogy is currently available