31 December 2011

Wishes for the New Year

We Georgetown Visitation sisters wish our friends God's choicest blessings for the new year 2012. We place each one in prayer under the protection of Holy Mother Mary on this solemnity in Her honor, January 1st!
A Visitation Sister winds all three of our grandfather clocks in preparation for December 31.

29 December 2011

Another sisters' life from the archives: Mary Bernardina McNantz (Part I)

Part I of II
Mary Bernardina McNantz was the birth sister to two others in the community, Isidora and Mary Leonard McNantz. Bernardina was the oldest of the three and only nine when she entered our school. She had a cheerful disposition and was inclined to be fond of the world, but the good example of her sister Isidora helped her turn away from vanity and apply herself earnestly to the practice of virtue. She was bright and took delight in her studies. She did have a rather quick temper, but she endeavored to subdue and overcome it.

Leonard Neale received Bernardina to the habit on August 15, 1817, the feast of the glorious Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, and the same day as her classmate, Susan Angela Boarman (see previous biography); she was fifteen years old. Bernardina was a fervent and exact Novice, to the point where at first she was a bit scrupulous, a problematic characteristic that can sometimes accompany a purity of conscience as great as hers. She improved through prudent care and attention to the instruction of her Director, Mother Harriet Agnes Brent, for whom she had great affection and to whom she opened her heart with simplicity and candor. She punctually took Mother’s advice, and although she sometimes warred within herself to overcome a tendency to judge others, she performed faithfully and became an example of docility and submission to all the Novices.

She made her holy profession the next year on August 21, 1818, the Feast of our holy foundress and Mother, along with Sister Susan Angela Boarman, whom she survived by only one month. Because of weak health she could not finish the second year of her Novitiate, and she sometimes lamented this, for she had an excellent mind and many abilities, and she would have rendered considerable service to religion if her health had not intervened. God, however, took care to purify her with many interior trials, which he used to supplement any deficiency in the exterior trials of the Novitiate which would have been too much for her. She also had a natural sensibility to practice interior self-denial. Bernardina was quite pretty; our physician Dr. Beaty, when called in to consult about her health, saw the floridness of her complexion and said “It was a pity such a beauty should be hidden in a monastery.”

Because of her active, bright mind, she had a great desire to read and know all the books of our order, and to imbibe the true Spirit of the Visitation. These books, however, were nearly all in French, so Father Clorivière agreed to teach the language to some of the sisters, including her.  She applied herself, and in a short time she translated our small books of customs and part of the responses of our holy Mother to them, but unfortunately for us she was forced to stop. Not only did she have a talent for languages, but also for drawing, painting, writing, and embroidery. She left us a memorial of her industry in her embroidery of a fine vestment, which she finished on the eve of her last illness, October 30, 1821. This vestment eventually served in the dedication of our church, which took place on the first day of November, the Feast of All Saints that same year, but unfortunately this poor sister could not attend. It seemed a great pity since she had worked so hard on it, but God had other views unknown to the community.

She had long prayed to be preserved until the age when she would be able to inherit her estate for the benefit of the community, but now that seemed impossible, although the sisters were only concerned about her health. She had been threatened with consumption (tuberculosis) all of her life, and two years prior to this she had a persistent cough that Dr. Beaty first attributed to a “bilious fever,” meaning a fever accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Her behavior became erratic: “Some thought her crazy! Others that she was possessed of a devil! Some were even for having her exorcised!” Instead of any of this, however, the community joined in prayer for her.

27 December 2011

More photos from Advent

Keeping with a longstanding tradition, several students and alumnae joined the Sisters in the Neale parlor for a rousing hour of Christmas carol singing and a few refreshments as school dismissed for the Christmas vacation. Alumnae Patricia Lawless '05, Colette Young '07 and their parents, John & Barbara Lawless and Robert Young and Ginny Lum, organized and led this year's festivities. Old favorites such as "Silent Night" and "O Come All Ye Faithful" were interspersed with lively renditions of "The 12 Days of Christmas" and "Jingle Bells" making for a perfect blend of both the spiritual and the joyous emotions that this beautiful time of year arouses.

24 December 2011

Christmas Joy and Greetings

We sisters wish you a Blessed Christmas Season!
May the Divine Infant Jesus bless and protect you!

In the joy of Our Incarnate Lord,

Your Visitation Sisters of Georgetown

Some Holy Trinity students caroling for a few of our sisters, 12/2011

19 December 2011

Grandparents' Day

Mother Jackie smiles with a grandmother and granddaughter at the reception following our Grandparents' Day Service of Lessons and Carols on Monday, December 12. This annual event gives grandparents a chance to glimpse their granddaughters' school and sample a bit of what makes Visitation so special.

The service opens with a welcome from President Emerita Sr. Mary Berchmans, and it features performances by Visitation's Dance Ensemble, Irish Dance Club, Chorus and Madrigals. There are readings, and of course a recounting of the birth of the infant Jesus from the Gospel of Luke. Remarks by a grandparent and Head of School Dan Kerns close the service.

The Nolan Center is always packed with grandparents who are delighted with the event. Afterward, everyone adjourns to the parlors in Founders Hall for refreshments. Many also relish the chance to touch base with the Sisters who are always special guests on this special day.

15 December 2011

Vespers With the Sisters

We have hosted this event for a few years as a way of thanking major donors and other members of our community for their generosity and support during the previous year. It has become hugely popular, and attendees always remark on what a gift  it is--both the spiritual component (Vespers) and the chance to visit with Sisters and others in the community. It's a wonderful start to the holidays; a time to step back, pause, reflect and reconnect with the reasons for the season: faith, friends and family.

04 December 2011

Sr. Mary Roberta loves this version of "Stand By Me"

Another archive installment: Susan Angela Boarman

Susan Angela Boarman was born in Kentucky to a Catholic family on May 20, 1801. Her parents normally lived in Maryland, but they had gone to Kentucky to settle some family affairs. After they returned to Maryland, Angela’s mother died. When Angela was 10 years old her father brought both her and her sister Mary Ann, who became Sister Benedict Joseph, to our academy to be educated.

Angela was inclined to vanity, but through the good example of some of her companions and the pious discourse of Mother Ann Catherine Rigden, to whom she was much attached, she gradually turned her heart to piety and decided she would “dedicate her heart to God in the religious state.” She had the happiness of having Leonard Neale as her Director, and when she was 15 he admitted her to the habit of our order on August 15, 1816, the feast of the Glorious Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, to whom this dear sister had a tender devotion.  She showed much fervor, joined with a great simplicity, and applied herself earnestly to subdue the nature within her and to be perfect in obedience. In 1817 she made her religious profession on the feast of our Holy Mother, St. Jane de Chantal. She did this together with our dear sister Mary Bernardina McNantz, who died about a month after Angela did.

Angela had a charitable heart, and was always mindful of the needs of others. Ever compassionate toward the sick, she would often deprive herself of her own rest for their relief. She even risked her health, especially during the illness of Mother Ann Catherine Rigden, where she paid assiduous and almost uninterrupted attention to Mother’s needs. She began to waste away, and in a few months she developed “consumption” (tuberculosis). She met her illness with courage and proof of her charity, for as weak as she was, she rose every morning with the community to assist at the hour’s meditation, attend the choir, and follow the community in everything.  No one could convince her to relax in the slightest way from her accustomed duties, and she would not accept any nourishment beyond what was given to the rest of the community.  Sometimes she was found in such a state that they thought she was dead, and though she increased in virtue, she decreased so much in strength that she finally yielded and allowed them to place her in the infirmary toward the end of November, 1821. Even so, she forced herself to be present at the meetings of the community as often as she could, but by the beginning of January, 1822, she was unable to leave the infirmary at all.

She was still charitable and attentive to all around her, and before anyone could put herself to the smallest inconvenience Angela would anticipate the impulse and stop her. For example, it was terribly cold on the nights prior to her death, and Angela would ask quite pointedly if the attending sisters had provided for themselves against the cold. She would not be content, even up to the very night of her death, until she was assured that they had taken care of themselves as she desired. Three months before her 21st birthday, “[s]he breathed forth her free soul into the hands of its maker with the peace and tranquility of an angel on the 11th day of January, 1822, having enjoyed her perfect presence of mind to the very last gasp.” She held the rank of choir sister, and had served the community in the offices of Sacristan Vigilant, and Assistant at the school.

28 November 2011

Sr. Mary Raphael receives a birthday greeting from Willard Scott

The Today Show's Willard Scott regularly notes the birthdays of people who have passed the milestone of 100. Last Wednesday he mentioned Sr. Mary Raphael, who turned 101 on October 31. Enjoy the clip below, but sssssh, please don't say anything to Sister! (She wasn't too crazy about being mentioned on TV.) If you want to fast forward, she appears just after 2:15.

17 November 2011

Lives of the Visitation Sisters: Frances Xaviera McGuire, 1798-1823

Frances Xaviera McGuire was born in Ireland on August 17, 1798, and when she was young her family moved to Baltimore. She had an engaging disposition and that made her seem fit for the world rather than religious life, but God inspired her with contempt for follies and vanities, and a desire to consecrate herself irrevocably to His service. She originally thought about entering the Ursulines, but she was told in a dream that God was not calling her there, but instead to the Convent of the Visitation at Georgetown. She hadn’t even heard of it before this dream, and she didn’t want to act too precipitously, so she consulted with her spiritual director in Baltimore. He advised her to pray to God for light to make a proper choice before deciding anything. She also didn’t want to make her intention of retiring from the world public until she had fully determined her path, so she continued to dress gaily and she engaged in pleasantries with others. She still found her heart inclined to this house, however, so she petitioned to be admitted, and she entered toward the end of November, 1816. Her parents, especially her father, were remarkably fond of her, and they were about to move to St. Louis, so this would be a sacrifice for everyone, and she made hers with courage and generosity. In fact, generosity of mind was the most distinguishing feature of this dear sister’s character, and she gave many proofs of it during the short time God permitted her to remain.
Frances Xaviera began and finished her noviceship with much fervor, and then made her holy profession. That day her countenance and demeanor reflected the interior joy of her soul. She took great satisfaction in obliging others, and if it hadn’t been for her health she might have done much more. She was naturally industrious and ingenious, and she had a particular taste for adorning little images and relics. She was employed during some months as assistant to the mistress of Novices, and later as an aid with the boarding students, where she gained their hearts. Her last job was as a habit keeper, demonstrating through that service her sincere affection for all of her sisters.
In the spring of 1821 she had a severe attack of vomiting blood, followed by a second one in March of 1823. After the second episode she declined rapidly, and toward the end of July that same year, despite being a naturally active person, she had to confine herself to the infirmary where she was a very meek, affable, and grateful patient. Instead of complaining, she frequently said that too much care was taken of her (something we also heard in the earlier biography of Sister Margaret Louisa Beall). Frances Xaviera sometimes expressed a desire to die on the feast of her holy patron, St. Francis Xavier, but not unless God pleased. Instead, God called her three months earlier, on the feast of the glorious St. Augustine, “after having been fortified for that dangerous and awful passage from time to eternity, with all the last sacraments and helps of the holy Church and religion. She expired with much peace and composure, and preserved her perfect presence of mind to her last breath. May God grant us the grace to imitate her example.”

Parents Association Meeting

Sister Mada-anne Gell presents the sisters to our parents at the monthly meeting of our Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School Parents Association on Monday the 14th, and Mother Jacqueline prays as the meeting concludes.

08 November 2011

Esprit de Noel

Perfect fall weather blessed Visitation’s 41st annual Esprit de Noel this past weekend, drawing happy crowds of parents, students, alumnae, alumnae parents and friends to our festively bedecked campus. Co-chairs Lynda Jesukiewicz and Karen Mattheis masterfully led their second bazaar; Claire and Garner Bennet did a superb job with the car raffle, and Mary Lou McCormick and her committee filled the gym with a dazzling array of vendors selling something to tempt every shopper. Each of them was assisted by an army of volunteers who decorated, baked, gathered, arranged and transformed our campus into a shopping event. Esprit not only raises money for the school, but draws the entire community together as friends and alumnae return annually to mix, mingle, and introduce their families to the Sisters.

Special thanks go to the Mother Jackie, a tireless saleswoman who beguiled everyone with her smile. Thanks to her persistence, all 900 raffle tickets sold! Mother was also on hand to draw the winning ticket on Saturday afternoon, and Julie Cordell and her family emerged the excited winners of the sporty-red Mini Cooper. The real winners, however, were our students, since all proceeds from the bazaar benefit the school.

04 November 2011

Living Rosary!

One of our most inspiring and profoundly spiritual traditions is the LIVING ROSARY, a mother-daughter event that dates back many decades. This moving evening provides an opportunity for mothers and daughters to come together for a simple dinner after which they all, along with the Sisters, pray the rosary together by candlelight in the Quadrangle, forming the shape of the Rosary by standing along brick paths laid in that shape. This year about 100 students and mothers took part. After it rain most of the day, the weather cleared and they were blessed with a cool, but dry and crisp, fall evening last Wednesday.

31 October 2011

Sister Mary Raphael Speer – 101 on October 31, 2011!

Many might think that October 31 is a day reserved for ghosts, goblins and trick or treating, but the day is special for another reason. Today everyone in the Georgetown Visitation Monastery and Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School community celebrated with their dear Sister Mary Raphael Speer on her 101st birthday (although many of the celebrants wore costumes)! A large group of students and faculty lined the main hallway of Founders Hall to serenade Sister with a rousing version of Happy Brithday.  Elvis "the King" Presley (aka Head of School Dan Kerns) presented Sister with a large bouquet of roses which she accepted with a huge smile.

Sr. Raphael was born on Halloween in 1910 in a suburb of Pittsburgh, PA.   After taking her vows as a Sister of the Visitation of Holy Mary at the Order’s monastery in Parkersburg, WV, she spent many years as a math and English teacher, a librarian and a school administrator.  She was also the Mother Superior of the Visitation community in Parkersberg. When that monastery closed in the early 1990's, Sister Raphael chose to join the Georgetown Visitation monastery.  These days she keeps all of the other Sisters on their toes with her razor-sharp mind, ever-present wit and an interest in each of the sisters and the school’s 490 students.   Sr. Raphael loves geography and can often be found searching an atlas to locate a new country in Africa or determine the distance between two cities.  And at 101 she still enjoys a mean game of Parchesi during the Sisters’ periodic game nights.

Sister Raphael’s inquiring mind and broad range of interests have only increased with the passage of years. Her witty comments are a constant source of enjoyment for all who know her; she'll often ask a thought-provoking questions like, "I wonder how spaghetti got its name?"  Her presence is a tremendous gift to our entire community!

23 October 2011

Slowly getting the blog back in shape

The template for this blog mysteriously vanished, but thanks to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine it was possible to look at the previous template for this blog and copy it. Gradually this blog should look more like the one you're used to! The image at the top is now formatted, and some of the features at the left such as mass readings have returned. Changes may continue while I experiment with fonts and posting (getting rid of that white-against-blue post lettering, for example), but gradually it will come into shape. Thank you, readers, for so much encouragement!

Sr. Mary Baptista Klein, part two of a series

The stories about Sr. Mary Baptista Klein are legend. She was the English teacher who would give one of only three grades: C+, C, or “See me,” the yearbook moderator who sent at least one young editor to the hospital with gastric ulcers, the determined photographer who took and developed all the yearbook pictures, as well as the lovely scenes of the Visitation campus still given to students at Awards Night. Like her photos, Sister’s opinions often seemed black and white. At the same time, she proved herself a sensitive and devoted friend to many, many students, some of whom needed special understanding. She was endearing, challenging . . . and something of a tragic figure.

15 October 2011

St. Francis de Sales Leadership Society Dinner

These are photos of some of our sisters with alumnae and their families. They were taken at our annual St. Francis de Sales Leadership Society dinner Wednesday evening, October 12.
This is a dinner the Sisters and the school give to show appreciation and thanks to alumnae parents and friends who have been most generous to Visitation in the previous year.

Their support is crucial to both the school and the Sisters. (Although both our founders, St. Jane de Chantal and St. Francis de Sales, are often quoted as emphasizing the importance of giving little gifts with great love, leadership gifts are also important in order to support a school with 490 students on a 23-acre campus graced several buildings dating to the mid-19th century.)
The evening was to have begun with a cocktail hour in the Monastery Garden (a rare treat), but rain forced that part of the evening indoors. After enjoying appetizers and drinks in Founders Hall, the group moved to a lovely tented buffet dinner in the Quadrangle. With well-over 100 guests in attendance it was a festive evening emphasizing the blessings of faith and friendship.

13 October 2011

Sr. Mary Baptista Klein, a series to come

Many of us remember Sr. Mary Baptista Klein, aka “Bappie.” The stories about her are legend. In cooperation with the monastery archivist we will post some stories about her in the days to come as part of a little series. Meanwhile, here are two photos!

06 October 2011

A golden jubilee in autumn

Congratulations to Sister Mary Immaculata as she celebrates her 50th year of vows on October 3rd, 2011!

An in-school friendship leads to marriage

This cute photo is from the shower for two of our school employees, Uyo and Arjetta, who will soon be married. Congratulations to the happy couple!

The blogging gets better

I found an archive of this website, and am working to restore the nifty little features Blogger nixed in a blink. Soon this page will be back to its former, familiar look! More soon, plus news and photographs from the archives.

02 October 2011

Does anyone understand Blogger?

Blogger had a major update that we did not choose or want, and now this page looks completely different (new colors, new fonts). Also, certain elements of the Live+Jesus! blog are missing. If you are knowledgeable about Blogger and want to help, please post a comment here. Thank you.

Mother Jacqueline Says...

Here's another in a series of favorite quotes and sayings from Mother Jacqueline. Like the first in our series, this one comes from Holy Father, St. Francis de Sales: "During the course of the day you will find the eyes of Jesus turned towards you and constantly fixed on you with an incomparable Love."

28 September 2011

Did you say this is a fixer-upper?

The monastery bell tower, which dates to the early 19th century, is swaddled in scaffolding and drop cloths as it receives a fresh coat of paint and some routine maintenance. Some say it's the oldest original structure on the 23-acre school and Monastery campus. The picture was taken September 14 by Billie McSeveney.  The scaffolding and work should continue into the middle of October.

23 September 2011

Mother Jacqueline Says...

We're starting a new series of sayings that Mother Jacqueline particularly likes, or things she sometimes says. Here is a quote she often shares from Holy Father St. Francis de Sales: "Keep your heart full of courage and your courage full of confidence in God... in Jesus!"

22 September 2011

Sarah Richardson of Warrenton, Virginia, became a postulant on September 21, 2011. We pray for her perseverance in her call to follow Our Lord closely. God be praised!