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.