• The Spark Within You

    Feb 17, 2015

    On Ash Wednesday, we must start with ashes.

    Ecclesiastes 3:20 speaks to this, when the author says of man and beast alike, “Both go the same place; both were made from the dust, and to the dust they both return”.  Our foreheads are marked with ashes, to humble our hearts and remind us that life passes away. These ashes are a symbol of penance, made sacramental by the blessing of the Church and they help us to develop a spirit of humility and sacrifice.

    Today, my thoughts go to my father, Billy Shelton, whose earthy body “returned to dust” three years ago.  A quiet godly man, I am certain he is with the Lord. A two time war veteran, perhaps his most impactful experience of ashes occurred seventy years ago. John Hershey, in his book, Hiroshima states, “On this day in 1945, at 8:16 a.m. Japanese time, an American B-29 bomber, the Enola Gay, drops the world's first atom bomb, over the city of Hiroshima. Approximately 80,000 people are killed as a direct result of the blast, and another 35,000 are injured. At least another 60,000 would be dead by the end of the year from the effects of the fallout. There were 90,000 buildings in Hiroshima before the bomb was dropped; only 28,000 remained after the bombing. Of the city's 200 doctors before the explosion; only 20 were left alive or capable of working. There were 1,780 nurses before—only 150 remained who were able to tend to the sick and dying.”

    Ashes were everywhere.

    My father was nineteen years old on that date. He was a U.S. Navy officer aboard the troop ship USS Menefee APA-202, as it pulled into the harbor a short time after the bomb was dropped. What he saw and experienced was indescribable.  So much so, that he could not bring himself to talk about it for fifty years. Dad and I had never been that close. I always had a strong respect for him. The father / son bond was something that I had always desired. He kept his emotions “closely within his chest”.

    I researched and purchased a replica of his troop ship and gave it to him on his 70th birthday. As I looked for his reaction, his smile was broad and knowing.

     A spark was kindled in his heart. His son wanted to know what was going on in his heart.  He spoke quietly, and I listened.

    He shared his hidden pain, the carnage that he witnessed. He felt a strong sense of “ownership” of the suffering that he witnessed.  From that evening on, a bond was created, forgiveness was accepted- I believe, between Bill and his Lord.

    That “spark of divine light within each of us” connected. A small fire was started between us, one that was life- giving. For the rest of his life on this earth, the affection that I sought from dad was there. We were reconciled.

  • Campus Ministry—Vision, Mission, and Goals

    Dec 24, 2014

    By Adam P. Setmeyer, Director of Campus Ministry

    As the new director of campus ministry in the fall of 2013, it quickly became apparent to me that campus ministry at Marian University needed a new mission and vision. While the department coordinated many fantastic programs, campus ministry lacked a cohesive set of goals. However, I did not want the mission simply to come from the staff who, locked away in a room, crafted something theologically beautiful, but, ultimately, only appealing to us. 

    Campus Ministry and St. FrancisTherefore, we worked with our campus ministry leadership team, a group of 12 student leaders, to reach out to students across campus while the campus ministry staff approached faculty and staff. In total, campus ministry logged over 70 hours of conversation, held town hall meetings in the residence halls, met with provost and deans, conducted an open forum for faculty and staff along with Sister Jean Marie Cleveland, met with all student affairs staff, and conducted an online survey which received over 200 responses.

    Reflecting on our data, the vision of campus ministry provided by the United States Catholic Bishops, and the best research available on young adults, we created the following set of statements:

    Through prayerful reflection on the life of Jesus, and in response to the mission and vision of Marian University, campus ministry uniquely lives out our Catholic identity and the Franciscan sponsorship values through our mission and vision.

    Mission: To walk humbly with others, as Jesus Christ is God walking with us, to respond to the Spirit, following the example of Mary, and to cultivate a community in which all may discover the fullness of life. 

    Vision (three years): To be a ministry to campus, through faith-filled leaders, that is known for its missionary character, rich worship, and education for justice. As a result, we believe Marian University will become a campus community where every individual may encounter our loving God, discover his or her calling, and claim a role in restoring all of creation.

    We believe this mission and vision is bold, and carries on the “courage to venture” of the Oldenburg Sisters. The statements are passionately Catholic, grounded in the Franciscan tradition, and present campus ministry as radically hospitable to all.
    Already the vision is affecting how we operate daily, and this can be seen in the new programs being created this semester.

    To name only a few, campus ministry held a fall break Indy Urban Plunge to explore issues of poverty, initiated a new student ministry team focused on the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and is starting a new Residential Peer Ministry Program.

  • Being a Sister of St. Francis

    Oct 02, 2014

    By: Sr. Jean Marie Cleveland, O.S.F.

    During my senior year in high school, I felt a call to religious life.  Since I attended Little Flower Elementary School and Scecina Memorial High School and they were each taught by Sisters from Oldenburg, I decided to join them.  I did not know any other Sisters and appreciated the care and concern I felt they had for each other and for us students.  Little things like laughter, teasing, joy, and care made an impression on me.  I knew that they cared for us because they showed us through their actions in the classroom, in the halls, and everywhere we met.

    At Oldenburg we learned stories about St Francis and St Clare.  Most of their works had not been translated into English so did not have the major documents.  The translations began to happen after Vatican II asked Religious to go back to their roots and learn from them.  Gradually we became more and more familiar with Francis and Clare.  For example:  we did not know the San Damiano Crucifix, which all at Marian should recognize because it is in so many places.  It was in the Convent adjacent to the Saint Clare basilica in Assisi and was not available to the public until one of the Popes asked that it be put into the basilica so that the world would know it.

    Today I know so much more than I did when I was a senior.  I have had the opportunity to visit Assisi for a pilgrimage.  I have attended workshops and done reading about Franciscan life.  I know that Francis and Clare centered their lives on Jesus Christ and His Gospel message.  Franciscans treasure The Crib, The Cross, and The Eucharist.  Conversion, Poverty, Contemplation, and Minority are key characteristics we strive to adopt in our lives.

    We Oldenburg Franciscans have always tried to respond to the needs of the times.  Mother Theresa Hackelmeier came to America at age 24 because she heard a call to come to a small village to teach young German immigrant children.  Gradually the Sisters responded to needs in other rural areas around Oldenburg.  We branched out to Cincinnati, Indianapolis, St Louis, and other cities.  Eventually we found ourselves in China, on the Crow, Cheyenne, and Navaho reservations and in Papua, New Guinea.  Several Sisters worked in South Korea and Africa.

    When the need arose, we trained Sisters to be social workers, counselors, pastoral workers, and nurses.  We ministered to prisoners and in inner city.  We taught teachers at Oldenburg beginning in 1851 and formed Marian College from St Francis Normal School and Immaculate Conception Junior College in 1936.  Marian College moved to Indianapolis in 1937 and located on the James Allison estate.  Today six Sisters are teachers or staff members at Marian.  Another seven Sisters serve on Marian’s Board of Trustees.

    When I became a Sister, there were not many careers which were open to women.  I chose to go to Oldenburg because I felt called to religious life and because I wanted to become a teacher.  I did not know that I would find a family which would be a support my whole life.  I did not know that I would teach with the teachers I had in school and would be the principal for some of them.  I did not know I would be a teacher, a principal, a pastoral associate, a parish life coordinator, a member of the leadership team for my community, involved in national organizations, and work at Marian.  I had no real idea that I would meet thousands of students and parishioners.  I did not know that I would grow to appreciate living in community and having friends of all ages.

    I had some idea of these things but did not realize what an impact they would have on my life.  I value the friends I have made in my life as a Sister of Saint Francis.  I thank God for a community with whom I can share prayer and dreams – sorrows and joys.  I thank God for each of you and how you impact my life today.

  • Crossroads: It Was Never Good Enough

    Sep 12, 2014

    By:  Kristin Hauser, Sophomore
    Given at Connections: A First Year Gathering (08.23.14)

    So, you know that “ah-ha!” moment that a lot of people have when they finally kind of “get” life? Well, mine happened in 8th grade just around the time I was about ready to be confirmed. Now, I’ll spare you the details because it’s kind of a weird story, but what’s actually important to know is the result of this conversion moment. Because, you see, after this point I was totally on fire for God. I can’t even explain it, but all I wanted was to be closer to Him and so that yearning that I had in me gave me such a heart for service. I wanted to work at every soup kitchen, feed every homeless person, and donate to every one of those commercials with the little kids that you see on TV. And honestly, I pretty much did. Throughout high school I managed to go on 11 different mission trips, racking up countless hours of service in my own community and all over the country.

    But here’s the thing: it was never good enough. No matter how much I served or did or tried to do, I could never do everything. I mean, nobody can. But that’s not what I told myself. Because I had it in my head that the way I proved I loved God was by doing (and succeeding) at the things I did for Him. Well, that didn’t work out so well because I’m human and so I mess up all the time. And every time I would try so hard to take that to the Lord in reconciliation and every time, I just kept making the same mistakes over and over again. I just kept failing over and over and over and I couldn’t figure out why until one day, I was reading in the book of Matthew. And in the gospel Jesus says that we’re supposed to love our neighbors as ourselves. And I’m thinking, “okay, I love my neighbor.” but then the as yourself part kind of jumps out at me. So I read it again, “love your neighbor as yourself.” It was in that moment that I think I realized I have to know my own worth before I can even begin to understand how to respect someone else’s. All those good things that I was doing were great, but they didn’t define me. And all the times that I messed up, that I turned away from God and turned towards sin, well those instances didn’t define me either, but I was totally living as if they did. I kept making the same mistakes over and over again because I thought that those mistakes were who I was. And even though I knew God forgave me every time, I couldn’t forgive myself enough to accept His mercy and work for change in my life.

    Forgiving others is so incredibly important, but the struggle that’s always been on my heart in regard to reconciliation is forgiving myself. It’s always been a fight and I know that it probably always will be, but I think the take-away point and the thing that I learn out of all of this. All of these unrealistic expectations and over-commitment and days of anxiety and guilt, I think what I learned is that when we sin, when we mess up and we think that there is no reason for God to ever take us back (but He does, because He’s awesome and beautiful and merciful and loves us ridiculously), instead of dwelling on our mistakes, instead of laying on the ground and wallowing in how dumb we are, we get up. We get up and we run towards Christ. And let’s face it, we’re going to fall again. We’re going to mess up sometimes, but the hope and the redemption in the story is that God will always take us back, if we let Him. So my encouragement to you today is simply that: to get up. To get up from wherever you are and simply seek the Lord today. Because our worth is not in what we say or what we do or what we don’t do: our worth is in Him, and He will always take us back if we let Him.  

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