Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Joellen Kohlmann and Sister Doris Jurgenson update us on life in Sierra Vista, Arizona.

It has only been one short month since we attended the Los Angeles Religious Education convention. We had a wonderful experience while there. This was a first for Sr. Doris and she loved both the convention with all its liturgies, celebrations, workshops, and exhibits. It was really great when we bumped into some friends from our past, like meeting a fellow Franciscan, Father Sam who was Brother Sam the last time we saw him, as well as making new connections. The weather was beautiful and the virus was far away from our lives. Two other ladies from the parish rode with us and we all enjoyed our travels over the sand hills and rock-covered mountains in southernmost California. We also saw gorgeous areas of poppies in full bloom.

Back in Sierra Vista all was going along quite normally though the news was filled with the challenges and horrors of COVID 19 but that was on the other side of the world. On March 10, 2020, we spent the day at Mission San Xavier. Sister Joellen presented a Lenten day of reflection for the Franciscan Friars of Arizona. Thirteen Friars gathered from two missions in Tucson, Elfrida, Topawa, and Phoenix. Sister Joellen was invited to speak about a female Franciscan approach to Lent. The day began with elbow bumping instead of hand shaking, a first experience for all. Sister Joellen was quite nervous about speaking to a group of well-educated men, including two canon lawyers, all whom know much about St. Francis. But with many people praying for Sister Joellen and with Sister Doris attending as support, the day went very well. The Franciscans expressed much gratitude for the presentations. The Sisters were treated to a delicious and very enjoyable dinner with some of the Friars before returning to Sierra Vista.

On Sunday, March 15, 2020, Sr. Doris and Sr. Joellen attended the LifeTeen Mass which was for Sr. Joellen’s recently deceased Aunt Audrey – the last of a generation. Also on Sunday more directives were sent from the Diocese and reality began to really set in – NO MASSES, NO COMMUNION, NO GATHERINGS OR CLASSES!

Monday, March 16, 2020, the Sisters received an early morning call from their pastor Fr. Greg Adolf. He wondered if we would invite him to say his private mass each day in the Convent Chapel. Of course there was no hesitation and since then they have been blessedly spoiled with daily Mass and Eucharist right at home. They never expected to even have Mass in the chapel so they scrambled to find an altar, cloths, and all the necessary items. Father Greg brought his Mass Kit and the needed books. Father Greg keeps thanking the Sisters each day but both Sisters truly feel that they are the thankful ones! They daily pray for all the faithful who are not able to receive and thoroughly enjoy the daily homily-dialogue.

So life continues, differently to be sure but peacefully. Everything is unknown and up in the air to say the least. Just when the children’s baptisms and First Holy Communion will happen is uncertain – maybe June or maybe later! Thankfully parents have been understanding. Fr. Greg does much to keep everyone peaceful and without fear as God would want from all of us. We have many friends helping us with groceries etc. so we are able to keep safe at home. Sr. Joellen, while still working a few hours a day in her office, is enjoying extra time for cooking and being home for evening prayer every day. Sr. Doris, who doesn’t mind being home at any time, continues to keep herself busy and is enjoying the warming weather. The difficult puzzle we got for Christmas is slowly, very slowly, coming together. Our Arizona room continues to bring many contented hours, an abundance of sunshine, and joy in the ever beautiful mountains of Southern Arizona.