Life on the Mission

Hello everyone! Sorry for the long wait on this post! I swear it isn’t because I don’t want to write, it is just finding time and then when I do have time, so much as happened it can be overwhelming to write it all out. I am going to take my mom’s suggestion and maybe only hit on some of the highlights instead of such a lengthy post every time, maybe it won’t be as daunting then! (But I have a tendency to be wordy, so we will see how this goes!)

So, without further ado, here are some highlights since I last wrote in April…oofta, that is a long time ago, sorry!

May:

  • With the announcement that we would be opening a new mission house in Sioux City, IA (more on that later) and with the installation of a new Prioress we had a Chapter of Assignments where we find out who will be in charge of what ministries and doing what jobs in and around the house. It was announced that Sr. Gabrielle Marie would be moving to Sioux City to serve as superior of that community, that meant that she would no longer be our formation directress. So at the beginning of May Sr. Michael Marie officially took over as our new formation directress! Apparently I haven’t taken any pictures with Sr. Michael Marie, so that needs to be fixed, but here is one I found online, sorry it isn’t the greatest quality!

  • I started a new job rotation in May and spent my summer working out in the garden. Doing everything from pulling weeds, to picking the various fruits and veggies that we grow, to planting flowers, to painting lines for a basketball court! I really enjoyed my time out in the garden! It was fun to see how to care and grow different types of veggies because that really wasn’t something I had ever done before. And then to be able to pick the harvest and bring it all into the kitchen for them to cook with, it was always exciting to see what I worked so hard to grow being served for our meal. It really gives you a sense of a job well done when you can said “I planted, cared for and picked that, and now all of us get to enjoy it!” I also have a whole new appreciation for the farmers that work year round to provide food not only for their families, but for the rest of America as well! THANK YOU!
  • We celebrated Laura’s birthday at the end of May. She had been at a conference for Novices the two weeks before her birthday and got back on her actual birthday. Which meant it gave Teresa and I plenty of time to decorate her door! 😁😁 if any of you have seen the “True Facts” videos on YouTube or Facebook, that was our inspiration…if you haven’t seen these, you should go check out this video, it is one of my favorites: True Facts about the Frog Fish – so our take was “True Facts about the Novice,” Teresa drew a picture of Laura and then we surrounded it with her quotes or things she has done/said. Behind that we hung some of the VHS film that we saved from our project back in April! So here are some pictures of the progress of it going up!

June:

  • The Summer months at the Monastery were quite busy! Many sisters were out and about going to camps and retreats. We help at the LifeTeen/Covecrest camps in Georgia as well as Steubenvilles, JC Camps and many more!
  • At the end of June my family came to visit. It was quite the full house with my parents, Paul and Hannah (and of course Baby P!), my grandpa, Godmother (Aunt Kathy), Uncle Sam, Aunt Debbie and cousin Sammy, Aunt JoMarie and Uncle Joe! It was sooo good to see everyone and we had a really good weekend, here are a few pictures from that weekend:

  • I also gave my parents and Paul and Hannah their quilts I had been making for them, unfortunately I forgot to get a picture with them while they were here, so here are the ones they took once they got back home, Porter included!

This was my first quilt I did all on my own, it is a broken rails pattern around the edges and then I made up the center piece. It is a tie quilt, meaning instead of using the big quilting machine on it to put a design throughout the top you use yarn and push that all the way through the top, batting and backing to hold it all together.

I don’t remember what the name of this design is, but I found it in a quilting magazine and loved it, it was really easy and fun to put together! I used the quilting machine on this one, so you can kind of see where the navy blue design is throughout the quilt. I have had a request that the next time I put a quilt on the machine to do the quilting I take pictures so that you can see what that process looks like, so be looking for that sometime next month or so.

  • On June 24th we hosted our annual Dessert With the Sisters day. All year long the sisters make various crafts (quilts, scarves, pillows, aprons, purses, etc.) and then we bake a ton of goodies and sell the craft items. This year the proceeds went to one of our communities in Africa to help out at their pregnancy clinic.
  • At the end of June we celebrated the 50th Jubilee of monastic profession for Sr. Celine! It was quite the feast…the dishes seemed to never end that day, but the joy that you could see on Sr. Celine’s face as she celebrated with friends, family and even some former students, made it all worth it!

  • That night we put on a program for a Sr. Celine and formation did a skit called “Things aren’t always what they seem…” I played the part of the rich man and the poor farmer! 😜😜

July:

  • For the Fourth of July those of us in formation put on a mini carnival for the sisters with games, drinks, snacks and music. That evening we went to the house of one of our oblates who lives up near the lake and watched the fireworks show from there. We were sooo close you could feel the blast and during the finale they had these fire canons and you could feel the heat! It was really fun!

  • At the end of July we celebrated Teresa’s birthday. She loves the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” so we used that as our inspiration for her door. If you remember the opening scene when Tula is telling about her parent’s house, that is what we went for. Instead of the Greek columns at the door, they are Roman, instead of statues of Greek gods we had Sts. Benedict and Scholastica, instead of the Greek flag on the garage door, we did the Papal flag and called it “My Big Fat Catholic Birthday.” We also had a movie night where we watched the movie and presented her with a bundt cake, complete with flowers in the hole to “fix it.” She loved it and we had a lot of fun doing it all!
  • August:

    • On August 15 we officially opened and blessed the convent for a new mission house in Sioux City, IA. We have four of our sisters there and they are engaged in parish ministry, prayer ministry for shut-ins, nursing homes, etc. They are also providing spiritual direction to those who would like to have that.
    • Later in August formation went on a little excursion to Willow Creek for the day. It is a pretty decent sized lake and we brought games and lunch and had a little picnic lunch. After lunch we decided to go for a walk and saw a trail marker that said 3.5 on one side and 0.0 on the other. Thinking we were at the beginning of the trail we set out for what we thought was going to be a 3.5 mile walk…well it turns out we should have checked the map, because we did NOT go on that trail and instead walked around the ENTIRE lake. So 2.5 hours later we had walked over 5 miles. And of course it started to rain while we were out there. So not only were we cold and wet, we failed to bring any water with us because we didn’t think we would be gone that long…FAIL! Haha, at least we can laugh about it now, but we will not be making that mistake again!
    • That next weekend we went for another excursion in the form of a 17 mile bike ride on Cowboy Trail (this time the distance was on purpose and we were prepared with water and snacks!) Believe it or not I wasn’t too sore the next day, though I did kind of feel it in my behind. 😳😳

    September:

    This month I have been living in Winnebago, NE, which is our other small mission house. Here we help run the St. Augustine Indian Mission. There are four sisters stationed here and they are engaged in several ministries. Two work in the grade school as teachers. We also run a thrift store, food pantry, help at CCD classes, adult formation through the parish as well as leading a bible study every Monday evening here at the convent.

    I have been helping in all areas of this mission so far. I spent the first two weeks helping Sr. Jane around the house doing some cleaning and organizing, working out in the garden, as well as serving as a driver for sisters who had appointments and needed someone to take them. These last two weeks I have been working in the school. I am helping in the third grade class, which is the biggest class.

    This last weekend we had the thrift store, which is quite the production! They are in the process of obtaining a modular building to be placed in the church parking lot so that the store can remain up all the time, but currently the Church is β€œportable” so that it can be stored away and then we set up the store for the sale. After the sale we put the store back away and set the Church back up. And this happens the 1st and 4th Saturday of every month! It will be very nice to have the permanent location ready!! Pictures below:

    Living on the reservation has been a huge eye opener for me! We serve both the Winnebago Tribe and the Omaha Tribe, and this consists of 4 different towns, and four different Churches that all make up one parish, it truly is a mission parish! Two of the towns are EXTREMELY poor, while the other two are doing okay for themselves. There are two priests that serve these four towns, churches, and the school, on top of all of the fundraising they are doing to try and support the mission parish.

    One of the biggest difficulties that the tribe is dealing with currently is drug addition. Meth is a HUGE problem currently. Each year they do drug testing on all tribe owned housing that the people are renting. This month, of the 50 houses that were tested, 32 came back above what is considered a “safe limit.” This limit is 1.05 and it is the threshold which says whether the house can be cleaned up and still lived in, a majority of the houses were testing in the 17-25 range. It is really sad because the kids are the ones being most impacted by this. They have all sorts of health and behavioral issues because of the home life they are being exposed to. The tribe is working to try and get this problem under control because they already have a housing shortage, and then to add the drug issue on top makes it even worse because so many of these houses will have to be torn down because they are just not safe to live in. PLEASE pray for these people, especially the kids, that they can resolve this issue and create a more stable and healthy living environment.

    I have had a few fun excursions during my time here in Winnebago. We drove up to Sioux Falls, SD to visit Sr. Sarah Elizabeth’s family for lunch and then on our way back we stopped at the Cathedral for Mass and at the Falls. It was a beautiful day out and the Falls were beautiful. I felt like I was in the water fall scene from Pocahontas and started singing “Just Around the River Bend” while we were there!

    Please continue to pray for me and if you have any special prayer intentions feel free to send me an email, Facebook message or comment on here! I also love snail mail, so if you feel so inclined to write your prayer requests in letter form that is wonderful as well! My address is:

    Postulant Jenna Prather

    300 N 18th Street

    Norfolk, NE 68701

    Well, I think that is all I have to report for now! Looking forward to October, I will be returning to Norfolk and will begin taking a class on the Catechism. I will also start to work with the middle school youth group, which I am really excited for! October 9-10 I will be taking a trip down to Atchison, KS to do a little vocation work, and I am super excited to be able to see some of the Benedictine College friends, as well as have supper with my parents, plus it is my dad’s birthday, so that will be extra special too! I am sure that the next few months are going to go just as fast and be just as busy as the rest of the year has been. I am still loving life in the monastery and feel so blessed to be able to call it home!

    In Christ,

    Jenna

    4 thoughts on “Life on the Mission

    1. I am so impressed and in awe of your commitment of a life so different than you were used to.
      Except of course your faith, which you must have known for a long time this is how you wanted to celebrate it.
      Wish you inter peace and love, and God Bless.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Jenna, I feel so blessed to be able to have you as my niece, I loved your latest post as it brings me closer to seeing and understanding your journey and I hope you know how much I love you! So happy to know that your new life is bringing you so much fulfillment and joy, aunt JoMarie and I are looking forward to seeing soon!

      Uncle Joe

      Liked by 1 person

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