Today after Mass at Mt. Irenaeus and the brunch that followed I drove to nearby Olean, New York to do some shopping. Following a trip to Home Depot I drove down the road past St. Elizabeth’s Motherhouse. It is the home of the ladies who taught me how to read, write and do ‘rithmetic. It is the home of the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany. Since today was the Feast of the Epiphany I thought it might be my last chance to see the lovely creche inside their lovely chapel so I turned the car around and headed toward their entrance on Route 417. I drove up the short drive to their parking lot, parked and headed into the chapel. After stopping at the holy water font to bless myself I headed straight for the front of the chapel and got a nice picture of the creche. When I turned around I noticed that sitting on the altar was the Blessed Sacrament and that there were a couple of nuns praying in the chapel. Oops! I should have been more aware of what was going on. I did take a few minutes to sit in the chapel in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. As I sat there I thought of all the sisters who had a hand in my education and initial formation as a Franciscan. Many of them are deceased, but their spirits must truly live in this home and I remembered them as best I could. There was Mother Emily, Mother Edwardine, Sr. Catherine-Therese, Sr. Neil, Sr. Christina, Sr. Estelle and Sr. Rita Michael. Only Sr. Rita Michael Aguillard remains. The rest are in heaven.
I asked the attendant if Sr. Rita Michael was in and could receive guests. She was home and so we had a nice visit and I purchased her new book, “Fifty Years Fifty Flashbacks”. It’s available from Longdash Publishing. She autographed it for me and we visited for about an hour. It had been a year and a half since our last visit. She is 91 years old and as spry as they come. She told me she was going to Brazil after Easter to be with the people she was in mission with for over 30 years. The book is great and I recommend it to you. When I got up to leave, Sr. Rita Michael blessed me and we hugged. God bless Sr. Rita Michael and all the Franciscans of Allegany. Their lives are blessed sacraments to all of us.