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Even in the dreariness of a cold, wet winter's day there is a loveliness to the grounds of our Motherhouse  in St. Augustine, Florida. Yesterday afternoon, when it was much warmer and not raining, I was out weeding the front flowerbeds  when a visitor to the area stopped and took a photo of the house and asked if we had any retired sisters living in the house. I said yes, we had retired sisters in the house but we also had active sisters living here. There are at least five of us in full-time ministries who live at the Motherhouse.

The thing about being a consecrated Religious is that one never retires from one's vocation as a Religious, and no matter what your age or your abilities, one is always called to live a life of faithfulness to your congregation's mission and charism, which in our case is working towards "love and service of God IN the love and service of the dear neighbor."

As Sisters of St. Joseph we are called to be "contemplatives in action.&q…
Recent posts
Pansies have a way of making me smile. These winter annuals, that tend to die as soon as hot weather comes to Northeast Florida, are welcoming, friendly flowers. As a gardener I prefer to plant perennial flowers that will live year-round as they are a lot less work. But there is something about pansies that makes them worth all the effort for a few months of their beauty in the garden.

We all have things in our life that we think are worth the extra time and effort they take to nurture and develop. For some it may be practicing a musical instrument, taking walks or playing a sport, spending time with friends, or reading good books. For others it may be baking bread or painting or some other kind of artistic expression.

I have read that a balanced spiritual life has these four elements: prayer, work, study and leisure. Our Puritan work ethic in this country is so strong that many of us have difficulty with leisure. And some people may think that once they finished college or high scho…
Monet's Gardens at Giverny
December 2018
At the end of the year we often look back on events and reflect on our lives. This year I am reflecting on a trip I was blessed to have taken to France in the summer of 2015. It was the trip of a lifetime to Nice and Paris and a cruise through Southern France (Provence) with stops in Lyons and Avignon and several other towns. The photos in this blog entry are photos I took at Monet's Gardens at Giverny, one of my favorite parts of the tour. Giverny is outside of Paris and is where Monet painted some of his works. 
My sister Barbara Ponce, who died in the summer of 2013, and whom I still miss terribly, gave me the money that made this tour of France possible. I use these photos as a screensaver on my computer so I never forget the beauty I saw that summer. 
I had always wanted to see Paris, and I know now why people love to go there. It is a beautiful city. We went to see the palace of Versailles and its gardens also, which were entirel…
October 2018 Do you like to look at old photos? Most of us do, even though the quality of the photos may have faded over time. Here I am at about age 11 or 12 standing with my Mother and my sister Barbara's mother-in-law, Mrs. Leila Ponce, in Mrs. Ponce's front yard in north Jacksonville. My Mother, Grace Stovall, is holding my first nephew and her first grandson, Patrick Ponce, in her arms following his baptism, I believe. This was around 1960 or 1961. See the old cars behind us?

My nephew had to find a copy of his baptismal certificate recently because he plans to get married in April in a Catholic church up in North Carolina. He was baptized in our home parish, Holy Rosary, in Jacksonville. At this time I was a student at Holy Rosary School. My parents allowed me to go there after it opened, which for me was when I was entering fourth grade. My first teacher in Catholic school was Sister Philip Neri, an Irish Sister of St. Joseph who died tragically in an automobile crash.

August 2018
What does it mean to live the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience as a Sister of St. Joseph today? How do we explain the evangelical counsels to others?  On Aug. 2-5 a meeting was held in Chicago of the CSSJ (Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph) Into the Future Collaborative entitled "Self-Emptying Love: Living the Vows for Our Times." Four Sisters of St. Joseph of St. Augustine attended: Ss. Diane Couture, Mary Kuester, Rosa Lopez and Carol Stovall. The gathering was held at the Felician Sisters central convent in a suburb of Chicago.
Sisters Diane Couture and Mary Kuester in front of Felician convent, Chicago.

Sister Mary Pellegrino, from Baden, Pennsylvania, spoke on the vow of obedience. In the reign of God , she said, the way things are is that all belong, all have what they need, all are loved and all are free. Religious life is called to model life in the reign of God.  She began by explaining the root of the word obedience is "to listen.&qu…
Summer in St. Augustine is full of concerts, Fourth of July fireworks, and hot and muggy weather with the occasional thunderstorm. Many take their vacations in July to enjoy the beach or the mountains or some other relaxing locale.
Here at the Motherhouse, we are preparing to welcome a new sister as part of the local community in mid-July and then a new sister as our new General Superior who is also part of the Motherhouse community the last weekend in July. Our current General Superior, Sister Jane Stoecker, will be moving across the street  in late July to become director of our newly-named St. Joseph Renewal Center (the former Villa Flora-Brown Hall Renewal Center). She will reside there with another sister, S. Florence Bryan, who is arriving in August.
Vacations are an opportunity to remember that we are human beings, not human "doings" and that we need time away from work sometimes to reflect on our lives and our relationships. Time to "re-create" ourselves. …
April went by in a bit of a blur at the Motherhouse due to the Chapter of Affairs and Chapter of Elections being held here April 2-7 and the annual Associates Gathering  also held at the Motherhouse on April 28. The temperatures in St. Augustine were pleasant and humidity remained low, so there were very few April showers to water the lawn and flowers. The day lilies began to bloom on April 2nd and some are still blooming. The Easter lilies waited until May to start blooming. The hydrangeas still have buds but no real blooms yet, but soon.

Our work on the Chapter Planning Committee finished on April 5th. The newly elected leadership team of the Congregation will be installed on July 31st, the feast of St. Ignatius Loyola, in the Motherhouse chapel. The new General Superior is Sister Kathleen Carr. Councilors are Sisters Ann Kuhn, Suzan Foster, Stephanie Flynn,and myself, Carol Stovall,
Change is in the air at the Motherhouse complex. Sister Jane Stoecker will leave office as General Sup…