The companions in Klamath Falls, Oregon, are a “rag-tag band,” an anawim, a little remnant, rooted in the Franciscan presence our sisters provided at Sacred Heart Academy for so many years past. We usually meet the second Saturday of each month from 9 to 11 A.M. at the home of a parishioner. Our meetings are a combination of the in-person gathering of between two and 10 women and the in-prayer gathering of another 15 or 20 women who have known our sisters throughout the west.

Our meeting format consists of the following:

  • Praying the Franciscan rosary for all the intentions each of us brings as well as for our companions, our sisters, and our world
  • Gathering in the living room for faith-sharing/discussion—“What has God been about in your life this month?”—followed by the topic of the day
  • Closing prayer
  • And, of course, there’s almost always coffee and snacks!

We have “adopted” Sr. Julie Mulvihill and Nyumbani Village in Africa. We pray for her/them regularly and send a donation once a year. I forward one of her updates each time I send a group e-mail (or snail-mail for those not on email) reminder of our upcoming meeting.

Twice a year some members of the group review the social justice grant applications for which Sr. Theresa Lamkin, Cathy Nugent, and I are responsible. I then add those deliberations to our discussion when the three of us confer. It has been a wonderful experience for our companions because we rarely have the opportunity to touch those other parts of the world. It also gives us a tangible experience of being part of something bigger than ourselves—our sisters in action.

Over the years we have used the following for study/reflection/sharing:

  • Francis, the Journey and the Dream
  • A Retreat with Francis and Clare
  • Leonardo DeFilippis’ St. Francis, Troubadour of God’s Peace
  • Sr. Anne Amati’s The Cosmos: Pattern for Our Gospel Living
  • Sr. Clare Andrew D’Auria’s Jesus Christ, the Poetry of God
  • Franciscan Spirituality and the Interior Life
  • Northwest Earth Institute’s Voluntary Simplicity

This year we are sharing the year-end retreat materials and will soon begin Living Like Francis Today by Sr. Marci Blum, OSF. We very much look forward to shared study of the adaptation of God’s Extravagant Love program when it becomes available.

A couple members of our group have attended some of the regional gatherings in Spokane and Tacoma but distance, travel conditions, and work schedules have made it difficult.

Sr. Elaine Thaden visited Klamath Falls in October to present vocation information to our religious education students and parish families (the first time many of our children have seen a “real sister.”). Sr. Marie Monica Borden is our “prayer partner” and is part of our email list. Sr. Patty Novak and Sr. Emma Holdener visit Klamath Falls on random occasions and we hope someday to coordinate a gathering of our group with one of their visits. Otherwise, it seems quite impossible for any closer physical relationship with the sisters, as the closest sisters are 5-1/2 to six hours away on a good day. However, traveling over a mountain pass is quite unpredictable from November to at least March or April.

We have all known the influence of the sisters at one time or another in our lives—as well as their influence in this community in years past. We hope—even if only by our prayer—to extend that presence. There were days of yesteryear when Sr. Raphael and Sr. Brendan used to walk downtown praying their rosary and sprinkling certain “establishments” with holy water as they passed (and it is reported that certain “devil worshiping groups” fled). Our methods might be different but we trust/believe that the spirit of Francis and Clare as lived by the Sisters of St. Francis and shared by their companions has a place in our community. That’s our goal: to continue to be that presence.