Retreat at Assisi Heights

What a retreat for forward movement in this beautiful life at Assisi Heights!


Mike Blastic’s retreat presentations here at Assisi Heights.

One of the special gifts of our brother Mike is his great background in Franciscan/Clarian studies but perhaps even more is his living of the charism since he was a young man.  Mike was able to present during our retreat the beginning and early expression of the Friars and Poor Sisters’ Franciscan life like I have never heard before.  His three “C’ s” of our charism are: “Conversation, Contemplation and Compassion.”

Of course we know that Franciscan/Clarian life is Christocentric.How do the three C’s match up with the life of Jesus that we know through the Gospels?

  1. Conversation. Oh my Goodness! Jesus was and is the great communicator, the Word of God made flesh.  Think of the interactions of Jesus with individuals, teaching moments for them and for us; the parables and instructions to his followers and to the crowds in general, his generous teachings even in the midst of controversy.
  2. Jesus’ conversations seem to always end in Contemplation and communion in solitude with his Father, his be-ing time, often on a mountain. Shhh…
  3. The completion of the three C’s is Compassion. The miracle stories are about compassion, compassion for the other in front of him, the short man, the blind man, the woman caught in adultery, the hungry crowd, etc. Jesus can’t bear to see his Father’s children suffer.  The only one for whom he does not work a wonder is himself.

Mike’s retreat was good for all Christians and especially for those of us on the  Franciscan trek.








Folks from the Cities Visit

It was a red letter day at Assisi Heights on Friday when a caravan arrived to join us for Eucharist and Dinner. 

Some were from far away others from as near as the Cities.  All were heartily welcomed by us Clares  and the Franciscan Sisters here at the Heights.

Our dear friend Michael Joncas was with us as presider at Eucharist.  In the photo with Mike are some of our “regulars” from daily Eucharist in Bloomington who helped with the Chapel décor for Feasts and Seasons and all manner of good works around the Monastery.

Humanities and the Clares

                Professors and students from Northern Iowa University. 

Doctor Jessica Moon (next to Sr. Beth) is director of the Honors Program at the University of Northern Iowa.  They are studying monastic life in the Middle Ages.  Who better to talk to them about medieval monastic life than the Poor Clares?  At one point in the conversation each Clare was asked to share her vocation story.  No two are alike! 


The ICE is melting and Spring is just around CORNER


   Icebreakers are ships plying polar seas

but they are also opening conversation


   Cracks in lake ice are rarely wise cracks.

Wisecracks seldom break conversational


  It is not usually wise to play with fire.

Ice too may be hazardous if unreliably


    Some ideas may be called breakthroughs.

So may unexpected descents through lake


    Stares from some may be cold icy glares.

Stairs may also be glare ice. Please tread


      Jack Frost writes ice on window panes.

Robert Frost writes of pain in fire and


    To kill is to ice, in some old noir stories.

But icing is also the finishing touch on a


Doug Westendorp, 2018


                There is no corner

Around which

There is no pain.

              There is no pain

Within which

There is no gift.

            There is no gift

Without which

There is no love.

            There is no love

Within which

There is no grace.

            There is no grace

Around which

There is no peace.

            There is no peace

Without which

There is no light.

              There is no light

Within which

There is no life.

             There is no life

Around which

There is no corner. 

Doug Westendorp, 2018