Sunday, June 23, 2024

Father Lawrence's Blog

My Christmas Letter
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M.
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My Christmas Letter

Advent was very short this year. We only had 22 days to prepare for the great feast of Christmas. Consequently, I was unable to get my holiday mail posted. I am going to use my website and Facebook as a way to get it out to those who follow me on both platforms. Happy New Year!

Christmas, 2023

Dear Family and Friends,

Over the years, I have usually stated within my annual letter that receiving Christmas cards and your letters is the best part of Christmas for me. Then 2022 happened. I was not able to get a letter out to you because of various health difficulties. In July of that year, I underwent a coronary procedure to slow my heartbeat down. This was discovered quite accidentally when I went to the hospital with a UTI. Because it was an elective procedure, I had to wait five months to be scheduled for it. During those five months, I wore a heart monitor in case I experienced some difficulties. In September, I was again admitted to the hospital. I had lost the strength and the feeling in my right hand and arm. (I am right-handed.) So, the surgeon decided to fuse the last cervical vertebra with the first thoracic vertebra in order to return the sense of feeling to my hand and arm. I have not yet regained the strength; the doctor said it would take at least a year.

My right hand was useless. I had to learn all over again how to do things with my left hand. Holding a pen and writing is almost impossible. My youngest brother came to the rescue and installed voice recognition software on a brand-new computer. Now I sit in front of the screen and simply dictate my words. So, I thought that I would send you a letter this Christmas just to let you know that I am still alive and kicking. I celebrate the Eucharist for the sisters here at St. Francis Woods Convent (so named because the convent is in a woods) six days a week. Monday is my day off. Unfortunately, I usually have some sort of doctor appointment that day.

2024 will bring with it cataract surgery on January 22. Then later in the year, the back surgeon is suggesting that I have a lumbar fusion as well as the cervical fusion. In preparation for that surgery, I have been working with the weight loss clinic and have managed to lose 38 pounds. The doctor suggested that I lose at least 40 pounds. So, there is still a little work to do..

Just the other day, a classmate called me to wish me a happy birthday. We have both reached our 76th birthday. I was amazed at how much of that telephone call was an “organ recital.” We both shared with each other our various senior citizen medical stories. As the saying goes, “Getting older is not for sissies.”

The other big news for this past year involves a project that has been in discussion for 10 to 15 years. On October 17, Sacred Heart Province of the Franciscan Friars joined four other Franciscan provinces so that now we are all part of the U.S. province. The new province is named for Our Lady of Guadalupe. The headquarters is in Atlanta, Georgia. The United States has been divided into regions, each region being the responsibility of one member of the Provincial Council. It will take some time to get to know more than 600 Franciscan Friars. I really doubt that, given my inability to get around much, I will make much headway in that project. Our numbers have steadily decreased over the years, making the administration of all of these provinces rather redundant. In the future, a sixth province will join us once they are able to suppress their corporation. We have dwindled in number as we continue to age. As proof of that, even though the new Province is only two months old, we have had five funerals already. God has a plan. We just have to trust in that plan.

My brothers, Allen, Paul, Tom and Tim, are all well. Only Tim is still in the workforce. The other three are retired. My sister, Christine, has had significant health issues and spent quite a bit of time in the hospital and in rehab. A text that I received this morning indicates that she will be able to go home today. However, she is going to have to take it very easy as she gets back on her feet. Her eldest daughter is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and has been quite a help to her. Jackie was the first in our family to receive a doctorate.

One of my grandnieces was married last year and has already celebrated the first wedding anniversary. Today, December 12, marks the 53rd wedding anniversary of my brother and sister-in-law, Allen and Yvonne. Christine and her husband, Jack, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this past year. All I can say is that this makes me feel very old. On June 7, 2024, I will celebrate my 49th anniversary of ordination. Where did all those years ago?

We lost one member of the family during the Covid pandemic. My godmother and aunt, Rosella (Sally) Jagdfeld died in 2021 at the age of 100. She was in a nursing home, having suffered a stroke some years back. She was only able to say of very few words after the stroke. However, on her 100th birthday, her nieces and nephews, myself included, scheduled Zoom sessions with her on that particular birthday. It was clear that she recognized us even though she could not talk to us. We just kept talking about her among ourselves which caused her to giggle quite a bit. I wore my Franciscan habit; she recognized me immediately as did the nurse who helped her with these sessions. In 2022, we all got together with my cousins and had a memorial service for her. One rather funny part was that my cousin, Jim, told me that if I referred to his mother as Sally, my side of the family would know who I’m talking about. But her sister’s side of the family would not. So as I started the memorial service, I told everybody that if I was mentioning her in one of the prayers, I would use her given name. However, in my remarks about her, I would use the name Aunt Sally which is the only way I ever knew her. We had a great day together at my cousin’s Lakeside home.

I will be remembering all of you in the Christmas Masses and devotions. The sisters do a great deal of decorating, and the convent rivals the decorations of any department store. They are so artistic. May God bless you and keep you in the new year.


(Father) Lawrence

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