Category Archives: Chicago

Closing a Chapter … graduation

I am in Chicago for my graduation from Catholic Theological Union. The ceremony is this evening. I am looking forward to celebrating with classmates, faculty,  family, and friends.

The last time I donned a graduation cap and gown, believe it or not, was almost 21 years ago. Now I get to add a velvet trimmed hood to the ensemble as I become the last Francois child in my generation to earn a Masters degree.  Coincidentally,  my nephew Conor already beat me to it so the next generation is on their way.

This morning I took one of my favorite Chicago walks by Lake Michigan.  It is always nice to return to favorite places, especially ones that have become sacred spaces of memory, thought, and prayer.


The Chicago grad school chapter of my life is officially coming to a close. The leadership chapter of my life has already begun. And it is all part of a whole,  weaving together threads of learning and practice, mission and ministry,  trial and error, love and justice seeking, contemplation and action.

My time at CTU has been filled with many blessings.  I have come to know my own Catholic tradition more deeply. I have grown in my identity as a Catholic Sister and in confidence as one seeks to share her gifts in following Jesus.

Sitting looking out at the wide expanse of Lake Michigan, I am filled with wonder, awe, and gratitude. God is good my friends. God is good.

Movement and colors

Given that the main focus of my life (studying & writing) involves sedentary tasks, I have made myself a promise to get moving everyday. Sometimes this involves going to the gym where I move on the elliptical machine with music in my ears (of my own choosing, not the gym music mix!). Other times like today this means a brisk walk in the neighborhood.

I have chosen the neighborhood walk most non rainy days this fall, because of the colors! 


This is my third autumn in Chicago,  and while I will be lamenting the bare branches and lack of anything green soon enough, the fall colors are lovely! They also serve as added motivation for me to get outside and get moving.


I have lived in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood for over two years now. And yet, somehow, I never managed to discover the hidden gem of the Osaka Garden in Jackson Park until today!

Normally when I go for a walk, I walk to Lake Michigan. Today was a bit cooler, overcast, with a drizzle or two, so I decided to go walk among the trees in Jackson Park. That, my friends, is when I discovered this:

Osaka garden at Jackson Park

It’s not the biggest Japanese style garden in the world. It is certainly much smaller than the Portland or Seattle Japanese gardens, and not quite as technically classical in style (from my limited knowledge as a former member of the Portland gardens). Neverthless, it is a gem. Lovely, peaceful, and historic, given that the first Japanese garden was established in the park when it was the sight of the 1893 World’s Fair!

And it’s free to visit. So, after my discovery, I stayed for a while to meditate. After all, in my opinion that is the best thing to do in a Japanese garden. After a while, I got up to leave, and guess who I saw?

Look under the bridge
Look under the bridge

Do you see my feathered friend? Here is a closer shot:

The perfect spot! And photo!
The perfect spot! And photo!

Amazing, huh?  If I had asked my feathered friend to pose for a photo, it could not have been better. Wow.

All in all, it was a beautiful, prayerful morning walk. And guess what? It’s less than a mile from my house. Has been the whole time I’ve lived here, but now I know!

Museum of Science & Industry in the background, with my neighborhood behind that.
Museum of Science & Industry in the background, with my neighborhood behind that.

Who knows what you might discover in your neighborhood?