Like Kara and the Lim family, music is a bridge that unites Mike and Karen Beckmann to their faith, to the praying community to which they belong, and to Sister Francis Mary.
Mike arrived in Springfield in 1997 to begin work in the pathology group at Memorial Medical Center. Because some of his colleagues and their families worshiped at St. Agnes, he joined the parish. Karen joined him later after finishing her studies to become a physician assistant at Wayne State University in Detroit.
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An exceptional talent
“I joined the choir and Karen became a Eucharistic minister,” Mike recalled. “I noticed that Sister Francis Mary was an exceptional talent. I immediately developed a great rapport with her.”
In addition to choral singing, Mike frequently cantors, leading congregational singing at Mass. “I had been singing in parish choirs around the Midwest through high school, college, medical school, residency, and fellowship. Nobody else played the piano so prayerfully and accompanied me so prayerfully and melodically as Sister Francis Mary,” he said.
A part of the family
Sister Francis Mary has become like part of the family for the Beckmanns, Mike says. It was that relationship, and their friendship with Sister M. Joan Sorge, that led him to seek formation as a Dominican Associate. This year the program was completed 100% virtually using a combination of interactive live sessions via teleconference, videos, and digital resources prepared by our sisters and their lay coworkers in the communications department. All that preparation takes expertise and resources our donors make possible.
Even on May 2, when Mike and his 11 classmates make commitment, there will still be technology involved. He and the other Springfield-area candidates will be present at Sacred Heart Convent for a socially-distanced ceremony, live-streamed so their families, friends, the entire associate community, and sisters around the nation can support them. Other candidates from Chicago, Columbia, Mo., and Boston will make their commitment online in the afternoon. The sisters at Sacred Heart Convent will gather in Aquinas Center and dozens of others will watch online as each new associate declares his or her intention to respond to their baptismal call by “preaching the word and witnessing Gospel values.
The bridge to faith and community
During the pandemic all of us have struggled. Loss and grief, the challenges of missed opportunities, cancelled plans, and life’s uncertainties and anxieties. We are blessed when we have a supportive friend or spiritual mentor like Sister Francis Mary. For decades, she and other Springfield Dominican Sisters have been that bridge for countless people, providing a way back to the heart of their identity as God’s beloved creatures. Just as Sister Francis Mary has done for the people you’ve met through her story; all our sisters have been—and continue to be—bridges of sorts. We accompany children and teens, families, and individuals into the heart of the song as they mature, grow in faith, struggle with the challenges of life, and learn to lean on God.
These are roles that many of our sisters have played in the lives of hundreds of students, coworkers, families—and perhaps in your life as well.