May Mystic: Part 2: Mother Francis de Sales
Margaret Cassidy received the holy habit in the Georgetown Visitation Monastery in 1913, receiving the new name of Sr Mary Imelda. A year later she was professed, pronouncing her vows.
In the meantime the Superior of Georgetown Mother M Agnes Faulhaber, had harbored a secret dream of living the contemplative Visitandine life without involvement in a school. Her dream began to be realized around this time and plans were being made for a new foundation of the Visitation in Toledo, Ohio.
Perhaps young Sr Mary Imelda was attracted to this foundation as she spent much time praying before the Blessed Sacrament. God’s will for her was revealed when in fact, at the last moment, one of the Sisters slated for the Toledo foundation withdrew and Sr M Imelda was asked to go!
On May 26, 1925 the little group left Georgetown for Wilmington Delaware to learn from the Visitation Sisters there some of the customs of the contemplative life lived without a school apostolate. While there, Sr Mary Imelda had a name change!- to Sr Francis de Sales, as a Wilmington Sister felt the foundresses’ names should represent those of the Founders of the Order.
They arrived finally in Toledo on June 30 and founded the Visitation Monastery in that city.
Soon Sr. Francis de Sales was assigned the role as assistant novice directress, forming new members, a role she would hold for 15 years before becoming the Novice Directress herself.
Her deep and caring Visitandine spirituality is evident in this brief excerpt of a note she wrote to the novices:
She served the Toledo community as a novice directress until 1951 but during that time she never let go of her dream of a foundation in her native state of Georgia. She patiently waited on God’s timing, confident He would bring it to pass.
Open with her family, who she saw but rarely, she shared this ongoing dream and they began to pull together to help her by prayer and concrete action. They began to talk to priest friends in Georgia who eventually brought the possibility to the attention of various Bishops in the Diocese.
Her brother Jim approached benefactors and Bishops and progress began to be made.
In the meantime in 1951, Sr. Francis de Sales was elected Superior of the Toledo Monastery! God was honing her leadership skills for the work of her life and allowed her dear family to be brought into the circle of his divine will.
By 1952 the Bishop, in consultation, started to show real interest in the prospect of a Visitation Monastery in Georgia.In 1953, on the Feast of Francis de Sales, Founder of the Order, it was related the the Bishop would welcome the Visitation in the Diocese. Property was purchased in Oct 1953 and the Bishop formally welcomed them.
Ten Sisters were chosen from the Toledo Monastery to make this Foundation with the Foundress, Mother Francis de Sales Cassidy, as Superior.
Her childhood dream was a reality!
Mother Francis de Sales went to her heavenly reward in 1965.
Source: In the White Fields of Georgia, by Sr. M. Helena O’Connell VHM, 1979