Journeying with Young People at Mt. Irenaeus Franciscan Mountain Retreat | Franciscans, Youth and Faith

Journeying with Young People at Mt. Irenaeus Franciscan Mountain Retreat | Franciscans, Youth and Faith

Many people today – particularly young people – ache with the anxieties of not belonging, of not being sure of life and its direction. They need to be refreshed and healed and helped to find their way. This need inspires our life and ministry at Mt. Irenaeus: to create a space in which people can experience the reconciling love of Jesus who makes all things new(cf. Rev. 20:5).

From its beginnings in the 1970’s, students from St. Bonaventure University (Allegany, NY, USA) joined friars in fashioning the dream we call “The Mountain.” Gathering in nearby religious houses, traveling to places in the woods and on mountain tops, making retreats in various settings, together we friars and students have found our way to fashioning a place for peace.

Today our student-leaders form the group “Mountain Community Leaders.” They participate in weekly Sunday gatherings, commit to a regular form of personal prayer, and collaborate with the friars in the ministry of Mt. Irenaeus. We offer evenings, overnights and weekends at The Mountain to all members of the St. Bonaventure University communityso that everyone can experience our life of prayer and peaceful re-creation. Studentsare “missioned” to “go among” their peers who need the Good News.  They are true evangelizers who help others feel closer to one another and to God in a world that is often dark and inhospitable.

As a student-leader once suggested, our style of collaborative ministry is explained through the image of the wagon-wheel:each one of us is a hand-shaped spoke, and Christ is our center, axle, and hub.  Indeed, over our fireplace is an old wooden wagon-wheel, reshaped into a religious image that suggests the color and fire of the Spirit of God who sends us into the valleys of our world to welcome new “spokes” into our wheel of life, that they too may experience and share the healing and reconciling love of God.

When we welcome others to experience the joy and generosity of true family life, we make a difference in our world.  The smallest acts – setting a table, weeding a garden, and hearing the Word and breaking bread with one another – let us know we are one family. Foolish as it may sound, together we friars and students know that divisions can cease and peace can be ours, for our deepest understanding of our faith tell us that we indeed are already one: reconciled, made whole and at peace in Jesus who has makes all things new.

For more information about the Brothers’ ministry at Mt. Irenaeus, please visit their website: https://mountainonline.org.




This article is part of a series profiling the work that friars are doing throughout the world to accompany young people in faith. These stories are only a sample of the ways countless friars walk with young people today.  As we Franciscans prepare for the 2018 Synod of Bishops Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment. May these stories inspire all who read them to an ever-deeper commitment to sharing the Joy of the Gospel with our young sisters and brothers.

Read on ofm.org.

Franciscans, Planning for COP24, Katowice

Franciscans, Planning for COP24, Katowice

COP24 is the informal name for the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). COP24 will take place from 3-14 December 2018, in Katowice, Poland.

It’s relevant to the Franciscans to participate in COP in any way possible. Firstly, because COP is the only space where the negotiation on the solutions to the climate crisis by the governmental delegates actually happens, and the ethical dimension must be emphasized in the solutions. Franciscans can collaborate with other inter-faith groups and NGOs especially in this respect. Secondly, such movement can be the sign and the example to raise awareness in the Church, since the ecological dimension of the Christian conversion is not yet the famous subject in the Christian community itself. The Franciscan presence in the COP can give testimony to the vision of St. Francis to the world. Thirdly, COP is an exceptional place where one can listen to the powerful testimonies of the most vulnerable in the world, various activists, and experts, and have a dialogue with them. They are the victims of the social and ecological crisis as well as the prophets of our time. Just like the encounter with the Christ in a leper has changed the life of St. Francis, it’s critical for the Franciscans to be touched by those who are affected by the systematic injustice.

 

Planning for COP24, Katowice

This year’s participation has several objectives:

  1. To be present among the people in solidarity.
  2. To pray for the victims of the climate crisis and the Creation along with the local church.
  3. To raise awareness among the Franciscans on the climate change and ecological conversion through dialogue.

 

The JPIC General office is planning on the participation in (inter-faith/ecumenical/Franciscan) prayer vigils for the creation, public marches and pilgrimages, and organizing a Franciscan conference on the role of religious communities for the creation. Its tentative title is “Climate crisis and the role of religions for climate justice.” We are trying to invite panels from different backgrounds and hope this conference would facilitate productive dialogue between religious communities, the civil society, and local workers. We are still working on the details of the program and inform you later so that many of you can take part in.

Your ideas and suggestions as well as questions are always welcome. Send us messages to pax@ofm.org.

 

JPIC General Office – Rome

 

Read on ofm.org.

In the Company of Angels | Franciscans, Youth and Faith

In the Company of Angels | Franciscans, Youth and Faith

The word “accompaniment” captures an essential element of “Franciscan Presence.” We enter people’s lives reverently and humbly. We walk with them, sharing the Good News of Jesus by sharing in the joys and struggles of their lives. This is what we do at Valley of the Angels Orphanage.

Valley of the Angels Orphanage in Guatemala was opened by Immaculate Conception Province (USA) in 1988, to educate and care for abandoned and orphaned children. Today we welcome any child in need.

How do we know that we are making a Franciscan difference in the lives of these children? They are not shy in telling us. Let me share with you some of what they have told me.

Sheily found consolation at Valley of the Angels: “I am never alone. It is a place where love and peace are found in every corner and in every person.” As Julio said, “When I am sad or discouraged (the Franciscans) always accompany and encourage me, I never feel alone. I discovered God’s love.” For Maria, this is a fruit of prayer: “When we feel alone and without strength we pray. It is the key to our strength and our faith.”

Love, peace, encouragement, and the joy of knowing you are not alone. People are walking with you, and so does God. These are qualities that describe a healthy Christian family. This is the kind of family we strive to create at Valley of the Angels: a healthy and happy Christian family enlivened by the spirit of St. Francis.

Sheily counts on the Franciscans “who are like my parents and whosupport and always encourage me in everything.” The same is true for Julio: “I like to live here in Valley because we are all like brothers and we are a great family united in the love of God,” because the Franciscans “are people full of the presence of God that inspire the lives of many children here in Valle.”

What a joy to hear this! This is what Franciscan accompaniment hopes for: to awaken in people the desire to accompany others in their joys and struggles, so that they too might know the Good News of Jesus in their lives. Please pray for our children. Know that they pray for you!

 

Fr. Michael Della Penna, OFM
Director
Valley of the Angels Orphanage

 

To learn more about Valley of the Angels Orphanage, please visit its website: www.valleyoftheangelsorphanage.com.







This article is part of a series profiling the work that friars are doing throughout the world to accompany young people in faith. These stories are only a sample of the ways countless friars walk with young people today.  As we Franciscans prepare for the 2018 Synod of Bishops Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment. May these stories inspire all who read them to an ever-deeper commitment to sharing the Joy of the Gospel with our young sisters and brothers.

 

Read on ofm.org.

The Magnificat Institute of Jerusalem, a Workshop of Humanity and Coexistence | Franciscans, Youth and Faith

The Magnificat Institute of Jerusalem, a Workshop of Humanity and Coexistence | Franciscans, Youth and Faith

I was appointed as Director of the Magnificat musical institute two years ago, a great privilege but also a great responsibility. The school has been one of the educational projects of the Custody of the Holy Land for over twenty years. What makes it special and in a certain sense unique compared with other schools of the Holy Land is that Christians of all denominations, Jews and Muslims work and study together. The majority of the students are Christians, while the majority of the teachers are Jews. Everyone is welcomed without any distinction of social status and especially of religious belief. Educating to beauty through music and making music together is the first objective of our Institute, but growing in a multicultural and multi-religious environment, in the authentic respect of everyone, is the basis of our educational method.

There is no shortage of minor obstacles to overcome together. I and my team of close collaborators, a Christian and a Jewish teacher, periodically schedule projects, concerts and tours abroad trying to maintain a wise balance between who will participate, which repertoire will be performed and which message we want to reach our audience. Every day we deal with both small and bigger challenges related to the complexity of the place in which we operate … Palestine and Israel, Arabs and Israelis, Christians and non-Christians … Franciscan spirituality is a wise school of life that allows us all to offer to our children a real workshop of humanity and coexistence, governed not by mere tolerance, but by the true acceptance of the other for who he is, without prejudice and in total freedom.

The presence of two friars, myself as Director and Br. Alessandro as pianist and organist, and of some friars as students, contributes to offer to all, students, teachers and families a climate of fraternity and serenity that we try to guarantee every day. Our experience at Magnificat is very rich and as I said full of challenges, but we are sure that in our own small way, we are offering our children the tools to live with freedom and maturity, with joy and enthusiasm, in a worldwide fraternity that is increasingly diverse and multi-faceted.

 

Br. Alberto Joan Pari, OFM
Custody of the Holy Land

fralbertpari@gmail.com
YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/magnificatjerusalem








This article is part of a series profiling the work that friars are doing throughout the world to accompany young people in faith. These stories are only a sample of the ways countless friars walk with young people today.  As we Franciscans prepare for the 2018 Synod of Bishops Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment. May these stories inspire all who read them to an ever-deeper commitment to sharing the Joy of the Gospel with our young sisters and brothers.

Read on ofm.org.

Accompanying Young People in a Digital Age | Franciscans, Youth and Faith

Accompanying Young People in a Digital Age | Franciscans, Youth and Faith

One of the most significant traits of the Franciscan charism is the mission to be popular preachers in the ordinary gatherings of people’s lives. And while friars may no longer go to the city square to preach peace, in our digital age, a new “city square” has emerged: the internet. Recognizing how much time many people spend on social media, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI once called the internet a “digital continent,” needing the same missionary zeal the Church had always produced.

Two Franciscans in the United States—Br. Dan Horan, OFM and Br. Casey Cole, OFM—have accepted this call to mission.

“I think we should not be afraid to go out to this ‘digital continent,’” says Br. Dan. “It’s how people communicate, study, seek entertainment, meet one another, share common interests, and even explore their faith.” In his time with the friars, Br. Dan has written a blog engaging social and political topics with a Franciscan spirituality for the 21st century and has engaged questions and comments on Facebook and Twitter.

“I think it’s important to have our finger on the pulse of how young people are communicating today, adapting and updating as the world changes,” says Br. Casey. As the founder of Breaking In The Habit Media, Br. Casey has works to create content for as many platforms as he can, producing videos on YouTube and Instagram, writing articles on his blog, and answering questions on Twitter and Facebook. “Young people no longer gather in physical locations like they used to, but they are gathering. It’s our responsibility as ministers and evangelizers to go where they are.”

But as both Br. Dan and Br. Casey have expressed, this does not mean fully adopting the values that come with living on a digital continent. Because there can be a tendency to present an alternative persona online or to diminish the human person to nothing more than their thoughts, friars engaged in this ministry must recognize the limitations it presents: it is unrivaled in its ability to create new connections, but it does not offer the fullness of the Christian experience that young people need. For this reason, both Br. Dan and Br. Casey spend as much time engaging young people in person as they do online, offering retreats, giving talks, teaching classes, and simply being present to the needs of young people today.

For more information on their digital outreach or to contact Br. Dan and Br. Casey, please check out their media sites:

Br. Dan Horan, OFM:

Br. Casey Cole, OFM at Breaking In The Habit Media:


This article is part of a series profiling the work that friars are doing throughout the world to accompany young people in faith. These stories are only a sample of the ways countless friars walk with young people today.  As we Franciscans prepare for the 2018 Synod of Bishops Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment. May these stories inspire all who read them to an ever-deeper commitment to sharing the Joy of the Gospel with our young sisters and brothers.

 

Read on ofm.org.

Pin It on Pinterest