US Franciscans speak out against President Trump's DACA action

US Franciscans speak out against President Trump's DACA action

9/5/2017

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 5, 2017
 
As leaders and members of the Franciscan Order in the United States, we object in strenuous terms to the decision of President Donald Trump to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). This decision constitutes a rejection of the 2012 executive order by President Barack Obama that allowed young immigrants, who were brought to the United States by their parents, to seek the opportunity to realize their full potential.  President Obama’s executive order was not only moral, it also responded to the highest ideals of our nation.
 
The 780,000 “dreamers” (those who have received deferred action) are good, generous, talented and hard-working individuals. Many of them we know personally in and through our various  Franciscan ministries. We have celebrated the DACA program with them as a modern response to the Biblical imperative to “welcome the stranger.” Now, after President Trump’s decision to end the executive action, we commit ourselves to stand in support of and solidarity with “dreamers.”
 
We urge all members of the communities we serve to condemn this unnecessary and harmful order by President Trump. Furthermore, we call upon all to contact their members of Congress and urge them to pass legislation that will fully welcome “dreamers” to our nation, remove the permanent shadow of their temporary status and make it illegal to deport or harm them. We join the U.S. Catholic Bishops in advocating for the bi-partisan “Dream Act of 2017,” H.R.3440 and S. 1615.  This legislation can help “dreamers” receive a piece of the security and human dignity they and all people deserve.
 
Unless a permanent legislative solution is enacted that welcomes and fully incorporates the young men and women “dreamers” who are already a vibrant part of our communities, our society will take yet another step on the path of moral and social decline.
 
Provincial Ministers of the United States of America
 
Very Rev. Robert Campagna, OFM
Immaculate Conception Province
New York, New York
 
Very Rev. David Gaa, OFM
St. Barbara Province
Oakland, California
 
Very Rev.  James Gannon, OFM
Assumption BVM Province
Franklin, Wisconsin
 
Very Rev.  Kevin Mullen, OFM
Holy Name Province
New York, New York
 
Very Rev.  Thomas Nairn, OFM
Sacred Heart Province
St. Louis, Missouri
 
Very Rev.  Jack Clark Robinson, OFM
Our Lady of Guadalupe Province
Albuquerque, New Mexico
 
Very Rev.  Mark Soehner, OFM
St. John the Baptist Province
Cincinnati, Ohio


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In the Footsteps of the Récollets – renewing a missionary charism!

In the Footsteps of the Récollets – renewing a missionary charism!

9/1/2017

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By Pierre Ducharme, OFM

This summer, thirteen “able bodied” missionaries, Canadian Franciscans, made a historical, and transformative, pilgrimage along Quebec’s Saint Lawrence River from Montreal to Percé (Perce Rock) and back.  Led by Fr. Guylain Prince, OFM, of Trois-Rivières, the “young friars” (four of these men have not yet made their Solemn Vows) delved deep into their Religious Order’s history, rediscovering the heroic stories documented by Canadas’ pioneers of the Christian faith.  While camping, hiking, prayer and fraternal fellowship, were essential to the pilgrim experience, it was the humbly promulgated history of the Récollets, known since 1893 as the Franciscans (Order of Friars Minor), that would have the profoundest impact on these servants of the Word for today, tasked as was St. Francis of Assisi, to renew God’s Church in their own time and place.
   

Most Canadians, especially Canadian Catholics, have a sense of the significance of the Jesuit contribution, which has been anything but small, to the shaping of the Church and social fabric of Canada over the last four hundred years, but few have the 

slightest idea of what Franciscans have done.  The first priests and brothers to venture into the continent, on board with Samuel du Chaplain in 1615, Franciscan Friars (then known as Récollets) have served God and Canada in noteworthy and inspirational ways.  Primary sources paint a picture of adventurous and dedicated labourers of the Gospel who were unpretentious and consistently aligned with the faithful, while so often at odds with both Ecclessial and Civil authorities of a Colony. 

Several notable events make the case for recognizing the Franciscans as Canadas “first Missionaries”.  Franciscan, or Récollet, Priests presided at the first documented Eucharastic Celebrations, the first baptisms, and the first marriages – all between 1615 and 1629 – in New France.  It was a Récollet, Joseph LeCaron, who in 1624 first announced to the world that Saint Joseph had been chosen as Patron of Canada.  And, the Récollets claim the first martyr, Nicolas Veil, drowned by the Huron in 1625. 

While this latter event would indicate some initial tension between the friars (or Europeans in general) and Canada’s first peoples (particularly the Hurons), a reading of Gabriel Sagard (Le grand voyage au pays des Hurons, 1632), Nicolas Viel’s companion, paints a harmonious vision for mutual evangelisation between the French and Native Peoples.  In Sagard, one finds a deep respect for not only first nations culture but their religion, as well as a call for integration, which includes intermarriage between natives and settlers.  The Récollets, along with Champlain, had a dream that would, unfortunately, be stifled by forces contrary to the authentic mission of disciples.      

Rooting and renewing their own missionary identity, our pilgrim friars for today were graced to rediscover legends of a once emerging French Canadian Church.  The learned about Brother Didace Pelletier and Emmanuel Creshel, for example.  Long considered the Saint of Saint Ann de Beaupre, Pelletier, a Récollet carpenter, was believed to be responsible for the miraculous healing of Quebec City’s second Bishop, Jean-Baptiste de Saint-Vallier.  For his part, Emmanuel Crespel, is known less for his piety and more for his leadership.  The once provincial Superior of the friars in the Colony, Crespel spent the winter of 1736-37 playing not only chaplain but nurse and doctor to 54 fellow shipwrecks on the Island of Anticosti, in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.  Less than half of the stranded would survive to see their families or friends again.    

Driven out twice, and finally forbidden, by the British Royal Government, to recruit vocations, Canada’s last living Récollet would die in 1813, but the fruits of their labours would endure.  For nearly 70 years, the Franciscan third order, also known as the Secular Franciscans, kept a the hope of Saint Francis alive and regularly pleaded with 

their bishops to bring the friars back to Canada.  Finally in 1881, the Abbé Leon Provencher of Cape Rouge, invited the Flemish Franciscan Friar Fredéric Jansoone, OFM, to preach missions throughout Quebec, and the next (and still ongoing) chapter of Franciscan missions to Canada would begin.     


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US Franciscans Look to Future

US Franciscans Look to Future

The provincial ministers and members of the six provincial councils of the Franciscan Provinces of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Holy Name, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Sacred Heart, Saint Barbara and St. John the Baptist – over 40 friars in all – met at Mt. Alvernia Retreat in Wappingers Falls, N.Y., Aug. 21-25, 2017. They continued their work planning the revitalization and restructuring of their six provinces. This work has been on-going since they met as a group for the first time in Milwaukee, Wisc. in 2012.

Last year at a similar meeting in Techny, Ill., the provincial councils decided to prepare, with the help of friar experts, a document entitled “Making Fraternity our Mission” to examine how to pursue the revitalization of their fraternal life and mission. Besides leading extensive discussion of that paper throughout their provinces, the provincial ministers asked several existing groups of friars and lay cooperators engaged in the same administrative and internal ministries of the provinces, such as communicators, vocation and formation directors, and JPIC animation to come together to explore how to take a national approach to their work.

Among the groups reporting to the friars were their provincial treasurers and chief financial officers, who concluded that each of the provinces is individually financially stable, while also having the funds to support any collective action they wish to take. They also explored demographic and actuarial information which showed all of the Provinces facing the same critical challenges with regard to the aging of their membership over the next five to twenty years.

After careful consideration, the six provincial ministers, in the midst of prayer and ritual on Wednesday morning, voted unanimously to place before simultaneous chapters of their six provinces late next May a resolution requesting that the minister general and his definitorium restructure their fraternal governance so as to create one new province from the six provinces engaged in this process.

As they voted, the provincial ministers each made simple statements of why they voted as they did:

Friar Kevin Mullen OFM, of Holy Name Province, said, “One new province provides us with the opportunity to have a vital fraternal experience. With regard to mission, one new province allows us to take the core values of Franciscan life and implement them in a unified way, and with regard to the Church and the Kingdom, to make us more responsible to the promptings of the Spirit in the world and in the Church.”

Friar David Gaa OFM, of Saint Barbara Province, stated, “True revitalization requires a critical mass of younger brothers which one new province will make possible.”

Friar Tom Nairn OFM, of Sacred Heart Province, explained how listening to members of other provinces and the quality of the input on the first day of the Wappingers Falls meeting led several members of his provincial council to change their minds to favor one new province rather than two.

Friar James Gannon OFM, of Assumption BVM Province, added that voting for one new province acknowledges what is already happening as, “Our initial formation programs are united and that lines us up to move this way.”

Friar Mark Soehner OFM, of St. John the Baptist Province, remarked, “One new province will increase opportunities for strong guardians and dynamic communities, broaden our perspective as a national group, and finally we do this because God is inviting us to become more of a ‘joyful band of missionary disciples,’ as Pope Francis has invited all Christians to be.”

Finally, Friar Jack Clark Robinson OFM, of Our Lady of Guadalupe Province, said, “As John David Vaughn (first-elected U.S. minister general) once said to me, ‘Friars do not exist to serve structures. Franciscan structures – such as they are – exist to support Franciscan life and ministry. It is time for the least structure to serve the most friars.”

The day after the vote, friars were still talking about the power of the voting and attendant prayer ritual which concluded with friars, most often of different provinces, blessing and fraternally embracing one another, after praying, “Lord, You have given us the gift of Your call to Franciscan life, to Franciscan community and to Franciscan ministry. This day, You have called us to a great work as brothers. So we ask Your help to strengthen one another, that our work may be a good work, that it may truly be Your work.”

The friars were encouraged to pursue on-going renewal by taking time for prayer and reflection by Friar Michael A. Perry OFM, the minister general of the Order of Friars Minor who came from Rome in order to be a part of the meeting. Friar Caoimhin O’Laoide OFM, the English-speaking general definitor of the order spent the entire week with the friars and reflected powerfully for them at Thursday celebration of the Eucharist.

The minister general led a morning of recollection Thursday after the vote. He shared his joy and excitement at seeing the leadership teams of the six provinces coming together. “Your work is important for the future of the world-wide order as a demonstration of our ability to build bridges and cross boundaries in a world which seems too often divided,” he said.

Later Friar Michael went through the mechanics of the process which will follow the votes at the provincial chapters next May. As he outlined it, that process will include the appointment of an official delegate of the minister general, who will conduct at least two visitations of the friars and those with whom they work in various ways. Those visitations will result in reports to be considered by the general definitorium. After consideration of those reports, the minister general and general definitorium will name an initial administration and set the time for the formal establishment of the new province, probably no earlier than the fall of 2022.

One of the next steps to advance the conversation will be a national survey of every friar in the six provinces regarding what they see as necessary to move the process forward. Before the vote of the six provinces next May, the provincial ministers will also invite their friars to attend one of two large regional gatherings of friars, as well as numerous other face-to-face gatherings of smaller groups, to participate in numerous local discussions of the proposal with materials prepared for use across the country. They will also make use of videos, YouTube, Facebook and other social media, to include friars who are unable to attend.

The 900 friars of the six provinces will also have various possibilities to discuss the revitalization of their life and ministries in smaller groups. These small groups will talk about our internal life, but also about ways to go to the peripheries and margins where friars are not currently engaged. The leadership of the six provinces left Wappingers Falls with a clear, agreed-upon plan of action for the next nine months.

After the vote in May, the ministers are already looking forward to gathering next summer to continue what everyone gathered in Wappingers Falls this year found to be an exciting and life-giving fresh start to Franciscan life in the United States.

​As one friar reflected, “Ignatius Brady (a very distinguished late Franciscan scholar) once said that ‘Every novice must refound the Franciscan Order in his own heart.’ What we are doing now is our own refounding of the Order all over again in our time and place, but with lots of years of experience and lots of brothers to help us!”

US Franciscans look to future renewal with hope

US Franciscans look to future renewal with hope

each made simple statements of why they voted as they did:

Kevin Mullen, of Holy Name Province, said, “One new Province provides us with the opportunity to have a vital fraternal experience.  With regard to mission, one new Province allows us to take the core values of Franciscan life and implement them in a unified way, and with regard to the Church and the Kingdom, to make us more responsible to the promptings of the Spirit in the world and in the Church.” 

David Gaa, of Saint Barbara Province, stated, “True revitalization requires a critical mass of younger brothers which one new Province will make possible.”

Tom Nairn, of Sacred Heart Province, explained how listening to members of other provinces and the quality of the input on the first day of the Wappingers Falls meeting led several members of his Provincial Council to change their minds to favor one new Province rather than two.  

James Gannon, of Assumption BVM Province, added that voting for one new province acknowledges what is already happening as, “Our initial formation programs are united and that lines us up to move this way.”

Mark Soehner, of St. John the Baptist Province, remarked, “One new province will increase opportunities for strong guardians and dynamic communities, broaden our perspective as a national group, and finally we do this because God is inviting us to become more of a ‘joyful band of missionary disciples,’ as Pope Francis has invited all Christians to be.” 

Finally, Jack Clark Robinson, of Our Lady of Guadalupe Province, said, “As John David Vaughn (first-elected U.S. General Minister) once said to me, ‘Friars do not exist to serve structures.  Franciscan structures – such as they are – exist to support Franciscan life and ministry.  It is time for the least structure to serve the most friars.”

The day after the vote, friars were still talking about the power of the voting and attendant prayer ritual which concluded with friars, most often of different provinces, blessing and fraternally embracing one another, after praying, “Lord, You have given us the gift of Your call to Franciscan life, to Franciscan community and to Franciscan ministry.  This day, You have called us to a great work as brothers.  So we ask Your help to strengthen one another, that our work may be a good work, that it may truly be Your work.”

The friars were encouraged to pursue on-going renewal by taking time for prayer and reflection by Michael A. Perry, the General Minister of the Order of Friars Minor who came from Rome in order to be a part of the meeting.  Caoimhin O’Laoide, the English-speaking General Definitor of the Order spent the entire week with the friars and reflected powerfully for them at Thursday celebration of the Eucharist. 

The General Minister led a morning of recollection Thursday after the vote. He shared his joy and excitement at seeing the leadership teams of the six Provinces coming together. “Your work is important for the future of the world-wide Order as a demonstration of our ability to build bridges and cross boundaries in a world which seems too often divided,” he said.

Later Fr. Michael went through the mechanics of the process which will follow the votes at the Provincial Chapters next May. As he outlined it, that process will include the appointment of an official Delegate of the General Minister who will conduct at least two visitations of the friars and those with whom they work in various ways. Those visitations will result in reports to be considered by the General Definitorium. After consideration of those reports, the General Minister and Definitorium will name an initial administration and set the time for the formal establishment of the new province, probably no earlier than the fall of 2022.

One of the next steps to advance the conversation will be a national survey of every friar in the six provinces regarding what they see as necessary to move the process forward. Before the vote of the six provinces next May, the Provincial 

will also invite their friars to attend one of two large regional gatherings of friars, as well as numerous other face-to-face gatherings of smaller groups, to participate in numerous local discussions of the proposal with materials prepared for use across the country. They will also make use of videos, YouTube, Facebook and other social media, to include friars who are unable to attend.   

The 900 friars of the six provinces will also have various possibilities to discuss the revitalization of their life and ministries in smaller groups. These small groups will talk about our internal life, but also about ways to go to the peripheries and margins where friars are not currently engaged. The leadership of the six provinces left Wappingers Falls with a clear, agreed-upon plan of action for the next nine months.

After the vote in May, the Ministers are already looking forward to gathering next summer to continue what everyone gathered in Wappingers Falls this year found to be an exciting and life-giving fresh start to Franciscan life in the United States. 

​As one friar reflected, “Ignatius Brady (a very distinguished late Franciscan scholar) once said that ‘Every novice must refound the Franciscan Order in his own heart.’  What we are doing now is our own refounding of the Order all over again in our time and place, but with lots of years of experience and lots of brothers to help us!”   

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Six US Provinces hope to reconfigure into one new Province

Six US Provinces hope to reconfigure into one new Province

8/23/2017

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WAPPINGERS FALLS, NY – The Provincial Administrations of the six U.S. Franciscan Provinces participating in the effort to reconfigure and renew Franciscan life in the United States met this week at Mount Alvernia Retreat Center in Wappingers Falls.  

During their meeting, they decided unanimously to propose to reconfigure the six provinces into one province.

The official statement from the administrations reads:


The OFM Provincial Ministers of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Holy Name, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Sacred Heart, Saint Barbara and Saint John the Baptist provinces gathered with their Provincial Councils at Mount Alvernia Retreat Center in Wappingers Falls, NY from August 21-25, 2017 to further the discernment of renewal and revitalization of the life and ministry of their friars. 

On August 23, 2017, they voted unanimously to place before their provinces for a vote at extraordinary chapters in May 2018 a resolution that the General Minister and Definitorium of the Order of Friars Minor approve a formal process to reconfigure their six existing provinces into one new province.

This week’s meeting is part of the ongoing process that began in 2012 as the friars in the U.S. continue to consider efforts to reconfigure and renews Franciscan life here. If successfully approved next May, that would leave two Provinces in the United States, the newly created one, and the Immaculate Conception Province (New York) which withdrew from the process in February.

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