Franciscans Call for Peace in Ukraine

Franciscans Call for Peace in Ukraine

The following statement from the provincial ministers of six provinces belonging to the Order of Friars Minor in the United States regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine was issued on Feb. 24.

We are horrified at the unfolding violence in Ukraine and the death and destruction unleashed on the people of Ukraine. Most often, it is the poor, weak, old, and young that pay the highest price in times of conflict. We mourn that a nonviolent resolution based in diplomacy could not be reached, and we applaud the efforts of the United States, Europe, and the United Nations in trying to achieve such a solution. Unfortunately, Russia’s actions have self-separated it from being a legitimate member of the family of nations on our globe. Such a tear in a family is always a cause for despair.

We affirm and share the feelings of our Holy Father Pope Francis in his address of Feb. 2, 2022, where he spoke with “pain in his heart” of the potential (now realized) for violent scenarios to occur with the invasion of Ukraine.

Now is the time for unceasing prayer and nonviolent responses at the international level. We call upon the government leaders of the U.S. to put aside partisan differences and find a common response to the conflict. The world must unite in a coordinated nonviolent effort to encourage Russia to cease its invasion and return to being a member of the world family of nations.

Finally, we accept Pope Francis’s call for Ash Wednesday, March 2, 2022, to be an international day of fasting and prayer for peace. We encourage all Franciscan ministries in which we serve also to take up the Holy Father’s call as they prepare for the beginning of Lent.

Our world is at a critical juncture of how we organize ourselves to respond to global crises of violence and existential destruction. The only sustainable path forward is rooted in nonviolence and places the needs of the poor and marginalized first. In the spirit of St. Francis, let us “begin again” and make this path by walking it.

Fraternally,

Fr. David Gaa, OFM
Province of Saint Barbara
Fr. Thomas Nairn, OFM
Province of the Sacred Heart
Fr. James Gannon, OFM
Province of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Fr. Mark Soehner, OFM
Province of Saint John the Baptist
Fr. Kevin Mullen, OFM
Province of the Holy Name
Fr. Ronald Walters, OFM
Province of Our Lady of Guadalupe

For interview and photo requests, please contact Maria Hayes, communications manager, at 646-473-0265 or us6communications@usfranciscan.org.

Franciscan-hearted People Invited to Join Laudato Si’ Action Platform

Franciscan-hearted People Invited to Join Laudato Si’ Action Platform

The Laudato Si’ Action Platform, the Church-wide journey launched by the Vatican to bring the teaching from Laudato Si and Fratelli Tutti to transform our world, is now open for registration.

The friars invite all interested people – be they ministries, organizations or families – to consider taking part in the platform, which will offer practical planning guides and resources for communities to use to discern and implement their response to Laudato Si’. The US-6 provincial ministers committed to joining the platform last year because they recognized that it will help the friars to live into the values and vision we profess for the new province emerging through the R & R process.

The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation animators are offering their support to people who are registering for the Laudato Si Action Platform. The animators, with help from the US-6 communicators, have created a short video to assist you with the sign-up process. 

In the first question on the registration page, individual friaries are encouraged to enroll in the Religious Local Community category. Ministries are also invited to sign-up for the platform. Even though it might seem redundant to sign-up twice, the support services and community connections provided are tailored to different sectors of the Church so that each can play its part in accepting Pope Francis’ invitation to integral ecology and social friendship. Click here to begin the enrollment process.

If you require assistance in your journey with the Laudato Si’ Action Platform, please reach out to your provincial JPIC animator or email lsap@usfranciscans.org and your animator will respond. Thank you for your consideration to join the larger Church in this journey.

Franciscan Leadership Commits to Vatican’s Laudato Si’ Action Platform

Franciscan Leadership Commits to Vatican’s Laudato Si’ Action Platform

On Nov. 2, the Provincial Ministers of six OFM provinces in the United States released the following statement.

Statement of Commitment to the Laudato Si’ Action Platform

As the leadership for the Franciscan friars in the United States, we humbly and publicly accept the invitation of Pope Francis to commit to the Laudato Si’ Action Platform. The Laudato Si’ Action Platform is an incredible gift to us as we continue the process of joining our six provinces into one coast-to-coast province through our Revitalization and Restructuring Process. Early in our journey to become one, we recognized Laudato Si’ and Fratelli Tutti as guiding documents. The seven goals of the Laudato Si’ Action Platform provide a framework for us to embrace our charism in new ways that build upon our current efforts and elicit creativity for opportunities to live the teaching presented in Laudato Si’ and Fratelli Tutti, while also journeying with the larger Church and world.

We recognize that committing to this seven-year journey is committing ourselves, both collectively and individually, to be open to conversion. Such a conversion we hope will enable us to actualize integral ecology and fraternity with greater authenticity.

To take this journey we will adopt these guiding principles:

  • Ensure that any listening, discerning and going forth processes built into the Laudato Si’ Action Platform can feed into our efforts with the R & R Process and vice versa.
  • Provide adequate institutional support to embrace the Laudato Si’ Action Platform in each of our friaries and ministries.
  • All plans and actions should be grounded in the deep active contemplation of our Franciscan tradition and easily related to the values of Laudato Si’ and Fratelli Tutti.
  • At each step, we will include friars, friaries, and ministries from each of our joining provinces, and we will continue this inclusion when we are one.
  • Appreciate the uniqueness of each of our friaries and ministries. Thus, we will be moving together, even if we are working on different areas of integral ecology and social fraternity.
  • Full internal and external transparency of our actions and processes
  • Challenge ourselves to embrace the Holy Father’s invitation to “dream big, to rethink our priorities, and to commit to act in our daily life on what we dreamed of.” (Let Us Dream, p. 6) 

It is our vision that by the end of our seven-year journey, we will live even more fully in a way that expresses our Franciscan charism in service to the Church and larger society by addressing the emerging challenges of the 21st century. We also hope that our personal and communal footprint on our sister, Mother Earth, will be lighter and sustainable, that our relationships with persons marginalized in our world will be even stronger, and that we have new bonds of fraternity with diverse groups in and outside of the Church.

We commit our six provinces to this journey and invite the leadership of the new province to continue this journey.

Signed on November 2, 2021,

Fr. David Gaa, OFM
Province of Saint Barbara
1500 34th Avenue
Oakland, CA  94601-3092
Fr. Thomas Nairn, OFM
Province of the Sacred Heart
3140 Meramec Street
Saint Louis, MO  63118-4399
Fr. James Gannon, OFM
Province of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
9230 W. Highland Park Avenue
Franklin, WI 53132-8143
Fr. Mark Soehner, OFM
Province of Saint John the Baptist
1615 Vine Street
Cincinnati, OH  45202-6400
Fr. Kevin Mullen, OFM
Province of the Holy Name
129 W. 31st Street, 2nd Floor
New York, NY  10001-3403
Fr. Ronald Walters, OFM
Province of Our Lady of Guadalupe
1204 Stinson Street, SW
Albuquerque, NM  87121-3440

 

Serving on the Board of Franciscans International

Serving on the Board of Franciscans International

by Clark Berge SSF

God so loved the world that he didn’t send a committee.

This was a plaque my mother displayed in her office as ‘sanity insurance’ because she served on many different boards. Nevertheless, as Pentecost proved, Christ’s first gift to the Church was a Spirit that empowered a small group of people to work together to figure out how to promote a message that has brought hope and joy to the world for over two thousand years.

The Board of Directors of Franciscans International is a hard-working group, representing most of the Franciscans around the world, all of whom are members of the six Catholic Franciscan orders and the Anglican Society of St. Francis. The six years I have spent on the board have given me an opportunity to befriend Franciscans from around the world, and to help direct and celebrate the work of furthering our Franciscan aims of honoring the dignity of all people and protecting the integrity of creation.

One of the best ways to promote Christ’s work and mission is to have as many Spirit-led people as possible involved in directing an organization, providing oversight to the hands-on leadership, and scrutinizing budgets to be sure our values are made clear in our financial priorities. Group decision making is not always cumbersome, and when an ecumenical group of Franciscans gather from around the world, representing thousands of brothers and sisters, there is a lot more going on than knocking together the dry bones of administration.

Flesh and spirit make the documents and reports come alive. Franciscan brothers and sisters and our mission to make a difference in the world are at the heart of our attention. Franciscans International has been cited for best practices in getting global attention brought to issues of concern to local Franciscans. Catholic brothers and sisters in Benin brought the plight of ‘witch children’ to the attention of the United Nations. Franciscans have fought for inclusion of key qualifiers in international agreements, such as the inclusion of the simple word ‘clean’ in the acknowledged human right to water. Our own brothers in the Solomon Islands have submitted valuable research and testimony about logging in the Islands, collaborating with the Fl Coordinator for Asia-Pacific in anticipation of the upcoming universal periodic review (UPR) of the Solomon Islands. With the help of the Fl Americas Program Coordinator TSSF members in the Province of the Americas with personal experience of the degradation of the environment through mining in Guyana and the terrible impact on the Acawaio tribe and the larger Amerindian population there, contribute to alerts sent to the UN with information. These are the kinds of activities the Board of Directors supports and facilitates through oversight of the Strategic Plan and organizational goals, monitoring administration of budgets, personnel and program administration, supporting staff in their work in many different ways. In addition to these corporate activities of the board, I have been delighted to serve as an English language proofreader for many of the reports and publications.

Serving on the Board has been a tremendous privilege and an encouragement in my vocation. Sitting around a board room munching sandwiches and chips, there is no extravagance. But then the deli detritus is removed, and a candle lit, and we celebrate the presence of Christ in simple prayer services conducted in at least three languages – English, Italian, and Malay, often German too. Every Saturday evening of a board meeting we meet for Eucharist, sharing the insights into our work and mission prompted by the Scriptures.

For the last three years I have served as Secretary of the Board. I had rather hoped to be elected Vice president, who has relatively little to do unless the president is incapacitated. Fortunately, our board president is hale and hearty. As secretary I have to pay close attention, trying to capture discussion involving UN language and Catholic Franciscan personalities and ecclesiast­ ical concerns I have never heard of before. As a former Minister General, I sometimes asked my General Secretary during a meeting: ‘Did you get that?’ He would patiently smile and nod. Ha! The chickens have come home to roost. The Board members are very patient with me when I ask for spellings and other clarifications!

Within the Society of St. Francis, it is agreed that representation to the board will alternate between Third and First Order members. I followed Averil Swanton TSSF, and after me is Blair Matheson TSSF, Minister Provincial of the Province of the Pacific. His appointment is from April 2021 until April 2024, with another term after that if all the heavenly spheres align and he consents. His first board meeting will be May 2021 in Assisi, health advisories permitting. Within the Society of St. Francis, the representative to the Franciscans International Board is responsible for communicating with the Ministers General about the work of the Board, as well as the occasional presentation or article for a newsletter.

Fl celebrated 30 years last year, and we marked the occasion with three big events, in Geneva, Rome and New York. We had hoped to meet the Pope, but July is his time for holiday. November 2019 found us in New York in the sparkling board room of the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. He made it clear the witness of Fl was highly valued by him and is an important voice in the UN. Through Franciscans International the greeting and challenge of Francis ring in the 21st century: ‘To all the Heads of State and bearers of power in this world! Brother Francis of Assisi, your little one and humble servant, wishes you peace and all good.’

Franciscan Summer School 2021

Franciscan Summer School 2021

The Centre for Catholic Studies at Durham University, England is hosting a two-week Franciscan Summer School. It will take place online May 17-28.

The flexible online format means that one can take part from anywhere in the world, and fit the courses around their schedule, with the option to take one or more courses as they choose. One can participate at different levels – attending only the public lectures or take particular courses.

The School gives Franciscans — both vowed and secular — the opportunity to learn from world specialists in Franciscan studies: Bill Short OFM, Sr Ilia Delio OSF, Dan Horan OFM, and Prof. Jacques Dalarun.

This Summer School would be of great help to those who wish to deepen their understanding of the Franciscan charism and common vocation. For the full details of the courses and public lectures and how to register – please check out:

https://www.dur.ac.uk/theology.religion/ccs/events/fsss/

The registration deadline is 17th April.

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