About Lee Potts, OFS

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Easter Messages From Our National and International Ministers

Please click here to view and download an Easter greeting to all the Secular Franciscan Order from our Minister General.

Easter Message from National Minister OFS-USA

It is said that hope is the last thing to die.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Darkness came over the earth.

For many, hope died.

Hope died, but love did not.
Love cannot be killed.

Love lives.

Love lives in the heart torn open so wide that no sin could come between us and God,
Love lives in the wounds that heal,
In the blood and water pouring forth from his side.
Love lives in that first glad greeting of Easter Morning,
Jesus has Risen!

There is no greater love than this, than to lay down one’s life for a friend.
This is the Love we live.

See Christ, Be Christ!
 Happy Easter!

 Your sister and minister,
Jan Parker OFS

2019-04-19T16:57:49+00:00April 19th, 2019|Categories: Minister’s Message|4 Comments

A Visioning for Formation

As in St. Francis’ Time, Spirit of Age Ultimately Doesn’t Satisfy

By Mary Stronach, OFS

(This article originally appeared in the Winter 2018-19 issue of Tau-USA)

Fr. David Pivonka, TOR

Setting the stage for a weekend of formation visioning, Fr. David Pivonka, TOR, provided a dose of reality.

“The world has profoundly changed in the last 25 years,” said the host of EWTN’s Wild Goose series. “Young people have no safe place. There is a sense of danger infiltrating every part of us.” He said that there are things that want to corrupt, to manipulate the spirit of faith.

He took workshop attendees through an historical view of God.

In the pre-modern world, pre-1600s, God is the starting point. The world is imbued with God. The truth is rooted in God, he explained.

From the 1600s through to the 1960s, the modern world view has man at the center of all things. “God is pushed off to the side. God might exist but there is no intimate contact. Humanity has the ability to make things better… fix the world’s problems. Right and wrong is based on the human vision.”

In the post-modern world – the last 50 years – there is no center. There is chaos. “The truth is whatever an individual believes to be true.” There are no boundaries. God is not a part of the equation. During this era, he said, many people have no identification with religion.

Youth talk about being “spiritual” but not “religious,” he said. They react to culture mainly by feeling. It is an era when you “can’t offend anybody.” He continued, “This is a non-reflective age. We are so busy, so consumed…We don’t reflect on consequences.” In the 24-hour news cycle, we are “bombarded with noise. Our interior life is suffering. We need to invite people to an interior life.”

“Words like ‘should or should not’ are foreign to this culture,” he added. “Truth and preference are largely the same. If I determine what’s true and someone disagrees, then it reflects on me… The world is so divided, so hostile, we can’t dialogue.” He referred to a quote in a school that said, “We will tolerate all things except what we believe to be intolerant.”

He offered three approaches on how to engage this culture. The first is “accommodation,” accepting that every- thing is OK. But, he said, using this approach “ultimately doesn’t respect the individual.”

The second is not to critique the culture. “This is an escape behind walls, and leads to isolation,” he said. “The church is counter-cultural. We must confront it.”

He provided a more hopeful alternative with the third approach – “Infiltration and transformation.” Engage the culture, he said. “Desire to create a fraternal world. When Francis embraced the leper, he recognized Christ…Recognize and see that, and help other people to see it. There are two conversions into Christ. The first is to leave the world and go to Christ. The second is to go back to the world with Christ to bring to the world what we discover… The power of the Gospel is an encounter of the love of God that changes us… Especially now, in the midst of chaos, they see in us something that can satisfy.”

2019-04-11T20:36:34+00:00April 11th, 2019|Categories: From the Newsletter|0 Comments

JPIC 2019 New Year’s Letter

Greetings of peace, dear Franciscan Family!

I pray this finds you well and filled with the peace of our loving Lord.

I wish you all a Happy New Year as we celebrate this World Day of Peace; through the intercession of Mary, Mother of God. I take this occasion to highlight a few things from Pope Francis in his World Day of Peace message entitled, “Good politics is at the service of peace.”

Our Holy Father begins by stating that “Bringing peace is central to the mission of Christ’s disciples. That peace is offered to all those men and women who long for peace amid the tragedies and violence that mark human history.”

I needn’t remind you that we do live in violent times and our very lives and vocations call us to be bearers of peace in this world. “Pope Benedict XVI noted that ‘every Christian is called to practice charity in a manner corresponding to his vocation and according to the degree of influence he wields in the pólis… When animated by charity, commitment to the common good has greater worth than a merely secular and political stand would have… Man’s earthly activity, when inspired and sustained by charity, contributes to the building of the universal city of God, which is the goal of the history of the human family’”

It is our Christian responsibility to practice charity at all times; and it is our Franciscan call that reminds us that all are brothers and sisters in Christ – especially those we find difficult to be charitable towards. These are the times we must not only soften our hearts but also our words. It is very easy to get caught up in the “mob mentality” in the polis. Yet, our vocation and profession calls us to a higher standard. We must place Christ at the heart and center of all that is; then we focus all our attention on Jesus, who is represented in the faces of all those we dislike or disagree with.

It is no accident that the message for this new year speaks to the political arena. There are those of the mind that Franciscans have no place in politics. Both Jesus and Francis ministered in the heart of the political sphere because this is where the “least of these” resided and were ignored. It is in this political arena where we must pray, learn and act for justice, to right the wrongs done to our brothers and sisters who have no recourse and are left to fend for themselves.

This month marks the anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling that women have the right to choose abortions. We as Franciscans strongly advocate for the right to the life of the unborn – a political action. Every January, there is a March for Life in Washington, D..C. Many of us attend and give heart and voice for the voiceless, the unborn. This is political action at its best. And I personally thank you for it!

But let us not stop there. There is so much to be done in the name of our Lord. This month is also Poverty Awareness Month, Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month as well as when we pray for Christian unity. Yes, my family, there is much to be done in the public arena. The God of Peace has called us to this amazing and difficult work, and I am not willing to disappoint Him. In this new year there is so much to be thankful for as our Lord continues to bless us in our comings and goings. Should we not bless others as we have been blessed?

Thank you for your hearts, your minds and your hands that work for peace and justice. I pray that this year bear much fruit and produce great works in the public arena. It is also my prayer that we continue the good work that God began in us with compassion and civility. Imagine every conversation as a sacred moment with our Lord, who always listens with the ears of faith, hope and love. My heart is full because the greatest of these is love.

Attached please find some goodies to help you pray, learn and study the plight of those living in poverty (Daily Ways to Learn about Poverty in America – January 2019: Calendar, Full Text).

I wish you love, joy, peace, and a very blessed New Year!

Carolyn D. Townes, OFS
National Animator,
Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation
U.S. Secular Franciscan Order

See Christ, Be Christ.
Share the Vision!
(OFS-USA 2019 Theme)

2019-01-01T22:11:45+00:00January 1st, 2019|Categories: JPIC|3 Comments

Happy Feast of the Holy Family!

Beloved National Family,

On this Feast of the Holy Family, I rejoice and give thanks for our beautiful Secular Franciscan family! I am so thankful for all the goodness that I see in this family! What a joy it is to be part of this family!

Jesus, the babe of Bethlehem, has made us members of God’s family in a holy covenant of love and flesh. He takes on our flesh, joins our human family and raises our heads to see our true dignity. Let us indeed raise our heads and not doubt our dignity before God. Let us not doubt God’s love, or what God has called us to. And if you, like me, have stumbled, then do not delay to rouse yourself. Let us run to the manger, be strengthened by the powerful grace of mercy and love, and run to the world singing our joyful song, “The Lord has come!”

Let us also immediately, in this holy tide of Christmas, turn to each other and ask forgiveness for hurts we have caused. Let us look into each others eyes with love and compassion, and as best we can, let each other know that “it’s ok.” In Christ all hurts are healed, so that even if it is impossible for us to physically give, or receive, that healing hug, we can trust Christ’s healing grace which covers us all. God knows our hearts.

Hail! the heaven-born Prince of peace! Hail! the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings, risen with healing in his wings!
Mild he lays his glory by, born that man no more may die:
Born to raise the son of earth, born to give them second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing, “Glory to the new-born King !”

God bless our entire Franciscan Family, and every family!

“Have a rejoicing heart, try to grow holy, help one another, keep united, live in peace.
Sing and make music to the Lord in your hearts.
Whatever you do, put your whole self into it, as if for the Lord and not for men.
Sing and make music to the Lord in your hearts!”
(Reponsory, Office of Readings for the Feast of the Holy Family.)

I look forward to a blessed year ahead, with joyful expectation of how God will work in our lives!

Joy to the World!
And to each of you, peace and all good!

Love and prayers,

Jan Parker OFS
National Minister
Secular Franciscan Order – USA

2018-12-30T16:45:47+00:00December 30th, 2018|Categories: Minister’s Message|0 Comments

Christmas Messages From Our National and International Ministers

Dearest Sisters and Brothers,
May the peace and joy of Christ fill our hearts!

“How silently, how silently the wondrous gift is given!”

These words came to mind as I read the beautiful Christmas letter sent to us today from our brother and General Minister, Tibor Kauser. This letter, with its special message for all Secular Franciscans around the world, is copied below and attached. Please share this letter widely so that it will reach our entire National OFS-USA Family.

Pure Gift.

Oh, the glory of Christmas! So much to hold and ponder in our hearts!

Along with all the members of the National OFS-USA Executive Council, I wish you a Blessed Christmas, filled with exultation! May the song in the night, sung by the angels, be the song in our hearts as we celebrate God’s Gift of Love!

Your sister and minister,


Circ. n. 40/14-20
Prot. n. 3121

Rome, December 24th, 2018

My dear Sisters and Brothers in St. Francis!

May the good Lord give you his peace!

“The day of gladness drew nigh, the time of exultation arrived” (1)

Yes, the day of gladness drew nigh, and it is time to rejoice and to give thanks. God has come to amongst us, God said ‘yes’ to the man. This ‘yes’ has arrived almost unknown, in an unbelievable manner, hidden these things from the wise and the learned …and … revealed them to the childlike. (2) And yes, we see this in St. Francis, and we can see it also today, that the mystery of Christmas is hidden from the wise and revealed to the childlike.

Great things are born in silence. When we are living this season of Advent waiting for the coming of the Lord and celebrating the arrival of our Lord Jesus Christ to the world at Christmas, we often experience the noise and buzz of the world, that is far away from the silence of the stall in Bethlehem. Only a few people knew about what has happened during those days, and thus having the joy of the great act of God: the fullness of times had come! (3)

We have to live Christmas with this experience today, too: we are living in the fullness of times. Christ has come and has remained among us. It is not easy to live this great gift, and today again, it seems that only a few people know about what this gift is really, what we celebrate. Sometimes even we, ourselves forget about it in the midst of the rush of our life, doing our best to prepare everything for the feast, to prepare things that we wish to be signs of our love to one another. We forget about the silence of Bethlehem, that is essential to be able to celebrate the incarnation of the Word of God.

The silence of Bethlehem is a great opposition to the noisy world – rebels, riots, claims, wars, fights in all areas of our societies and even in the Church! We have great concerns about what is happening around us, and it takes our attention, takes our time, takes our power.

But this is the time of exultation! Therefore, I give thanks to the Lord, our God for all the good that he gave us during this year, and I invite you all to live this time of exultation with a full awareness of the presence of God among us. I invite you all to renew our decision to live the fullness of our vocation, and to strive more strongly and more intensely to live that kind of holiness that God has invited us to.

We are frequently tempted to think that holiness is only for those who can withdraw from ordinary affairs to spend much time in prayer. That is not the case. We are all called to be holy by living our lives with love and by bearing witness in everything we do, wherever we find ourselves. …. Are you married? Be holy by loving and caring for your husband or wife, as Christ does for the Church. Do you work for a living? Be holy by laboring with integrity and skill in the service of your brothers and sisters. Are you a parent or grandparent? Be holy by patiently teaching the little ones how to follow Jesus. Are you in a position of authority? Be holy by working for the common good and renouncing personal gain. (4)

At Christmas, this call for holiness is stronger. Stronger, not because God is calling us louder, but because we are going to have a time with more silent moments. We are readier to discover the miracle of God, and to contemplate it in silence. I encourage you with the words of Thomas Merton, who died 50 years ago, but his teaching is still a strong invitation for us:

“There must be a time of day when the man who makes plans forgets his plans and acts as if he had no plans at all. There must be a time of day when the man who has to speak falls very silent. And his mind forms no more propositions, and he asks himself: Did they have a meaning? There must be a time when the man of prayer goes to pray as if it were the first time in his life he had ever prayed; when the man of resolutions puts his resolutions aside as if they had all been broken, and he learns a different wisdom: distinguishing the sun from the moon, the stars from the darkness, the sea from the dry land, and the night sky from the shoulder of a hill.” (5)

This is the kind of silence which lets us celebrate Christmas at the depth of its significance and meaning. God said a ‘yes’ to all men and women, and this ‘yes’ is unconditional. Mary said ‘yes’ to God, and her ‘yes’ is unconditional. It is a good approach to step on the road to holiness to repeat this ‘yes’, unconditionally.

Saying ‘yes’ to God: not only with our prayers, but also with our actions. Saying ‘yes’ to God also means to seek his will, to do his will. And yes, this will give new life to our fraternities, too.

Saying a ‘yes’ to myself: accepting myself as a gift of God to the world, to my family, to my beloved ones, and yes, even to myself. Life is the gift of God, and we have to say ‘yes’ to our lives. We have to accept it with joy together with all our weakness, fragility, difficulties, because it belongs to God. It is right Christmas that shows us the immeasurable value of life, regardless the external circumstances. And yes, this will give new life to our fraternities, too.

Saying ‘yes’ to the neighbor: looking at him as a gift of God. My neighbor is someone, whom God has sent to help me on my road to holiness. All I should do for him, saying ‘yes’ to him unconditionally, will help me to holiness. I invite you to love and act for the poor, the marginalized, the abandoned ones, the orphans, the widows of our times, who are on the edge of the society, or even beyond it. We need all those whom nobody else needs. And yes, this will give new life to our fraternities, too.

For us, secular Franciscan sisters and brothers, this silent celebration of Christmas means the fullness of times, the time of exultation. We always have to seek what is first, and silence always has been first. The world was created in silence. Christ has arrived in silence. Also, Saint Francis has met God first in silence, in the prison, in the St. Damian Church, in the nature, in the solitude.

Let us spend this feast season of Christmas with this exultation, born in silence and in prayer. Let us be aware that the fullness of times had come. Let us get closer to God, closer to our neighbor, and thus also closer to ourselves. Let us be more determined to become holy and let us be more determined to put the incarnated Word of God in the center of our fraternities, local, regional, national and even international. Let us share in the experience of Saint Angela of Foligno: The Incarnation has made two things to us. The first one is, that has filled us with love. The second is that it makes us certain of our salvation. (6)

I give thanks to my God at every remembrance of you, praying always with joy in my every prayer for all of you, because of your partnership for the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. It is right that I should think this way about all of you, because I hold you in my heart. (7)

I wish you all a blessed, holy Christmas, so that you can experience the silence of God, in which the greatest thing has happened: the Word of God has become flesh and dwells among us.

Your brother and your minister,
Tibor Kauser
CIOFS Minister General

1 1Cel85
2 Mt.11.25
3 Gal. 4.4
4 Gaudete et exultate 14.
5 From Thomas Merton: No man is an island
6 12th letter of St.. Angela of Foligno
7 Phil.1.3-7

2018-12-25T00:31:32+00:00December 25th, 2018|Categories: Announcements, CIOFS|0 Comments

Website committee looking for help

Hello everyone,

The national website committee is looking for help with things like moving content from the old site to the new site, site maintenance, and providing live posting and updating support at various national events. Although any help would be welcome, it will be particularly useful if you have experienced with WordPress (especially self-hosted). It would be a real bonus if you were also familiar with:

  • The Avada WordPress theme
  • Fusion Page Builder
  • Basic HTML and CSS

If you are interested in helping out, please send me an email at lee@leepotts.com with a rough idea of how much time you might be able to give to the project as well as an brief description of your experience.

Thank you so much for considering sharing your time and talent with the Order.

Pax et bonum,

2018-11-08T21:17:16+00:00November 8th, 2018|Categories: Announcements, Website Housekeeping|0 Comments

What’s in a name? NAFRA vs. OFS-USA

(This article originally appeared in the Fall 2018 issue of Tau-USA)

The acronym “NAFRA” has been used for years to refer to the National Fraternity. However, it isn’t unique to the United States. So to provide certainty we are shifting to the use of “OFS-USA.” You’ll see email addresses, the website, our Facebook page address, and Twitter account change to the OFS- USA.

Of course, we will still use the term “National Fraternity” in speaking of all OFS in the United  States but we will limit the use of “NAFRA.”

Remember that all of us belong to four fraternities: local, regional, national and international. (Someday we need a list of acronyms listed on the website!).

2018-10-25T21:39:03+00:00October 25th, 2018|Categories: From the Newsletter|0 Comments

Nation Executive Council Election Results

After reflecting together on the needs of our Order, after spending time in prayer and formation, and after invoking the help of the Holy Spirit, the National Fraternity has chosen the team that will guide and animate the Fraternity for the next three years. The following servant leaders were elected to NEC positions:

  • Jan Parker, OFS — Minister
  • Mary Bittner, OFS — Vice Minister
  • Jane DeRose-Bamman — Secretary
  • Claudia Kauzlarich, OFS — Treasurer
  • Awilda Guadalupe, OFS — International Councilor
  • Josh Molidor, OFS — Councilor 1
  • Dennis Ross, OFS — Councilor 2
  • Donna Hollis, OFS — Councilor 3

Jane DeRose-Bamman was also elected Alternate International Councilor

Please keep all of these brothers and sisters in your prayers.

Our new National Executive Council reciting the Commitment to Serve immediately following the conclusion of the election.

2018-10-13T19:00:02+00:00October 13th, 2018|Categories: Announcements, National Chapter|5 Comments

OFS USA Chapter Update: 2018 JPIC Award Presented

Carolyn Townes, OFS (left) and Kathleen Carsten, OFS (right) just after JPIC Award presentation. Photo: Bob Stronach, OFS.

Greetings, dear Family!

It was my joyful honor to present the 2018 recipient of the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Award, Kathleen Carsten, OFS. Kathy, as she is affectionately known, is a parish nurse and an advocate for the seniors and the plights of senior housing.

Wishing you blessings of peace and all good,
Carolyn D. Townes, OFS
National Animator, Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC)

Video of the award ceremony will be posted to the Chapter’s web page shortly.

2018-10-11T23:23:07+00:00October 11th, 2018|Categories: JPIC, National Chapter|0 Comments
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