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.
During this morning’s session of the National Chapter, our National Minister, Jan Parker, OFS, delivered the 2018 State of the Order presentation. The State of the Order document, as well as the presentation slides can be found on the Chapter’s web page.
The State of the Order was followed by a presentation about the recent Formation Visioning Workshop and future formation-related plans by Diane Menditto, OFS, National Formation Chair. These can also be found Chapter’s web page.
Please take some time to read, reflect on, and pray about what Jan and Diane has shared with us in these important documents.
The National Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order – USA (NAFRA) began its 2018 Chapter last night in St Louis. Many important topics will be addressed by our servant leaders this week and, on Saturday, an election will be held to select our national leadership team for the next three years. Please be sure keep the entire National Fraternity in your Prayers as the Holy Spirit guides them during these discussions and the election.
Materials related to the Chapter, include our National Minister’s State of the Order presentation, will be gathered on this webpage. Day one photos by Bob Stronach, OFS are already available.
A new page was added to the Secular Franciscan USA web site today. It gathers together information about sources for many of the books and supplies Secular Franciscans and OFS fraternities often need. This includes the “Little Read Rule Book” as well as the FUN Manual. A link to the page has been added to the Resources menu at the top of every page on the site. You can also follow this link:
Sisters and Brothers of the Secular Franciscan Order, United States:
The release of the Grand Jury report in Pennsylvania is a cause of sorrow, pain and agonizing self-scrutiny for the Catholic Church in the United States. We are again face to face with the tragic reality of sinful abuse perpetrated on the most vulnerable of our faith family. How, we ask, can we trust those shepherds with our lives, our children and our faith? Can the victims find peace and healing in the Church that betrayed their innocence? Can we, as professed Secular Franciscans, stand as mere bystanders watching this tragic play unfold before us? What are we to do? What can we do?
It saddens all of us that a small minority of men who made a commitment to serve the Church betrayed the promises they made to serve, and used their positions of being an authority figure to aid predatory behavior; truly we have wolves in sheep’s clothing. (Mt 7:15) If it were only a case of a few parish priests, the trust of Church leaders may more easily be re-established; but when it is demonstrated that our chief shepherds, the bishops, were involved in secrecy, cover ups and pay outs, the trust, respect and moral authority of the Church as an institution suffers great damage. We must all face the truth and make no excuse for those who are guilty of these crimes against the living stones of the Church, the mystical body of Christ; those who have been unfaithful spouses to the Church as the Bride of Christ!
St John Chrysostom, a fourth century bishop, described pastors as the “salt of the earth”.
(Mt 5:13) He said of pastors, “If others lose their savor, then your ministry will help them regain it. But if you yourselves suffer that loss, you will drag others down with you.” Sisters and brothers, we have witnessed many being dragged down by those shepherds who have lost their savor as salt of the earth.
As a Secular Order, we are in a unique position to help those who feel abandoned, threatened and fearful of the clerical hierarchy that betrayed their trust. We are an order of people in the pew. As people in the pew we can listen to our broken sisters and brothers. We can listen without judging, without trying to immediately heal them of their pain. We can listen to them and acknowledge their pain without defending or making excuses for the institution that betrayed them. We can “with a gentle and courteous spirit accept them all as a gift of the Lord and an image of Christ” (OFS Rule, Art.13). We can make contributions to support the counselors who will help heal the wounds of those suffering souls.
We were founded as the Brothers and Sisters of Penance. All of us in our individual life, in our fraternities, in our regions and our national fraternity must do penance for this great sin. Some demons can only be cast out through prayer and fasting. (Mark 9:29) This is our call to action! Our Lord asked St. Francis to rebuild the Church which was falling into ruin. Are we called to do anything less as followers of Francis? Francis lived his vocation authentically as a living example of Gospel Life. We must do the same. Only by living an authentic Gospel life will our light shine and the Church be rebuilt.
We must also stand with our brothers and sisters who have and are serving the Church as good and faithful servants. These men and women who are faithful to their call are now called to be suffering servants. They are guilty by association with the Church institution that has betrayed their trust. How difficult it will be for them to preach the Gospel as representatives of a Church that has lost its moral authority in the public square and in the pew. We must stand by those faithful servants and help them continue to look after the well-being of others.
Sisters and Brothers of the Secular Franciscan Order, we stand in support of the victims and in favor of holding those responsible for these crimes accountable for their actions. We pray for healing, forgiveness, peace, reconciliation and a Church that will be rebuilt and with God’s grace, and the movement of Holy Spirit, one day, will once again be a beacon of light, hope and refuge. Let us go forth and witness to the light of Christ and rebuild the Church so that it may once again be full of grace and truth.
The National Executive Council of the Secular Franciscan Order USA (OFS-USA)
August 26, 2018
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Greetings and peace!
Sr. Margaret Carney OSF asked that I share the news about The Padua Program – a program to assist lay women and men who are in positions in Franciscan ministries ( colleges, schools, hospitals, social centers) who have responsibility for promoting the Franciscan mission. More and more lay persons will be taking the place of retiring sisters, friars, etc.., and those positions would be ideal for prepared members of our OFS family. Some of you may already be holding such jobs, and this program would be a help to you as well.
I am attaching some documents below that will give you an idea of the scope of the program, along with a link to learn more. Please share the news of this opportunity widely — and quickly — as the Registration deadline is Sept. 5
Should anyone be interested in more information, you may contact Sr. Margaret Carney directly. Her email is MCARNEY@sbu.edu
Thank you for your help in increasing awareness of this opportunity.
Peace and good,
Bring the values of St. Francis of Assisi into your organization through The Padua Program, professional development for Mission Integration Officers.
- Deepen your knowledge of Francis and Clare
- Learn how to apply Franciscan values to today’s workplace challenges
- Acquire skills to use Franciscan economics and to use morals and ethics in decision-making
Learn more at: Summer & Fall 2018 Programs
The Padua Program is a partnership project of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities and St. Bonaventure Institute.
Greetings dear National Family!
I pray this finds you well and filled with the Lord’s peace!
If you only have time to skim this letter, please see the highlighted part below.
If you have time to read this entire message, it was written from my heart to yours.
As we continue to celebrate the 40th anniversary of our Holy Rule, I am reminded of our life in fraternity. What a joy and a gift it is to be in fraternity, with family. I, myself, have been welcomed back into fraternity after being without for nearly three years. Yes, I have had my regional and national families, but there is something very special about your own local fraternity. It is the place you are fed and nurtured; it is the warm ground that houses and embodies the seeds for spiritual growth. It is the true foundation of being Franciscan.
I know very well what it feels like to be separated from my Franciscan family. I cannot imagine what it must be like for a child forced to be separated from his or her parents. Our Holy Rule speaks of the family as being the place where we should cultivate the Franciscan spirit of peace, fidelity and respect for life. The family is that sacred and holy ground for cultivating that spirit. And in these times, I do not take that lightly.
I know there are many of our Secular Franciscan brothers and sisters on the ground helping to reunite separated families; working individually and collectively in the forefront, promoting justice by their very courageous actions. We annually recognize someone doing this great work and celebrate them with the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Award. But who are those unnamed Seculars working in this climate of separated families and “zero tolerance” policies?
If you or a fellow Secular is working with other individuals or organizations to help with this current crisis, please let me know. Please send me a brief description of what you are doing and the organization(s) you are working with – be it a private, public or faith-based organization. If you would email me at ctownes26 @ gmail.com, by this Friday, July 13, 2018, I would really appreciate it.
Please be assured of the prayers of the entire National JPIC Commission as you continue to work for justice in these difficult and trying times. May the Lord continue to give you peace.
Wishing you blessings of peace and all good!
Carolyn D. Townes, OFS
National Animator, Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation
U.S. Secular Franciscan Order
Confirmed and Renewed: Live the Treasure!
Celebrating 40 Years of our Holy Rule
CIOFS is publishing a series of weekly cards to help celebrate the 40th anniversary of our Rule. The Week 9 cards are below.
You can view all the cards that have been released so far
by clicking here.