National Chapter

National Gathering – Kick off by Bishop Mulvey

(This article originally appeared in Winter 2019 Issue #99 of TAU-USA)

URGES OFS TO BE SPIRITUAL POWERHOUSE FOR RENEWING THE CHURCH

By MARY STRONACH, OFS

CORPUS CHRISTI, TX – Under a domed ceiling depicting Christ feeding the multitude, Bishop W. Michael Mulvey shared spiritual food with Secular Franciscans as he helped them launch their National Chapter, held Oct. 15 to 20 at Pax Christi Liturgical Retreat Center.  It was the first time that the Secular Franciscan Order in the United States held its national gathering in Corpus Christi, with some 80 participants from across the country and Guam.

Like St. Francis, he noted, Secular Franciscans are “called to renew the church with the living spirit of Christ.”

Bishop Mulvey began his homily by sharing an affinity with the Franciscan charism, noting that his grandmother was a Secular Franciscan who brought him to Franciscan gatherings as a child, that his great aunt became a Poor Clare nun, and that he celebrated his second mass as a priest at the tomb of St. Francis in Assisi.

So, “it’s good to be among family.”

Bishop Mulvey noted that it sometimes can be hard for people “to accept reality as it is,” and, quoting Pope Francis, they can become “mummified.”

For example, when the Jews were wandering in the desert, they wished they could go back to Egypt. “We want to leave things the way they were, but the promised land is ahead of us…We need a different mentality today,” one that is not “mummifying”.

“Unless we remain in the living spirit of Christ, we dry out and wither,” and “we become mummified.”

The bishop urged Secular Franciscans to work with other groups to help the church. If we “come together – Franciscans as Franciscans, Carmelites as Carmelites, we could be a powerhouse! God has called you to be Franciscan today with the charism of Francis and Clare lived today.”

He said: “Let’s not point fingers at the church. Let’s get in there and help them as Francis and Clare would have done. Never be a part of the difficulty; be a part of the solution.”

He added: “We are in the desert. It’s not an easy task. But with the body of Christ (Corpus Christi), many parts and one head…we can become a powerhouse of spiritual strength that will renew the Church.”

Quoting the saint of the day, St. Teresa of Avila, he closed with a reassuring message, “If Jesus dwells in a person, that person can endure all things.”

The joyful sound of guitar music was provided by Bob Conces, OFS, from St. Francis of Assisi Fraternity in San Antonio.

At the close of the opening Mass of the Chapter, National Minister Jan Parker, OFS, thanked Bishop Mulvey for his encouragement to rebuild and renew the Church. “The (Franciscan) Rule says we are united most intimately with the Church… We are one body, one Lord. We are with you. You are in our hearts and in our prayers.”

2020-02-21T11:31:47-05:00February 21st, 2020|Categories: From the Newsletter, National Chapter|0 Comments

State of the Order: 2019 New Rule, New Unity, New Vision

[This is the final excerpt of an article that originally appeared in the Winter 2019 Issue 99 of the TAU-USA.  Also – Resources –  Meeting Documents and Proceedings –  2019 National Chapter –   State of Order Address OFS-USA 10-16-19 ]

National Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order – USA

By JAN PARKER, OFS, & MARY BITTNER, OFS

In consultation with the National Executive Council

NEW RULE, NEW UNITY, NEW VISION

We’ve been on this journey of renewal for some time now. In the last 40 years the essential structures were set in place – and now we see the progression – the trajectory. What a gift it is to recognize this trajectory as God’s direction for our Order, even as we await its fulfillment.

New Rule, new unity, new vision. The new Rule gave us hope for renewal. A new unity as we formed a worldwide Order. A new vision through the visioning gatherings for Youth, Formation and JPIC. Certainly, from the beginning we have always “begun again” and started “something new” – but there is a particularity about this moment. The delivery of our new Rule was a ‘decisive and powerful moment,’ and this ‘moment’ of grace has been prolonged into a ‘season.’ Truly a new spirit has been placed in our hearts and a holy anointing has been poured out in our midst. Let us, like Francis, be tireless as we pursue holy newness. The way is unfolding before us, and God is with us.

“In these last times, a new Evangelist,

like one of the rivers of Paradise,
has poured out the streams of the gospel
in a holy flood over the whole world.
He preached the way of the Son of God
and the teaching of truth in his deeds.
In him and through him
an unexpected joy and a holy newness
came into the world.
A new spirit was placed in the hearts of the elect
and a holy anointing has been poured out in their midst.”

(1 Celano 89)

 

Peace and all good,

Jan Parker & Mary Bittner, in consultation with the National Executive Council

National Executive Council

Jan Parker, Minister

Mary Bittner, Vice Minister

Claudia Kauzlarich, Treasurer

2020-02-17T10:50:28-05:00February 17th, 2020|Categories: From the Newsletter, National Chapter|0 Comments

State of the Order: Renewal and Priority of Fraternity

[This is an excerpt of an article that originally appeared in the Winter 2019 Issue 99 of the TAU-USA.  Also – Resources –  Meeting Documents and Proceedings –  2019 National Chapter –   State of Order Address OFS-USA 10-16-19 ]

National Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order – USA

By JAN PARKER, OFS, & MARY BITTNER, OFS

In consultation with the National Executive Council

THE HOLY SPIRIT CONTINUES TO MOVE

The Holy Spirit continues to move us on a trajectory of renewal. We see this in the initiatives, activities and achievements of this past year.

These have been reported to you in detail by the various Commissions, Committees and those individuals appointed for a particular service, but they bear mentioning here. Many of the individuals responsible for this wonderful work are present this week at our Chapter.

THE PRIORITY OF FRATERNITY

One of our major initiatives and a driving force behind all of our efforts is the National Priority of Fraternity. The day we made our profession in the Secular Franciscan Order we said these words, “may…the fraternal bonds of community always be my help.”

The NEC has focused on building fraternity: during our visitations to the Regional Fraternities; by way of outreach to our non-English speaking brothers andsisters; through articles on fraternity in each issue of the TAU-USA; and resources on our website. It is gratifying to see the topic of fraternity being used for ongoing formation across our National Fraternity.

A major achievement is the interactive map on our website showing the location of every local fraternity in the United States. This past year we added five new local fraternities to this map, with more to come in 2020, including the establishment of St. Padre Pio Fraternity in Guam this coming January.

We cannot speak of fraternity without mentioning the bond we have with our brothers of the First Order and Third Order Regular. Spiritual Assistance is a “fundamental element of communion” (GC 89.1). Our bonds with the friars were strengthened significantly this past August at an historic three day gathering of national OFS leadership with Provincial Ministers, their delegates to the OFS and Regional Spiritual Assistants – a true gathering of the Franciscan Family. This event, entitled “Life Giving Union – Discussion and Discernment,” was facilitated by the Conference of National Spiritual Assistants (CNSA). This dream of many sunsets finally became a reality. We celebrated our “Life-Giving Union” as one Family. This gathering provided an unprecedented opportunity for us to build relationship and share our common concerns. We listened and learned. Doors were opened. Invitations were extended. Ideas were shared. It was a graced time of discovering new ways to go forward together. A full report on this gathering, including the recommendations that came forth from the participants, can be found on our website.

Our fraternal lives are also enriched by our relationships with the Franciscan Third Order Religious Sisters and Brothers, and with our brothers and sisters who follow St. Francis in the Anglican tradition (the Third Order Society of St. Francis), the Order of Ecumenical Franciscans, and the Lutheran Franciscan Order. Additionally, our relationship with the Franciscan Federation continues to develop, and we are engaged with them in planning their next annual conference in June 2020. This will be an event to which the entire Franciscan family in the USA will be invited.

The priority of Fraternity extends widely, encompassing a universal kinship. We are brothers and sisters to the world, bringing hope and extending our hands and hearts in peace. This is reflected in our outreach to the poor and marginalized, to those treated unjustly, and by our care for creation. We sing and we live the Canticle of Brother Sun. Praised be you, my Lord!

Next blog post:  New Rule, New Unity, New Vision

2020-02-15T09:04:13-05:00February 14th, 2020|Categories: From the Newsletter, National Chapter|0 Comments

State of the Order 2019 – Our History Forms A Trajectory

[This is an excerpt of an article that originally appeared in the Winter 2019 Issue 99 of the TAU-USA.  Also – Resources –  Meeting Documents and Proceedings –  2019 National Chapter –   State of Order Address OFS-USA 10-16-19 ]

National Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order – USA

By JAN PARKER, OFS, & MARY BITTNER, OFS

In consultation with the National Executive Council

OUR HISTORY FORMS A TRAJECTORY

Let’s look back at our history from the time of the new Rule until today. Reflecting on our history can help us understand where we’re going in light of where we’ve been.

It reflects and shows us how God is working in this renewal – the renewal that’s been happening from the time of the new Rule.

1968 -1978 The development of the Pauline Rule

1972 – The Santa Clara Statement issued from the Lay Franciscan Congress (the Q)

2000 – The Constitutions

2002 – 2008 CIOFS “For the Formators”

2012 Q – Be the bridge

2014 – National Retreat – Signs of the times / Pope Francis – Br. Bill Short

2014 CIOFS Management of the Order, which asked “What would it take for our Order to fully develop?”

2016 Q – Revive

2017 CIOFS – Management of the Order Terms of Reference / General Chapter

2017 – Youth Visioning

2018 – Formation Visioning

2019 – Life Giving Union Event

2019 – JPIC Visioning

Each of these events have had a profound impact on our Order. Seeing where we are now, we can look back, and we can understand how all of this is part of a grand trajectory.

THE HOLY SPIRIT CONTINUES TO MOVE

The Holy Spirit continues to move us on a trajectory of renewal.

We see this in the initiatives, activities and achievements of this past year.

These have been reported to you in detail by the various Commissions, Committees and those individuals appointed for a particular service, but they bear mentioning here.

Many of the individuals responsible for this wonderful work are present this week at our Chapter.

Next blog post:  The Priority of Fraternity

2020-02-14T20:08:38-05:00February 12th, 2020|Categories: From the Newsletter, National Chapter|0 Comments

State of the Order 2019: The Signs of the Times leads to Visioning

[This is an excerpt of an article that originally appeared in the Winter 2019 Issue 99 of the TAU-USA.  Also – Resources –  Meeting Documents and Proceedings –  2019 National Chapter –   State of Order Address OFS-USA 10-16-19 ]

National Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order – USA

VISIONING TO HOLY NEWNESS

By JAN PARKER, OFS, & MARY BITTNER, OFS

In consultation with the National Executive Council

THE SIGNS OF THE TIMES leads to A SEASON OF VISIONING

The signs of the times became a catalyst that has characterized our national efforts in the last three years.

The National ExecutiveCouncil (NEC) had been reflecting on the work of our Franciscan Youth and Young Adult (FYYA) Commission and had come to the conclusion that we needed to find a new direction for this effort.

Early in 2017 we decided to bring together a group of OFS members who were interested in working with youth for what we called a visioning gathering.

Recalling what is needed for the hope of renewal, we looked to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the signs of the times. We simply asked, “What is God’s vision for our Order in the area of youth?” We found the direction we were looking for.

We were suddenly set in motion and began a season of Visioning. This was truly the work of the Holy Spirit.

The Visioning on Youth gathering was followed by Formation Visioning in 2018, and JPIC Visioning in 2019.

For each visioning we prepared in the same way. We invited Secular Franciscan leaders and members at large, Spiritual Assistants and members of the wider Franciscan family, all with various levels of experience who had an interest in the topic. We took care to have representation from different regions and cultures. We asked everyone to reflect on readings that were assigned ahead of time.

The key question at each gathering was, “What is God’s vision for our Order?” We invoked the Holy Spirit to open our hearts and minds. We read the signs of the times. We were ready for holy newness.

The result of each visioning has been amazing. What we saw and heard and felt was the outpouring of the Spirit. We sat in awe at what God was doing in our midst. Many of us witnessed this. This painting by Pat Serotkin, was one of the images that came forth from the Formation Visioning.

It captures the experience we had at each visioning; the fire of the Holy Spirit spreading across our National Fraternity.

We came away with a renewed understanding of the place of the three commissions in our way of life – the commissions are not add-ons. Youth, Formation, and Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation (JPIC) are firmly anchored in our way of life, our secular way of holiness. Sacred secularity. This is the way we live the Gospel life we are called to by God for the life of the Church.

The vision is clear, and the truth of it is as undeniable as the Lord’s intervention in Francis’ life in February of 1208. While at Mass in the Portiuncula, Francis heard the Gospel read in a way he had never experienced. These words spoke directly to Francis’s heart.

“As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give. Do not take gold or silver or copper for your belts; no sack for the journey, or a second tunic, or sandals, or walking stick. The laborer deserves his keep. Whatever town or village you enter, look for a worthy person in it, and stay there until you leave. As you enter a house, wish it peace. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; if not, let your peace return to you.” (Matthew 10:7-13)

Francis was so struck by this passage that his life was turned upside down. The words of the Gospel—the Gospel life—defined his mission. He was filled with unexpected joy.

Just as hearing this message was a pivotal moment for Francis’s conversion – so were the messages we received at each of our three visioning gatherings. I cannot overestimate the importance of these visioning events. We have been granted a renewed understanding of our call and mission. For each commission, a vision was given. In response to each vision, we set out in a new direction.

Next blog continues with OUR HISTORY FORMS A TRAJECTORY

2020-02-12T15:09:04-05:00February 10th, 2020|Categories: From the Newsletter, National Chapter|0 Comments

State of the Order October 2019 – Part 1

[This article originally appeared in the Winter 2019 Issue 99 of the TAU-USA

Also – Resources –  Meeting Documents and Proceedings –  2019 National Chapter –   State of Order Address OFS-USA 10-16-19 ]

National Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order – USA

VISIONING

TO HOLY NEWNESS

By JAN PARKER, OFS, & MARY BITTNER, OFS

In consultation with the National Executive Council

 “In these last times, a new Evangelist, like one of the rivers of Paradise, has poured out the streams of the gospel in a holy flood over the whole world.  He preached the way of the Son of God and the teaching of truth in his deeds. In him and through him an unexpected joy and a holy newness came into the world.  A new spirit was placed in the hearts of the elect and a holy anointing has been poured out in their midst.” (1 Celano 89)

Praise God for the holy flood of the gospel life poured out over all the world by St. Francis who brought an unexpected joy and holy newness to us all. Let us give thanks for our Franciscan vocation and the gift of fraternity.

I am thankful for this gathering, and for the many wonderful gatherings that we have experienced this past year; thankful for the work of the International Council; and that of the councils at every level; and very thankful for each of you.  This week God has brought us, brothers and sisters all, into yet another privileged place – this gathering of the National Fraternity Council. May we experience the joy of fraternity, as fraternity is not only our priority, but our true help.

This past June we concluded a year of celebration for the 40th anniversary of our Rule, a Rule that was a response to the call by Vatican II to all religious to return to their roots. We recalled that when the 1978 Rule was presented, our Minister General, Manuela Mattioli, wrote: “With the promulgation of the new rule, the renewal of the Secular Fraternity has reached a decisive and powerful moment…” The Order rejoiced and looked forward in hope that this Rule would indeed renew us and help us become what God had called us to be.

Much has happened in the intervening 40 years, beginning with writing the new Rule and Constitutions, the unification of the Order, and the establishment of structures to serve a worldwide Order. Our International Council (CIOFS) first focused on formation as the most important element of our renewal. Launching into the “management of the Order” project, the Presidency noted that “Structurally, unification has occurred, but we still experience problems on how the sense of unity and belonging are perceived. We have not fully embraced the implications of our Rule and Constitutions; have not fully understood our vocation, identity and mission; and have not yet lived up to what the Church expects of us.” The fulfillment of our hope for renewal has not yet been fully realized. We still wait in longing for the holy newness that Francis himself yearned for.

Let us look to another passage from Thomas of Celano to deepen our understanding of what holy newness meant to Francis.

“Francis burned with a great desire to return to his earliest steps toward humility; rejoicing in hope because of his boundless love, he planned to call his body back to its original servitude, although it had now reached its limit. He cut away completely the obstacle of all cares and silenced the noise of all concerns. When he had to relax this rigor because of illness, he used to say: “Let us begin, brothers, to serve the Lord God, for up to now we have done little or nothing.” He did not consider that he had already attained his goal, but tireless in pursuit of holy newness, he constantly hoped to begin again. (1 Celano 103)

Francis burned with a great desire to return to his earliest steps.

We too have a great desire to return to our first love, our roots.

We too long to cut away cares and concerns.

We too want to tirelessly pursue holy newness.

It is time to begin again.

We recall that when the 1978 Rule was promulgated, the four Ministers General of the Franciscan Family wrote:

The hope of renewal hinges upon returning to the origins and to the spiritual experience of Francis of Assisi and of the brothers and sisters of penance who received from him their inspiration and guidance. This renewal also depends upon openness to the Spirit in the signs of the times.”

(next blog continues with THE SIGNS OF THE TIMES)

2020-02-12T15:06:55-05:00February 7th, 2020|Categories: From the Newsletter, National Chapter|1 Comment

National Chapter meeting underway in Corpus Christi

Bishop William Michael Mulvey prepared the way for the 2019 National Chapter meeting by celebrating  Mass at the Jesus Christ Our Peace Chapel in Corpus Christi on Tuesday, Oct. 15.

The meeting, which will continue through Saturday night at the Pax Christ Liturgical Retreat Center, will include approval of the 2020 budget, a keynote on the state of the order by National Minister Jan Parker, group discussions, presentations, a service project, and the announcement of the JPIC award.

The meetings began Tuesday as Cherryle Fruge, OFS, Minister of St. Joan of Arc Region, and Claudia Kauzlarich, OFS, National Treasurer, facilitated the orientation of the new Regional Ministers in preparation for the official opening of the Chapter on Wednesday morning, October 16th.

Each year at our National Chapter, the Regional Ministers elected since the previous Chapter, along with their mentors, assemble for an orientation session.  This year, Fruge focused on the spirituality of serving the region as minister.  She shared with us that she didn’t fully understand servant leadership until she served as Regional Minister. She told us that the experience of being Regional Minister has enhanced her spiritual life.

Fruge encouraged the new ministers with inspiration words about their role as leaders:  “A vocation to the office of service is under the mantle of divine protection, and you are given all the graces sufficient to fulfill whatever we are called to do.”  Most importantly, she said, “Don’t short change prayer”.

The new ministers and delegates were warmly welcomed in the traditional introduction of the National Executive Council and Commission Chairs at the conclusion of the orientation.  The new Ministers and the delegate are:

  • Emma Lozowski OFS – Franciscans of the Prairie Region
  • Barbara Braley OFS – Our Lady of Indiana Region
  • Steve Geldmacher OFS – Saint Clare Region
  • Joanne Lockwood OFS – Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Region
  • Marianne James OFS – Saint Maximilian Kolbe Region
  • Gene Keenan OFS – Tau Cross Region
  • Tim Taormina OFS, RVM, delegate for Hazel Martin, OFS – Queen of Peace Region
  • Dale Marzano, OFS – delegate for Lorna Miressi, OFS – Mother Cabrini Region
2019-10-20T16:16:10-04:00October 16th, 2019|Categories: National Chapter|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.

2018-10-13T19:00:02-04:00October 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.

2018-10-11T23:23:07-04:00October 11th, 2018|Categories: JPIC, National Chapter|0 Comments
Load More Posts