St. Louis – Life-Giving Union Reflections – Father Christopher Panagoplos, T.O.R.
Co-Responsibility in the Church’s Mission to Serve Better
“Secular Franciscans are the vast majority of Franciscans; they live immersed in the things of the world, and with their contribution it is not possible to convert and restore the world to Christ, in its most intimate and vital ways. The laity and the Seculars are therefore essential. For this reason, the First, Second and Third Orders of St Francis must rediscover the meaning of the common mission, each coordinating with the other two Franciscan Orders. It is an essential mission in God’s plan for Franciscans.” Benedetto Lino, O.F.S.
Fr. Michael Higgins, T.O.R.
In August, 2019,, fifty-five Franciscans journeyed to St Louis in our country’s heartland. Three days of dialogue and discernment, with passion and the flame of the Holy Spirit in our hearts—a true gathering of the Franciscan Family—the dream of many sunsets became a reality. Those attending were Provincial Ministers, Friar delegates of the Provincial, Regional Spiritual Assistants, and OFS leadership of the National Executive Council. We celebrated our “Life-Giving Union” as one Family. The keynote addresses were presented by Father Michael Higgins, T.O.R., Eighth President of the Franciscan School of Theology at the University of San Diego. With his affection for the OFS as a “tertiary,” he and Benedetto Lino, O.F.S., (who is quoted above), gathered our desires and concerns which gave rise to the manner in which our service to the Church is to be understood.
Seven years ago, Pope Benedict XVI spoke on “Ecclesial and Social Co-Responsibility” to the 6th Ordinary Assembly, International Forum of Catholic Action:
“co-responsibility demands a change in mindset, especially concerning the role of lay people in the Church. They should not be regarded as “collaborators” of the clergy, but rather as people who are really co-responsible for the Church’s being and acting.”
On the 40th Anniversary of the Rule, Encarnacion del Pozo, O.F.S., believes that “the future of formation in the Order must be oriented towards being. By only doing, without being, the Order will not mature, and gradually regress to simple and tiresome routine.”
Fr. David Gaa, OFM, Fr. James Gannon, OFM, Fr. Thomas Nairn OFM, and Fr. Jack Clark Robinson, OFM
At the great “Franciscan Jubilee,” inaugurating the Third Millennium, Roger Cardinal Etchegary spoke on the Franciscan charism. “Never has the Franciscan charism been so needed than today in order to offer the total Christ to a disintegrating world which fears a brotherhood of solidarity among all human beings without exclusion. It is the total Christ, all of Christ, every aspect of Christ, which we Franciscans must, like St Francis, bear within us and offer to the world. The areas of service to which we are called are, therefore, unlimited and demanding.”
We live in a time of “spiritual myopia and moral shallowness” that try to impose on us as normal the “culture of lowness,” where there is obviously no place for transcendence and hope. Pope Francis
Below are links to documents from the gathering, including Fr. Michael Higgins’ PowerPoint presentation on Altius Moderamen, a list of participants, and the Recommendations made by the Participants.