FRANCISCAN FRIARS Office of Communications Province of St. John the Baptist

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October 19, 2017

A legacy of love, joy, and mercy

BY FR. GREG FRIEDMAN, OFM

 

If anyone asked me what the significance of our presence here is, as Franciscan friars of the Order of Friars Minor, I would answer that it is simply this: accompanying all of the Christians and the people who pass through here, to communicate this love, this mercy, this joy of life in Christ and in God. Our presence is an event not only for all Christians but also for all of mankind.

–Minister General Michael Perry, OFM, interviewed

by Beatrice Guarrera

PHOTO BY MAB/CTS, Custody of the Holy LandListening to one of the history-centered talks“One of the key inspirations that Francis developed in his life of trying to respond to the Gospel was he discovered that the question of where was always linked to who.” This was why, eight centuries ago, according to Minister General Michael Perry, St. Francis of Assisi sent the first mission of friars to the Holy Land. “The key for Francis and for Franciscan mission and for our presence here today in the Holy Land,” Michael said, is the mission inter gentes, “to go among people, to live among people, to share their pain, their burdens, to share their joys.”

The Minister General began a three-day celebration of the 800th anniversary of Franciscan presence in the Holy Land at Evening Prayer on Monday, Oct. 16, at St. Savior’s Church in Jerusalem’s Old City, headquarters of the Custody of the Holy Land. He was warmly welcomed by Fr. Francesco Patton, Custos of the Holy Land. The conference concluded an observance which began earlier this year with a pilgrimage to Acre, in Galilee, where the first friars landed in 1217.

PHOTO BY N. HALLOUN, Custody of the Holy LandTop, Custos Francesco Patton presented a medallion to Cardinal Leonardo Sandri after his talk; above, Vicar General Julio Cesar Bunader presides.On Tuesday morning Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for Oriental Churches, presided at the Eucharist attended by over a hundred friars and friends of the Custody. He brought a message from Pope Francis, who praised the friars in his letter as “ambassadors of the whole people of God” in the Holy Land, with a mission of “sowing peace, fraternity and respect.”

In a “keynote” address to the conference, Cardinal Sandri highlighted the theme of “Pentecost,” noting that the Holy Spirit inspired Francis’ decision at the Pentecost Chapter of 1217 to send the friars, and the Spirit has motivated the friars ever since: “No one can say, ‘I’m here by chance,’” the Cardinal stressed. Rather, “God’s point of view is beyond human consideration,” but God works through human beings, in time and place, thus the importance of “recognizing the birthplace of universal salvation” – the Holy Land.

The international character of the Custody, the Cardinal pointed out, gives it “a prophetic voice, to make itself heard in the Middle East.” The friars can “build bridges of communion,” to overcome divisions and encourage dialogue.

The conference itself was academic in tone. It featured a presentation on Brother Elias who led the first mission, on the Crusader city of Acre at the time of the friars’ arrival, and other scholarly talks. The friars also enjoyed festive meals and a concert by faculty and students of the Custody’s “Magnificat Institute” in Jerusalem, which brings together Christians, Muslims and Jews to study music and build relationships.

(Greg offers pastoral service at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in Washington, D.C., and is acting editor of The Holy Land Review.)

Finding Jesus

Fortunately for me, the Conference fell between travel to Italy for a pilgrimage with students from Roger Bacon and Oldenburg Academy last week, and an upcoming Holy Land pilgrimage beginning Oct. 31 with my Washington confrere, Fr. Ben Owusu. Thus I could cover the event for The Holy Land Review, and re-connect with friars I’ve met over the last four years.

The lively presence of so many Franciscans dedicated to the “first mission of the Order” was the highlight. It recalled what friars in the past such as Fr. Godfrey Schilling, Fr. Hilary Schneider, Br. Ambrose Beam, Fr. Malachy Brogan, and present-day friars Fr. Jeremy Harrington and Fr. Larry Dunham discovered here. As Cardinal Leonardo Sandri said in an interview after his talk, all of us “would like to see as Jesus. But he is in heaven with the Father, [so] we can see and touch only the places where he was and he spoke and he walked. Then for us, the importance of the Holy Land is …conversion. We must be converted to Jesus, and we find here, Jesus.”

–Fr. Greg Friedman, OFM

  • PHOTOS BY JEFF SCHEELER, OFMAbove, friary garden; upper right, San Francisco El Grande; right, Ixchel Spanish School.Sunday, Fr. Jeff Scheeler entered the next phase of his sabbatical, a month of Spanish studies in Antigua, Guatemala. “I am staying with the friars at San Francisco El Grande Church,” he writes. “I will be taking six hours a day at a nearby language school, literally a five-minute walk from the friary.” Jeff is posting photos of his lovely surroundings on Facebook.
  • “The Franciscans assisting the Christian minority and caring for the churches and shrines in the Holy Land are ‘ambassadors’ of all the people of God,” Pope Francis said in a letter congratulating Franciscans on the 800th anniversary of their presence in the Holy Land. Read the letter at: catholicphilly.com.
  • “I’m looking forward to it,” Fr. Pat McCloskey says of his recently announced appointment as Executive Secretary of the English Speaking Conference of the Order of Friars Minor. Pat succeeds Fr. Tom Washburn of IC Province, who plans to leave his post at the end of the year. “I’m excited at the possibilities” of the part-time position, says Pat, who has always been good at multi-tasking. He will stay in Cincinnati and continue his ministry at Franciscan Media.
  • How can you help people with disabilities fully engage in the life of the Church? Starting tomorrow at a conference in Rome, 450 experts from around the world will share their insights. “The event entitled ‘Catechesis and Persons with Disabilities: A Necessary Engagement in the Daily Pastoral Life of the Church’, is being sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization and partnered by The Kairos Forum, a UK based organization that focuses on the spiritual and religious needs of people with disabilities,” according to Vatican Radio. Read more at: radiovaticana.
  • Richard Goodin, OFM“I arrived at the orientation a friar who was grossly incompetent at his assigned job: Associate Vocation Director.” That was Fr. Richard Goodin’s self-assessment before he attended The National Religious Vocation Conference’s “Orientation for New Vocation Directors.” Five days later, “After many, many hours of lecture, conversations and data, I left having become basically competent,” he says. Oct. 11-15, Richard was one of 16 vocation rookies who attended the conference at the Marillac Center in Leavenworth, Kansas. “I’m grateful for the training and have already put it to direct use on my first day back in the office,” he says. “It proved to be a necessary and vital step in becoming up to the task of vocation ministry.  Having attended both a regional meeting and a national meeting of the NRVC, I feel connected to colleagues in the job and thus have many folks to lean on when I have questions or need advice.

PHOTOS BY ROBERT SEAY, OFMTaking part in a foot-washing ceremony.This week the Guardians and Ministers of the Province met to re-energize our commitment to the care of the friars in our friaries.  We were inspired by two articles that Fr. Jack Clark Robinson (OLG Provincial Minister) wrote regarding the local fraternity and the role of the Guardian.

We realize that many of us had a reductionist view of the role defined as “making certain that the friars have enough toilet paper”.  Yes, the Guardian does need to concern himself  Meeting site, The Spiritual Center of Maria Steinabout the physical structures where we live, but he is even more responsible to animate and enliven the community as we move toward lives of holiness.  It is from our deep life with God that our ministry is inspired and flows.

Did you know that historically, our revitalization and reforms began in local friaries?  It’s never been a top down re-appropriation of our charism!  We spoke to one another about some best practices for keeping our friaries as the place where we meet God.  We also looked to the future with a presentation from David O’Brien on the actuarial studies and finances between the six provinces that will be part of the next house chapters in most of our houses.  May God’s Spirit reignite our Friar Minor hearts!

 

— Fr.  Mark Soehner, OFM

 

 

Send comments or questions to: sjbfco@franciscan.org

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FRANCISCAN FRIARS Office of Communications Province of St. John the Baptist

PHOTO BY MAB/CTS, Custody of the Holy LandListening to one of the history-centered talks“One of the key inspirations that Francis developed in his life of trying to respond to the Gospel was he discovered that the question of where was always linked to who.” This was why, eight centuries ago, according to Minister General Michael Perry, St. Francis of Assisi sent the first mission of friars to the Holy Land. “The key for Francis and for Franciscan mission and for our presence here today in the Holy Land,” Michael said, is the mission inter gentes, “to go among people, to live among people, to share their pain, their burdens, to share their joys.”

PHOTO BY N. HALLOUN, Custody of the Holy LandTop, Custos Francesco Patton presented a medallion to Cardinal Leonardo Sandri after his talk; above, Vicar General Julio Cesar Bunader presides.On Tuesday morning Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for Oriental Churches, presided at the Eucharist attended by over a hundred friars and friends of the Custody. He brought a message from Pope Francis, who praised the friars in his letter as “ambassadors of the whole people of God” in the Holy Land, with a mission of “sowing peace, fraternity and respect.”

Office of Communications Province of St. John the Baptist

PHOTO BY N. HALLOUN, Custody of the Holy LandTop, Custos Francesco Patton presented a medallion to Cardinal Leonardo Sandri after his talk; above, Vicar General Julio Cesar Bunader presides.On Tuesday morning Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for Oriental Churches, presided at the Eucharist attended by over a hundred friars and friends of the Custody. He brought a message from Pope Francis, who praised the friars in his letter as “ambassadors of the whole people of God” in the Holy Land, with a mission of “sowing peace, fraternity and respect.”

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Office of Communications Province of St. John the Baptist