SPRING MEETING OF THE CONFERENCE NEWSLETTER
GALVESTON, TEXAS - The Provincial Ministers and Custodes of the Conference held their annual Spring meeting last week (April 4-8) in Galveston hosted by St. John the Baptist Province. Click below to learn more about what happened.
SPRING MEETING OF THE CONFERENCE NEWSLETTER
This originally appeared in the March-April 2016 of Good News, the newsletter of the Assumption BVM Province.
Friar Maxwell Klug, OFM, is a simple professed friar of the Assumption on Province. Majoring in French, Loyola University arranged for him to have an immersion experience of the language by spending ten weeks in Morocco. Morocco is one of the oldest Franciscan missionary sites in the world, and was also the place from which the first Franciscan martyrs were made. The following is his reflection on his time there so far:
It has been just a little over two months since I have arrived in Rabat, Morocco. The time has flown by very quickly. Here in Rabat there are three of us in the friary: Fr. Manuel (Spanish & the Custos), Fr. Kevin (Congolese), and yours-truly. Connected to the friary is the parish of St. Francis of Assisi, one of the many ministries of the friars here in Rabat. The parish serves the English, Spanish, and Portuguese speaking communities.
The friary it is almost exclusively French speaking. My French has greatly improved since arriving. I am able to understand about 95% percent of the conversation. For the words or conjugations that I don’t know, the brothers have been phenomenal with helping me. Besides French, I am also learning classical Arabic and a bit of the local Arabic dialect (Darija). In addition to working on my foreign language(s) I am also studying Margrebian (N.African) French literature and a course on Islam (both French taught) and a course of North African History. Overall, classes are going very well.
I have had the opportunity to travel around a large portion of Morocco due to the size of the country and the affordability of getting around the country by bus or train. The most breath-taking place thus far has been the Sahara desert. Within our 12 hour bus ride to the Sahara we passed through 3 different climates: spring like weather in Rabat, snow (a lot more than I anticipated) in Ifrane, and of course the heat of the dessert.
I find it difficult to describe the immense beauty, humbleness, and adventure I felt while walking in the Sahara both during the day & night. I eventually stopped taking pictures while sitting atop a dune watching the sunset because no camera could adequately capture the beauty of that moment or place. It was truly breathtaking!
Although I have experienced incredible beauty, I have also experienced incredible darkness while here. In the United States, in a certain sense, we are very secluded from the refugee/immigrant crisis that is happening here in Africa, the Middle-East, and Europe. The reports from the news are a constant living reality here in Morocco. Each friary I have visited has had a constant flow of people, mostly sub-Saharan Africans, searching for help as they make their way to Europe. On the streets there is the constant presence of the broken families that have fled the middle-East. Sadly, the other day I came home to a house surrounded by the police. My first thought was about Fr. Kevin, who was home alone, but the police assured me that he was okay. They then told me to go into the friary.
Once the sea of police opened for me I noticed, laying on our steps, a dead refugee. The officer, who was incredibly kind, kept telling me that this kind of thing happens often. I am sure that he was saying that so I wouldn’t be so taken aback, but it was all the more unsettling knowing that it is a daily occurrence and the government does nothing. The government has nothing set up for immigrants/refugees. Therefore, many NGO’s have tried to help those coming to Morocco, but there is still so much to be done.
On a much lighter note. I had the grace filled opportunity to meet with Br. Jean Pierre Schomacher. He is one of the Tibihrine Trappist monks. He is now 94 and lives in Morocco. He was staying at the friary here in Rabat while he visited his doctor(s). I was greatly surprised as he introduced himself. Not only have I seen the movie Of Gods and Men several times, I have also read one of his books.
Once he settled in, I had the opportunity to have a very lengthy conversation with him. It is one thing to see the movie and read his book, but to sit one-on-one and hear what happened that night and his faith journey was a beautiful and sacred moment. It was a great honor to have met him.
I have attached a picture of Fr. Barnabas I thought you all might enjoy that the Friars have hanging in the corridor leading to their bedrooms. The brothers have fond (and of course comical) stories of our late brother. Since they introduce me as “Br. Maxwell from the province of Barnabas,” many people have shared great memories of him.
It always warms my heart to hear how the Friars have touched the lives of others. I would again like to thank the province for allowing me to have this incredible experience. I keep you all in my daily prayers.
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - March 23rd marked the one year anniversary of the Episcopal Ordination of Bishop Ferd Cheri, OFM (Sacred Heart Province). Bishop Ferd reflected on his first year as Bishop in Around the Province, newsletter of the Sacred Heart Province.
From Bishop Ferd:
Only in the Kingdom!! There is no one way to describe the first year of being a bishop in the Catholic Church. One would think that I tell people things to do, but I can honestly say I have been told more things to do. I have spoken to all kinds of God's children from 5 to 103 years of age, the rich and the poor, and, the privileged and the marginalized. I have spoken as an advocate for life from womb to tomb, specifically aware that Black Lives Matters and always conscious of the universal church that we are.
I have to confess that my Franciscan charism has been put to the test – being peacemaker, penitent, and itinerant. As peacemaker, I have assisted pastors and church officials in pastoral conflicts. As penitent, I had to preach and model mercy and forgiveness, putting others’ needs before my own. As itinerant, I proclaim the Gospel values of Jesus Christ reflected in faith and action for the needy in our midst. I have lots to learn as I struggle with the politics and pressures of leadership.
I have a good mentor in Archbishop Gregory Aymond and my wonderful Chancery staff. I have been touched by the hospitality and spirit of the people of New Orleans, not to mention the food. I do miss the fellowship of my Franciscan brothers who I pray for all the time. I am really growing in my ministry as bishop, challenged by all that makes the Catholic Church a beacon of hope in these times. Truly, there is never a dull moment; always something new in the kingdom.
Peace and All Good,
This originally appeared in the April 5, 2016 issue of Around the Province.
For those interested in deepening their knowledge of all things Franciscan, there are a variety of courses being offered this summer both at Franciscan School of Theology in Oceanside, California and at the School of Franciscan Studies at St. Bonaventure University this upcoming summer.
FRANCISCAN SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY at OLD MISSION SAN LUIS REY
Creation, Justice, and the Human Role: Biblical Foundations of the Franciscan Vision
July 5-8: Michael Guinan, OFM
This module will explore some major themes in Pope Francis’ Laudato Sí as they touch the biblical foundations of Franciscan life. Consideration will be given to Genesis, Wisdom Literature, Psalms, and passages of the New Testament. How does God create? what does God create? What is the human role in this? how are “cosmic justice” and “social justice” connected? How does all this come together in Christ? In the light of this, we will revisit St. Francis’ Canticle of the Creatures.
Saint Francis And His Love Of Creatures
July 11-15: William Short, OFM
In this module we will discover Francis’ love for the Creator and creation in his own writings and in early biographies of the saint. Earlier stories of Christian saints living in harmony with the natural world will help to situate Francis within the rich Catholic tradition of care for creatures. An exploration of the theme of Francis and creatures in the arts (painting, music, and drama) will complement the reading of literary texts.
Theology Of Creation In Bonaventure
July 18-22: Thomas Herbst, OFM
St Bonaventure’s theology of Creation is fundamentally relational in which every creature whether galaxy of stars or humble grasshopper in a field of grain- possesses a profound affinity to the Creator, specifically the Word, whose signature remains on every one. At the center is Christ as Logos and, in the Incarnation, Jesus, re-ordering the broken journey from source to destination in a trajectory of bottomless love that leads, in classic Franciscan fashion, to the cross and, from it, to renewed life…and glory.
Enduring Presence: The Integral Ecology Of Franciscan Life
July 25-29: Dr. Darleen Pryds And Donna Foley, OFS
Both the Canticle and the encyclical Laudato Si pay close attention to relationships between the creatures known as humans. Through the long, rich history of lay Franciscans sharing ministry with the religious, we will explore five themes in what Pope Francis calls “an integral ecology”; 1) Life partnerships and the cultivation of faithful relationships; 2) Faith and family life; 3) Conversion stories and the challenges of faith; 4) Caregiving and the ministry of presence; 5) Your life as a Franciscan: applying historical models to today.
CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THESE COURSE.
SCHOOL OF FRANCISCAN STUDIES at ST. BONAVENTURE UNIVERSITY
Olean, New York
Survey of Franciscan History
July 11-29: Dominic Monti, OFM
This course examines the development of the evangelical movement initiated by Francis of Assisi. It will concentrate on the internal developments in the three Franciscan Orders as they attempted to respond to the changing situation of the Church and society throughout history. It will end with a consideration of the major issues faced by the Franciscan movement today.
Francis: His Life and Charism
July 4-15: Joshua Benson, PhD, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology
The Catholic University of America
This course will provide an introduction to the life and times of Francis of Assisi. It will also examine his distinctive spiritual vision, as well as his impact on the medieval Church through the vast movement of evangelical renewal initiated by him. Based on his writings, and early as well as significant modern biographies, this course is designed to meet the needs of the beginning student in Franciscan studies.
July 11, 14, 19 & 21: Lake Herman, OFM Cap.
The Franciscan Roundtable is designed to help Franciscan women and men in their early years of Formation articulate how what they are learning about Franciscan life and values impacts their daily lives. By assessing their personal and communal strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT), participants engage in conversation with their cohorts about how best to live a Franciscan life in the 21st century.
Lake Herman, OFM Cap., is the director of Post-Novitiate Formation, New York-New England Province of Capuchins and has ministered as a retreat director and spiritual director in young adult ministry for more than 10 years.
Clare and Franciscan Women
July 11-29: Jean Francois Godet-Calogeras, PhD
This course elaborates the contribution of women to the Franciscan charism. Special emphasis will be given to the life and influence of Clare of Assisi and other women whose lives have affected the mystical and missionary vitality of the Franciscan Family. In addition to identifying primary and secondary sources for the study of Franciscan women of specific periods, participants will develop an understanding of prominent and recurring issues affecting the lives of Franciscan/Catholic women. Class methods will prepare students to develop further research for themselves, or for their religious congregations or lay associations.
St. Bonaventure on Truth, Beauty and Goodness
July 4-22: Anthony Murphy, PhD
This online course asks the question, Is there a uniquely Franciscan Philosophy that best captures the spirit of St. Francis? After an analysis of Boehner’s “The Spirit of Franciscan Philosophy” and Professor Murphy’s monograph, “The Life-World of the Early Franciscan Minorite Movement as Found in the Admonitions,” the course will argue that St. Bonaventure’s philosophical system is a unique attempt to idealize the spirit and practice of the Early Minorites as found, in part, in Francis’ Admonitions. Specifically, the course will study the role in Bonaventure’s work on the transcendental: Goodness, Truth, and Beauty as rooted in the theology of the word and its implication for the understanding of language. Attention will be paid to both the Platonic origin of the transcendentals in Plato, Augustine and Anselm, along with their contemporary expression in Hans-Georg Gadamer’s “Language and Verbum” in his Truth and Method. Note: Bonaventure’s texts to include selections from Christ the One True Teacher, Disputed Questions on the Knowledge of Christ, Disputed Questions on the Mystery of the Trinity, the Itinerarium, and Timothy Johnson’s Selected Spiritual Writings.
Women and Gender in Islam: From Revelation to Revolution
July 4-15: Michael Calabria, OFM, Ph.D.
Director of the Center for Arab and Islamic Studies at St. Bonaventure University
Contrary to popular stereotypes, women have played integral roles in Islamic societies from the revelation of the Qur’an to the present day. Beginning with an overview of women in the pre-Islamic Near East, this course examines the status, significance and spirituality of women as revealed in the Qur’an and Islamic tradition, as well as in Islamic history and culture. Comparisons and contrasts will be made with the Christian tradition. Contemporary issues facing Muslim women will also be addressed.
Development of the Franciscan Person
July 11-29: David Couturier, OFM Cap.
Dean of Franciscan Studies and Executive Director of the Franciscan Institute, St. Bonaventure University
Since Franciscan formation and spiritual direction respects the Franciscan perspective, which values the person, this course centers upon the theological and psychological movement toward self-identity as a Franciscan. By employing both a developmental and structural approach to personality, it will seek to discover the process of the interiorization of Franciscan values within individuals and communities. This course is specifically designed to assist spiritual directors, formation directors of initial and continuing formation in the Franciscan family, as well as mentors of those interested in the Franciscan life. At the same time, it addresses the questions of any person trying to develop a Franciscan spirituality in their life.
Anti-Catholic Bias in America — Yesterday and Today: A Franciscan Perspective
July 4-15: Kyle Haden, OFM
This course explores the long history of anti-Catholic bias in America, a situation that Franciscans encountered with other immigrants through the 19th century. The course will also trace some lines of anti-Catholic bias that remain in American culture today and will give some perspectives on how Franciscans can respond to the forms of anti-Catholic bias that persist. This historical approach will study the roots of religious violence and the various theories that explain religious animus and bias, with special attention to the theory of Rene’ Girard. It will engage the question about how Franciscans should address religious bias in general and anti-Catholic bias in particular.
CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THESE COURSES
Franciscan Women: Medieval & Beyond
Possible areas of focus include, but are not limited to the following:
DUBLIN, IRELAND - The Franciscan Province of Ireland invites applications from OFM Friars for the 2016 English Language Course.
This service to the Order began when Fr. Louis Brennan OFM, shortly after becoming General Definitor for the English Speaking Conference in 1979, asked that the Irish province might consider providing an English language course for friars who needed to acquire a knowledge of English for their studies or their pastoral work. The first group of five friars, three from Latin America and two from Europe, arrived in Ireland in 1981 for a month. This generous offer has continued since then, free of charge.
Currently, the Irish province hosts around 15 friars each July for one month, arranging for them to attend a language course for which the Province covers the cost. After the program is over the friar may, by arrangement, be assigned to a friary with the intention of improving his English for a further month. Since 1981 the Irish friars have hosted probably more than 500 friars for the purposes of learning English, always at no financial cost to the individual friar. The Irish Province is happy to continue this tradition for as long as possible and is pleased to welcome to Ireland friars who might otherwise not be able to afford to do a language course in an English speaking country.
For those who are interested, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further details and an application form. Deadline for receipt of applications is Friday, 29th April 2016.