From the Heart of Your Minister - September, 2014

Peace to each of your hearts, dear sisters and brothers in St. Francis!

And so we here we are … at that interim season of summerfall … when summer is not quite over and autumn is at our doorstep. Fr. Francis and our RFD, Rosie Viragh, OFS, have provided us with lots to think about as we approach the upcoming Franciscan season. I hope you will share what they have written with our sisters and brothers in fraternity.

In his letter this month, Fr. Francis reminds us that,

God’s Word and healing grace are made more apparent and effective when we walk together supporting, encouraging, and nourishing each other through our loving example and care, rooted in Faith and Hope with our eyes fixed on the Cross of Jesus our Victorious Redeemer. (Emphasis added)

How do we do this walking together, encouraging and supporting and nourishing each other? Is this something we really believe with our hearts and through our actions or something we only give lip service to?

Let’s take for example, life in Fraternity. We know, as our Rule explains to us, that our Order is divided into fraternities at various levels (Article 20), animated and guided by a council and minister whose service is marked by a ready and willing spirit and is a duty of responsibility to each member and to the community (Article 21).

On the day of Profession, we were asked three specific questions, to which we responded, Yes, this is what I want.

  1. Do you wish to embrace the gospel way of life by following the example and words of St. Francis of Assisi, which are at the heart of the Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order?
  2. Do you wish to be faithful to this vocation and to practice the spirit of service proper to Secular Franciscans?
  3. Do you wish to bind yourself more closely to the Church and to work intently to rebuild the ecclesial community and fulfill its mission among all people?

As an individual brother or sister in fraternity, are you ready and willing to accept the duty of responsibility to serve your fraternity as a member of its Council or do you look to others to act responsibly for your fraternity’s wellbeing? While it is most certainly true that not everyone is called to be a leader, it is equally true that there are many untapped leaders within our fraternities who, when asked to serve demurely decline.

If our fraternities are to survive, we must raise up within them good, holy men and women who, working together can support, encourage, and nourish their sisters and brothers through their loving example and care. Now, more than ever, the world is in need of the fragrance only we as Secular Franciscans can provide.   Although serving on a Council can be demanding work, when done in love, it is rewarding work. As sisters and brothers within the Secular family, we must prayerfully consider stepping up to the challenge, trusting that God will do the rest.

Many Fraternities will be celebrating Chapters of Elections in the coming months. I encourage you as part of your ongoing formation to revisit our Rule and other governing documents regarding the role of service to your sister and brothers … and if you feel you are unable to do this on your own, reach out to the members of your Regional Executive Council who will be most happy to come and share with you the joys of service and why they chose to embrace it. 

Blessings, every good, and much love,


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