Experiencing The Q

Mea Culpa!  The month of July is several days old and I am just getting to the postings.  I have been in St. Louis since June 28 preparing for the 2016 Q.  Now that I am home, there is still a smile on my face and I hope it stays there a good long time.  It is hard to describe what it is like to spend 4 days with 600 Secular Franciscans.  There is great joy at greeting old friends and new.  If there is a tau cross around your neck…..you are family!  Spending time in prayer with so many brothers and sisters who are traveling the path with you, is certainly uplifting if not life changing.

The theme for the 2016 Q is Reviving Our Spirit and it was very well chosen.  Every aspect of the weekend lifted your spirit.  There were talks by Father Murray Bodo, OFM, Father Lester Bach, OFM Cap and the keynote speaker, Father Dan Horan, OFM.  These men are Franciscan “All Stars” whose books helped to form us and now that we are professed, help sustain us.  Listening to them speak and spending time one-on-one with them is truly a hug from God. These humble men stood in line for their meals, asked if they could sit at an empty place at the table and joined in conversations. They really do preach the gospel by their actions.

Tibor Kauser, OFS, our Minister General was there and spoke of fraternities in Lebanon and Dubai.  Jenny Harrington, OFS, from Africa spoke about having fraternities in the US ‘twinning’ with a fraternity in Africa. Our order is growing around the world and we need to tap into that.

So many of you participated in the Blessing Bag project which blessed people far beyond our own reach.  Box after box after box was waiting for the Committee when we arrived. It was hard to believe the response!  We sorted hundreds of bars of soap, tooth paste, deodorant, shampoo, etc down one side of the room.  The other side was dedicated to snack items:  instant oatmeal, raisins, energy bars, crackers.  The Herr Company – a local family owned business – donated 12 cases of Herr snack paks.

Packing the Blessing Bags was optional on The Q schedule and was slated for Friday afternoon.  We had it set up like an assembly line.  Grab a zip lock bag at one end of the tables and walk down packing whatever you would like from the selection. The number of people who came to pack the bags was amazing.  Both the toiletry side and the snack side had solid lines of people giving their time to help.  At the end of both sides were a stack of holy cards with St. Francis on one side…of course!…and printed on the back was the message:  Packing this Blessing Bag for you was a blessing for me.  I will hold you in my prayers.

Sister Connie Probst, who heads the St. Anthony Food Pantry in St. Louis, arrived at 4:00 to pick up the donations.  Something happened to the communications because Sister Connie showed up in a Toyota never expecting she would need a large van!  She laughed and cried at the sight that greeted her.  When the Secular Franciscans do something, they do it right!!

So many of the Seculars who were passing through these lines remarked that this is something we should continue to do.  Many felt we can do it at Regional Meetings as well.  It certainly doesn’t have to be on such a grand scale as what we did at The Q.  If it is done at a Regional Meeting, we can donate the bags or each of us take one home to keep in our car.  When you come upon a homeless person you will be ready to bless them with a few items to make their way a little easier.

This last year being on The Q Committee was more work than I ever dreamed of. But it resulted in so very many blessings for all who attended and that is a big blessing to me.  I carried each of you in my prayers throughout the week and hope that you will be able to experience a Quinquennial at some point.  It certainly helps you feel that you belong to an Order and not just a Fraternity.  The next Q will be in 2021 – 100 years since the very first Q was held.  Start saving those nickels and dimes because it promises to be spectacular!

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