State of the Region – 2019

State of the Region – Annual Meeting 2019

It’s been a busy, busy year and there is a lot to report on.  First let’s talk about the changes at the Regional Level. Ted and Gretchen Bienkowski have resigned their positions on the Regional Council for personal reasons.   I am very, very saddened at this but I understand that life happens and we need to roll with it.  I would like to publicly thank Ted and Gretchen for everything they have done in the last 3 ½ years.  They traveled many miles with me for visitations, elections and special visits with fraternities.  You all know they live about 5 miles past God’s country and if we needed to be someplace early, they would come the night before and book a room at their own expense. We will certainly miss you and wish you well.

Cindy Louden who held the position of Councillor at Large has been appointed the Regional Vice Minister and there was a vote to accept by the Regional Council..  That leaves both positions of Coucillor at large open and the Regional Council will convene next week to discuss candidates for the positions.

The Venerable Matt Talbot Emerging Fraternity is as “emerged” as it needs to be.  The speed bump keeping them from Canonical Establishment is getting the altius moderamen secured.  When the group first came into being, they were sponsored by St. John the Evangelist fraternity who, at that time, was bonded to the TORs.  As you know, the TORs no longer have a presence in this area and the St. Augustine Capuchins, do.  In order to go forward with the Canonical Establishment of Matt Talbot, we are in negotiations with the St. Augustine Caps to take on their altius moderamen.  The St. Augustine Caps recently elected a new Provincial, Father Tom Betz, and he is getting up to speed on every aspect of that job, not just what we are asking.  In the meantime, I would like to congratulate Ken Johnston, minister of the Venerable Matt Talbot group for working so hard to get the group to where it is today.

Another great addition to the Region in the last year has been the Padre Pio Fraternity.  They did not have to go through being a forming group and then an emerging fraternity because they started with enough professed people to form a Council.  They are resurrecting the charter of the Cathedral fraternity which closed some years ago.  The charter remains active for 100 years after the last member dies.  The Padre Pio fraternity meets at the Padre Pio Prayer Center so we are working on getting them bonded to the St Augustine Caps who run the prayer center.  They fraternity welcomed 3 new members at a Profession last Monday night.  Carolyn Murray is the Minister at Padre Pio.

Queen of Peace fraternity has come to the conclusion that they must close.  There are not enough folks left to make a fraternity.  They certainly tried hard!  St. Peter fraternity in Beverly, NJ, is also closing.  Their numbers have dwindled as well and the remaining members are looking at local fraternities to transfer to.

That brings us to the difficulty of getting Spiritual Assistants when half of our fraternities are without one now. As I announced in May, the Lay Spiritual Assistant program concluded with 5 women being certified as Lay Spiritual Assistants.  So far, we have been able to temporarily assign Liz Bueding as Spiritual Assistant to the Venerable Matt Talbot fraternity.  However, it wouldn’t be Franciscan without miles of paperwork and that hurry up and wait M.O. we all know and love!  The Provincial of the Order to which the fraternity is bonded must agree to the assigning of a Lay Spiritual Assistant.  We are all but finished on this one.  We are hoping to utilize a few more of our Lay Spiritual Assistants in the near future.  We don’t have any plans at the moment to start another class.  However, if there is enough interest, we can certainly talk about it.  If anyone is interested in going through the program and becoming a Lay Spiritual Assistant, please let me know.  Just remember, we will not assign a Lay Spiritual Assistant to his or her own fraternity.

One of our new initiatives in this last year came as a suggestion from Vince Iezzi.  He suggested sending a card to members who are celebrating a significant anniversary of their profession.  That would be one that is divisible by 5.  Ted Bienkowski took on the task and has done a stellar job in sending the cards for anniversaries but also expanded it to sending cards for serious illnesses and a sympathy card to the families of a member who has passed and also sending a card to a member who has lost a family member.  We took it a step even further by sending cards to the Ordinaries i.e, the Bishops of the dioceses that are covered by our Region.  We celebrate the anniversary of their Ordination, their birthday and the date of their being named a Bishop.  To date, 120 cards have been sent. Thirteen of them have come back as undeliverable but several of those were resent with an updated address.  Three thank you notes have been received in response to the cards being sent at the death of a loved one.  All in all, this has been a hugely successful effort and Ted is the reason for its success.  I have also sent each of the Bishops a report of the fraternities within their diocese outlining where and when those fraternities meet and how to reach the minister.  I also have taken the list of apostolates from your annual reports and included them in the report to the Bishops so they know what good things you are doing!  Several bishops answered that they were happy to get this information.

In addition to the regular elections and visitations, I have made a concerted effort to get out to the fraternities to just spend time with them.  Some folks are suspicious of my motives………..Why is she here???………. but for the most part, these “friendly” visits are well received.  I have been to several Professions and anniversaries of Fraternities.  If you invite her….she will come.  Although it keeps me rocking and rolling most weekends, it’s good to get out and spend time with folks without an official reason.

I’d like to switch gears and talk about some of the things that have come out of the NAFRA Chapter that was just held in Corpus Christi.  There is a new Transfer form.  It’s now FOUR pages long.  I will mail a copy out to each minister.  We have lost people in the shuffle with using the old form and hopefully this will help keep better records for all of us.

One of the things that is discussed every year is the Duns Scotus Fund. Below are my notes from the NAFRA Chapter.

Duns Scotus Fund

  • John the Baptist Province sold property and they set up a trust fund for Seculars. The funds are to be used for formation and the Friars had “oversight” of the account. The oversight was to last 20 years.
  • The 20 years are over and we take over the account in its entirety.
  • The fund will be known as Duns Scotus Formation Fund
  • Local requests should be presented to Regional before going to National
  • Individuals can apply as well as fraternities
  • After the Regional Council has seen the proposal, the requester calls or contacts one of the people on the Duns Scotus board to see if the proposal has been done correctly and if the idea will pass
  • Proposal then goes to the Board and an answer is given within two weeks
  • One of the purposes listed for applying for these funds is Leadership Training. I am proposing that we apply for our Council Boot Camp workshops (copying expenses, stipends for church hall or meeting room etc)

 

The Fair Share, as you have heard, is not being increased this year.  We are the lowest Region in the Nation for Fair Share.  One of the Regions has a Fair Share of $75 per person!

And now to that dreaded subject………..the Annual Report.  I will be sending out this year’s report within the next week.  Please use the report that I send and not an older version that you might have on your computer.  There will be NO demographic information collected this year.  The drop dead deadline is February 1.  I must have all the information consolidated and to National by March 1.  This isn’t a “would you like to do an Annual Report request”.  This is we ALL must do one. No one out there considerers it more of a pain in the neck than I do.

What is coming in the next year………

We would like to take a look at the Districts and even them out some.  During the Memorial Service, you may have noticed that when I called PA Central, there were many more people coming up.  The locations and numbers of fraternities have changed since these borders were drawn.

We are also actively preparing for a “Boot Camp” for Councillors workshop.  Our March weekend in Easton is March 27 to 29 and we will be working on each of the positions of Council, what the duties are and putting together a small handbook of See Spot Run directions and resources.  It isn’t restricted to current Council members but is open to everyone especially those who think they might be willing to run for a position the next time their fraternity has elections.  Once we have the weekend workshop, we will pare it down to a one day version and take the show on the road for all those who were not able to attend the Easton weekend.  All Council members are being asked to attend one of the workshops which will be held at different locations throughout the Region.  Stay tuned for more details on that.

Now……..are there any questions that you would like to ask?

Before we end with our closing prayer, I would like to especially acknowledge the Carisios who were sitting here waiting for me yesterday morning to help me set up the room.  Most especially to Theresa who went through the room with the big mop, checked the bath rooms for toilet paper, and volunteered to bring water and a fruit tray.  God bless you both!

And most especially to Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap who so graciously allowed us to meet here!

 

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