July 2021 From the Heart of the Regional Minister

May the Lord give us the peace we need and crave!  July 2021…..who could ever imagine the year and a half we have been through? We have all had tremendous losses.  Many of our loved ones have passed and we could not say goodbye in a way that is familiar to us.   There have been family weddings, graduations, First Communions, milestone birthdays, Baptisms, holidays….either cancelled, postponed or celebrated in a downsized way.  Not our choice, not what we wanted. Now here we are with all that resentment and all that sadness bottled up and repressed.    It has been one, very long night in the Garden of Gethsemane.

So, what now?  The world is taking baby steps to open up again. Life is starting to return to …… what?  Will things ever return to what we think of as normal?  Don’t think so!  So what do we do now?  What we have always done.  Follow in the footsteps of Jesus.  He spent a lousy night in the Garden and now it is time to move on.  Was He relieved to get the whole terrible end of His life in motion?  Was He thinking, “Let’s just get on with it.”?  Maybe.  We won’t know that until we can ask Him in person. But this we do know….. even under all this stress, He remained kind.  He healed the ear of the soldier while still in the Garden.  Even in His own agony, He was concerned for His mother’s welfare.  He stopped to console the women of Jerusalem.  All while carrying His cross.

It’s not easy to follow in His footsteps. But it is what we are called to do.  Everyone is carrying a cross.  These days, the crosses have gotten heavier and harder to carry. So try being kind.

Like everyone else, I’ve had my cross to carry lately.  After a particularly hard time, my friend/mentor/spiritual helper said “I want you to buy yourself some flowers.”  I said I would.  But the day got away from me and suddenly it was 8:30 and dark.  Did I really want to get in the car and go buy flowers?  I got in the car anyway!  I went to the local ShopRite and the flowers are right inside the door.  There was a bunch of beautiful apricot carnations that were calling my name for $4.49.  Next to them was a bin of baby’s breath.  Also $4.49.  I put the two bunches in the baby seat and went on to pick up a few things while I was there.

There was a very attractive young African American couple going up and down the aisles at the same pace that I was.  I imagined they were on a date because of the beautiful way they were looking at each other.  They were joyful just to be in each other’s company.  After we had traveled several aisles together, the young man remarked that my flowers were very pretty and asked who I bought them for.  I told him I had been through a rough couple days and that I bought them for myself.  He then asked how much they cost.  By now I was talking to his lovely date and when I didn’t answer him right away, he reached over and turned the bunches around so he could see the price.  He said, “I want to buy those flowers for you”.  I laughed and said “Oh, go on!” and he said again, only more seriously, “I want to buy those flowers for you”.  I didn’t know this guy from Adam.  I protested, but he took a ten dollar bill out of his pocket and put it in my hand.  He closed my hand around it and said “I really want to do this for you.”  The events of the last few days and the kindness of this young man brought me to tears.  He and his young lady headed down the aisle while I stood there shaking my head in wonder. When they got to the end of the aisle, they turned and both of them said, “Have a good night”. And they were gone.

I wanted to go get on the PA system and tell the whole store about what had just happened. (No, I didn’t!)  But I spent the rest of the night in awe of the hug I had received from God through this kind young couple.

I’m not suggesting that you go buy flowers for someone. But, holding the door, saying good morning, helping someone get their groceries into the car are all acts of kindness that are a soothing balm that each of us needs right now.  The world is weary and hurting.  It is our calling to be kindness itself.  If Jesus could be kind on His way to Calvary, we can certainly do no less in our every day dealings with each other.

May God bless you abundantly so that you may bless others,

kate

Poverty of Attitude - March, 2021 Kate Kleinert, OFS, Regional Minister

Poverty of Attitude

A few weeks ago, a friend called to tell me that a mutual friend had passed away.  Although we knew Dottie was very sick, we were not were aware that she was so close to the end of her time and had been in hospice for a while.  My friend and I felt guilty that we had not tried harder to reach Dottie or her sons.

I called the sons to offer my condolences.  The call rolled over to the answering machine.  I was not prepared to hear Dottie’s voice and even more shocking was how wonderful she sounded.  I hadn’t heard her sound like that in more than a year.

I was so startled, that I‘m not sure what I even said on the message. But I began an entire conversation in my head that I’m sure I planned to have with everyone and anyone I ran into…..oh how awful, this poor woman died and I called and here she is sounding alive and well.  Wasn’t that a cruel trick to have to listen to that….

But as I hung up the phone, it dawned on me that Dottie was right at that moment feeling as good as she was sounding on that machine. She was already in heaven, sitting at the feet of Jesus and cured of every pain and illness.

But I almost fell into the trap of poverty of attitude.  It made a good story, why shouldn’t I tell it?  I’m sure you know people who can keep the drama going on and on and on.  And before you know it, your whole attitude has sunk to that level – to say nothing of the poor people having to listen to you.   Some people hold onto complaining and being miserable like it’s a life raft.  And maybe for them it is.  But as Franciscans, we need to be willing to give up our attachment – our materialism – to let go of our need to complain and be miserable. And put on the attitude of Christ. If CNN were able to interview Jesus on the morning of Good Friday,  do you think he would be saying” Oy, what a night, I haven’t slept, but my friends did!  Great bunch of guys, they are. You wouldn’t believe what I’ve been through.”  Or do you think he said, ”I loved you the most today. It’s been a tough day, but I got through it. Thanks for asking.”

God makes His presence known to mankind through each of us.  We cannot extend His hand to anyone else unless we are holding onto it ourselves.  And if we are telling our story with both our hands waving in the air, we aren’t holding onto Him. In the famous prayer attributed to him. St. Francis asks…make me a channel of your peace.  Not give me peace.  Make me a channel – let me empty myself.  From  Ephesians, chapter 4 are these words that we need to hear:   Never let evil talk pass your lips;  say only the good things men need to hear, things that will really help them.  Get rid of all bitterness, all passion and anger, harsh words, slander and malice of every kind.  In place of these, be kind to one another, compassionate, and mutually forgiving, just as God has forgiven you in Christ.

And just what is evil talk.  We immediately think curse words would fall into that category and they do.  But Evil Talk isn’t a single entry topic.  What about gossip.? What about telling things that you promised you would hold confidentially?  Making fun of people, laughing along with the crowd when someone else is doing the insulting? What about the ‘adult topics’ you discuss when your children or grandchildren are within earshot?

God has given us two hands for a reason.  Keep one hand in His.  And keep the other one free to extend both His and your grace to someone in need. Keeping both hands occupied is a blessing.  After all, remember what your mother told you about idle hands???

May your Lenten journey continue to be filled with the graces that you need, opportunities for your growth, and the ability to take a step or two closer to Our Lord.

 

Lent in the Garden of Gethsemane

Being in the Garden of Gethsemane

As I write this, Lent is just 24 hours old and I feel like I have been sitting in the Garden of Gethsemane forever.

The real problem is, the Garden is very crowded this year.  Even in the midst of misery, there is no peace and quiet!

The pandemic continues to rear its’ ugly head – now in several new mutations.  The political scene is still in an uproar, no matter which side you are on. We are coming up to the first year marker (I refuse to call it an anniversary) of when the shutdown began and life as we knew it was over.

So many problems, so many real tragedies all around.  So many requests for prayers.  It is overwhelming, disheartening.  And isn’t that exactly where the Evil One wants us?  I can see him standing at the Gate to the Garden of Gethsemane with his straw hat and megaphone saying “Hurry, hurry, hurry.  Step right up, folks”.

But, we are in good company.  Our Lord sat in this very Garden with a very heavy heart, feeling lost and abandoned by those closest to Him – including His own Father.  There is nothing wrong with being in the Garden.  After all, Jesus Himself, spent time there.

The difference is, Jesus got up and continued the will of His Father.  What a beautiful example for us.  This Lent we can offer up whatever has us sitting in the Garden – struggling with finances, adjusting to a new job or losing the old one, and certainly all the health issues that are attacking so many of us. Some of these issues have us nailed in place and it might feel like we can’t get up.  But remember Who took all these things with Him to His cross and was nailed there.  How can we do less than was done for us. Don’t let what is holding you down, keep you there. We all spend time in the Garden throughout our lives. Use your experiences in the Garden as an offering to the Father for the time that His son spent there for you.

The only good thing about the Garden being so crowded – you don’t have far to go to grasp the hand of someone who understands what you are going through. Look around.  Everyone who has ever walked this earth has been to the Garden.  Ask your loved ones who have gone “home” to pray that you will benefit from being there.

May your journey through Lent bring you closer to the glory of Easter morning when Jesus broke free of all that had nailed Him to the cross!

Pastoring our Pastors in Time of Pandemic

Photo by Nazim Coskun on Unsplash

Need for Pastoral Care of the Clergy

Herefordshire Monastery of Benedictine Sisters – used with permission

I know the word ‘pastoring’ doesn’t really exist, but I wish it did because it expresses something we are apt to forget. Those to whom we look for pastoral care are themselves in need of care and support. Throughout this pandemic we have heard a lot from parishioners who are sad or unhappy at the way in which some clergy have seemed unresponsive to their needs, especially during periods of lockdown or church closure. As one disgruntled man remarked, ‘They think they have done enough by becoming third-rate movie stars with their live-streamed Masses and what not.’ I daresay some have; but most haven’t. They have tried to be good and dutiful priests in a situation none of us has met before. A few have been blessed with the imagination and creativity to meet the new circumstances positively, but many more have struggled and one or two have been utterly crushed by the experience.

Some clergy have felt abandoned by their bishops and left to soldier on, not sure what to do for the best. They have been burdened with an extra load of admin at the very time when those they chiefly rely on to help — mainly more senior members of the parish, who may well be shielding because of age or infirmity — are not available. They live alone; some admit to being close to breaking-point, others cannot bring themselves to articulate their feelings of loneliness and discouragement. For them celebration of the Holy Mysteries is not the only aspect of priesthood that gives joy and purpose to their lives. They miss the interaction with people. More than one has confessed that, being naturally shy and without the ‘excuse’ that coffee after Mass or regular parish meetings of one kind or another provide, they are becoming more and more isolated.

Wrap and Throw Service

Happily, this is where the brotherhood of the priesthood takes on fresh meaning and importance. It has been heartening to learn of the support received from friendly ‘phone calls and video meetings with fellow priests; but it isn’t enough. Here at the monastery we do our best to listen non-judgementally and sympathetically to those who feel the need to unburden themselves of the distress they feel. I hope we manage to reassure them that they are not letting the side down or being a failure because they are not exercising their priesthood in ways familiar to them. We try to give encouragement. In the monastery we refer to this as our ‘Wrap and Throw Service’, meaning we do our best to wrap those who come to us in the love of God and throw them back into their parishes to minister to others. But again, it isn’t enough.

The Role of Parishioners

The people best placed to support the clergy through this time of pandemic are their parishioners. Yes, you! The bishop can only do so much; fellow priests and monasteries can only do so much; but you are there. You know your priest in a way no one else does. It does not take much time to send a friendly email asking how he is and saying you miss seeing him on a regular basis. A word of thanks and appreciation for what he is doing to meet the needs of the parish will never go amiss. An offer of help may be warmly received. Who can tell? Pastoring our pastors isn’t a difficult art. It simply requires a warm heart and the ability to see the human person wearing the collar — someone just as much in need of encouragement as we are ourselves.

Be Contagious in a Good Way, from the Heart of the Minister Feb 2021

Be Contagious in a Good Way

Life has been mighty hard lately; so, aren’t we all ready for something to change? One of my favorite hymns is Let There Be Peace on Earth.  If you are familiar with it, you know the next line is….and let it begin with me.  But there aren’t any instructions in the hymn on how to do that.

PP (prior to the pandemic) instead of giving up something for Lent, I would try to add something.  Hold the door for the person coming out of the store behind you.  Help someone with a large grocery order put the bags in his or her trunk;  and the easiest one of all….smile at people.  Say hello, have a nice day.  More times than not, the other person will smile back, hold the door for the person behind him or her, say hello back to you.  See???  It’s contagious!

Fast forward to DP (during the pandemic)  We are all wearing masks.  You can’t tell if someone is smiling or sticking their tongue out!  You step back at the end of the aisle in the grocery store to let someone else pass by but they don’t see that kind smile on your face.  How do they know you are trying to be neighborly?  In the Prayer of St. Francis, he asks to be an instrument of peace.  Francis isn’t praying to have peace himself.  He is asking to be the instrument.  Let your peace pass through me to someone else.  These days are different – standing 6 feet apart, no hugs or shaking hands, and the first impression someone gets of us is hidden behind a mask.

We need to shake things up a bit and step out of the box where we are safe, protected and alone.  The rest of the world is outside of your box so step out in faith.  Find a way to project your neighborliness. Even though Lent is several weeks away, why not start now to make that sacrifice of adding something to every day instead of giving something up.  Drop a “Thinking of You” card in the mail to someone you haven’t seen or spoken to in a long time.  Pay for the person behind you in the fast food line. Take your neighbors’ trash can back to their house after the trash truck passes.  Ask your elderly neighbor if you can pick up a book for them at the library.

Life is different now.  We can’t live like we always did and expect to fit in with the new way. We need to change.  Don’t wait for life to get back to normal….this is normal now.  We have to catch up and move slightly ahead.  Ask God to be His instrument, and it wouldn’t hurt to ask Him just how He wants you to do that!  Did I hear an Amen??!!

Change me, Lord – a Prayer for our Present Situation

CHANGE ME LORD
Change me Lord.
As I flip over the calendar to a new year,
Let me flip over a new attitude in my life.

Change me Lord.
Help me to let go of the baggage that is
attempting to push its way into my future.

Change me Lord.
Let me see and believe in all the possibilities
that a new year and a new attitude can bring to my life.Take my hands Lord.
Let my fingers never type or post words of division and hurt.
Renew my fingers to release words of hope, encouragement and love.
Let my hands never be a part of ill-will or a cause of disunion.
Renew my hands to be used to bring comfort, friendship and aid to others.

Take my feet Lord.
Let my feet never lead to places of discouragement, despair or separation.
Renew my steps and lead me where I can share your love and hope in the world.

Take my eyes and ears Lord.
Let me never limit my mind to only what I think or hear.
Open my eyes and ears to see and hear the cries of those who need my help
within my small life and within the larger world.

Take my heart Lord.
Take my heart of stone and apathy.
Give me a heart so full of awe and love for what You have created
That I will burst forth from my cocoon to live fully in Your Spirit.

Take my life Lord.
Change me Lord.
Amen.

January 11, 2021
Kathy Taormina, OFS
FY/YA Commission SA
Queen of Peace Regional SA

From the Heart of the Minister – January 2021

Seeing the Good When Nothing Around You Is!

I’ll be honest with you. So far, I’m not all that thrilled with 2021.  But I have to admit that in spite of the rough spots, there have been some pretty hefty blessings.

Being alone at Christmas is dismal.  Between Christmas Eve and Christmas day however, I was visited by three Christmas angels who all arrived separately and brought some unexpected presents…my very own version of the Magi!

But it was the fourth Christmas angel that brought the biggest blessing.  Yesterday morning started with some very upsetting news that a family crisis was unfolding.  I immediately headed to my sister’s house to do what I could to help.  She needed some scripts picked up at the drug store and then asked me to get milk and bread.  Getting the scripts was no problem but the CVS didn’t have the 1% milk and I never did find the bread.  Down the street is a super WaWa so I stopped in there.  No 1% milk.  About a block away was an Aldi store.  I was glad to go in there because I needed a few things myself and could take care of my sister and me at one place.

I didn’t get much – it all fit in the seat part of the shopping cart.  I waited in line and had a very pleasant cashier checking out my order.  As she was getting to the end of my items, I went in my purse for my debit card.  It wasn’t there.  Being a stubborn redhead, I must have gone through my wallet ten times before I was willing to give up.

Unfortunately, when I counted my cash, I had a five and five ones.  The total was $18.  I wanted to crawl under the conveyer belt and stay there.  By this time I had apologized at least a dozen times and told the cashier I only had $10 and would have to put some things back.  When I started reaching for some things to put back – my face a brilliant crimson –   the cashier said “Hold on a minute, Honey, I’ll be right back”.  She was right back but I used the time to look once more through my wallet willing that card to magically appear.  Didn’t happen.  But what did happen was the cashier handed me a slip of paper and said “Here’s your receipt, you are good to go”.

I was completely and utterly confused.  She looked at me standing there and said “Go ahead, you are all finished”.  I was finally able to mutter something like “How can that be” and the cashier said “Happy New Year, Honey, now go on.  You are all checked out.”  I started to cry and she quickly said, “No need for that, now…Happy New Year”  To the relief of the customer behind me, I finally started walking away.  I turned around twice before I got to the door and caught the cashier’s eye long enough to say thank you.

This wasn’t a case where I was a dollar short and the person behind me paid it.  It wasn’t a case where I was a few cents short and the cashier waved me on.  My entire bill was paid in full.

I called a friend to share this story and when I got to the end, she said…..”That must be how it feels to come to the realization that Jesus has paid your debt.”  The gasp I heard was my own.  Although I have known from a young child that Jesus paid for my sins, I was never able to see it so clearly.  Or feel it so deeply.  Or be so utterly grateful.  Or to love Him back so completely.

Am I embarrassed that I didn’t have the money to pay for my groceries?  Yes, indeed!  Am I grateful that this happened so that I see Jesus a little more clearly?  You bet!!

I was still flabbergasted when Joan Pesta, OFS, Minister of Holy Dormition, called to discuss a few things.  When we had taken care of her concerns, I timidly asked if I could tell her a story.  She, too, was moved and suggested that I share it.  So, thanks Joan, for your encouragement!

Happy New Year brothers and sisters.  May you, too, take a step closer to Jesus in the coming year.

State of the Region – 2019 – 2020 Kate Kleinert, OFS, Regional Minister

State of the Region

St. Katharine Drexel Region

2019 – 2020

It’s tough to report on a year that has been plagued by the pandemic.  I don’t even remember now if January and February were bad weather months and perhaps some fraternities didn’t meet because of weather. Then March hit and some were able to meet before everything closed up.

Living with this life-altering virus, I tried very hard to keep us together as much as possible.  In the beginning of the shut down we met by conference call to say the rosary and then to do Stations of the Cross.   We had a ministers’ meeting and encouraged the ministers to have the Council split up the members’ list for a phone check in.

When it started looking like this wasn’t going to end in a few weeks, we learned how to Zoom.  Life as we knew it just wasn’t there any more.   With the warmer weather, some of us were able to meet outside and even a few professions happened under the new regulations.

There have been no visitations and no elections so if and when this pandemic runs its course, I’m going to be very far behind.  But at least the prayer requests and Regional news continued to flow. And with that segue, let me report on our conversation at the National Chapter.  There has been no contingency plan discussed or implemented to conduct visitations or elections virtually. So for the foreseeable future, things will remain status quo.    As I announced several months ago, if there is anyone on a Council position who feels they cannot stay in their position until this pandemic is resolved, please speak up.  If you feel uncomfortable going to your Minister, please reach out to me.  We will make this work to everyone’s comfort.

After the meeting today, I will be sending out a flyer for a Christmas gathering…by Zoom.  It is scheduled for Sunday, December 20 – the Sunday before Christmas. No matter what happens between now and Christmas, no one…..no one is going to have a holiday like he or she is used to.  We have a lot of elderly in our Region.  Lots of them will be waking up Christmas morning with no plans. So I’m inviting everyone in the Region to a family gathering again on December 20.  We will have prayer, of course, hear the Love Story of Mary and Joseph, talk about Christmas Traditions and a few things to liven up the day.  Getting together like this helps to keep us connected!

A little over a year ago we were celebrating our 25 anniversary. It’s a good thing we all got together then, because who knew what was coming in 2020?? Jeff and Teresa Redder just attended the Mass they had said for the Region in honor or it’s year of celebration.  Thanks Jeff and Teresa!

Last Spring, I received a message from Father Ramundo Cabrera, OFM, the pastor of St. Paul’s parish in the heart of Wilmington.  He had a group of 18 Hispanic folks who want to become Secular Franciscans.  Father had been working with them for 2 years and I mean meeting at least twice a week.  Unfortunately, the friars were leaving the parish and Father wanted to make sure this group didn’t fall through the cracks.  Also unfortunately, COVID stepped in and has made it very difficult to meet with them and move forward. The goal is to help them form their own Spanish speaking fraternity.  I’ve been there to meet with them on a few occasions and they are a wonderful, spirit filled group of people.

Speaking of the (dreaded) Annual Report, I received mine from National yesterday.  I have NOT had any time to read it; however, I understand the focus this year is on how we all have coped with COVID and kept going. So, you can’t just copy over last year’s answers and use them this year!  The drop dead date to have your Annual Report back to me is February 1, 2021. And by drop dead date, I mean that is when I will drop dead if you don’t have it back to me!  So once I recover from this meeting, I will take a look at what information I have to report on to National and will adjust our Regional report form accordingly. And while we are on that subject, the Fair Share remains the same for this year.  We need to pay National just like any other year.  I do realize that fraternities haven’t been meeting, funds have not been collected.  Before it gets any closer to Christmas, see if you can get your members to mail in their Fair Share and be sure you provide the name and address of your treasurer in your e-mail.  But be prepared for people to call you anyway and say “What is that address I’m supposed to mail this to?”  I am speaking from several years of experience!

Also, as in any other year, you will be able to pay Fair Share in installments and if you just cannot make the amount, call me. Some fraternities who are in better shape financially will sometimes add some to their Fair Share to help out a fraternity that can’t pay.

And this is the year we were warned about last year!  The number of active people reported on the Regional Annual Report must match what is in the National database.  We will owe the difference to National.  I have already received a notice that there are 42 more people in the database than were reported last year. It is my next big task.  Ministers, when I send you your sheet from the database, please look over it carefully and get back to me with corrections as quickly as you can.

One of the things I struggle with every year on the Regional report to National is the subject of Youth and Young Adults.  I’m getting farther away from that category by the minute!  Amanda Jamnicky, Minister of Immaculate Conception fraternity, and I attend an 11 week Youth and Young Adult workshop.  Every Monday night for 11 weeks, we were on Zoom going through some training.  As Regional Minister, I know its my job to oversee some kind of action in this department.  I will tell you honestly, it’s not my bag. And I’m being honest.  I do not feel called in any way to get involved with the younger folks.  Maybe it’s because I never had children, but what I want to say is, if you feel called to this ministry, please let me know.  The Youth and Young Adult Commission is a wonderful group and would be very happy to work with you. So let me know if you are interested.

In the last issue of TAU USA magazine, our very own St. Francis, Long Beach Island was featured for their work on ReClaming the Beach.  I haven’t received my copy yet but I’m sure it shines a great light on the work these folks are doing.  Bravo, LBI!

The Padre Pio fraternity is featured this week in the Catholic Philly.com’s latest issue. Look under Local news.  It highlights the Transitus procession that included the OFM Caps who live in that area and members of the local fraternities.  It’s invaluable to receive such positive press on both these fraternities’ efforts.

There was no solution given for having National elections – scheduled for October of 2021 or Regional elections.  In our case, the Region is due in March of 2022.  I’m sure you all have read the messages I have sent out about our National Minister, Jan Parker, and her present fight against endometrial cancer.  Jan announced at our National Chapter that she will not be running in the next National elections.  Our elections are a year and a quarter away, but its time to start thinking about who you might nominate for Regional positions – and don’t forget you may nominate yourself if you feel so called.

One of the things I reported on last year was that I intended to hold a Council Position workshop in at least three areas of the Region during this past year.  Like everyone’s plans, that one didn’t materialize.  One thing I have learned about the COVID virus and the fallout from it is this,….. it isn’t going away any time soon,  It will be at least another year before we are back in our usual places with bright shiny faces. So the solution for me is make friends with the situation.  The longer I rail against it, the longer things are not getting accomplished.  I intend to start crafting the workshops but to do them by position and of course by Zoom.  In other words, all of the Ministers would be invited to one and would be open to anyone who would like to be a Minister.  We would talk about the responsibilities, the reports that are needed, the things that are required and of course, the problems and pitfalls.  My hope is to have a quick reference booklet for each position.  The same process would be done for each of the Council positions.  It’s a big undertaking but one that is long overdue and more than needed. So – any Council members out there who would like to help in the planning of the workshop for your position, please be in touch.  It would be great if you maybe sent some questions about your position so that they can be included.

We will be due for Visitation from National next May.  I don’t know if that will be done or not. But its time to start preparing as if it will happen.

Our initiative to send cards to those celebrating a milestone anniversary of their profession has been very well received!  In addition to the anniversary cards, our Regional Infirmarian, Ted Bienkowski, OFS, has done an outstanding job in sending condolences to the families when one of our members passes and also sending our love and prayers to a brother or sister who is dealing with a very serious injury or illness.

I have gotten a great deal of support while I have been Regional Minister and just as much or more criticism.  It comes with the job.  But I will tell you this, good or bad, I try my darndest to keep the Region united as a family.  I don’t always succeed.  I have made my contact information known to one and all and invited any of you to call me or send a message if you have a question or complaint.  That sentiment continues as we will be entering the final year of this term.  I believe that the term Regional Minister really means head servant.  I’m here for all of you not just the Regional Council and not just Ministers.   When I was a candidate – and it wasn’t while I was at St. Francis in Springfield – I had a problem and wanted to contact the Regional Minister and was told “She doesn’t have time for you! You can’t call her:”  Now if you are trying to figure out who was Regional Minister at that time, let me say this……….. she had no idea that I wanted to speak with her. So none of this is any reflection on her.  But I decided then and there if I ever was in any kind of position in this Order, I would make time for anyone at any level who wanted and/or needed to talk to me.

 

So, I think I have covered what went on in the last year and what I hope to do in the coming year but I’m sure there are things that I missed that you want to talk about or question.  So…………. If you have a question, please feel free to send it to me.

 

Kate Kleinert, OFS

Regional Minister

 

 

From the heart of the Minister - October 2020 - It must be an Election Year!

Remaining Franciscan in an Election Year by Kate Kleinert, OSF

The words are brutal;  the attitude – ugly.  Accusations are made, Stories, true – half true or completely untrue are repeated and repeated and repeated.

It must be a Presidential election year!  What a great time to be Franciscan!!

I first wrote this piece in 2008.  I have drug it out and dusted it off every four years since.

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This is not a political blog.  I am not here to foist my political views on anyone.  I don’t care who you are voting for – that’s your right and privilege.  What I do care about is how easy it is to get caught up with the crowd.  And that’s not Franciscan.  Don’t we naturally tend to swim upstream? …against the tide of what everyone else is doing?

As we get closer to the elections, the real mud slinging begins! There are far, far too many people who believe every word that crosses their screen.  It’s no different than all the people who believe every word that is written in the Star or the National Enquirer.  If it’s in print, it must be gospel!

We really need to be vigilant in what we do…and how we do it.  Taking part in slander is very wrong.  Even passing on true information can be wrong if we have no business passing it on.  Lies and even hurtful truths take on a life of their own.  There are political ads and political cartoons running viral on the internet.  We are not called to forward everything that passes through our computers.  We are called to be peacemakers;  and forwarding or even posting to your Facebook page an ad or cartoon that is inflammatory is not about to bring peace to anyone.

I am not saying Franciscans shouldn’t forward any messages on the Internet.  But before you do, stop and think WWFD…What would Francis do?

Our reading from Morning Prayer on Friday, Week I comes form Ephesians, 4:29 – 32:  Never let evil talk pass your lips; say only the good things men need to hear, things that will really help them.  Do nothing that will sadden the Holy Spirit with whom you were sealed against the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, all passion and anger, harsh words, slander and malice of every kind.  In place of these, be kind to one another, compassionate, and mutually forgiving, just as God has forgiven you in Christ.

 This Presidential race will be more lively than most. The closer we get to election day, the more tightly wound everyone will be.  In this election year, wouldn’t it be better…more Franciscan …to pray for the right outcome? Ask God to guide us in getting the person in office that He wants to be there.

It’s been a long, hot summer and that has nothing to do with the weather!  Wouldn’t it be nicer to stand back, hold onto our Franciscan serenity, and stay out of the sensationalism? This year especially has tried our serenity.  There has been no respite from disasters large and small and our serenity cloak is wearing thin.  God already knows who is winning this election. Start saying your thank you prayers now.  Act like it is so, so it can be so.

Here is a prayer put forth by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:

Prayer Before An Election

Lord God, as the election approaches, we seek to better understand the issues and concerns that confront our city/state/country, and how the Gospel compels us to respond as faithful citizens in our community.

We ask for eyes that are free from blindness so that we might see each other as brothers and sisters, one and equal in dignity, especially those who are victims of abuse and violence, deceit and poverty.  We ask for ears that will hear the cries of children unborn and those abandoned, Men and women oppressed because of race or creed, religion or gender.

We ask for minds and hearts that are open to hearing the voice of leaders who will bring us closer to your Kingdom. We pray for discernment so that we may choose leaders who hear your Word, live your love, and keep in the ways of your truth as they follow in the steps of Jesus and his Apostles and guide us to your Kingdom of justice and peace.

We ask this in the name of your Son Jesus Christ and through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Amen.

 

 

 

Who do you say you are? August, 2020

Who do you say that you are?

This weekend, I participated in the National Formation Directors Workshop. I learned a great deal; but, what keeps resounding in my head is from the talk that Father Christopher Panagoplous, T.O.R. President in Turn of the CNSA, gave at the opening on Friday night.

He referred to today’s (8/22/20) Gospel from Matthew, chapter 18.  Jesus asked the apostles “But who do you say that I am?”  Father Chris took that question and asked all of us “But who do you say that you are? When someone says “Tell me a little about yourself”, what comes out of your mouth first?  How do you see yourself and in what order of importance? Well, I’m a widow, I love to garden, I rescue hospice dogs, I’m a ‘pre-reader’ for several of my favorite authors, I’m a penpal to several prisoners, I crochet winter scarves for the homeless, I’m a cantor, lector and Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist at my parish, I do a lot of different kinds of crafts, I love old black and white movies and oh yeah….I’m a Secular Franciscan.

Oh yeah,…I’m a Secular Franciscan????? As if that is an afterthought, or at the bottom of the list.  All the other things are what I do.  Being a Secular Franciscan is who I am!

If I’m not seeing it as first in my life how can anyone else see it?  Can anyone see from the way I live my life that being a Secular Franciscan is who I say I am?  In this craziness we are living in now, do I stand by when a group of neighbors are having a racist conversation? Do I faithfully recycle and put a full bin out on collection days? During this time of ‘sheltering-in-place’ have I reached out to anyone outside my circle of family and friends to see how they are doing?

While we have this time on our hands thanks to the pandemic, why not take an inventory of who you are and what you do and see if things need to be reorganized a bit? All of us can use a tune-up now and again.  Thanks, Father Chris, for the reminder!