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!

May, 2020, from the Regional Minister

Along With Everything Else in the World, Communicating Has Turned Upside Down!

Oh, the times we live in!  Could you ever imagine (outside of a Stephen King novel) that churches are locked, most people are not working, most retail business is closed and in order to go out of your house, you must wear a mask!?  Who would have thought? I’m not sure even Stephen King could dream up all that we have been through in the last two months that feel like two years. And I haven’t even touched on the virus itself and how it is robbing us of our loved ones, our health, our peace of mind, our livelihood, and our lives as we knew them.

Nothing is the same;  we’ve been shaken to our boots and yet, here we are.  Many of our local Councils and fraternities have met through conference calls or ZOOM meetings. Formation has started up again using some form of meeting virtually.  The only way to attend Mass is by watching it on TV or streaming on the computer.  Who would have thought??

But…………… and you knew that was coming, right!?  There are many good things coming out of the pandemic.  We have prayed the rosary together on the phone and we prayed the Stations of the Cross and the Divine Mercy Chaplet….on the phone.  Who would have thought?  The first night of the rosary, there were 80 of us on that call.  And although the parts where we prayed together sounded like a joyful Tower of Babel, we were one, saying one prayer with one purpose.  Who would have thought??

I was asked the other night what ministries we can be involved in with all these restrictions.  My immediate answer was “We are each other’s ministries!”  We need to check in with each other on a regular basis.  And that is not a task that has the ministers’ names on it.  It is something all of us can and need to be doing.  And I’m going to up the ante.  S-T-R-E-T-C-H those dusty Franciscan skills and call someone from your fraternity that you don’t regularly talk to or sit with at meetings or maybe don’t even like. It doesn’t have to be a long conversation and if it helps, write down a couple questions before you call.  Then, if the conversation lags for some reason, you are ready with some backup topics.  We have been given the gift of time and wouldn’t it be such a blessing all around if we actually got to know one another better?  Who would have thought??!!

We need to learn how to communicate and convey our love and joy….from behind the masks we are wearing.  That’s a skill that is going to take some work. If all someone can see of us is our eyes, are they getting the kindness our smile would normally be conveying?

When I was in high school – oh so long ago! – I went on a weekend retreat and late on Saturday afternoon, we were given the hardest task in the world.  We had arrived on Friday after school and the group consisted of high school seniors from the local Catholic high schools.  We were assigned rooms so we couldn’t bunk with our best friends.  We were separated into groups that had a good mix of kids from different schools.  And then we were assigned places at table for meals.  All to have us with someone we didn’t know.  And then came the group task on Saturday afternoon.  After listening to a wonderful presentation on forgiveness and accepting people as they are, each of us was told to go pair up with someone who we didn’t particularly like.  What a humbling experience.  We each had to go to someone we didn’t like and say, will you be my partner in this exercise.  At that point, we didn’t know what the exercise was.  For each pair, one was the leader and one was being led.  The one being led was blindfolded and taken outside by the leader and taken on a Blind Faith Walk.  The blindfolded one could not speak and had to rely on the leader to tell him or her when to turn, when to step up, when to step over and these directions were coming from someone we admittedly didn’t like!  So how hard can it be to pick up the phone and check in on someone?  Now, don’t get the wrong idea and think that anyone who calls you is someone who doesn’t like you!!  Look at it as the one who called you would really like to get to know you a little better and as a Secular Franciscan, is reaching out in love and concern to see how you are doing.

We all know this isn’t going to be over any time soon so I would like to go even further and perhaps once a month, have each minister trade phone lists with another minister and have the folks in your fraternity call from the list of another fraternity.  We might really end up knowing each other!  Who would have thought??  And the answer is simple.  Who would have thought?  God.  Pure and simple.  The pandemic has given us a lot of lemons.  God has given us the recipe for lemonade.

“Let each one confidently make known his need to another that the other might discover what is needed and minister to him. Let each one love and care for his brother as a mother loves and cares for her son in those matters in which God has given him the grace.” St. Francis   ~ St. Francis of Assisi, The Earlier Rule, (IX: Begging Alms), 71  Thanks, Cindy Louden, OFS, for this beautiful and very appropriate portion of The Earlier Rule

Easter Message 2020 from the Regional Minister

Dear brothers and sisters, the Lord is RISEN!  Alleluia!! Alleluia!!  I’m sure you are thinking that is a mighty strange picture for Easter Sunday so let me explain. I have never seen a picture like this before.  It speaks to my very soul.  After all that Jesus has gone through this past week, when he finally gets back to the Father, Jesus is held against the Father’s chest while the Father gently kisses His Son.  I don’t see them, but I think God the Father has a tear or two rolling down His cheeks.  This picture says a whole lot to me about the situation we are in right now.  When we can be with our families again there will be wildly, joyful, exuberant hugs.  But there will be that one family member who just holds you against his or her chest, gently kissing your head while tears stream down his or her cheeks.
Our Lord has RISEN, risen, indeed! We, however, are still in this hell with no end in sight.  Our day for rejoicing is coming.We could never make it through without this day occurring.  Be grateful today that our Lord has triumphed over death.  But remember, He was alone when it happened.  Just like we are alone now.  He understands how we are feeling. So, some time today, lean into His chest and wait for the kiss.  He understands and He is waiting for you! Alleluia! Alleluia!!
May the Lord comfort you today and may you enjoy today in whatever way you can!

Petition Pray for CoronaVirus

Dear Father, Almighty Healer and Physician, we bring our fears, anxiety and petitions to you during this outbreak of coronavirus.  Please restore our inner peace so that we can be a shining light to those stuck in the darkness.

And let us pray for

+        All those who have the virus and fear the outcome, may they find their peace in you.

+        All the medical staff who cannot work from home but need to be in the ‘trenches’ taking care of the sick, may they have the stamina and good health to continue to serve.

+        For all the working parents who are suddenly faced with their childrens’ schools being closed. Help them to find a solution that does not impact their earnings too greatly.

+        For all those who are worried, please grant them the peace to get through this time.

+        For all those working extra hours to provide more test kits, masks and sanitizer, shower them with the ability to keep up their difficult schedule.

+        And for all the rest of us, please help us make good decisions about where we go and when to stay home, what supplies we buy and how much/many, and most especially keep us calm and filled with Your grace so that we are able to reach out to others in need.

We ask these things through the Sacred Heart of Your Son, Jesus.  May we be open to Your Ministering to us so that we are equipped to minister to others.   Amen

 

 

Prayer for those dealing with the Coronavirus

Dear Father, Almighty Healer and Physician, we bring our fears, anxiety and petitions to you during this outbreak of coronavirus.  Please restore our inner peace so that we can be a shining light to those stuck in the darkness.

And let us pray for

+        All those who have the virus and fear the outcome, may they find their peace in you.

+        All the medical staff who cannot work from home but need to be in the ‘trenches’ taking care of the sick, may they have the stamina and good health to continue to serve.

+        For all the working parents who are suddenly faced with their childrens’ schools being closed. Help them to find a solution that does not impact their earnings too greatly.

+        For all those who are worried, please grant them the peace to get through this time.

+        For all those working extra hours to provide more test kits, masks and sanitizer, shower them with the ability to keep up their difficult schedule.

+        And for all the rest of us, please help us make good decisions about where we go and when to stay home, what supplies we buy and how much/many, and most especially keep us calm and filled with Your grace so that we are able to reach out to others in need.

We ask these things through the Sacred Heart of Your Son, Jesus.  May we be open to Your Ministering to us so that we are equipped to minister to others.   Amen

 

 

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!

 

You Can’t Blow a Kiss to Your Leper – Kate Kleinert, OFS, November 2019

You Can’t Blow a Kiss to Your Leper

We are often asked “who” or ‘what’ our leper is.  That can be a tough question or one that is glaring at us from every angle.  Once we figure it out, how do we approach our leper?

When St. Francis heard God command him to rebuild His church, Francis didn’t contact United Builders Local 500 and ask them to put in a bid for the job.  No, Francis rolled up his sleeves, scrounged for materials and got down and dirty. Literally.

When Pope Francis was newly elected, there was a phrase being bandied about “Smell Like Your Sheep”.  I have it on a tee shirt.  And back in the day, the shepherd did smell like his sheep.  He slept with them, he herded them to a place where food was more plentiful, he tended to their needs. And he smelled like them.  The sheep were comforted by that.  No strangers here…..he’s one of us!  You never see a collie herding sheep from the sidelines – they are always in the middle of the fray.

The ultimate example, of course, comes from Jesus. There was only once (that we know of) where he cured someone from a distance (the Centurian’s servant) and that was done to teach faith.  Otherwise, He is face to face with those He is ministering to.

How do we live that part of the Gospel??  The first article of our Rule states:

The Franciscan family, as one among many spiritual families raised up by the Holy Spirit in the Church, unites all members of the people of God — laity, religious, and priests – who recognize that they are called to follow Christ in the footsteps of Saint Francis of Assisi. In various ways and forms but in life-giving union with each other, they intend to make present the charism of their common Seraphic Father in the life and mission of the Church.

The words that jump out are life-giving union with each other.  That phrase isn’t directing us to walk past the homeless on the street, or ignore the person holding the sign and walking among the stopped cars at any given intersection.  Life giving union doesn’t necessarily mean to bring the homeless home with you, but when you hand that person a few dollars or a blessing bag, look into their eyes and ask what their first name is.  And then say…”____________ (Joe, Jane, whatever) I’m going to pray for you.”

Life giving union……Life giving dignity!  We ignore the homeless because we don’t’ want to be bothered or put on the spot for a donation.  If I don’t look at them, they don’t exist.  And the homeless embrace that treatment as being a necessity of living on the streets.  No identity, no address, no one caring.  If the light is still red and there is time, more often than not, Joe or Jane reply “I’ll pray for you, too:”

 

I’m sure there are many definitions of Life giving union.  This is only my own interpretation.  Remember our plea to God to ‘make me an instrument’  No instrument can be played unless it is willing, warmed up, and ready to deliver God’s music.

 

You cannot play an instrument from the sidelines.  You cannot kiss a leper without getting close. Maybe Francis (we) got the message wrong in the beginning – Rebuild my church – Life giving union –  or just maybe God wants us to start with getting our hands dirty – the Franciscan way.  Look people in the eye when you tell them God cares for them.  If we are truly living the Gospel life, when that person looks back at us, he or she will see God shining through us! May the Lord give you peace.  And may you give it to someone else!

Choose to be Grateful - From the heart of your Minister - October 2019

I was in the middle of a “man-about-the-house” job and loving every minute…..NOT….when I realized I needed longer zip lines.  The closest place is Walmart and it was dinner time – either the best or worst time to go to Walmart.  Was everyone home eating dinner or did they all decide to postpone dinner and get to Walmart right away.

It was the worst time to go. Figures.  I found what I needed and decided rather than make a U-turn in that aisle to go to the checkout counter, I would go down the next aisle which had Fall and Halloween decorations.  There was a flat wooden pumpkin with the words Choose to be Grateful painted on it.  Yes, that is it, pictured above because I did buy it along with the longer zip lines.  I was intrigued by the pumpkin because what has Autumn or Halloween have to do with being grateful and the bigger question….when did Walmart start selling inspirational items???

Choose to be Grateful?  You mean it’s an option??? YES!  Just like we choose to be upset and choose to be angry or hurt or wounded.

Yesterday, I drove my sister to an appointment.  She is going through something right now and was in no state to follow these complicated directions to get to the office she needed.  I was happy to help.  We arrived in enough time that we sat in the car and talked for a bit.  She went in for her appointment and I walked around the back of the building to deadhead the marigolds that were planted there.

A woman came out the door and said “Oh!  You are stealing the plants!”  Like a guilty kid with her hand in the cookie jar, I immediately held out my hand to show what I had and assured her I was only picking the dead ones.  She laughed and said she was only kidding but I still felt the need to explain.  “See, (holding up my Tau Cross) I’m a Franciscan and we are doing a project with these seeds.  I’m only picking the dead ones because that is where the seeds are.”  She thought it was a nice idea and started walking to her car.  Halfway across the parking lot, she stopped and turned back to me.  “Can you say a prayer for me?” she asked.  “You bet I can!  What’s your first name?” It turned out to be Marian and she was so grateful for the promise of a prayer.  She has been having severe pain in her back and that day the doctor decided she needed an injection at the Pain Intervention Center.  The first appointment is November 14; a long time to wait in pain.

I returned to the car to see my sister coming out of the building, visibly upset and shaking. While I was deadheading marigolds, she was going all over the building looking for the right office only to find out that they had moved.  We were at the wrong place.  Her cell phone rang and it was the person she was supposed to meet with and he was apologizing for not giving her the right address and directions.  The appointment was not an easy one to make and she was afraid she had missed her chance.  The man said he would see her as soon as we got to the right place.  Now she was feeling guilty that she was holding me up and that we would be going home in rush hour.

I chose to be grateful.  First, I told her it was never a waste of time to be with her which calmed her down some.  Then I told her about picking marigolds and having an opportunity to pray for someone. Both things to be grateful for.  If we had not been at the wrong place, I wouldn’t have more marigold seeds, or have met someone who needed to hear from God.  Make me an instrument….

 I could have been upset about losing more time when I have so much to do right now.  I could have been annoyed with my sister for not having the right address, and I could have been very angry being stuck in rush hour traffic on the Blue Route.  But I chose to be grateful…grateful for how God used me to reach out to a woman who is scared and in pain.  And grateful that God allowed me to spend time with my sister who I dearly love.  Yes, being grateful is a choice.  Not always an easy one. But something I want to continue to work on.  I feel a lot better choosing to be grateful than being tied up in knots on the Blue Route!  While you are trying to choose to be grateful, say a prayer for Marian.  She could use it!