How do we hear the voice of Christ, our Shepherd?

Reflection for the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN President, Sr. Margaret Magee, OSF

This reflection was originally posted in our July 16th newsletter


God WhispersWe hear throughout our readings for this Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time of the importance of having or being good shepherds. This may conjure up images of a shepherd surrounded by sheep or some other animals. Often, we as believers and followers of Jesus are considered the ‘flock’. Perhaps we have heard this term used by pastors and bishops as they speak about their ministry of tending and guiding their flock. My concern in using this terminology and image of a shepherd and the flock is that we might have the tendency to see the shepherd with power over or being better than the flock. This image fits well into our Catholic sense of hierarchy which has been handed down through the centuries and has often lead to the faithful ‘flock’ being very passive with the feeling that the role as faithful followers is to ‘pray, pay, and obey’.

I believe this strong hierarchical mindset lead to the problem that the prophet Jeremiah addressed in the first reading, “Woe to the shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture, says the LORD. Therefore, thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, against the shepherds who shepherd my people: You have scattered my sheep and driven them away. You have not cared for them…” Jeremiah is speaking, not simply to the religious leaders of his time, but to the kings and rulers of the Israelite people. For the Israelites there was no separation between their religion and their government as they were a people called by God. To be the people of God meant to live in faithfulness, truth and integrity, but the shepherds of Israel, the kings and rulers, had become self-indulgent and self-absorbed. Their lack of compassion and care for those they should have been serving spread, as bad behavior often does, among other leaders and among the people themselves so that inequity, prejudice, oppression and injustice began to distort the hearts of God’s people. In the end, Jeremiah reassured the people that God would appoint those who would shepherd them so that they need no longer live in fear and violence.

We know and believe that Christ is the Good Shepherd. As a good shepherd Jesus spent his days not only leading and guiding the people, he was attentive to help his disciples grow in understanding what true pastoring and servant leadership was to look like. We know too how Jesus condemned the leaders of his day, the Scribes, the Pharisees and Sadducees for their oppressive and ‘heavy handed’ ways with the people. Perhaps this was why the great numbers and crowds of people were coming to Jesus and seeking him out.

Paul in his letter to the Ephesians lets us know the type of shepherding Christ calls forth in those who will follow. Through his death and resurrection Christ became our peace, calling us to be people of peace while breaking down walls of hatred and hostility. In Christ, we are created anew and called to witness the presence of God’s love by our lives of compassion, nonviolence and by carrying the cares and the burdens of others, especially those who are marginalized, immigrants, refugees, and people who are oppressed and treated with disdain or spoken of as if they were animals.

Mark’s gospel reminds us of how Jesus Christ was moved with pity as he saw the vast crowd of people gathering to see and to hear him. Are we aware of and attentive to the numbers of people and the crowds that are searching for justice, compassion, refuge and safety from oppression, hatred and violence? Can we have the same mind and heart of our Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ? Can we hear Christ calling to us in the shouts and cries of our brothers and sisters? Let us not remain uncaring and deaf.

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” – C. S. Lewis

Sr. Margaret Magee, OSF
FAN President

Advertisements
Published in: on July 17, 2018 at 1:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

Witnessing Original Sin at Tornillo Detention Center

By Larry Couch

Larry serves as the director and lobbyist for the National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd.


Sisters of Good Shepherd

I am returning home from El Paso after yesterday’s demonstration in front of the Tornillo Detention Center where some 200 children are locked up. A recent Washington Post editorial castigates the Trump Administration for its failure in reuniting the immigrant children with their parents. Rather than owning its failures, the Administration has complained about the court order mandating the reuniting of the children as being too strict.

According to the Post, the “original sin” of the Administration was the cruelty of separating the children from their parents in the first place. However, I would say the “original sin” was the failure of the Republican party to…[READ MORE]

Published in: on July 11, 2018 at 11:56 am  Leave a Comment  

A Blueprint for Ministry

Reflection for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN Board Member, Sr. Marge Wissman

This reflection was originally posted in our July 9th newsletter


two by twoIn the first reading this week, Amos is perceived by the priest, Amaziah to be nothing more than a court prophet making a living by presuming to speak for God. But Amos made it clear that he is not prophesying for personal reasons. He is representing not an earthly court but a heavenly court.

In the second reading from Ephesians, it is made clear that God chose us and gives us every spiritual blessing to realize this call.

In the gospel, Jesus encounters the twelve disciples for the third time since his resurrection. In this encounter he now commissions them to preach and heal. They are to go out in pairs, taking nothing, and rely on the community to support them. Jesus did not give them rank or status or special knowledge but rather the power of preaching and healing. President Theodore Roosevelt once remarked, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Jesus sent them to care.

Jesus’ “blueprint for ministry” – is to just take a walking stick – no food, no sack, no money in their belts, and to rely on the community. Could our “blueprint” for this time in history be that we are disciples on which immigrants, the poor, prisoners, those who are recipients of prejudice, the environment, and many other oppressed rely to speak for, protest for, and intercede for with politicians and all of society?

Recently in Seneca Falls, NY I picked up a poster that says it all:
“In This House:
Love is Love
Black Lives Matter
Science is Real
Women’s Rights are Human Rights
No Human is Illegal
Water is Life
And Kindness is Everything!”

May these sentiments be our blueprint for ministry.

Sr. Marge Wissman
FAN Board Member

Published in: on July 10, 2018 at 11:03 am  Leave a Comment  

Time for ‘prophets’

Reflection for the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN Associate Director, Sr. Marie Lucey

This reflection was originally posted in our July 2nd newsletter


not powerlessOn the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, when the times are anything but “ordinary,” the scripture readings draw attention to prophets. Prophets with a capital P come to mind: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezechiel and other Hebrew Prophets; John the Baptist; Jesus himself who, pained at the lack of acceptance in his hometown, declares “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place….”

God raises up prophets in times of crisis. Their mission is not to predict the future but to remind the people, especially those who govern, that God is present in the political and social crises of the time and demand that policies and laws must be in accordance with God’s will and desires. “Thy kingdom come, they will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” we pray so often in the prayer that Jesus gave us. If we pray these words sincerely, can we possibly see God’s will in the separation and detention of immigrant families, in tearing children away from their parents, closing doors to refugees, declaring “not wanted here” to people from majority Muslim countries, enacting legislation to cut food stamps and harm God’s creation while bloating the military budget?

So, where are today’s prophets? There are many lower case “p” prophets if we see with God’s eyes, and they may include the face in your mirror. Prophets in every age, no matter what the historical crisis, share two things in common: they speak truth to power, reminding the community that God’s desires prevail over political expediency, and they suffer. If I hesitate because I am too small, too weak, to speak with a prophetic voice, I can pray with Paul: “Therefore, I am content with weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Sr. Marie Lucey, OSF
FAN Associate Director

Published in: on July 3, 2018 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

The Choices We Make

Reflection for the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN executive director, Patrick Carolan

This reflection was originally posted in our June 25th newsletter


ChoicesIt has been a troubling few weeks. We have seen children being taken from their parents and placed in cages. We have seen the pictures, heard the audio tapes of the children crying for their mothers. We have even heard our leaders try and use the Bible to justify their actions. We have heard our president claim that our borders are being overrun by these criminals and use the term ‘infested’, as if these children were insects. Commentators on some TV stations claim these children are ‘illegal.’ In whose eyes are these children illegal? Certainly not in God’s eyes.

In the first reading this Sunday from the Book of Wisdom it says: “For he fashioned all things that they might have being; and the creatures of the world are wholesome, and there is not a destructive drug among them nor any domain of the netherworld on earth, for justice is undying.” (Wis 1: 14-15) I often wonder when God looks at the Earth, what does God see? Does God see an imaginary line drawn between the US and Mexico? I am pretty sure in Heaven there is not a ‘US’ and a ‘Mexico’, only God’s beautiful and wondrous creation.

We often hear the claim that “those people” come here illegally so they should be punished. Again, when God looks at us does he see us and “those people”? At one point in our history, slavery was legal, so was the holocaust, genocide, segregation, and stealing native american children from their parents. Legality has nothing to do with justice. Jesus challenged the law on a regular basis. He lived outside the power structure and in the margins. What do we do when we are faced with a moral dilemma, what choices do we have?

The Franciscan theologian, Blessed John Dun Scotus teaches us that the will not only has the capacity for choice, we can freely choose or reject to make a moral choice. Franciscan scholar, Sr. Mary Beth Ingham describes this dilemma in her book The Harmony of Goodness: Mutuality and Moral living according to John Dun Scotus. When faced with a moral decision we can utilize our experience, our intuition, our understanding of moral reasoning, and our learned moral knowledge together to formulate a decision of what we should do. However because we have the ability to choose, even though we clearly understand what we should do, we are free to choose otherwise, either by choosing something inappropriate or by not choosing at all. We can choose not to choose. Which is what most of us choose. Dr. Vasko in her book Beyond Apathy; A Theology for the Bystander states “To be a Christian is to take sides with those who are marginalized, dehumanized and subject to violence. Whether we like it or not neutrality isn’t an option. In the face of violent activity, to hide behind the mirror of ignorance is to take sides with the powers that be.”

In our second reading from 2 Corinthians it says; “but that as a matter of equality your abundance at the present time should supply their needs, so that their abundance may also supply your needs, that there may be equality.” (2Cor 8:13-14) It is pretty clear what the apostle Paul is saying in this statement. You would almost think that Paul was a socialist. On Father’s Day, Rev. Jacob C. Ledwon, pastor at St. Joseph University Parish in Buffalo, NY in his homily said, “You may think to yourself… ‘I don’t come to a church to hear about politics.’ Well if you do not want to hear about politics don’t ever read the Bible because the Bible is a political document. Don’t ever look at a crucifix, because Jesus died as a political prisoner.”

St. Bonaventure tells us that how we choose and what we choose makes a difference – first in what we become by our choices and second in what the world becomes by our choices. So we each have to answer a simple question: Do we chose to do what is right, just, and moral? Do we choose to take a path where we hoard our abundance while others go without, or do we choose not to choose?

Patrick Carolan
FAN Executive Director

Published in: on June 26, 2018 at 9:00 am  Comments (1)  

Speaking Truth to Power

Reflection for the Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist by FAN Board Member, Br. Paul Crawford, OFM Cap.

This reflection was originally posted in our June 18th newsletter


John Baptist.HerodSpeaking Truth to Power is a Biblical Tradition, calling for personal and corporate penance and change, that never ends well.

There really isn’t a lot known about John the Baptist, except, as Luke writes about in this week’s Gospel, that John was conceived in a miraculous manner and that his parents were Zachary and Elizabeth.

In the reading from the Acts of the Apostles, God is pleased by David, “a man after my own heart; he will carry out my every wish.” (Acts 13:22) So John, coming from the house of David, is bestowed the role to “proclaim a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel” (Acts 13:24) and to baptize Jesus, proclaim Jesus as the Saviour and to rebuke Herod for his public sins.

We all know how John the Baptist’s life ended. He like so many of the prophets of the Old Testament, as well as Jesus, said yes even to the point of death to do God’s will and to call for repentance and change of lives, hearts and society.

May we all take time this week to meditate and accept God’s call to us to share the Good News, never counting the cost and never wavering to embrace those who agree and even disagree with us. For we may be the only Gospel that people see in their lives.

Br. Paul Crawford, OFM Cap.
FAN Board Member

Published in: on June 19, 2018 at 9:42 am  Leave a Comment  

Pope’s climate warning to oil-gas executives: ‘There is no time to lose’

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated Catholic social justice and peace columnist whose column is published in print and/or posted online in various U.S. diocesan papers. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the Franciscan Action Network.


By Tony Magliano

Off shore Oil RigChallenging world oil executives to recognize the urgent environmental need to quickly transition from fossil fuel extraction and burning, to clean energy production, Pope Francis called them to take to heart that “Civilization requires energy, but energy must not destroy civilization.”

Gathering the heads of some of the world’s largest oil and gas corporations – including ExxonMobil, BP, and Royal Dutch Shell – to the recent “Energy Transition and Care for our Common Home” Vatican conference (see: https://bit.ly/2LEOsyn), the pope told the CEOs that meeting the energy needs of everyone, especially the more than 1 billion people without electricity, must urgently be undertaken, but in ways “that avoid creating environmental imbalances resulting in deterioration and pollution gravely harmful to our human family, both now and in the future.”

The pontiff appealed to the energy executives to see the necessary moral interconnectedness… Read More: http://www.uscatholicpriests.org/magliano-june-13-oil-execs

 

Published in: on June 15, 2018 at 10:52 am  Leave a Comment  

Reflections from Mission Experience in Brazil, Part 4


FAN Board President, Sr. Margaret Magee recently traveled on a mission trip to Brazil where she spent time over Holy Week and the Easter Triduum. This is the final excerpt of her four-part series of reflections on the trip.


Part 4 – An Experience of our Life, our Mission and our Charism with our Sisters,

MargaretMagee

Sr. Margaret Magee, OSF

Associates and Partners in Ministry in Brazil by Margaret Magee, OSF

Feliz Páscoa! Happy Easter! This final reflection of my recent travel and time in Brazil picks up on Easter Sunday morning in Ceres, Brazil. We enjoyed a quick overnight visit, hospitality and sharing the experience of the Holy Saturday Easter Vigil with our Sisters Aparecida, Rosimeire, Maria Ângela and Ângela Teresinha. On Easter Sunday morning we were nourished with breakfast and the company of our Sisters which fortified us for the two hour drive back to Anápolis in time to join the Sisters at Mâe Admirável, our Sisters from the other local communities, the friars and friends in a festive Easter Sunday noon meal.

It was evident that great care and attention was given to the preparation and decoration of the dining room tables at Mâe Admirável by our Sisters Solange, Stella Sabina, our novices and aspirants. We feasted on the delicious meal prepared by Sister Paula and her staff and enjoyed the relaxing conversation and presence of one another on this Easter Sunday afternoon.

Later, Pat Klemm and I enjoyed a refreshing swim in the pool at Mâe Admirável. We were joined by our novices, Eloenia and Cleise, and the aspirants Ádrea, Lilian and Cleidiane. Erin Baird and Pat Tyre joined us poolside. It was a wonderful time to relax, to chat and to be together without a meeting or being on schedule.

On Easter Monday morning, Erin Baird of Allegany Franciscan Ministries (AFM) and Pat Tyre made a visit to the NACRI. The NACRI was started by the late, Sister Teresa Sweeney and most recently Sister Iosta de Freitas Campos served as the Administrator. The NACRI is a community center for children and youth in a very depressed and poor section of Anápolis. Our Sisters no longer staff the NACRI, however they continue to serve on its board. The NACRI is now a ministry of Nova Aliança, a Franciscan community of lay men and women, married, single and Diocesan priests. The community of Nova Aliança was founded 25 years ago with the assistance of Sister Teresa Sweeney. The NACRI is currently celebrating its 25th Anniversary. Pictures and more information on the NACRI can be found on their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/nacri.alianca/
Later Monday morning, we attended the inauguration of the State Emergency Hospital in Anápolis (HUANA). Some years ago, Sister Rita Cecilia Coelho, Adminstrator of Santa Casa de Misericórdia, Anápolis, assumed the administration of this Emergency Hospital. HUANA provides emergency and urgent care services for the people in the city of Anápolis, as well as in 56 municipalities throughout the state of Goiás. Having visited some of the small rural hospitals and clinics in our travels reinforced, for me, the reality of the need for good and expanding healthcare facilities like Santa Casa and HUANA. This inauguration ceremony honored the recent work done in expanding emergency and urgent medical services and significantly increasing the bed capacity at HUANA. This event was a real testimony to the leadership and commitment of Sr. Rita Cecilia and of all our Sisters who have served through the years and continue to work at the hospital and serve on the board.

Our final afternoon brought us to our formation house, Convento Porciúncula, which is just down the street from Mâe Admirável. Pictured on the right is Sister Solange, the Formation Director, and on the left is Sister Stella Sabina who serves as the Regional Treasurer. Solange and Stella Sabina share in community and the mentoring of these young women in formation. This year we are blessed to have two Canonical Novices, pictured next to Stella on the left is Eloenia Soares da Mota and Cleise de Sousa Canté. We also have three women who are aspirants (postulants), Ádrea Cândida Barreto, Cleidiane de Souza Nascimento and Lilian Rodrigues Jesus.

Spending time in conversation with these young women filled my heart with deep gratitude and a refreshing memory of how God invites us into discernment and the beginnings, the stirrings, of desire for an unknown and unimaginable journey into what our Franciscan-Clarian communal life and ever unfolding spirituality can become. Each woman shared her story of how and where she encountered our Allegany Franciscan Sisters and the events that prompted and encouraged them to take the first steps that hopefully will lead to a full and final commitment of vowed life and gospel living. Their presence, their enthusiasm, their smiles and openness to experience and discern life in community is, for me, a visible sign that God continues to invite, to love and to incarnate hope in our world today. May we hold in our prayers, these and all the women in discernment and the various stages of formation in Brazil, Jamaica and in the United States. We are blessed!

This experience and time in Brazil, compared to past trips, was for me very different and transformational. I have been fortunate over the years to have had opportunities to travel and spend time with our Sisters in Brazil. Often these trips were for much shorter periods, with days filled with meetings and Assemblies, always enjoyable but limited in time to really spend and be more immersed with our Sisters and in all that Brazil and her people have to offer.

In the past, I’ve often mused that the extent of my travel to Brazil has been flying into an airport, being driven to Mâe Admirável, sometimes with visits to our local houses and the Santa Casa hospital, ending with a return trip to the airport for the journey home. Yes, I’ve always enjoyed these visits and especially time with our Sisters, however, I never felt that they were opportunities to be immersed in the beauty of the land, its people and the many cultures of Brazil. Interestingly, in past visits I have had an inner sense that even though I’ve always felt deeply connected with our Sisters, I sensed that the country of Brazil, its land, its trees, fields and even the night skies filled with familiar stars seemed so vastly different and foreign to me.

In this journey, with its many travels and experiences, I felt a kind of coming home, of being at home, and sensing the deeper connections between the North Amercian and Brazilian realities that I had been blessed to transverse. Ronald Rolheiser, in his book, The Shattered Lantern, best captures, for me, this deeper connection. “The word humility comes from the Latin root humus which means soil or earth. Its primary connotation comes from that. To be humble is to be earthy, connected to the soil…to be earthy is also to feel your dependence and interconnectedness with others and with the earth…The humblest person you know is not the person who lives a timid life but the person who lives a life that constantly acknowledges its limits, its vulnerability, its interconnectedness, and its radical incarnate character.”

The gift of this experience and the opportunity to write and share these reflections has been a personal invitation to enter more deeply into our Franciscan-Clarian call to grow in vulnerability and to humbly be open to explore interculturality with its potential to foster deeper communion and to make visible the radical incarnate love of Christ.

I hope that you have been able to capture the beauty and spirit of the Brazilian people so connected with life, beauty and all of God’s creation. In truth my deeper hope in writing and sharing these reflections has been twofold:
– for those who may not have the opportunity to visit Brazil, may you glimpse and imagine through my words and pictures the deep encounters and transformative opportunities that have touched something deep with me,
– for those who have visited, have spent time in Brazil or may go in the future, may we together find new ways to reflect on and share our experiences so that we deepen our connectedness as Sisters, Associates, Partners in Ministries and with the many people, organizations and networks with whom we are connected.

In our jouneys, wherever we may travel and encounter one another and others, may we free ourselves to explore what is new and different with curiosity, humility, openness, trust, goodness and love. Obrigada! Gracias! Thank you!

“Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” – Mary Oliver

Ronald Rolheiser, The Shattered Lantern, Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1994.

Published in: on June 14, 2018 at 10:30 am  Leave a Comment  

The Butterfly Effect

Reflection for the 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN Board Member, Sr. Maryann Mueller, CSSF

This reflection was originally posted in our June 11th newsletter


Butterfly 4In the early 1960s mathematician and meteorologist Edward Lorenz worked with forecasting the weather. Lorenz typed weather data into a computer and tested the results. At first, Lorenz assumed that leaving out one small decimal point from the initial number would have no effect on calculating the weather. He assumed that this would reflect some small, inconsequential change in air currents, like something caused by the fluttering of a butterfly’s wings. Lorenz discovered though that even negligible changes in the data produced entirely different weather. A flap of a butterfly’s wings half a world away could create a tornado a few weeks later on the other side of the world. This phenomenon is now known as the butterfly effect.

Our readings this Sunday call attention to seemingly inconsequential things in life resulting in tremendous consequences. In the first reading, Ezekiel states that God will “tear off a tender shoot” (Ez. 17:22) and plant it on the mountain heights where it will “put forth branches and bear fruit, and become a majestic cedar.” (Ez. 17:23) In this week’s Gospel, Saint Mark compares the kingdom of God to the mustard seed, a speck of a seed, which grows to become “the largest of plants.” (Lk. 13:19)

There is also a human butterfly effect. In the first parable of the Gospel, Saint Mark reminds us that the reign of God grows each day by our often unnoticeable and seemingly inconsequential actions. Our every thought, word and action, promoting Gospel peace and upholding the dignity of all human beings made in God’s image, may serve to “transform …policy related to peace making, care for creation, poverty, and human rights.” (FAN Mission Statement) Pope Francis states in the long letter he recently wrote to each one of us (Gaudete et Exsultate): “The common life, whether in the family, the parish, the religious community or any other, is made up of small everyday things… Jesus asked his disciples to pay attention to details… A community that cherishes the little details of love is a place where the risen Lord is present…” (143, 144)

We are all butterflies, and we have all been created by God to make a difference. The effect our wings have is up to us.

Sr. Maryann Mueller, CSSF
FAN Board Member

Published in: on June 12, 2018 at 9:26 am  Comments (2)  

Reflections from Mission Experience in Brazil, Part 3

FAN Board President, Sr. Margaret Magee recently traveled on a mission trip to Brazil where she spent time over Holy Week and the Easter Triduum. This is the third of her four-part series of reflections on the trip.


Part 3 – An Experience of our Life, our Mission and our Charism with our Sisters, Associates and Partners in Ministry in Brazil (Part 3) – Anápolis, Ceres – Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday

by Margaret Magee osf

MargaretMagee

Sr. Margaret Magee, osf

As I begin to write this third installment of my reflections in Brazil, I am very conscious that I am home, back here in the United States, back to my daily routine, yet with a sense that somewhere within me dwells this deeply profound experience of my time in Brazil, especially with the celebration of Holy Week and the Triduum. I am aware of a different consciousness residing within me. A deeper awareness of being and living continues beyond my limited U.S./American reality. How do we become more sensitive and attentive to other cultures and realities of people and see them as not strange or foreign and distinct from ourselves? How do we open ourselves, without judgment, to explore and grow in awareness of the greater diversity and expression of our human reality? I believe these are just some questions to consider as we begin to explore the topic of interculturality.

Good Friday morning began with an early morning flight from Palmas to return to our central house of Mâe Admirável in Anápolis, Goiás. We were grateful for our early morning drivers Maria Helena and Dayanne who took us to the airport and for Lilian Cristina and Liliane who were waiting for us to arrive in Anápolis, this was another example of the detailed planning and gracious hospitality of our Sisters. Upon our arrival at Mâe Admirável we had time to rest before attending the 3:00 pm service for Good Friday.

We walked to the church of St. Mary of the Angels which is part of the property of Mâe Admirável and staffed by the Franciscan Friars. The Good Friday service, simple in its solemnity, was familiar with its Liturgy of the Word with the reading of the Passion. Typically following the Passion is the Veneration of the Cross, however in this service, following the Passion and Intercessions, we moved into the reception of Communion and then closed with the Veneration of the Cross. This change, in a ritual that is so familiar, seemed so appropriate for this Good Friday. It reminded me that being nourished on the Word and the Eucharist, we are called to embrace and focus on the suffering and crucified Christ on this day and in our world today.

The evening of Good Friday we attended a Passion play at St. Francis of Assisi Church inBrazil.3.1 Anápolis. Nothing could have prepared me for this moving and profound experience. The presentation took place outside the church and parish hall with bleachers and chairs set up for a few thousand attendees. We arrived early yet most of the seats were already filled. Four stages had been set up with an additional area for the choir and musicians. The presentation, which lasted about three hours, began with dramatic reenactments of scripture stories; the Nativity, the Temptation in the Desert and the Prodigal Son. The combination of dance, music and acting made the scripture come alive with a depth of reflection and spirituality. The presentation then moved to the Last Supper with those who played the part of the apostles going into the audience and inviting attendees to take part in the Last Supper scene. This play continued with dramatic and artistic scenes of Pilate’s court, Herod’s temple, the Way of the Cross, the crucifixion, burial and resurrection. Woven Brazil.3.2through the way of the cross were prayers and reflections from the Brazilian Bishops campaign “Fraternity and Overcoming Violence”. In so many ways my experience of these sacred days of the Triduum, were not three distinct days, but truly one sacred celebration of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ.

Holy Saturday morning we journeyed once again, this time to visit with our Sisters of Convento Imaculada Conceiçâo (Immaculate Conception Convent), Ceres, Brazil.

The Franciscan friars first arrived in the area, known then as National Agricultural Colony of Goiás (CANG), in 1947 evangelizing the people and beginning to develop the parish community of Immaculate Conception with its many outlying small community chapels. They began building the school in 1948 and then in 1950, the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany came to assist in the pastoral and educational work. Our Sisters continue to serve in pastoral and catechetical ministry.

Upon our arrival we were warmly welcomed by Sisters Aparecida, Rosimeire, Maria Ângela, Ângela Teresinha. Besides the time with our Sisters we spent a delightful afternoon visiting with the local Associate group which is a very active and energized presence in the parish and throughout the local community.

On Holy Saturday evening, we gathered with the parish community outside the church for the lighting of the Easter fire. During the liturgy it was apparent that our Sisters and the people were very integral to the whole celebration. Our Sister Aparecida was a lector and Sister Rosimeire proclaimed the gospel. After communion, Pat Klemm, Pat Tyre, Erin Baird, Marinez and I were invited to come up into the sanctuary and share a brief message with the parish community. Yet again this experience confirmed, for me, the presence of our Sisters in this community and the deep respect that the people hold for the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany.

Though this was a very quick overnight visit in Ceres we did have the opportunity to visit a small hospital, São Pio X where Sister Aparecida serves as a Member of the Board of Directors. Once again, this visit spoke of the dedicated people who serve in these small hospitals and the challenges the people face with often limited medical services and the need to travel hours to larger facilities like our hospital, Santa Casa in Anápolis.

Reflection to come – Easter Sunday with activities and visits in Anápolis

Published in: on June 7, 2018 at 10:24 am  Leave a Comment