Proclaiming the Truth of the Gospel

Reflection for the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time by Deacon Craig, OFS

This reflection was originally posted in our June 27th newsletter


There is both comfort and travail in proclaiming the truth of the Gospel to all the world. The proclamation will be either rejected or embraced, but we are not to be bothered by either reaction.

The reading from Isaiah for the 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time describes a delicious peace and comfort in being embraced by the Truth. In our Gospel from Luke, we hear of the delight of the 72 disciples in the positive results of their proclamation. Jesus seems to share that delight but also give them a warning. The results of ministry are not to be grasped at. Like our Kenotic Lord, we are not to measure our ministry by results but we are called to simply rest in the peace of the New Jerusalem, knowing our names are written in Heaven and that we have been known by our Creator from the beginning, and to express that lived, experienced truth from our own lives to the world as we meet it. The world’s reaction to our witness is not our business. We should remain at peace, comforted only by the faith that we are known. The world is in the Lord’s hands, not ours. The world will react to our witness and the world chooses to react as it will.

This requires, in our time, incredibly strong faith. Witnessing in this world we now live in requires monumental hope: 

We hope, for instance, that our compassionate witness to the sanctity of life, our individual treatment of the outcast, the immigrant, or people with disabilities will, in God’s time, stimulate the hearts that observe our acts to realize the fear in their own hearts which leads them to do such things as harangue the immigrant or hold on to their guns with death grips. We hope that our love, expressed freely and heroically, will pique the conscience of others and lead them toward compassion and understanding. Let healing begin, Lord, with us and our witness!

We are called to live our faith openly, courageously, truthfully, and not to measure the results of that lived-out faith. We are to remain loving, forgiving, compassionate, active, open to a world that often ignores us and sometimes actively conspires against us. But that cannot change how we live our faith. Our faith remains. Our love remains. Our hope remains.

Peace and all Good

Deacon Craig, OFS

Published in: on June 28, 2022 at 10:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Reflection on the Prayer of St. Francis in the wake of school shootings

By Lee Ann Niebhur, OFS

Lee Ann Niebhur, OFS is Spiritual Assistant to the Secular Franciscan Laverna Region. She resides in northern Wisconsin and is also a retreat director and English and Speech teacher.


Make me a channel of your peace.
May I offer compassion to all I encounter especially the families of the victims and the shooter.
Where there is hatred, let me bring your love.
May I always see the person behind the behavior.
Where there is injury, your pardon, Lord.
Help us to ask forgiveness from those we may have hurt.
And where there’s doubt, true faith in you.
Let me have faith that we can make schools a safe place for our children.

Make me a channel of your peace.
May words of peace be in my heart and on my lips.
Where there's despair in life, let me bring hope.
Working together let us eradicate the despair that births violence.
Where there is darkness, only light,
May each of us become points of light that shatters the darkness of hopelessness.
And where there's sadness, ever joy.
May we embrace all who have lost loved ones to violence.

Oh, Master, grant that I may never seek
To respond with anger instead of compassion.
So much to be consoled as to console.
To judge another instead of working to eradicate the causes of violence.
To be understood as to understand.
To use weapons instead of dialogue to create a new vision for problem solving.
To be loved as to love with all my soul.
To be so focused on myself that I neglect the needs of others.

Make me a channel of your peace.
Help me to see your face in every person.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
Help me to forgive those who have hurt me.
It is in giving of ourselves that we receive. 
Help me to offer my love to the least, last and lost among us.
It is in dying that we're born to eternal life
And it is only in dying to ourselves that we will see your belovedness in others.

Reflection created by Lee Ann Niebuhr, OFS, June 1, 2022

Published in: on June 22, 2022 at 10:30 am  Comments (1)  

Are we fit for the Kingdom of Heaven?

Reflection for the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN Board President Br. Paul Crawford, OFM Cap.

This reflection was originally posted in our June 20th newsletter


Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Not one of the readings we hear for the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time talks about the usual things we talk about. In fact you might be in a state of confusion, wondering why what we normally emphasize in Church contains so little of what Jesus talked about? He is on a completely different level.

In the second reading Paul says “For freedom, God has set you free” and implores them not to let anybody take that freedom away. Then Paul says “The entire law and all the prophets are summed up in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself” and further, “The law has no power over you if you are led by the Spirit.” We really are in a different ballpark when we hear this.  

A lot of our confusion stems from our need for absolutes. What are the rules we ‘fools for Christ’ should follow? What do we “HAVE TO do?’ Here at FAN we decide in discussion what we can do to bring Franciscan values into our conversations on whether federal policy affects people equally and fairly. We speak up for those who can not take part in the discourse. It is our hope and dream that the Franciscan Justice Circles can do the same on the local level. We hear it again and again: to love our neighbor as we ourselves want to be listened to, assisted and loved.

Most of the wars and hatred and genocides in the world today are caused by people who just keep looking back and replaying what was done to their families generations ago. Most of us reflect the biases and hurts, the agendas and fears of the past with resentment. But you know what resentment is? It’s hatred wearing fine clothing. The mistrust just grows.

St. Francis quotes from the gospel in the Rule of 1221 that he left his brothers and sisters, “No one who sets their hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of Heaven”.

It is through the Holy Spirit’s power that we are saved from the “yoke of slavery.” (Gal 5:1) This power also allows us to know that God is in control, and in spite of what we see or hear, God can and will make His will be done. We must believe and trust and depend on God’s intervention.

Br. Paul Crawford, OFM Cap.

FAN Board President

Published in: on June 21, 2022 at 10:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Heading toward global food catastrophe!

By Tony Magliano

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated Catholic social justice and peace columnist whose writings are 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.


“The current food crisis may rapidly turn into a food catastrophe of global proportions in 2023,” said U.N. trade chief Rebeca Grynspan.

Approximately 60 percent of workers worldwide have lower real incomes today than they had before the pandemic. Grynspan added that “families are having to choose whether to skip meals, keep children in school, or pay medical bills.”

Furthermore, she said that if the Russian-Ukrainian war continues, with the accompanying high fertilizer and grain prices into the next planting season, “shortages of other basic foods such as rice will occur, affecting billions more worldwide.”

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres recently said that the “Ripple effects from the war in Ukraine have generated a severe cost-of-living crisis which no country or community can escape.”  

David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Programme stated that even before the war in Ukraine, the world was already facing an unprecedented, perfect storm because of conflict, climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the course of several years, the number of people marching to starvation has ballooned from 80 million to 323 million, with 49 million at risk of famine in 43 countries, he said.

Just days ago, the U.N. issued an alert “Horn of Africa braces for explosion of child deaths as hunger crisis deepens” (see: https://bit.ly/3tvnxNP).

Other countries in greatest danger of famine are Yemen, Syria, Sudan, South Sudan, Pakistan, Nigeria, Haiti, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Afghanistan.

The U.N. reports that nearly 20 million people in Afghanistan – about half the population – are facing acute hunger.

After 20 years of waging devastating war in Afghanistan, the U.S. and its military allies have a moral obligation to ensure that poverty-stricken Afghans have enough quality food, and that all their other basic needs are met.

Please contact your national representatives urging them to robustly increase lifesaving aid – especially food aid to the world’s hungry people (In the U.S. email and phone your two senators and representative/Capitol switchboard: 202-224-3121).

And everyone needs to pressure President Biden, urging him to push through far more immediate and long-term aid funneled through NGOs like Catholic Relief Services. Please email him at https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/.

Also, kindly make a donation to Catholic Relief Services’ highly effective lifesaving efforts (see: https://www.crs.org/ways-to-give).

And consider this: For just an extra $45 billion per year until 2030, global hunger could be eliminated (see: https://borgenproject.org/cost-to-end-world-hunger/).

U.N. Secretary-General Guterres warned that “The impact of the war in Ukraine on food security, energy and finance is systemic, severe, and speeding up. We must act now to save lives. … It will take global action to fix this global crisis. We need to start today.”

The world needs a spiritual and economic conversion from its addiction to military spending – calculated at a whopping $2 trillion per year (see: https://bit.ly/3O3RPza) – to redirecting that $2 trillion toward meeting the needs of the world’s poor and hungry.

The world’s Catholic bishops at Vatican II authoritatively taught, “Therefore, we say it again: the arms race is an utterly treacherous trap for humanity, and one which ensnares the poor to an intolerable degree. It is much to be feared that if this race persists, it will eventually spawn all the lethal ruin whose path it is now making ready.” 

“If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,’ but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:1517). 

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated Catholic social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings. Tony can be reached at tmag6@comcast.net.

Published in: on June 18, 2022 at 10:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Sharing the Loaves and Fishes

Reflection for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi (Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ) by FAN Creation Care Advocate Sr. Louise Lears, SC

This reflection was originally posted in our June 13th newsletter


In the Gospel of Luke next Sunday, we hear a familiar story about Jesus feeding the hungry. A huge crowd is following Jesus and, as the day draws to a close, the disciples implore him to dismiss the crowd so they can find their own shelter and food–surely a reasonable suggestion. Instead, Jesus poses what seems like an unreasonable challenge: “give them some food yourselves.” When the disciples protest that they only have five loaves and two fish, Jesus offers an image of solidarity, abundance and generosity. Holding the bread and fish, he says a blessing and gives the food to the disciples to distribute to the crowd. Somehow, all are fed and twelve baskets of fragments are left over. The message is simple in some ways. There is no scarcity; the world is filled with abundance and laden with generosity. If bread is broken and fish is shared then there is more than enough for everyone.

We witness this solidarity and generosity in Polish families meeting Ukrainians fleeing war at the train station. These families hold signs indicating the number of people to whom they can offer hospitality. No questions, no vetting, only solidarity. We witness this solidarity in the elementary school principal in Krakow, Poland, making space for scores of students fleeing Ukraine. The parents purchased backpacks with all the essentials because friendship is as important as education. We witness this solidarity in the volunteers welcoming hundreds of migrants, many of whom are asylum seekers, on more than 30 buses sent from Texas to Washington, DC in the past few months. We witness this solidarity in the anonymous donor paying the funeral expenses for the 19 children and two adults who were killed in the Uvalde school shooting. In all these situations, and many more, we see solidarity in action.

This Gospel is the only story retold six times in the Gospels. Though we sometimes call this story the “multiplication” of the loaves and fishes, no version of the story says that the quantity of bread or fish increased. Each rendition does say that the disciples claimed there was not enough food to respond to people’s needs. But when Jesus asked them to give everything they had, there was more than enough. Like the disciples, we are called to be active witnesses of a world filled with abundance and laden with generosity.

Sr. Louise Lears, SC

FAN Creation Care Advocacy

Published in: on June 14, 2022 at 10:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Supreme Court Ruling on Climate Coming

In the coming weeks, the Supreme Court will deliver several rulings which may have an affect on the work we do to advocate for creation care and other issues. This summary of one of these decisions is by our Creation Care advocate, Sr. Louise Lears, SC.


In the next few weeks, the Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court will issue a number of rulings. One that might not make the headlines is West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Justices will determine how much authority the EPA has to regulate emissions of climate-warming carbon dioxide from gas and coal-fired power plants. The case centers on a legal dispute over the question of whether the Clean Air Act authorizes the EPA to adopt effective safeguards that reduce climate pollution from these power plants. In earlier oral arguments, some Justices signaled their interest in sharply limiting the EPA’s authority to regulate emissions. Here is a video explaining more about the Clean Air Act and this case.

Congress routinely gives regulatory agencies like the EPA expansive authority through broadly-worded statutes. Congress also puts its own limits on regulatory agency discretion through oversight hearings, budget instruction or even statutory amendments. A ruling that restricts the EPA’s authority under the Clean Water Act to regulate pollution from power plants could leave the EPA with little leeway to tackle new and pressing environmental problems without explicit authority from Congress.

As people of faith, we have a moral responsibility to care for our common home and our children’s future. Statistics show that tens of thousands of Americans die each year from air pollution alone. In Laudato Si’ Pope Francis reminds us that “both everyday experience and scientific research show that the gravest effects of all attacks on the environment are suffered by the poorest.” (48) Our commitment to environmental justice requires that we advocate on behalf of people in low wealth communities and communities of color that are impacted by pollution. Our belief in the sacredness of life requires that we care about the ability to regulate pollution. 

What can we do? Regardless of how the Supreme Court rules in the WV v. EPA case, we need Congress to pass the $555 billion in climate provisions in the reconciliation bill that is now being considered. Contact your Congressional representative!

Published in: on June 9, 2022 at 1:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

Dear Holy Trinity…

Reflection for the Solemnity of the Most Holy trinity by FAN Board Member Sr. Marge Wissmman, OSF

This reflection was originally posted in our June 6th newsletter


The Feast of the Holy Trinity this Sunday encourages us to reflect on the mystery of the Trinity, a mystery that enriches our lives. The Gospel of this Feast hints of the revelation of the Holy Spirit when Jesus says to the apostles: “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot hear it now. But when the spirit of truth comes, you will be guided to all truth.” Jesus told them only this much because he knew they could not bear much more since this was the night he would be arrested and led to be questioned and then crucified. 

The Holy Spirit is the greatest gift of God. Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we have received that gift and experience God’s love deep within us. The Spirit’s gift of love enables us to endure every manner of suffering. The result is that we grow in love, become strong in character, and put all our hope in God.

It is always a struggle when we try to explain the Trinity in human terms. Perhaps it is best to just remember we are children of the Father, brothers and sisters of the Son, and filled with the gifts of the Holy Spirit.    

A few years ago, I was inspired to address all my prayers and requests with “Dear Holy Trinity.” It felt all encompassing. For I believe God watches over us, Jesus gives us lessons on how to act and react, and the Holy Spirit gives me inspiration when I need to deal with something, write something or give a speech. Yet they all do this as one. This may sound simplistic but it helps me accept the mystery for myself. 

A great way to think about the Trinity in today’s terms begins with Jesus’ command to love one another as He loved. Using the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we become channels of God’s love in this world, such as when we hold our leaders accountable to how their decisions affect the vulnerable. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are bound in a perfect love that is expanded to humanity through our advocacy actions and efforts to care for each other and our planet. 

Sr. Marge Wissmman

FAN Board Member

Published in: on June 7, 2022 at 10:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Jesus Keeps His Promise

Reflection for Pentecost Sunday written by FAN Associate Director Sr. Marie Lucey, OSF

This reflection was originally posted in our May 30th newsletter


The Easter story is not complete without Pentecost which we will celebrate this weekend. For just a few years, Jesus was on Earth physically. He taught, healed, suffered, died, rose from the dead, hung around with his friends for 40 days, and ascended into the heavens. But he did not leave us to fend for ourselves. He gave us Eucharist to nourish us and promised to send the Holy Spirit to inspire, challenge, and comfort us. On that first Pentecost the disciples gathered in fear and uncertainty. Their beloved leader had left them for the second time. They knew that they were commissioned to continue his mission, but how in such a hostile environment? Then the wind blew, the house shook, tongues of fire hovered over them as they were filled with the promised Holy Spirit who transformed their anxious uncertainty into courage, strength, trust, and joy to keep Christ’s mission alive. They threw open the doors and spoke to the diverse multitude “in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.” 

On Pentecost 2022 we could make a long list of daunting challenges we face locally, nationally, globally, in society and in the Church. It is tempting to huddle together in fear and lock the doors as the first disciples did. Do we have the desire to cry “Come, Holy Spirit!”? Come and renew the face of the Earth; renew our country; renew the Church; renew me, because renewal today depends on how we, how I, collaborate with the Spirit. Come as a strong wind, or as a breath, or as fire. Be our Advocate, and enable us to be advocates with and for your suffering people and suffering Earth. We need your gifts of wisdom, understanding, prudence, strength, knowledge, piety, and Godly fear. 

May June 18th be a Pentecost moment as thousands of advocates meet in Washington, DC or gather locally or virtually, to participate in the Poor People’s Campaign moral march to demand justice, compassion, inclusion for all God’s people and protection for God’s sacred creation. 

Sr. Marie Lucey, OSF

FAN Associate Director

Published in: on May 31, 2022 at 10:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Kyiv, May 25, 2022

By Michele Dunne, OFS

FAN Executive Director Michele Dunne joined a delegation of high-level religious leaders who traveled to Kyiv in an emergency intervention seeking to contribute to ending aggression against Ukraine and to pray for a just peace.

What follows is a brief description of day three.


The lilacs are in full bloom in Kyiv now. Normally a city of 4 million, there are now some 2.5 million living here who either never left or have returned since Russian forces retreated in early April. Though lightly populated, the city appears to be trying hard to restore normal life. Still, the signs of war are everywhere: soldiers on the streets and concrete blocks, sandbags, and construction beams protecting strategic points on every major street.

Air raid sirens sound a few times during the day—as well as the middle of the night—but few people seem to head to shelters at present, understanding that the missiles are targeting other parts of the country for now—probably. There is an app that tracks where the missiles are flying and where they eventually strike. Locals check their phones casually when they hear a siren, assess it unlikely that the strike is on Kyiv, and go back to their business without comment.

Our religious delegation’s final day in Kyiv was packed with meetings: Deputy Mayor Valentyn Mondryivski (Mayor Klitschko being in Davos), Rabbi Jonathan Malkovitch, Greek Catholic Metropolitan Schevchuck (photo, below center), a prayer service in front of Saint Sophia Cathedral (photo, below left), a visit to Al-Rahma Mosque and meeting with Imam Ahmad Tamim, an interview with Ukrainian state television, and a group discussion with local civil society activists.

One of the themes to emerge from meetings is how Ukrainians who are normally peaceful are struggling with how to respond to the brutality of the Russian invasion. Meeting our group at the modern Cathedral of the Resurrection on the left bank of the Dnipro River, Metropolitan Schevchuck entered a conference room and—seeing we were too many for a personal introduction to each—greeted us all with a cheery “Christ is risen!” After giving a tour-de-force briefing on the political, humanitarian, and religious scene in Ukraine now, the Metropolitan spoke of the challenge of maintaining faith and optimism in the face of unbearable suffering, for example of people in the towns of Irpin and Bucha where murdered civilians were dumped into mass graves and public rape was used as a tool of humiliation and intimidation.

Asked by a member of our group whether it was right or wrong to demonize Russian leader Putin, Schevchuck said he did not want to demonize anyone. He added that it must be recognized, however, that the actions of Russians soldiers were not random but rather motivated by an ideology that should be seen for what it is: a right-wing, ultranationalist “Russian World” view with a thin overlay of Christian rhetoric that is used to justify violence.

In the civil society meeting, lifelong nonviolence activist Oelena admitted that she was shaken after helping to collect testimony from women raped by Russian soldiers. “I could not work for two days,” she said, admitting she had no answer to “how to stop this evil.” Tanya, a family mediator and psychotherapist, said she was overwhelmed by demand to counsel widowed women—she had seen more than 1000 already, with more every week. She fought tears as she said that she and her husband had never left Kyiv because they could not bear to leave the country while their oldest son was fighting in the army. Panel members were polite, but some visibly uncomfortable, while another activist made a strictly pacifist argument against the fighting as “a perpetuation of war and military culture that is only in the interest of the merchants of death.” Even among peace activists, that was clearly an outlier view.

Andre Kamenshikov of the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict offered one important achievement from nonviolent efforts so far: citizen opposition in Belarus to joining the war against Ukraine was apparently strong enough to persuade President Lukashenko that he should confine his support to facilitating the Russian invasion. He and the other activists saw room for hope that persistent civil resistance, education on alternative methods of protest for those under Russian occupation, and effective delivery of antiwar messages to Russians could contribute to ending the war.

Ukrainians we met thanked our delegation for making the trip and expressed fear that their war was becoming old news in the United States and Europe. When a member of our group told the wife of a senior rabbi that we wished we could have come sooner, she replied, “No, you came exactly on time—just when we fear we are being forgotten!”

There is so much to reflect on after this trip, good work for the 14-hour bus ride back to Warsaw tomorrow.

Published in: on May 25, 2022 at 4:54 pm  Comments (2)  

Kyiv, May 24, 2022

By Michele Dunne, OFS

FAN Executive Director Michele Dunne joined a delegation of high-level religious leaders who traveled to Kyiv in an emergency intervention seeking to contribute to ending aggression against Ukraine and to pray for a just peace.

What follows is a brief description of day two.


Babyn Yar

The program for our interfaith delegation today included a prayer service, press conference, and visit to the memorial at Babyn Yar, meetings with Ukrainian government officials as well as the Papal Nuncio, a visit with Crimean Tatar Muslims , and a trip to Irpin (site of a fierce battle against Russian forces) including the Greek Catholic Church of the Nativity and a resettlement center run by Caritas.

Babyn Yar is a heavy place—the site of a massacre of more than 33,000 Ukrainian Jews by the Nazis in 1941, as well as struggles with Soviet and Ukrainian officials to tell that story for a half century more, and most recently a Russian missile attack—now containing a remarkable monument with several features, including a wooden replica of a synagogue that opens and closes like a book. Our delegation held a short prayer service, with a few minutes each for Jewish, Christian, and Muslim prayers, bracketed by carefully chosen pieces played by a Ukrainian violinist. Our Christian group chose to center our prayer on a short reading from John 14:27, in which Jesus said, “Peace I leave you; my peace I give to you. I do not give it as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” At a press conference, members of our delegation explained their hope that our visit would be the beginning of a stream of visitors for peace that could eventually contribute to ending the brutal Russian invasion—and that such a delegation would seek to visit and pray in Moscow as well.

Our visit to Irpin, in which Ukrainian forces fought Russian attacks from late February until the end of March, made a deep impression. In the Greek Catholic Church of the Nativity, Fr. Vitaly told us how 30 parishioners spent two weeks hiding in the tiny church basement (photo, above left) during the March siege before being evacuated. Luckily the church had made some preparations, such as installing a wood burning stove and collecting bedding and toys, which they now kept at the ready (photo, above right) in case of a recurrence of hostilities in the area. At a resettlement area run by Caritas, some 110 people whose homes were destroyed are living in a former summer camp for children.  Maya, 91 years old, said she had been displaced before, having in her youth lost her entire family in World War II. But, she said, “I have never seen such cruelty as in this war.”  She is one of a reported 3000 people in Irpin who lost their homes in the March attack. Some delegation members brought non-prescription medicines and other supplies to donate.

Irpin’s Cultural Center (photo, above left), once the elegant venue for concerts and other performances, is now a shocking ruin after a Russian missile attack—one of more than 100 cultural sites in Ukraine destroyed so far according to UNESCO. With no roof, charred walls, the sad remains of a grand piano (photo, above right) and glass as well as rubble crunching under our feet, members of our delegation paused to share short prayers. We shared the sadness we have absorbed from the great suffering Ukrainians are undergoing, our gratitude for their resilience and the warm welcome they have extended to us, our sense of helplessness in having no near-term solutions to offer, and our hope that a prayerful, peaceful presence could still somehow make a difference.

Another day of meetings tomorrow.   

Go to Day Three

Published in: on May 24, 2022 at 4:00 pm  Comments (1)