God is in the Journey

Reflection for the Third Sunday of Lent by FAN Board Member, Sr. Marge Wissman, OSF

This reflection was originally posted in our March 18th newsletter

In the first reading this week, Moses was shocked at the sight of a Burning Bush in the distance. His curiosity brought him nearer to the bush. But God warned him not to come any closer. Then God told him that he was to lead the Israelites out of slavery. As you read on in Exodus, Moses did what God told him and confronts the ruler of Egypt and leads them away from the city. During the journey there is much grumbling from the Israelites even though they are being saved. As I read about this movement out of Israel, I thought of those fleeing from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador with hope of safety. I ask myself these questions: Did they leave at the inspiration of God to flee gangs, drugs, corruption, and poverty? Is this God’s way of saving them? Do they grumble? Of course they do – think of their journey especially if they have children. Remember, these people are fleeing, they are not just migrating. They are not coming on vacation. Even though it is very difficult, many send their children alone to help them escape the horrors of their lives. Does God inspire those who help them along the way? Those who meet them at the border? Intercede for them when they get across the border? It is my belief that God is in all of this! People who help them have heard the cry of the poor, have heard the cry of those who are made in the image and likeness of God which makes them worthy of respect.

In the Gospel we hear about the fig tree and the owner asking the gardener to cut it down because it is not producing. But the gardener asks him to leave it for one more year, some more time to produce. I believe that those who are standing in the way of the wall, who are advocates for those fleeing is God’s way of telling us that it is wrong for us to persecute and make allegations against those who are looking for safety. Perhaps like giving the fig tree more time, God is giving those who are fleeing more time for us to come up with a better solution. Perhaps the fig tree will grow next year! The nature of a fig tree is to grow healthy and strong and bear sweet fruit. Perhaps our brothers and sisters who are fleeing to us for help will grow healthy and strong and be assets to our country. We do not want to miss this opportunity!

Sr. Marge Wissman, OSF
FAN Board Member

Published in: on March 19, 2019 at 10:00 am  Leave a Comment  

FAN Staff Testifies at EPA Hearing

On March 18, 2019, FAN’s Director of Campaigns and Development, Jason Miller testified at the EPA to urge them not to change Mercury and Air Toxic Standards. Below is the full testimony.

Good morning my name is Jason Miller and I am submitting this testimony on behalf of our executive director Patrick Carolan who has fallen ill. I am the Director of Campaigns and Development of the Franciscan Action Network, an advocacy arm representing over 50 different Franciscan institutions in the United States.

I am here today to as strongly as possible urge the EPA not to change the Mercury and air toxic standards. Standards should protect the health and welfare of all people, especially the most vulnerable members of our society, the unborn and young children, from harmful exposure to toxic air pollution emitted from power plants. Our views are guided by Catholic teaching, and Franciscan spirituality which calls us to care for God’s creation and protect the common good and the life and dignity of human persons, especially the poor and vulnerable, from conception until natural death. St. Francis looked at life through the lens of all creation. He had a relational connection from which blossomed a perspective of deep empathy. He looked for ways to defend the environment according to the needs of each living being especially children still in the womb.

Children, both inside and outside the womb, are uniquely vulnerable to environmental hazards and exposure to toxic pollutants in the environment. Studies have shown that high levels of mercury in a woman’s bloodstream during pregnancy can be transferred to her unborn baby through the umbilical cord, causing birth defects, and in some cases, premature birth. Women with high levels of mercury found in the cord blood are 3-5 times more likely to deliver a baby prematurely.
Let me take a minute to diverge from Patrick’s prepared remarks and say that I can speak personally as someone who was born prematurely and who dealt with complications because of that early in life. I would not want that to happen to any child, especially if being born premature and having birth defects can be prevented by keeping the Mercury rule intact.

There is no need to change the existing regulations they are working. Mercury pollution from power plants has declined by at least 85%, while women with damaging levels of mercury in their blood has been cut in half. Over 95% of power plants have successfully made the transition to the higher standard. So why is the current administration so intent on reducing these standards and putting children’s lives at risk?

As Franciscans, we believe in a consistent ethic of life. I call on the EPA, Administrator Wheeler, and the administration to keep the Mercury standards intact. You cannot claim to be prolife while supporting actions such as this. Thank you

Published in: on March 18, 2019 at 11:39 am  Comments (6)  

Welcome All Strangers as Family

Reflection for the Second Sunday of Lent by FAN Board Member, Mr. David Seitz, OFS

This reflection was originally posted in our March 11th newsletter

I have to admit, at first, I had a little difficulty tying the three readings for this Sunday together. First we hear the story of God’s promise to Abraham to make his descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky. That is followed by Philippians where St. Paul teaches about wrong conduct. The Gospel from Luke Chapter 9 is the story of the transfiguration; seemingly three different themes. What could they possibly have in common?

Let’s consider the promise to Abraham. The fulfillment of that promise is the preaching of the Gospel to all nations. All people from all nations are to be included and reckoned as children of Abraham. Jesus, as our brother, unites everyone together in the Family of God, regardless of which earthly nation one resides. The genealogy of Jesus in Luke’s Gospel does not come until the end of the third chapter. This genealogy traces Jesus back to our original parents….Jesus, the son of Joseph….the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God. Tracing Jesus’ ancestry back to Adam, the first man, drives home the fact that we are all members of the same family.

We all know the story of the transfiguration. What struck me was Peter and John’s reaction in vs. 9:34. “While he was still speaking, a cloud came and cast a shadow over them, and they became frightened when they entered the cloud.” That made me think about the shadow that has been cast over our world today. St. Paul describes some of what we might find in the shadow that may cause some of us to fear. In the reading from Philippians, Paul describes those whose “God is their stomach; their glory is in their shame. Their minds are occupied with earthly things.” (Phil 3:19) Paul tells us that these are “enemies of the cross.” I think that should cause us to have a little bit of fear. The cross is our salvation. The enemy of the cross, then, is the enemy of our salvation. Paul also reminds us that our citizenship is in heaven. Now for the really challenging part, the final word from God in the story of the transfiguration. “This is my chosen son; listen to him.”(Lk 9:35)

There you have it. Right from the mouth of God. Listen to Jesus. Easier said than done. Jesus challenges the status quo. That is as true today as in first century Palestine. Read Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 25, the judgement of the nations. “When did we see you a stranger and welcome you?…whatever you did for the least of my brothers of mine, you did for me.” And he will say to those on his left “depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels…for I was a stranger and you gave me no welcome.”

Will you refuse to welcome a stranger, your brother in Christ, a member of the kingdom of God which has no earthly borders? I had a thought too, after the March for Life. Many Christians criticized the march for being too focused on the issue of Abortion. They say that a true pro-life march would include all life issues including welcoming the immigrant and caring for the planet. All are important issues. As I reflected on those criticisms the thought occurred to me. What about the child in the womb trying to immigrate to life outside the womb? Why do we tolerate the building of walls to prevent those immigrants from entering into life? Why do we tolerate the building of walls that keep these future stewards of the Earth from entering into the kingdom of God, stewards who may be the ones who are born with the purpose to solve our climate issues?

Sisters and brothers, we must welcome all strangers, those not yet born and those already born seeking the basic necessities of life. Let us all strive to be good stewards of creation and protectors of life. Let us lift the cross of our salvation high. Let us preach the Gospel without fearing what lies hidden in the cloud, for Jesus has won the great victory and we will be partakers of the Kingdom of Heaven manifested first here on Earth.

Mr. David Seitz, OFS
FAN Board Member

Published in: on March 12, 2019 at 9:46 am  Leave a Comment  

The radical call of Lent

By Tony Magliano

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.

Imagine you’re sitting in front of your doctor, and he says that your health definitely needs to improve. He then looks you square in the eyes and says, “If you wish to live a healthy long life, you must stop eating junk food and living a sedentary lifestyle, and start eating plenty of healthy foods and exercise every day.”

Your doctor’s wakeup call to you here would demand a radical physical lifestyle change. That is, if you wish to live a healthy long life.

At Lent’s beginning on Ash Wednesday, many of us were signed on our foreheads with a cross of ashes and told to “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.”

That sign, and those words, from the Divine Physician are a radical spiritual wakeup call to all of us who wish to live healthy spiritual lives now in this world and to prepare well for the next world in eternity.

Being crossed with ashes is meant to alert us that our bodies will soon be much like the ashes on our foreheads. It should be a sober reminder that this life is coming to a quick close and that we have no time to lose in turning away from the evil of sin, that is, all that hurts and separates us from God, others, creation and ourselves. And to be faithful to the Gospel! Read more…

Published in: on March 7, 2019 at 9:16 am  Leave a Comment  

Conversion from the Good to the Better

Reflection for the First Sunday of Lent by FAN Board Member, Sr. Maryann Mueller, CSSF

This reflection was originally posted in our March 4th newsletter

As we enter the season of Lent I am reminded of one of the Franciscan Values Guiding FAN developed by Fr. Tom Nairn, OFM, which states: “Franciscan vision is transformational, demanding change and conversion in its adherents, following the example of Saints Francis and Clare. Francis saw his entire life as a continuing conversion into the vision of God, whom he saw as a loving parent. Francis saw his life as a continuous conversion from sin to a life lived in gratitude for God’s love. Many described the conversion of Clare from ‘the good to the better.’ The Franciscan life today remains one of on-going conversion. There is always an unfinished quality to this conversion until we enter into the Reign of God.”

Our readings this first Sunday of Lent remind us that continuing conversion occurs only with total dependence on God. The psalmist cries out, “Be with me, Lord, when I am in trouble.” (Ps. 91: 15b) while St. Paul assures us in the letter to the Romans, “for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Rom. 10:13) In our Gospel, St. Mark recounts the temptations of Jesus in the desert by Satan. With each attempt by Satan, Jesus goes “into the vision of God,” to the word of God to find strength to overcome each temptation. Every time we are tempted to be complacent when we are confronted with injustice, tempted to exert power over those more vulnerable than ourselves, or tempted to pursue “more” for ourselves at the expense of others, our baptismal mandate calls us to “continuous conversion from sin to a life lived in gratitude for God’s love.”

As we pursue our 2019 Lenten journey let us strive to follow the example of St. Clare of Assisi, for continuous conversion from “the good to the better.”

Sr. Maryann Mueller, CSSF
FAN Board Member

Published in: on March 5, 2019 at 10:06 am  Leave a Comment  

U.S. bishops confront racism and call us to brotherhood

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.

Making a Difference

“See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are.” With these beautiful words from Scripture (1 Jn. 3:1), the U.S. Catholic bishops introduce us to their recent pastoral letter against racism titled, “Open wide our hearts: the enduring call to love.”

Just think about it. The almighty God is not a distant slave master, but a close loving father who calls us his children. That is a truly awesome thought! “Yet so we are.”

Thus, no matter what religion we claim or don’t claim, no matter what our nationality is, no matter what our ethnic heritage might be, and no matter what color we are or race we belong to, we all equally share one loving father.

And that unmistakably means that all of us are brothers and sisters!

Imagine how wonderful the world would be if only we would truly take this sacred teaching to heart, and with every thought, word and deed put it into practice.

But sadly, this is often not the case. Instead, READ MORE

Published in: on February 27, 2019 at 10:33 am  Leave a Comment  

From Heart to Tongue to Action

Reflection for the 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN Associate Director, Sr. Marie Lucey, OSF

This reflection was originally posted in our February 25th newsletter

On this last Sunday in Ordinary Time before Ash Wednesday, removing the wooden beam from one’s own eye before removing the splinter in another’s eye is a fitting admonition before entering the Lenten Season. But repeated references to speech draw my attention. “…so too does one’s speech disclose the bent of one’s mind,” says Ben Sira in the First Reading. In the Gospel, Jesus shifts from hypocrisy of beams and splinters to the image of good trees and rotten trees, teaching the lesson, “…for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.” Even Psalm 92 bids us to sing, proclaim, and declare God’s kindness and justice.

Although many creatures communicate by means of a variety of sounds, speech is a gift given only to humans. It is to be used truthfully, carefully, and kindly. Today there is so much glib, inaccurate, false speech by some political leaders and followers that fact checking has become a profession. Pilate’s weary question to Jesus centuries ago, “What is truth?” has resonance today as contradictory claims to truth cause confusion and division.

Speech has consequences. Take just one current mantra, “build the wall/finish the wall.” The political slogan began in the hearts and minds of anti-immigrant elected leaders. It culminated in the longest government shutdown in history followed by a declaration of a “national emergency,” all to support appropriating billions of dollars to construct—or finish—an unnecessary wall to solve a nonexistent crisis on our southern border; from fearful, hardened hearts and minds, to false hate speech, to deplorable action. “…from the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Wall-building begins in the heart.

At the same time, minds and hearts where love and truth reside speak words of compassion and justice which urge action to build bridges of relationship, not walls of intolerance. “…one’s speech (and actions) disclose the bent of one’s mind.”

Sr. Marie Lucey, OSF
FAN Associate Director

Published in: on February 26, 2019 at 10:08 am  Leave a Comment  

Catholic Teach-in & Climate Action

By Michael Specht, FAN 2019 Intern and Postulant with Holy Name Province

This past Monday, Catholics from across Maryland gathered in Annapolis to discuss the effects of climate change in our communities and marched to the state capitol, before meeting with their respective delegates on Climate Lobby Night.

The teach-in was sponsored by several faith-based advocacy groups, including Franciscan Action Network (FAN) and took place at St. John Neumann Mission Church in Annapolis. Fr. Jacek Orzechowski, OFM helped bring together people from several Catholic parishes in Maryland to discuss issues like rising water levels in the Chesapeake Bay, issues surrounding droughts in Central America, as well as the various health effects that are caused by air pollution.

Dr. William Dinges, a professor of Religion and Culture at Catholic University of America and a parishioner at St. John the Baptist parish in Silver Spring, spoke about how the tradition and teaching of the Catholic Church calls all believers and people of good will to work together to protect the planet. Citing the papal encyclical Gaudium et Spes, Dinges emphasized that we are to “read the signs of the times”, when it comes to the changing of our planet’s climate.

Advocates from Interfaith Power & Light and CHISPA Maryland then discussed the state of several bills in the Maryland House Assembly. One bill brought to attention was House Bill 1255, calls for all school buses purchased in 2022 or later by a county board of education to be zero-emissions vehicles. Before leaving for the Capitol, the teach-in concluded with a collective prayer for our common home, with music led by several Franciscan postulants. Fr. Jacek then blessed a basin of holy water drawn from the Chesapeake Bay, then sprinkled it on all in attendance.

Over sixty people from the teach-in then met at St. Mary’s Church in old town Annapolis, and marched together to the state capitol. Several Franciscan friars and postulants joined in on the advocacy march.

Neil Pavao, a Franciscan postulant with Sacred Heart Province and a member of the Interprovincial Postulancy program in Silver Spring, reflected on the experience of putting his faith into action on Monday in Annapolis.

“When you think about it, coming together to work on the issues surrounding climate change is an ecumenical problem” Pavao said. “We all share the same home, and it’s important to fight for it together.”

Following the march, several headed inside the Capitol to meet with their elected officials to advocate for the causes that that were discussed and prayed for earlier that day.


Published in: on February 21, 2019 at 10:31 am  Leave a Comment  

There but for the Grace of God…

Reflection for the 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN President, Sr. Margaret Magee, OSF

This reflection was originally posted in our February 18th newsletter

Our scripture readings for this Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time are filled with great challenges that we need to be very attentive to in our current milieu, whether we are discussing issues and events which are focused nationally or globally. Or whether we are dealing with issues and concerns within our church and religious experience. We appear to be a society that is growing ever more impatient, entrenched and embattled in our own beliefs and options, non-trusting and judgmental of those who don’t agree with us. Tribalism is arising!

Yet, we who embrace the gospel and the Franciscan way of life, are called to rise above these tribal attitudes, especially if we are to live our call to embrace all people as our sisters and brothers. How do we live and witness as instruments of God’s love and peace in our current milieu? I believe an honest response to this question is – only by the grace of God!

Let’s take the example in the reading from the Book of Samuel. King Saul and his son-in-law David had a very contentious relationship. This contentiousness had been growing steadily, especially through the anger, jealousy, pride, and dishonesty of King Saul. David eventually fled and went into hiding. In this reading, King Saul and his army are on the hunt for David. However, one evening as Saul and his men slept, David and his aide Abishai walked among the sleeping troops. Abishai tried to convince David to let him kill Saul, “God has delivered your enemy into your grasp this day. Let me nail him to the ground with one thrust of the spear; I will not need a second thrust!” But David said, “Do not harm him, for who can lay hands on the Lord’s anointed and remain unpunished?” So David simply took the spear and the water jug from the place where Saul slept and they got away. Had David’s heart been filled with malice, hatred, and a desire for revenge it would have been easy for him to give the order to kill King Saul.

Likewise, we must listen deeply and take the gospel message to heart. “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” If we are to be true followers of Christ, Eucharistic people, than our very lives must be centered in the love that Jesus proclaimed. We cannot have it both ways. Peace, non-violence, and love rooted in Christ must be the means by which we have the courage to stand in silent resistance when someone strikes us on the cheek or calls out profanities against us.

The confrontation last month, which took place on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. is a good example of how hateful provocation and harassment only leads to greater baiting, goading, and rising vexation. Fortunately, this incident did not lead to physical violence but the hateful rhetoric in the words and the body language of both the people identified as Hebrew Israelites and the students from the Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky was extremely disturbing.

Perhaps it was by the grace of God that Native American elder, Nathan Phillips, had the courage to step forward, place himself in the midst of the conflict and beat his drum. After the encounter Nathan Phillips spoke of the hatred and racism that was so visible and palpable in the crowd. He also mentioned the “push” arising from within him to use his Native American drum and to use prayer to bring a balance and a calm to the situation. Phillips stated, “I didn’t assume that I had any kind of power to do that, but at the same time, I didn’t feel that I could just stand there anymore and not do something.”

May we learn a great lesson from this Native American elder and be attentive to the “push” of God’s Spirit. May our lives rooted in the gospel impel us to seek the grace of God and step-up in prayerful non-violence to be instruments of peace, non-judgment, and prayer.

Margaret Magee, OSF
FAN Board President

Published in: on February 19, 2019 at 9:45 am  Leave a Comment  

Panama 2019: YouFra International Gathering and World Youth Day

Kelly Moltzen is an alumni of Capuchin Youth & Family Ministries in Garrison, NY and was professed into the Secular Franciscan Order in October 2018. She works in the field of nutrition and public health, and has served on the board of FAN since 2014. Following is her reflection on participating in the Franciscan YouFra International Gathering and World Youth Day.

Kelly Moltzen

From January 17-21, 2019 Franciscan youth from across the world gathered for a Franciscan Youth (YouFra) International Gathering (YIG) ahead of World Youth Day (WYD) in Panama City, Panama. I attended from the United States along with Courtney Callahan and Mary Mullan Russamano, former Cap Corps members from Capuchin Youth & Family Ministries, along with Barbara Countryman OFS and her son Cristo Mochi.

This was my first time attending either a YIG or WYD gathering. It was awesome to see the spirit of God transcending nations and languages and unifying us through the sharing of Franciscan joy and solidarity. For me, it was incredibly meaningful to grow from participating in Capuchin Youth & Family Ministries as a teenager, to learning about and participating in an international gathering of youth from across the world who have been part of similar Franciscan ministry programming in their own countries and communities.

Friars offer an adoration service for participants of World Youth Day.

To start off YIG, Andrea Karlović OFS, the international councilor for the YouFra within the International Council of the Secular Franciscan Order (CIOFS), gave a history of the formation of YouFra. While admission into the Secular Franciscan Order has been allowed by people as young as 14 years old since 1883, after friars became aware of conflict between different age groups and noticed that the youth needed change, YouFra was created as a distinct entity from the Secular Franciscans. Judith del Rocío Vidales Tinajera OFS from Mexico spoke about a pre-Synod on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment held in 2018 before the formal synod in October. It is a powerful and humbling testimony of what youth want to see in the Church and I encourage everyone to read the full document – for the sake of the future of the Church and the values it instills in us. As a summary: Young people are looking for authentic witnesses, rational explanations, belonging, peace and justice, and to feel that they can be trusted and can be protagonists of their own spiritual journey as they understand their vocation as a gift and a calling of God. They believe the Church should involve youth more in decision-making and leadership. This includes parishes, dioceses, and at the national and international level. Young people want to see a church that is transparent and a living testimony, recognizing errors and asking for forgiveness. They want leaders (priests, religious, lay leaders) to be an example of love, forgiveness, and reconciliation. They believe the Church should be involved with environmental issues and want to be protagonists for a Church for the excluded, persecuted, and poor. Some young people perceive the church as anti-scientific, so dialogue with the scientific community is also important. Youth don’t want to create a new church just for youth, but are listening to a calling to rebuild the church that is in ruins.

Minister General Tibor Kauser, OFS from Hungary (who represents the Secular Franciscan Order and YouFra through CIOFS) gave a talk on Mary, in advance of the World Youth Day theme of “I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word (Lk 1:38).” We heard about how various countries’ YouFra/Jufra groups were sharing the charism: Guatemala Jufra using social media to spread the Good News, Vietnamese YouFra formation and collaboration with OFS – successes and challenges, and Costa Rica “double belonging” to YouFra and OFS. After each section, we had opportunity for reflection and dialogue.

Mary Mullan Russamano, Kelly Moltzen OFS, and Courtney Callahan meet Hugo Mejía Morales, OFM Cap, General Councilor, General Secretary for Missionary Evangelization, Animation, and Cooperation

Each country also had an opportunity to present an element of culture from their country, and much great music was shared in Franciscan joy. Each country group took turns singing and dancing to the same refrain, in Spanish, about the unity of Christians in desiring to praise Christ in similar ways. I experienced a new freedom in understanding and expression within a global community of brothers and sisters.

There was some collaboration with a group of Franciscan friars working with the Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM) to promote Laudato Si, and we had an opportunity to join a Laudato Si march to a Franciscan church during the YIG. When we reached our destination, people were singing the WYD theme song and there was much joy and celebration. Inside the church, we sang a Laudato Si song and Igor Bastos, a Jufra (YouFra) member from Brazil who works for GCCM, gave a speech about Laudato Si.

Singing of Laudato Si song at Parroquia de San Antonio de Padua in Panama City, Panama
Christopher Fernández, former Franciscan Earth Corps member and postulant with the OFM Conventuals, signs people up for the GCCM pledge

After the YIG, the joy in Franciscan music carried over to the week of WYD. Aside from the Catechetical sessions during WYD, I spent much of the second week with the Franciscans and GCCM working on promoting Laudato Si through the Franciscan Ecological Village and with GCCM in launching Laudato Si Generation. There were opportunities to learn about and participate in activities relating to Laudato Si both at one of the main parks set up for WYD as well as at the Franciscan Ecological Village at Colegio Internacional de Inmaculada Concepción where both the YouFra and Franciscan/GCCM eco-volunteers were staying. A number of volunteers spread out among WYD spots to sign people up for the GCCM pledge to pray, live simply, and advocate for our common home.

Perhaps my favorite moments were those of spontaneous singing – at the school, on buses, in the practice room before the group went on stage to present Laudato Si Generation to a WYD crowd.

Franciscans singing Canción Misionero during on a city bus during World Youth Day

Participants were able to share reflections on the entire YouFra International Gathering through an evaluation period. During the second week, after the YIG and during WYD, there was an opportunity to participate in a discussion between the YouFra/Jufra and the friars and Minister General Tibor Kauser OFS about how there could be better collaboration between the friars/OFS and YouFra: how the friars and OFS could be of support to young Franciscans and specifically on Laudato Si. In the English breakout session I was part of, we discussed the most important way for young people to get involved in changing policies is to support young people in finding jobs, especially green jobs; too many people migrate because they cannot find good jobs at home. We also discussed the need for formation in Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation, and for friars and Secular Franciscans to be an example – for youth as well as for others, especially because Laudato Si is a truly Franciscan document. Tibor Kauser said that friars are supposed to be spiritual assistants to both OFS as well as YouFra, but often do not feel responsible. There is a need for formation for friars for a special type of spiritual assistance, and friars should be sent to help with YouFra specifically. There is also a need for closer collaboration on the local level. There is already excellent collaboration among ministers general at the international level, but there is much need for improvement on national, regional, and local levels. The friars will be typing up the notes from this discussion and CIOFS will share with national OFS ministers.

Participants and facilitators of dialogue between friars, OFS and YouFra are pictured below.

There was also a conversation within GCCM about how to engage more Catholic youth in Laudato Si through the Laudato Si Generation. There was a manifesto created during WYD at a conference attended by some of the friars and some GCCM members, which happened concurrently during one of the same days as the YIG.

The Way of the Cross, vigil, and homily during the final mass said by Pope Francis as part of WYD were also deeply moving. The Way of the Cross featured a different story of how Mary (as Patron saint of each country – Our Lady of Antigua, Immaculate Conception, etc) was shared, to highlight how Mary could be helpful in thinking about how to solve issues in each country. Finally, I was excited to learn about DOCAT, a resource on the Social Doctrine of the Church, and pick up some copies of a Laudato Si comic book from Universidad Católica Santa Maria la Antigua, to bring back to the U.S.

All in all, my experience in Panama for the YIG and WYD was tremendously rich, leaving much to think about and follow up on. I am excited to have expanded my participation in the global Franciscan family by meeting YouFra members and friars from Latin America and beyond.

Kelly Moltzen is an alumni of Capuchin Youth & Family Ministries in Garrison, NY and was professed into the Secular Franciscan Order in October 2018. She works in the field of nutrition and public health, and has served on the board of FAN since 2014. She continues to be an advocate of the work that was started at FAN to engage youth in social and ecological justice, Franciscan spirituality, and community living through the Franciscan Earth Corps. Kelly is also a co-covener of an emerging Interfaith Public Health Network, where she is seeking to align efforts together with the NYC Franciscan Solidarity Table which she helps to convene.

Published in: on February 13, 2019 at 9:38 am  Comments (1)