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,


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


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  

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake…

Reflection for the 10th Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN Board President, Sr. Margaret Magee, OSF

This reflection was originally posted in our June 4th newsletter

06.05.2018I’ve always found the gospel for this Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time difficult to hear, especially the text that says, “Jesus came home with his disciples. Again the crowd gathered, making it impossible for them even to eat. When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said, ‘He is possessed by Beelzebul,’ and ‘By the prince of demons he drives out demons.’” I try to imagine being present, prayerfully placing myself in Jesus’ hometown and hearing these condemning and disparaging remarks. How could they say such things?

Perhaps you have been the unfortunate victim of condemning and disparaging remarks or rumors made about you. If so, you know the intense feeling of pain, which can be debilitating and demeaning. I’m reminded of Francis of Assisi and how he grew through his conversion experiencing the condemnation of others. Francis’ own father, Pietro Bernardone, was what today we would consider abusive. After Francis returned, defeated from battle and imprisonment in Perugia, he began behaving more and more strangely, choosing to spend time in silence, in caves and walking around Assisi filthy and dressed in rags. His former friends and the people in the town thought he was crazy. Francis’ biographer, Thomas of Celano, wrote, “The townspeople threw stones and mud at him: “The noise of that ridicule echoed here and there.” (First Life, Chapter V). When this news reached Pietro, he became convinced that his son had lost his mind. He dragged Francis home and locked him in a small cell. Who knows how long he might have stayed there if not for his mother, Pica, who released him.

Yet Francis persevered through all this because of his conviction that it was God working through him and calling him to live the gospel and to see the presence of the poor and suffering Christ in the leper, in the outcast and in those people, who the social norms discarded as if they were garbage.

We know that Clare of Assisi also had to deal with the reproach of her family as she followed Francis and embraced a life of radical poverty. As Clare came of age to marry, her uncle Monaldo began to consider an appropriate husband for her. His concern was not so much for the welfare of Clare but for the wealth, status and honor her impending marriage could bring to their family name. Clare however resisted and chose to join Francis and the brothers in living evangelical poverty. As Clare stole away on Palm Sunday night to join Francis and the brothers, Monaldo and other family members tried to bring her back but without success. Later as Clare and the Poor Ladies began to form their life of prayer, simplicity and absolute poverty they were met with great opposition. This opposition not only came from family members but from bishops and the pope himself. They were seen as being weak idealistic woman and much too literal in their desire to follow the poor and crucified Christ. Yet, despite all this they too persevered.

In his most recent Apostolic Exhortation, Gaudete et Exsultate, Pope Francis writes, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus himself warns us that the path he proposes goes against the flow, even making us challenge society by the way we live and, as a result, becoming a nuisance. He reminds us how many people have been, and still are, persecuted simply because they struggle for justice, because they take seriously their commitment to God and to others.” Pope Francis continues to state, “Persecutions are not a reality of the past, for today too we experience them, whether by the shedding of blood, as is the case with so many contemporary martyrs, or by more subtle means, by slander and lies. Jesus calls us blessed when people “utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account” (Mt 5:11). At other times, persecution can take the form of gibes that try to caricature our faith and make us seem ridiculous. Accepting daily the path of the Gospel, even though it may cause us problems: that is holiness.”

As Franciscans we are called to a radical living of the gospel. We are called to incarnate the suffering and crucified Christ and to humbly recognize the suffering and crucified Christ in our sisters and brothers who are poor and marginalized by our society. We truly become the brothers, the sisters, the mothers of Christ when in our struggle for gospel justice, we withstand the persecution and ridicule of others, to welcome the immigrant, the refugee and those who are unwanted. May we continue to faithfully live our Franciscan call of gospel justice, doing the will of God, as the brothers and sisters and mothers of Christ present in our world today.

Sr. Margaret Magee, OSF
FAN Board President

Published in: on June 5, 2018 at 9:35 am  Leave a Comment  

Reflections from Mission Experience in Brazil, Part 2

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 second of her four-part series of reflections on the trip.

An Experience of our Life, our Mission and our Charism with our Sisters, Associates and Partners in Ministry in Brazil (Part 2) – Cristalândia and Palmas

by Sr. Margaret Magee, osf


Sr. Margaret Magee, osf

On Monday, March 26th we left Araguacema for a three hour drive to Cristalândia which is a city also located in the Brazilian state of Tocantins. Our Sr. Teresinha (Té) is principal of the Escola São Francisco de Assis (St. Francis of Assisi School). Sr. Eurípedes is a nurse at the town’s small hospital, Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Sr. Mariana Barbosa provides pastoral ministry visiting the elderly in the area while also caring for her own mother who lives at home and is in her 90’s. We had the opportunity to visit Mariana’s mother and she is alert, talkative and delightful. What a blessing for Mariana and her family.
We visited all the classrooms in the school and were delighted when many of the students greeted us in English. We could see the students’ happiness in being able to tell us their names and in welcoming us. Some classes had prepared songs which they sang. Others presented us with cards and flowers. It was a blessing to be engaged with the students, asking them to tell us their favorite subject and to explain to them how we had traveled from the United States to be with them. We also had the opportunity to gather for refreshments with the teachers and the staff. At this gathering, Té spoke of the dedication of the faculty and staff in continuing our Franciscan values and the spirit of our Allegany Franciscan Sisters throughout the years. Escola São Francisco de Assis was opened in 1959 by Sisters Veronica Louis and Ângela Terezinha. They came with the firm conviction of educating the young children and helping to better the lives of the people. It was clear to see that our Sisters have had a deep and effective presence in this community and are deeply loved.blog 2.pic1

We also went with Eurípedes for a tour of the hospital and to hear of the services that are provided by a small yet very competent staff. There seemed to be many of these small local rural hospitals in the places that we visited. They are under the government services but can only provide a certain level of care. If a patient required more extensive tests, procedures or possible surgery the patient would have to travel, often at their own expense and sometimes as much as two hours, to a larger hospital. This was just one example of the many challenges facing the people throughout Brazil.
We truly enjoyed the hospitality of our sisters. Everywhere we visited we are treated to the local flavors of juices, fruits, great meals and delicious sweets and baked goods like pão de queijo (small cheese biscuits).

Wednesday morning we prepared to journey once again and to return for a more in depth visit with our Sisters in Palmas. Palmas was founded in 1990 and is a very modern city. It is the capital city of the state of Tocantins, in central Brazil. In 2004, our Sisters built the school, Colégio São Franciso de Assis, for infant and elementary education. The school provides state-of-the-art classrooms, science laboratory, library, chapel, auditorium, sports center, green space, playground and a canteen for the students. It is very apparent in meeting the students and staff that they are very welcoming and well-grounded in our Franciscan values and in the spirituality of Sts. Francis and Clare of Assisi.

The afternoon of Holy Thursday the students, faculty and parents gathered in the auditorium for an assembly. As we waited for the classes to arrive some students came and sat with us, introducing themselves in English and chatting. I enjoyed engaging them in some conversation in Portuguese. It made for a playful exchange.
The focus of the assembly was the “Fraternity and Overcoming Violence” which is the campaign of all the dioceses of Brazil. Each year, the National Conference of Bishops in Brazil (CNBB) have a “Fraternity Campaign”: an initiative that started after the Second Vatican Council to unite Catholics and the rest of civil society around a common theme. The older school students acted out brief skits portraying spousal abuse, verbal abuse, elder abuse and workplace abuse. At the end of each skit the students remained posed and still on stage. A student dressed as Jesus came on stage and approached each of the student groups, touched them, raised them up and embraced them as an invitation to turn away from violence. Each one was then invited to come sit on chairs in the center of the stage. The Jesus figure then came into the audience and invited a young mother holding her baby, Sr. Marinez and me to the stage to join the students sitting there. The Jesus figure then began to recite and reenact the washing of the feet. It truly was a meaningful and moving experience. The assembly closed with some of the faculty and our sisters joined in song. It was wonderful to see our Sisters Maria Helena, Suzanne, Nara and Dayanne on stage.

That evening we joined the Sisters and walked to the local parish, Paróquia Nossa Senhora do Monte do Carmo, a few blocks away from the convent for the Holy Thursday celebration. My thoughts were still filled with the students’ presentation of the washing of the feet and healing the violence in our own hearts and in our world. As I entered into the evening celebration I was aware of the people gathered and their faith and engagement in being Eucharist and instruments of peace in their own country of Brazil and also for the world. I could not help but be drawn into this celebration and the commemoration of the Lord’s Supper with the enlivened participation of the people, with their music and singing. Following communion we moved into the solemnity of Reposition of the Blessed Sacrament. As we walked back to the convent my heart was full with a deep gratitude for the visible presence of Eucharist embodied in the people of this parish in Palmas and the places we have visited, knowing the challenges and struggles they and the people of Brazil face with a government that is unstable and flawed with corruption, the challenges of healthcare, the concerns of violence, poverty and other issues. Perhaps this is a consciousness we are called to hold more deeply. How can we reverence and hold the suffering and pain of people in our world as Christ held the pain of all humanity in the Agony of the Garden? How can we work together for justice and systemic change? For us today, our worlds of North America, the Caribbean, South America and beyond may seem so vastly different and separated by thousands of miles yet in truth we are one human family living on one common home facing the same difficulties and struggles. It is our faith, our attentiveness and centeredness in Christ and with one another that must be the visible and active redemptive love of God made available for the world.

Continued reflections to come – Good Friday, Ceres, Easter Sunday, visits and activities in Anápolis

Published in: on May 31, 2018 at 10:51 am  Leave a Comment  

Connected Through the Body of Christ

Reflection for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ by FAN executive director, Patrick Carolan

This reflection was originally posted in our May 28th newsletter

jesuscollageoffacesThis Sunday we are celebrating the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. When I was growing up I remember it as the Feast of Corpus Christi. It is a celebration recognizing the living presence of Jesus in the bread and the wine that were consecrated at Mass. It is one of the most important concepts of our faith that Jesus is truly present under those forms of bread and wine.

But if we listen carefully to the scriptures, particularly what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:16, we know that it is not only bread and wine transformed into the body and blood of Christ, but also the community of disciples as well. As Bishop Thomas Gumbleton said “we, who are the church — are transformed into the body and blood of Christ. We become the living Jesus, present in our world.” Christians often claim we are the Body of Christ. If we truly believe that, then we understand that each living person is part of the Body of Christ, and the Body of Christ is part of us, therefore we are all connected to one another. That begs the question; if Jesus is in each of us, are we really a living example of the love of God in our world?

In the second reading from Hebrews 9 it says; “For this reason he is mediator of a new covenant:” What is that new Covenant? The 13th century Franciscan theologian, Blessed Jon Duns Scotus describes what some would call “moral living” as ‘relational living.’ He used the term “affectio inustitiae” or affection for justice. He talks about this in contrast to “affectio commodi” or care for oneself. Sr. Mary Beth Ingham, CSJ describes this dichotomy as; “the moral choice is understood as what no one wants to do, but everyone has to do. In religious language it is what you do to ‘get to heaven’ or to ‘avoid hell’. Moral living is reduced to legalism; obligational morality commands certain behaviors.” Is this the new covenant that the Gospels talk about which came about as a result of the Incarnation? Desmond Tutu, in describing the African word Ubuntu, said: “It is to say, my humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in yours.”

Patrick Carolan
FAN Executive Director

Published in: on May 29, 2018 at 9:28 am  Comments (1)  

Reflections from Mission Experience in Brazil

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

An Experience of our Life, our Mission and our Charism with our Sisters, Associates and Partners in Ministry in Brazil (Part 1)


Sr. Margaret Magee, osf

by Sr. Margaret Magee, osf

I am grateful for the recent opportunity to spend some time with our Sisters, Associates and Partners in Ministry in Brazil. I traveled to Brazil with the other members of the Congregational Leadership, our General Treasurer, Chris Treichel and Congregational Secretary, Kristen Luther for the week-long Board of Directors meeting at our central house, Convento Mãe Admirável, in Anápolis. Also participating in this meeting was Marinêz Arantes da Silva, Regional Minister of Brazil and the Sisters on the Regional Council along with the Leadership from Jamaica, Teresita DeSouza and Administrator, Trinita Solnek. Pat Tyre served as the translator for our meetings which is a graced presence of attentive and deep listening to bridge our conversations in both English and Portuguese. Pat is providing a vital and integral ministry for our Congregation. These days of our meetings were full with details of business, budgets and finances yet profound in our sharing of prayer, faith and our vision and hope for the future.

After the close of the Board of Directors meeting Pat Klemm, Pat Tyre and I, along with our Brazilian Sisters, bid farewell to those returning to the United States and Jamaica. We were joined by Erin Baird of Allegany Franciscan Ministries (AFM) in Tampa, FL. Erin is the Director of Grants, managing the grantmaking system and its procedures. Additionally, Erin serves as program officer for the ACOR grants (Allegany Community OutReach) which provides funding for many of the FSA affiliated ministries and projects in Brazil, Bolivia, Jamaica, and in the United States.

The next 10 days were planned to give us an experience and a deeper understanding of the life and the mission lived by our Sisters, Associates and our Partners in Ministry in Anápolis, Palmas, Araguacema, Cristalândia, and in Ceres. As I personally prepared for this experience I was conscious of two things. First, that these experiences and visits would take place within the time of Palm Sunday and the Easter Triduum. So, how could I hold these days in a very sacred way and bring the events, the people and the conversations into the reality of Christ’s Paschal Mystery breaking through in our world today? The second awareness was to be open to the experience of interculturality, that is, to be attentive, humbled and open to enter into and welcome the cultural experiences and richness of our Sisters and people in Brazil. This meant suspending my own judgments from my North America mentality which so often is the dominant culture. For the past three years I have been studying and learning Brazilian Portuguese using a program called Duolingo. This has been a commitment I made and have been faithful to daily lessons as a way of entering into conversation, halting at best on my part, but with a desire to truly be present and communicate with our sisters and the Brazilian people. We, as a Congregation, are just beginning to explore the meaning and experience of interculturality and hopefully it will open us to new and broader ways of thinking, being and interacting with one another and others.

Our first mission encounter was at Mãe Admirável as we visited with people from various parts of the city of Anápolis and beyond who come to the Mãe for social services and assistance. These services were begun by Sr. Celestine Fruscione in her quiet outreach to the poor and to persons in need. Staff members and sisters at the Mãe continue the ministry by providing counseling, social and spiritual assistance, as well as fresh vegetables and food. It was clear to see the gratitude and the connection the people feel with the sisters and staff. Celestine’s presence and memory lives on through this ministry.

Our travel began with a brief one hour flight from Goiânia to Palmas where we spent an overnight with our sisters at Convento Santa Clara. We would return to Palmas and spend more time to tour the school and visit with the sisters after a few days. From Palmas we began a four hour drive to the city of Araguacema where our sisters, Julieta, Edith and Edir, serve with the friars in pastoral and catechetical ministry. Julieta is also engaged in nursing at a hospital some distance away. The parish of Our Lady of Divine Providence in Araguacema, Tocantins has a main church, friary, convent and social center on the banks of the beautiful Araguaia river. The parish though extends far beyond into the rural countryside with at least 8 chapels and community settlements. In these rural areas the drive along dirt roads with deep ruts and gullies can be a challenge to the best drivers. In Araguacema we drove out to two of the chapels. On Saturday evening of Palm Sunday weekend we visited the community of Bonfim (Good End). The chapel was located on the town square and the people gathered for a communion service led by Julieta. The following morning we drove to one of the newer communities some distance away where the people are in the process of building up their community with a Margaret.Reflection.1new chapel. The small simple earthen brick structure with half cement and half dirt flooring and wooden benches was filled with families, teenagers and young children. Margaret.Reflection.2Our liturgy began outside the chapel by a large wooden cross where we raised palm branches and sang Hosannas celebrating Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. This small community was so engaged in the Eucharistic celebration with readings proclaimed by the teenagers and everyone, young and old, singing the hymns by heart. After the Mass the people stayed to talk and make plans for the training of catechetical and parish leaders. It was clear that there was the enthusiasm and the hope for good leadership within this small community. Their welcome and hospitality truly made us feel a part of their celebration of faith. In the afternoon we enjoyed a boat ride on the Araguaia river followed later with the friars joining us for a festive evening meal.

Watch for continued reflections to come in Part 2 – Travels to Cristalândia, Palmas, Ceres and the experience of Holy Week 

Published in: on May 24, 2018 at 10:51 am  Leave a Comment  

Embracing Mystery

Reflection for the Most Holy Trinity by FAN Associate Director, Sr. Marie Lucey, OSF

This reflection was originally posted in our May 21st newsletter

Inquisitive.QuestionThe human mind, unless it is impaired or lazy, is inquisitive. Small children begin to discover their world by touching and asking questions. The “why” question sometimes will stump adults. As we mature we continue to question, to search for how and why things work. Many of us like mystery stories, try to figure out “who dunnit” before it is revealed. Some are fascinated by mathematics. Scientists probe the mysteries of the planet and the universe; medical researchers seek to heal illnesses of body and mind; theologians help us to struggle with God questions.

An inquisitive mind is a gift from God, enabling us to learn how to live in this world. But no matter how brilliant, the mind is human, and for the person seeking to live not only a moral life but a spiritual life, he/she must come to accept and embrace mystery. This week’s feast of the Most Holy Trinity celebrates the deep mystery of three Persons in One God. Catholics say “Amen” – so be it – to this Mystery each time we make the sign of the cross. As sensate human beings we may use tangible images to represent the Trinity, such as a shamrock or three wicks in one candle, but reality cannot be captured in an image. Like the disciples in the Gospel, we worship even as we doubt. We trust in the promise of Jesus to be with always. We say “Amen” to the mystery of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Trinity in Unity. And we go forth to witness to God who is both Love and Mystery.

Sr. Marie Lucey, OSF
FAN Associate Director

Published in: on May 22, 2018 at 9:10 am  Leave a Comment